Today’s birth story is one of my favorites because it was the very first time I had a student’s water break (release) in class, right in the middle of a meditation/relaxation exercise! It’s the story of a 5-hour, unmedicated vaginal birth, with some complications and a necessary surgical procedure after the birth due to how quickly the labor progressed. Listen as Brooke shares details about the overall compassionate care she received through the complications and how, when the staff clearly communicated with her what was going on, she felt taken care of and, overall, really positive about the way things went. After she shares her birth story, Brooke also discusses how her partner is enjoying being a stay-at-home for the first time after having 2 children in a previous relationship and not having the opportunity to stay home. She’ll also share insights about the surprising things you sometimes learn about yourself as you become a parent as well as tips for maintaining a healthy identity.
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You are listening to the Birth Matters podcast, episode four.
While we were laying there and I was very relaxed, enjoying the soothing music you put on and just feeling very, very comfortable, I felt a very -- what felt like the strongest kick that I had had up until that point, and then as soon as that passed I just felt...a warm flood!
Hey there, and welcome to the Birth Matters show. I'm your host, Lisa Graves Taylor, founder of Birth Matters NYC Childbirth Education and Labor Support. This show is here to lessen your overwhelm on the journey into parenthood by equipping and encouraging you with current best evidence, info, and soulful interviews with parents and birth pros. Please keep in mind the information on the show is not intended as medical advice or to diagnose or treat any medical conditions. Today's story is told by Brooke, and it's one of my favorites because it was the very first time I had a student's water break in class right in the middle of a meditation relaxation exercise. It's the story of an unusually quick five hour unmedicated vaginal birth with some complications for Brooke immediately after birth. After she shares her birth story. Brooke also discusses how her partner is enjoying being a stay-at-home dad for the first time after having two children in a previous relationship and not having that opportunity.
She will also share insights about the surprising things you might sometimes learn about yourself as you become a parent, as well as tips for maintaining a healthy identity. I want to be sure to point out that this birth is the exception to the rule for first births. Brook's labor is a lot closer to the movie/TV version of birth in several ways. Water breaking dramatically first in public and then labor progressing very quickly. After Brooke shares. I'll go into some details on how her birth was uncommon, so that you can have a better sense of the range of normal. As we progress through this podcast series, please listen to only the episodes you feel will build your confidence and help you surrender to this healthy event of giving birth. Please be aware that in this episode and after Brooke shares her birth story, she does share about complications that happen in the third stage of labor for her that might be scary to some listeners. I wanted to share it, though, both because I think it's educational, as well as because Brooke didn't experience it as traumatic at all, largely because she felt like she received overall compassionate care along the way. When the staff clearly communicated with her what was going on, she felt taken care of and overall really positive about the way things went. This drives home the importance of aligning yourself with a care provider and birth setting that will feel most optimal for you in this regard. Before we jump into the story, I want to let you know that this episode is brought to you by Birth Matters NYC's Childbirth Education Classes. If you live in the New York City area, the best way to build your confidence and prep for an amazing birth and entry into parenthood and to connect with other expectant parents to build your very important support system is to attend group childbirth education classes. You'll spend quality time with your labor support partner in our comfy Astoria living room classroom as you prepare for not only birth but also for your best possible postpartum recovery and wellness, as well as early parenting with classes on breastfeeding and newborn care techniques. Classes often book up about one to two months in advance, so be sure to grab your spot on the early side. For more information and to sign up, visit birthmattersnyc.com. Okay, you ready? Here we go.
Hey, it's so good to see you, Brooke. Thanks for your willingness to share your experiences. Would you introduce yourself and then maybe say how far you are out in your parenting journey?
Yeah, so my name is Brooke Carey. I am 10 months and two days out from my parenting journey. My daughter just turned 10 months ago, 10 months old on Sunday.
Getting close to a year.
I know. It's kind of crazy how fast time flies. She's been out longer than she's been in.
She came out a little earlier than expected.
So we're about to hear that.
So launch into whatever you'd like to share with us today.
