As Parker James’ first birthday was approaching, I realized it was time for me to share his birth story. It’s a bit funny to start with since he is second born but I thought his first birthday was the perfect time!
Also in ways, it took me about a year to muster up the courage to write down what happened that day.
The nice part of this birth story is that you already know it has a happy ending. The middle chapters get a bit intense but that’s what makes it interesting, right?!
It has been difficult in the past to put his birth story into words. For a while, I had a hard time even speaking about it. If you asked my family and friends that came to visit in the beginning, they would tell you how my voice would just cut out or stop when trying to retell the story.
When sharing about a traumatic experience, there are two ways you can look at it. You could choose to keep it in your “special box” that’s hidden comfortably and “safely” away where no one but you can reach it.
Or you could try your best to use the opportunity as a way to process the events that occurred. To possibly help encourage others that have experienced similar trauma.
I am a person who has a hard time letting go of control. Through this experience I was taken to my knees to show that I am not the one in control.
During my pregnancy, I had some complications before delivering our sweet Parker James. For the most part, my pregnancy went very smoothly and we were both very healthy during that time.
However, early on in my third trimester (at only 30 weeks) I started to go into preterm labor. With both of my pregnancies, I had Braxton Hicks contractions that started around week 19. But these contractions were the “real deal”, pushing from the top down type of contractions.
We obviously called our doctor who suggested we come in. When we saw her, she told me that even though I am having lots of preterm labor, I wasn’t progressing enough for them to be too concerned yet.
She sent me home to do my best at laying low (basically first level bed rest). If you know me, you’ll know I don’t sit still well!
BUT! I followed the doctor’s orders as best I could. There were some symptoms and other troubles here and there but for the most part it was working!
When I was about a month away from my due date, I started to feel some very intense pain and pressure that I had not felt with my first baby, Jaden. (Read more about us in this post!)
There was so much pressure and even ripping and tearing sensations. By about 36 weeks, there were times I had so much pain, I felt like I had already delivered.
It seemed we were calling the doctor on a daily basis to report the interesting and concerning symptoms I was experiencing. Feeling miserable wasn’t even cutting it close by this point.
However, the doctor mainly thought my body was just preparing to deliver the baby (which of course as most know, comes with some pain and discomfort!)
A NEW JOB
Just to add to the craziness of this birth story, while all of this is going on, my husband, Matt was presented with an incredible new job opportunity and promotion. We were so grateful! Although we were excited about his new opportunity, new jobs come with a LOT of stress.
With his new start date, having to finish out his two week notice with his old job and insurance coverage issues you can only imagine how stressed out this “high- strung- control- freak” mama was by this point!
I’ve said this before in my Paw Patrol Birthday Party post that I’m a planner. And as hard as it is to admit, I’m not as flexible as I’d like to be.
Once the plan is set in my head, it can be difficult (who am I kidding…) it can be VERY difficult to let that plan go and adjust.
After Matt received his new position, I tried my best to plan for this delivery and job transition. (I basically even tried to control how and when he would be born …not possible obviously!)
Quickly, I realized that Matt may not be home with me for very long, if at all, if Parker James didn’t make his arrival soon! (Not to mention insurance coverage!) Here was just one more thing I was trying to be in control of!
THE HOME STRETCH
Because of the mild preterm labor and painful symptoms, the doctors wanted to schedule an induction date for a somewhat early delivery. Like many OBGs, they didn’t allow me to be induced any earlier than 39 weeks. (Which, at the time, felt like a LIFE time…)
During all this, the day was quickly approaching when Matt would have to turn in his 2 week notice to his old job. Of course, I started to panic. I started telling Matt all these different plans and scenarios I thought he should do.
I thought he should either push his start date back, not fill out his last two weeks, etc. When it came down to it, I wasn’t trusting or putting my faith in the bigger plan God had for our lives.
Matt decided to share with his boss (with whom he was very close with) the situation we were in. To our surprise, she was overjoyed with his news about his new position.
She even worked out a way for him to finish out his last two weeks with the company at home while still being paid and covered by insurance! (Which was DEFINITELY meant to be… you’ll see why in a minute…)
Matt came home THAT day from his old position and I finally was starting to relax and feel at peace for this baby’s arrival.
While we were still a week out from my induction date, I started to wonder what we would do for all that time with Matt off work before the baby was born!
(I should not have asked this question….) The VERY next day after Matt came home from his old company for his two week leave in between positions, we had my last doctor’s appointment before I was to be induced.
(Hold on to your hats folks! This is where the birth story gets crazy!)
During my appointment, the doctor asked me the normal weekly questions about how I was feeling, etc. We both knew this was the last appointment and were all just SO ready to get this “show on the road!”
