Birth Based in Love, Not Fear
Mom Crush Monday #MCM
It is with tears in my eyes looking at my children that I feel a sense of duty to write this blog. I share their birth stories because I do not want any woman or partner to feel the way we did after their births did not go as planned. I want women and their partners to have gratitude and feel empowered, no matter the outcome. Because what they just did is amazing: they gave birth, and that’s freaking powerful! Women should feel supported, wherever they are in their motherhood transition, because it truly takes a village to raise a child. Families deserve to know their choices and options to make informed decisions about what may or may not happen during birth. Ultimately, these decisions should be based in love and not fear.
I struggled for a long time, and still do, to tell the birth story of my son Mason because it did not go as planned. Let me start from the beginning and give you the shortened version of our story. I noticed right upper abdomen pain when I was around 37 weeks pregnant. The discomfort would come and go, and I diagnosed myself with having gallbladder attacks until they became more intense. I had an appointment with my midwife around 39 weeks, whom I will forever be grateful for, and she did some blood work and sent me home. Later that evening, my midwife called recommending to induce me that day because my liver enzymes were so high and my platelets were very low (my AST was 162, normal is 8-40, and my ALT was 15, (normal is 8-54, and my platelets were 97, normal is 150-450). We went to the hospital and I was diagnosed with HELLP syndrome. HELLP stands for: Hemolysis of the Red Blood Cells, Elevated Liver Enzymes, and Low Platelet. My body was rejecting my placenta and my liver was shutting down.
My whole plan and dream of having a natural birth quickly changed to the most medicated birth possible. Unfortunately, I was not prepared or well versed in my options/choices. I was transferred by ambulance to a larger hospital two hours away, and was put on magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures. I was induced with cytotec right away (I did not know what cytotec was until I researched it) and after a few hours they started Pitocin. I was confined to my hospital bed where I would roll from side to side during contractions with a cold towel over my head because I was so hot from the medication. At this point, an epidural was not an option because my platelets were too low. Ultimately, Mason’s blood pressure continued to drop while mine went up which called for an emergency cesarean.
Looking back on his birth, there are many things for which I am grateful. I am grateful for my midwife and her support figuring out what was going on. I am grateful for the amazing nurses that supported me through some difficult times, and I am very grateful for the health of Mason and myself. But immediately after his birth, I did not feel grateful and struggled for some time. Due to PTSD in conjunction with postpartum anxiety, I struggled with breast milk supply leading to weaning when I wasn’t ready. It was a very hard and stressful time in our family, when it should have been a time of happiness. I was unaware that I did not have the tools and practices to help me heal properly.
Charlotte’s birth three years later was a very different experience. I did not have HELLP syndrome or any issues prenatally, but our plan of a VBAC was not working out. I was 6 cm dilated when we arrived at the hospital, which was a two hour drive, and everything went great until they said she was a face presentation. I was crushed. I went from 9 cm dilated to 7 cm because my cervix was so swollen. She was stuck and would not turn, which led me to another cesarean. Again, I suffered with postpartum anxiety after Charlotte’s birth. While not as severe as Mason’s birth, I was still very hard on myself because again it did not go as planned.
After my second birth I was more proactive in finding things to help me cope with the anxiety I was feeling. I discovered a daily yoga practice, and it truly changed my life. I took the 200 hour yoga teacher training because I wanted to help people with yoga in the way that it helped me. That was also around the time that I started seeing and hearing about BIRTHFIT. After learning more, I knew that I wanted to be a Regional Director to support other moms. These two discoveries have been everything in my postpartum rehab, and without them, I would still be struggling.
My children’s birth stories and my journey are why I believe and know in my heart that we ALL need BIRTHFIT. If I would have had BIRTHFIT in my life prior to their birth, things would have been different. I know that if I would have had the education and training that I do now, I would have been able to make more empowered and informed choices. Even though I had my amazing midwife and family, I needed more support. I needed the connection and the mindset piece for which I was not prepared. I struggled for a long time, and I know that could have been avoided or lessened with the practices I have today. Birth does not have to be based in fear, but rather in love, and this can be the case no matter the birth outcome.
Megan Kussmaul, DC, RYT 200BIRTHFIT Marquette @birthfit_marquette