So my, I'm, I actually love telling the story of how my daughter Nola came into the world because I think it's very funny and very entertaining, especially in hindsight, you know. It's not as, not as funny when you're experiencing it. But, so I -- as you well know, I was in your class when I went into labor, which is not what I was expecting. My daughter was two-and-a-half weeks early. She was due on August 6th and this was July 18th. I will never forget, she didn't actually come into the world until July 19th. But, -- so yes. So I -- and the thing that I tell people when I reflect on the birth story is, you know, I remember at one of the first classes you talking about how, you know, the movies tend to portray birth as this very kind of sudden chaotic event where, you know, a woman is like in the grocery store line and her water breaks and then she's rushed to the hospital and she's screaming on a gurney going down the hall into the ER. And then, you know, there's just chaos and chaos and chaos and, and you know, you reassured everybody that that's not how it happens, especially when it's your first birth and like, you know, they tend to not be very fast and you know, sometimes your water doesn't break at all. And kind of clarifying some of the, some of the myths that that Hollywood and our pop culture like to kind of put forth about what the actual birth process looks like. And the thing that is funny is that like, that's essentially exactly what happened to me.
You had the movie birth.
We had the movie version. So yeah,
I guess they got the idea from somewhere; it's just not the most common thing.
There's always the exception to the rule and it, I guess, I guess it wouldn't make for such great film and television to have, you know, like a 24 hour birth process. But so yeah. So, you know, we were, we were in the middle of a meditation session, I think it was at the end of our fourth class, which actually ended up being perfect timing because that -- like all of the, all of the birth and labor and delivery content was done. So even though there were two classes left to go, I got all of the kind of most important stuff downloaded before I actually went into labor. Yeah. And while we were, while we were laying there and I was very relaxed and that was, you know, enjoying the soothing music you put on and just feeling very, very comfortable. I felt a very, very -- what felt like the strongest kick that I had had up until that point, which actually like caused me to open my eyes. It didn't hurt, but it was just so much stronger and was in a different place than I was used to. And so it was really startling. And then as soon as that passed, I just felt a warm flood and realized what was happening very quickly. And so, you know, it was, it was kind of funny being in this environment and it was really great and you know, having, I felt very prepared having gone through this class and I felt very reassured and, and so I, you know, I left feeling, you know, a little, a little, like, OK, this is, this is -- she's very early. This is not what I expected. Meanwhile, like back at work -- I work from home, but my company is based in Seattle and I like -- you know, they obviously knew that I was planning to go on maternity leave, but I, I thought I had at least a week.
You're an editor, right?
Yeah. And so I thought I had at least a week to kind of get stuff in order and kind of organize myself and update, you know, my coworkers and my boss on where things were. And as I was actually in the car on the way back to my apartment, I thought, you know, I'm just going to text my boss right now and just let him know what's going on. And then I thought, you know what? Like, I hadn't even started feeling any contractions. And I remember what you said about how it can take a very -- you know, the early, early labor can take a very long time. And so I thought, you know what, I'm not going to worry about this right now. It's late and you know, probably I'll be around my apartment tomorrow anyway. And so maybe I'll -- I can just like send them an email in the morning and just say, you know, here's where things are like, you know, here's where -- just give them a very quick update and organize myself. Because I should have that time. So I didn't send the text. I went home. My husband Glenn was, was freaking out a little bit because he was not prepared. We had been at a wedding a few days prior and the bag that we had been using, like for our go bag was the bag we had used for the luggage. And so we hadn't repacked it. Luckily it was, it was all very easy, but you know, nothing. He had intended to go to the grocery store and buy some, some snacks. And so he kind of dashed out to the market down the street in order to do that while I was kind of getting everything together. And you know, soon after we got home, I started feeling contractions. And I noticed very quickly that they weren't as described early labor being and were, they were very intense very quickly and they were very, very closely spaced very quickly. And I actually remember convincing myself that it wasn't contractions I was feeling because I was like, "This isn't how it's supposed to happen. There's no way. I just skipped all of early labor." I don't know what I was telling myself was actually going on, but I was just somehow convinced that like I was just having cramps or something had disagreed with my stomach. I don't really know what I was telling myself, but it soon became apparent that that's not what was going on. I was in fact in active labor. So, you know, we called the doctor and he advised -- and unfortunately it wasn't the doctor I'd been working with, which is, you know, I know very typical, but the doctor on call and you know, he said, "Well, like, you just started, but it sounds like things are moving rather quickly." So he was like, "So I wouldn't panic. I would just make your way to the hospital. Like, you know, start making your way to the hospital, but you know, you don't have to like rush out the door at the moment, you know." So we did that. We got some stuff together. I was in extraordinary pain. I actually tried taking a shower but ended up, like, getting in the shower and then just standing in the shower for three seconds and then getting out of the shower. Like I just couldn't actually do anything. Our hospital was New York Presbyterian, lower Manhattan, we live in Astoria so it was, you know, quite a distance. So, and we don't have a car so we had to call a cab, which I think in the months leading up to actually going into labor, this was the part that made me the most nervous was like, how are we going to get to the hospital?