As she started to examine me, she looked up at me with a surprised look and asked me, “…Is that a hand of a foot!?…” My stomach jumped in my throat.
The nurses quickly brought in the mobile ultrasound machine and discovered the answer to the mystery pain and prelabor woes I had been experiencing…. Parker James was breech.
He was literally standing up inside of me. His feet had been tearing and rupturing things over the past six weeks.
Our doctor’s office gives “non-high-risk pregnancies” 3 ultrasounds during their pregnancy. The last one we had was at 32 weeks and he was head down but apparently flipped shortly after.
HE WAS BREECH
The doctors immediately changed their plan of action. I was told I could NOT by any means go into labor because it would be incredibly dangerous or even fatal to me and the baby.
I’ve always heard that breech babies are a huge problem. What I didn’t know is how rare my “version” of breech was.
(His position was apparently so rare that every time I was at the doctor from this point on, delivery nurses and other medical staff were being brought in to “learn” and feel what this type of breech felt and looked like.)
Apparently, there are three different types of breech positions. The baby can be bottom down, sitting crossed legged. He could also be bottom down with his legs straight up, nose to toes. Or STANDING like Parker James, in what they call “complete footling presentation.”
If I would have gone into labor, there would have been a point where they couldn’t deliver him vaginally nor through C-section. This is why I had to be on strict bed rest.
(Just a quick side note during this birth story … Pregnancy is already a rough ride trying to grow a human and all. But someone standing up inside you… that’s an ENTIRELY different rodeo, kids!)
TURNING A BABY
They turned my scheduled induction into an ECV (a process where the doctors externally push on my belly to turn him into the correct position) with possible C-section if not successful.
To say the least, I was a mess. I was SO angry. I kept asking, “WHY!? Why did the doctors not see this WEEKS in advance? Why me? After having an almost perfect pregnancy and delivery with my first, WHY was this one so difficult?”
We had a plan! I was finally going to deliver after all the pain and angst.( I was definitely experiencing the stages of grief with this news.) This was NOT what I had in mind for Parker James’ birth story! And once again, I was angry at my loss of control.
While at home waiting for (what I hoped would be a successful vaginal delivery after a successful ECV), I tried many different “baby turning techniques”.
I tried putting an ice pack on my belly where his head was. I tried laying sideways in the bath hoping the water and the gravity would coax him the correct direction.
After doing some research, I found that the best time to try is when the baby is active. Whenever I felt him moving, I would lay upside down with my feet in the air on pillows, with my head on the ground.
I tried for HOURS day after day laying upside down like that hoping he would turn. One afternoon, he finally did! I felt a LOT of motion and a bit of cramping and when I stood up, I could BREATHE!
His body was centered in my belly instead of off to the side jammed up underneath my ribs. I kept thinking, “WOW! I forgot pregnancy could be this comfortable!” I was thrilled!
Then…he flipped back the wrong way the very next evening… and stopped. moving…
I spent the next several days before my ECV procedure in emotional agony. Every chance I got, I would lay upside down hoping he’d flip again. But every time I did that, he would stop moving.
There were countless times I feared the worst, thinking he had strangled inside my belly. Where he was supposed to be safe. Where my body was supposed to “do the right thing”.
Finally, August 7th arrived. We went in for my scheduled ECV procedure. Because the procedure is so strenuous on the mother and the baby, they gave me an epidural the moment I arrived.
My doctor, alongside another OB/GYN, started to push as hard as they could on my belly in hopes they could turn Parker James the correct way.
I did not expect the force that was required to do this procedure. They both were shaking with fatigue and exhaustion as well as sweating heavily.
The room was so intense. My mom and husband were sitting in the room silently weeping as they watched the doctors work. I was hardly breathing. Emotions were so high.
During the entire procedure I was practically begging (possibly attempting to will) God to make Him turn. I was so convinced He wouldn’t “do this to me.”
The doctors usually give the procedure 5-10 minutes. If the baby doesn’t turn after that, they get you prepped for a C-section. (I SO didn’t want his birth story to turn out like that!)
Parker James almost turned the correct way several times. So they continued to push on my belly for over thirty minutes. All the while monitoring the baby’s heartbeat.
Parker James flipped back into his position under my ribs THREE times. The doctors were so baffled by his “stubbornness.” After the last time they tried, I heard a nurse say, “Where’s the monitor!? Someone show me the monitor!” Somehow the monitor had stopped for a second or rather… his heartbeat had.
He was in distress…. Time stopped.
SUSPENED IN TIME
Immediately, my bed was being FLOWN out of the delivery room away from my husband and my mom down the hall. Lights were flashing. I could hear someone calling “code blue” over the intercom.
