Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series of birth stories submitted by readers and fellow bloggers, featuring a diverse range of women and their birth experiences. All birth stories and all birth experiences matter. Today’s story is from Mama Bear at Growing Up Expat. She’s sharing the story of her planned C-section due to complications from Crohn’s disease, and how she coped with her husband being overseas for work during her pregnancy and delivery. If you would like to share your own birth story, please visit this post to learn how. ~Olivia
Being a mommy was something I always wanted but I was never sure would happen. I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to get pregnant. I have suffered from a severe case of Crohn’s disease since I was 8 years old. I have been treated with the entire gamut of medications, from steroids to antibiotics to biologics to hyperbaric chamber treatments to surgery. Today, after 5 surgeries for my Crohn’s disease, I am missing about 2 feet of intestines. I worried that all my treatments would culminate into possible infertility. On top of that, when we were ready to start trying to have children I had to be healthy enough for my doctor to approve going off of Methotrexate, a medication that CAN NOT be taken during gestation and would most likely lead to birth defects or miscarriage.
After about two and a half years, my husband and I were ready to start trying. Thankfully, I was healthy enough to go off of Methotrexate and switch to a different medication. I had to be off of Methotrexate for at least 5 months. During these 5 months I prepared for trying to have a child by visiting a perinatologist (a high-risk OB), having my IUD taken out and reading up on fertility.
We were so excited when the five months came along and we could start trying. This was September 2014. In October, we found out we were pregnant! We were ecstatic! After years of worrying about my fertility, here I was pregnant after a month!
We were so happy but I was also so worried and sad because we found out we were pregnant just a month before my husband had to go overseas for a year for work. So I had to prepare myself for an entire pregnancy without my husband and just over 5 months of my child’s life as a single mom. But we knew that we could do it, and we did!
My husband was able to make our first 7 week appointment just before he had to leave. The baby was healthy and so was I. The perinatologist informed me of many things that I expected but was nonetheless disappointed by. I would be unable to breastfeed due to the biologic medication that I am dependent upon. And I would have to have a c-section due to potential complications with my Crohn’s disease and the multiple surgeries I have had.
It took time to come to terms with these things. I worried I would be unable to bond with my child as others are able to, especially as I read pin after pin on Pinterest about breastfeeding and avoiding c-sections. But I knew that my baby would be so loved and we would bond with each other no matter what.
At 16 weeks, over FaceTime, my husband and I found out we were having a baby girl! We were so excited!
The rest of my pregnancy went relatively well, except for a quick stay in the hospital toward the end of my pregnancy for a case of pneumonia.
At 36 weeks I had my cervix checked and I was 1 centimeter dilated. My doctor said that was no biggie and I should make it to my scheduled c-section at 39 weeks no problem. That was a Thursday. The weekend rolled around and I was waking up feeling so icky on Saturday and Sunday. I would run to the restroom all morning with horrible belly issues. But I chalked it up to Crohn’s symptoms. Tuesday, June 2nd (37 weeks) came and I was feeling worse. So I called my mom to tell her what was happening and she told me to call the doctor. On a side note, I was tracking my contractions, which I thought were Braxton Hicks because there was no pain involved.
I was told to go to Labor and Delivery just to be checked and monitored. I had just packed a bag the night before so I loaded that into the car and because I was just getting checked, I grabbed a Chick-Fil-A sandwich on the way!
When I got hooked up to the monitors at the hospital the nurse asked “Are you feeling those contractions?” I said, “I guess, but they’re not painful.” So she called my doctors in, both the surgeon and the one who had checked me the week prior. I was checked again and lo and behold, 2 centimeters and the cervix was preparing for delivery! Dang it.
I started bawling right there. I had been able to get my husband on the phone but he couldn’t get there for 2 days. My sisters-in-law were at the hospital with me but I was just so sad that my husband couldn’t be there. The doctor said we couldn’t wait and just 2 hours from arrival I was being walked into the OR. I had been given the OK to bring my iPad into the OR so my husband could be with me. He talked me through my spinal tap and my sister-in-law held up the iPad the whole time as my husband cheered me on.
I was hysterical up until the point that the spinal tap took effect. Then I began to relax and my attitude changed so I could enjoy the experience and the day we would welcome our little girl into the world. I felt some pulling and tugging but nothing that was painful. It was over before I knew it and my little girl was brought to me. 6 pounds, 7 ounces of sweetness. And she had a full head of hair! I held her for a short time before I had to be taken to recovery. They brought her to me there and she was so perfect. Holding her in my arms, all the anxiety from the past few hours melted away.
My mom arrived in the middle of the night to be with me. And on Thursday, my husband arrived at the airport and was picked up by our daughter’s godparents. He walked in the room and just lit up at the sight of his sweet daughter. He held her and we embraced for the first time in months and all was right with the world.
He went back just 3 weeks later but my daughter and I made it. We made it through 5 months thanks to the help of family and friends. Because of that time I feel so strong and know I can do so much.
Though I would have chosen a different birth experience if I was able to, I will never be ashamed of having a c-section. Both my daughter and I came out of her birth healthy and strong. I will always be proud of my scar and all my scars and know that they have helped me to become the person I am today.
Mama Bear blogs all about expat parenthood, travel and raising globally minded kids over at Growing Up Expat. Join her family’s adventures around the world as expats!