Because I knew that it's, you know, on a good day it's like a half an hour drive and that's without traffic. And you know, obviously you can't control when you need to get there. And I thought, what if I, what if it's rush hour and -- or there is an accident? What if we get a cab driver who is kind of mean, you know, who doesn't like the idea of a, of a pregnant woman, like, in his car, which I can understand, you know, I was, I was still leaking so I can understand why somebody wouldn't necessarily want me as their passenger at that time. So I was really nervous. Luckily it was late, it was like 11:30 at night, so we weren't, we didn't have to worry about traffic. But then the, the Lyft driver showed up and it was this young, amazing black woman in, like, an SUV, which was also very nice. She was in a very large car and her name was Princess and she was so excited to be taking me to the hospital and she just kept going -- I remember going up to the car and being like, "Hi, I'm in labor and I need to get to the hospital." And she just went, "It's a blessing!" Like, "Oh, this is so exciting!" And she, I got in the back seat, Glen got in the front seat. She was like, "Is the temperature okay? Do you want me to roll down the windows? Do you want me to roll up the windows? Do you want me to change the music?" Like.
So lovely. She's like, "Should I drive fast or should I drive slow? Like, how quickly do you need to get there or do you want me to take it slow?" She was so lovely, I couldn't have asked for, like, a better experience getting to the hospital. Except for the fact that I was in active labor.
That's not pleasant.
Yeah. You don't realize how many potholes there are until you go over every single one of them while having a contraction. I will say that I did remember your advice -- it might've actually been earlier in that class -- of not wearing a seatbelt.
Which really I took to heart, and it was very helpful and I was definitely kind of like holding myself up to avoid some of the bumps and you know, it didn't, didn't work miracles, but it definitely helped.
Did you, did you like lie down or did you do some other position or...
No, I just sat. I, I did try laying down, but that actually wasn't very comfortable. And it was actually most comfortable for me to just sit upright. But just kind of keeping my, my self up off the seat.
Yeah, that's exactly what I did in my first labor.
Yeah. You know, I somehow managed to like lift myself off. The other thing that was really useful that sounds like, both common sense and also that it wouldn't actually be that effective is just deep breathing. I really, every time I felt a contraction, especially in the backseat of that cab when it was extraordinarily painful, I just like closed my eyes and just focused on breathing until it was over. And, and that really, really, really helped. In fact --well I'll get to that point in a second, but, so we, we got to the hospital, it was very -- they didn't even examine me. Like they were just like, yeah, you're ready to come in, like we don't have to, we don't have to go through all of this. We see what's going on. So they took me back and then I guess they did like a very quick kind of assessment, but they didn't strap me in or anything. They were just like, yeah, you're, you're, you're ready. But then they had to send me back out to the waiting room because they had just waxed the floors of the hospital. And so they couldn't actually bring me into the delivery room until the floors were dry.
That's a new one I haven't heard before.