Every door we passed, more nurses and doctors flooded out and came up to my bed to help race. Once we reached the OR, doctors and nurses were all screaming to each other and throwing things.
I was completely having an out of body experience watching them as I was just a “body on the table”. The scene was exactly like the TV shows and movies portray it. Only the people “coding” don’t usually experience the chaos. They are usually unconscious or under anesthesia.
I was awake for all of it. The person “coding” was in my belly. For what seemed like the 100th time, I thought I had lost my son.
Once or twice a nurse or doctor would grab my hand and tell me they were going to take good care of me, that I was going to be fine. When I finally could muster the words, I asked, “What about the baby? Is he going to be OK?”
They only responded with somber looks and said things like “We’re going to do our best” or “We’re going to do all that we can.”
I. Was. Terrified.
At this point, it hit me like a freight train. In the most ultimate way, I was being shown who was in control. I was screaming in my head, “PLEASE!! WhatEVER has to be done to save this baby’s life PLEASE do it.”
“Cut me open! I don’t care anymore how he gets here! I don’t if this isn’t what I wanted for his birth story! I don’t care about any plan but the plan that makes him live!! Take my life! Take ME! If you’re taking someone, take ME!! Please! PLEASE!! SAVE HIM!”
In less than 3 minutes, I had been rushed from the delivery room where the doctors attempted to turn the baby, to the OR where Parker James was safely delivered with a big loud cry.
I was completely in shock. Everyone in the room was in shock. Some nurses were shaking in the corner from what had just happened. Some nurses were high-fiving the success.
I could hear the doctors say to each other as they stitched me up that it was the fastest C-section the hospital had ever performed.
I was in total shock. Shock from the trauma the doctors did to my abdomen while pushing. Shock from the trauma to my body of being sliced open so quickly. Shock from the emotional trauma of feeling like I lost my son.
While on the table I struggled to breathe or speak for a few minutes. Luckily, at this point they brought my husband in. He took my hand and helped to pull me out of shock. I soon started breathing regularly again.
THE AFTER SHOCK
My son was perfect. He was healthy and had finally arrived. Although I felt SUCH joy with him, I was NOT prepared for the toll the trauma had taken both physical and emotional.
For many days and weeks to come, I experienced intense flashbacks, powerful triggers and traumatizing nightmares. Trying to talk about what happened would cause me to lose my ability to speak. My voice would start to shake and it would just stop.
Closing my eyes to sleep would shortly turn into a panic attack. I would see the lights flashing above me again while I was “whisked” to the OR. I would see the doctors looking over me as they pushed.
The entire hospital stay had traumatic triggering associations linked to it. I thought I would be better once I got home. Sadly, I was wrong.
Every pillow I saw that I had laid upside down on sent me into a panic attack. Every time the baby slept too long. Panic attack. Everytime I looked at anything I had prepared in the past month associated with his arrival sent me into a full tail spin. I was a ball of nerves.
Not to mention the physical pain and complications I suffered from having a C-section and a baby standing in me for 6 weeks. (Remember the tearing and rupturing I talked about above??…ouch.)
Needless to say I was suffering from some intense PTSD. By the end of it all, I was in full blown PPD. It was the “perfect storm”. Crazy pregnancy/delivery hormones mixed with physical and emotional trauma.
There were many days I felt like I was never going to be “Lisa” again. That part of my life must have been over. I didn’t laugh or smile for weeks. (Not like me at ALL!)
Luckily with the help of my doctors, my family and friends, I was able to heal. To lean on others. Slowly but I came back.
(I plan to write a post about PPD someday. When I’m ready!)
WHERE WE ARE NOW
Like I said way back at the beginning, I still find it difficult to talk about. Even writing this a year later still sent me back to that hospital room. I am still processing this traumatizing event. I carry many emotional and physical scars.
However, when I look back on the situation, instead of asking “why me?” like before, I find myself in tears with the biggest sense of gratitude I have ever experienced.
I knew in that moment what it felt like to lose a child, to lose someone you cared about a million times more than yourself. I was so incredibly grateful for His mercy.
I realized that it took me being stripped of any sense of control, to really give me a “wake up call” on who was in control. My attention needed to be grabbed.
As hard and traumatizing as this birth story and experience was, I wouldn’t change how the events occurred. I know that I was shown grace. Not every traumatic story like this turns out as happy as ours.
I am so grateful my sweet baby, Parker James was spared. We have been blessed with a truly amazing child with whom I share an incredible bond after such a scary entrance into this world.
I pray I am reminded daily that He has such a wonderful plan for our lives and He is mighty to save. I hope in reading this birth story you found something to relate to.
– – – –