So I guess, you know, when else are you going to wax the floor? Because I guess we got to the hospital around like 12:30 I remember because in the waiting room, James Corden was on, so it must've been around like 12:45, 12:30, because he was still in his monologue. So they sent me back out to the waiting area. And so I labored on my knees over a chair in the waiting room. Luckily, Glen and I were the only people in the waiting room and James Corden obviously, and I don't remember exactly how long they were out there. Time does seem to kind of expand and contract. At one point a nurse came out and was, you know, asking for some information and she asked me at one point, on a scale of one to 10, what is your pain? And I've, I've never liked that question because in my mind, it's like, well, I don't know what's a 10? Like I don't know what a 10 is, so how do I know if I'm at 10 yet? And so I said, well, it's an eight. And my husband, when he tells this story, when he told me like his perspective of what was going on and when he tells the story now he says that he was completely shocked. He was on the one hand -- hi. There he is.
Speaker 2: (16:00)
He was skeptical, but he kept his mouth shut because he was like, if you were, if she was at an eight, like she would be screaming. She can't possibly be at an eight. Like, first of all, it hasn't been that long. Like she and -- she's barely made a sound. Because I was very quiet the entire -- Glen says I was stoic, I was very stoic, I was very quiet the entire time we were in the cab and the entire time we were in the waiting room, what Glen didn't know because I didn't one, want to tell him but also didn't have the energy to tell him because I was in so much pain was that I actually transitioned in the waiting room and I remembered actually what you said because I remember you talked about the sensation of feeling like, you know, you need to bear down with your entire body. And as I was there on my knees over this chair in the waiting room of the hospital, I felt that sensation, it was unmistakable. Really just my entire body just felt like it wanted to take a large ....
And so I was like, well I'm not going to do that now. Like I'm not going to push. Like I know that's, I know that I shouldn't do that right now. But I didn't say anything to anybody because I really just like didn't have the energy. So luckily a few minutes later they, they took me back. Weirdly -- and I, I don't, I don't really know why this was, but they didn't let Glen come back at first. They, the nurse told him to, like, wait in the waiting room, I guess while they did, like, the initial exam. So they took me back and got me in the bed and the PA came into examine me and I remember she, her choice of words was really odd. She was checking my cervix to see how dilated I was and she said, "Hmm. I don't feel any cervix." And I thought, "That's weird, because I know I have one. Like I don't -- I know it's there." So I didn't really know what she was saying. I was like, "Are you implying that my cervix fell out?" Like that didn't translate to me at all. And then she finally said, "I think you're at 10 centimeters." And I was like, oh, okay. That makes...
That makes so much more sense!
She was like, "Oh, wow. Like, I think you're at 10 centimeters." Like, and then she actually was, I think so shocked that I was already at 10 centimeters, that she had somebody else come in and confirm it. And they were like, "Yep," she said, "10 centimeters." And she said, "Okay, okay, well the doctor's not here yet. He's on his way, so just don't push." And I was like, "Ok, I guess I'll just sit here. And so then they went out and they got, they brought Glen back. And I remember I was just like, you know, sitting in the bed. I don't, I, there might've been like a nurse or somebody in the room, but I, I was just sitting there kind of waiting. And I heard the PA say to Glen as they were coming down the hall, "She's at 10 centimeters." And Glen went, "What?!?"! I just heard it, I heard him before I saw him. And then he turned the corner into the room and we made eye contact and he went, "What?!?" I mean, completely baffled. He had no idea. And then, and then like it, I guess he realized like, oh, she really was at an eight, like she was not exaggerating or, you know, she doesn't have, like, a very low tolerance for pain and thought it was worse than it was. So then the doctor arrived shortly afterward and, you know, gave me a few -- like I did a few pushes. I did do, you know, I -- it was funny because I remember all of the things you talked about how like, you know, they, they want to, you know, the hospital really wants you to get like in that awkward sitting position because it's easiest for them. And I was very aware of this and Glen having also gone through the class was very militant and he was very kind of very, he was very good at speaking up on my behalf because at some point I just, like, didn't have energy and didn't care anymore. And I was like, they can do whatever they want. I don't even care. But I actually was, I did find that, like, that was the most comfortable position for me.
You never know.
Which worked out because it saved an argument or saved a fight. I didn't feel like being like an all on my hands and knees or standing up. I was just like, I just want to lay down. I just, you know, I've already been in all of the positions just like, yeah. So, you know, we, we pushed, I pushed for a little bit. And I do remember them telling me, and this is the thing that I just flat out disregarded, in terms of doctor's advice, the, the PA and the, and the physician kept saying, you know, hold your breath while you push because it conserves energy. Like don't make noise when you push. And I was like -- I didn't say this, obviously, but I was like, "That doesn't make any sense at all because holding your breath, like, requires -- I just, it didn't make any sense, so I just ignored them. And also I, I felt the need to yell. And so I remember I, I let out in the course of pushing, I screamed very, very loudly, twice, exactly twice, and I just remember it feeling so good to scream and just thinking, "You guys are nuts. Like, I'm not holding my breath. Like, this feels so good."
Good for you!
It felt like -- it just felt like such a release. And it also felt like, you know, as a woman it's like, well I guess as anybody, but as a woman especially, you know, you're kind of taught to be quiet and to like not take up that much space. And I was like, "Nah." It just felt so good to be as loud as I needed and wanted to be. And honestly, like I kind of would, I would do it again just for the experience of screaming that loudly, and not having anybody telling me to be quiet.
When it comes instinctively like that, it's so freeing.
Speaker 2: (21:44)
Yeah. It just, it felt like my entire body was just like, this is what you need to do now. And so here you are. And it was just like, it came, it just like came from a very deep place and it was just, I was as loud as I needed to be and was completely unselfconscious about it. And afterward I, I was, I think I was talking to Glen about it. I was like, it felt really good to scream that loudly. And he said, "Yeah, it was really badass when you did that." He was like, "That was really cool." And so, you know, and then, and then Nola arrived, and she was born at 2:33 in the morning. I think I had gone into labor at around 9:30 -- it was around the time your class ended, so it would've been around nine 30. So it was a very, very fast experience.
I did have, some pretty major complications afterward. My uterus didn't contract, and so I hemorrhaged a lot. Fortunately I did get to spend some time with Nola before that happened. You know, we practiced nursing a little bit and I got to, I got to hold her and, and hang out with her and spend some time with her before everything started going wrong. So, you know, the aftermath was pretty, you know, I, you know, I just kind of, again, I was pretty stoic throughout the entire thing and I was just like, I, I'm in the best place. Like, I'm in a hospital. I trust these people. It's like, it's the number one hospital I think in New York City for labor and delivery. So I felt very taken care of, but it was kind of a drag that like, you know, for the rest of her, basically, most of the rest of the day I was -- I had to go, I ended up having to go into surgery and they had to put me under, and then I was -- they had to insert something in me to like help the uterus contract. And so I was basically bedridden for most of the rest of the day. So that was, you know, kind of a bummer. Like, all I wanted to do was, well, I'll -- all I really wanted to do was sleep, but other than that I wanted to be able to just like, you know -- they brought Nola in and I was able to hold her, but I just didn't have that much energy and I wasn't able to kind of get up with her and walk around. And so that was, that was too bad. But, you know, it all worked out. I was, you know, I came out of it completely healthy, just a few bumps and bruises and Nola was perfectly, perfectly healthy. She came into the world with all 10 fingers and all 10 toes and she was a healthy weight and, and she had a little hair, which I thought was really cute. And she's thriving now so we -- we can't really complain that much. We were really, really lucky.
And with those complications, how was the care you received? Did you feel like you received the kind of care you would hope for in that situation?
Yeah, you know, mostly. There were a couple of things that I think mostly in hindsight, I wasn't super happy with. One thing specifically that again, like I, I didn't really realize that this was a problem until later. I mean the, the care was mostly great. They, they, you know, checked on me, they gave me everything I needed. Nola was very well taken care of, but I was hooked up to IVs and I was on various medications and all these things. And so I kept asking like, is it safe for me to breastfeed? And the nurses, like I asked one and she was like, "I'm not a hundred percent sure, so let me go check." But I never got a straight answer on that.
That's a pretty big thing. They should know.
Yeah. And I, I, you know, I had wanted to -- you know, because I was mostly bedridden, like, she was like bottle- fed, but I did want to try, you know, I tried to breastfeed and, and you know, it's hard, it's hard to say, but I did end up having, like, a lot of trouble breastfeeding once we got home. Like I just -- my supply, never really, never met up with demand and I tried all of the things and it was just not working. So from day one she had to be supplemented anyway and I didn't end up actually breastfeeding for that long because it got to the point where it was like more trouble than it was worth, but I, I can't help but wonder if maybe I had had a little bit more coaching in those, you know -- because I was in the hospital for like -- let's see. I was discharged on Sunday, so I was in the hospital from Thursday through Sunday. And you know, I just wonder if maybe I'd had a little bit more -- and I think I tried breastfeeding like once, maybe twice that entire time because I just wasn't, I didn't want to take any chances. And a lactation consultant did come by like my last day and help me out. But I just wonder if maybe I had had those first few days to kind of get the hang of it or like,
And just to be stimulated, right.
I, yeah, maybe it would have been a little easier when I got home. It's, it's impossible to tell, but, sure. But I, I just wished that, you know, I had been able to get a straight answer and then, and then been able to make that decision for myself. But other than that, I, I really had wonderful care, especially the PAs and the nurses. Obviously, like once the baby's born, you know, I, I occasionally at my, I did end up seeing my, the midwife that I had been going to see, she came by, you know, to see me like the next day or something. But, you know, it's really the nurses and the PAs that are taking care of you, and they were all lovely. It was not entirely women, but it was mostly women and they were all, I remember actually when I, when I was having all of these complications right after she was born, I don't know if it was a PA or a nurse, but they had one of the PAs had to massage my uterus, which was the worst thing. I remember the pain as being worse than the actual pain of childbirth.
And they had to do it like at least three times because it kept, it would like work for a second and then not work. So they kept trying it and at one point, and then, you know, they had been trying, like they had been trying drug through an IV, they tried -- suppositories. They tried this massage. They tried like all of these kind of, you know what they, you know, all of the kinds of first interventions before they determined that I needed to actually go into surgery to stop this. But, you know, but I like, I knew what the problem was. They would, they were pretty, they were very good at like describing what was going on. And answering my questions. But at one point that one, while I was going through this formal massage process, one of the PAs -- like, one of the other women in the room was just like holding my hand and she was very sweet and I just asked her because I wanted to know, I said, well, "What is the, like, worst case scenario, you know, like, what is the final-- what is the option of last resort?"
And she was like, she was holding my hand. She was like, "We're so far away from that. We're still, we're not there," but you know, she but, and she said that, "You know, if nothing else works, the only option is a hysterectomy." And I, which I was like, "Well, that makes sense, I guess". But she, you know, but she was so sweet about it. I was actually very calm, but I know like, I'm sure another person would have reacted very, very hysterically to that because it's terrifying. But you know, she was just really reassuring and she was like, "But don't worry. Like, there are like a bunch of other things you can do before we have to even think about that as an option" and it, but it was just nice to feel like she was being reassuring, but also answering my question and not treating me like a child. I was like, I just want to know what's going to happen. Like I just want to be prepared for the worst case scenario in case it happens. And luckily we didn't, that didn't have to happen. And I honestly said to myself, I was like, well that has to happen to save my life, then, like, that's when I made peace with that. That's fine. And you know, I don't know that we'll have any other children anyway, so I was like, it's just going to happen to -- if it's going to happen to me, if it's gonna happen to somebody, if somebody has to have this, then, like let it be me. Like, I already have one beautiful baby, but luckily, like, none of that had to happen. But I just remember like her just feeling very reassured by her and I felt that everybody around me was very focused and competent but also calm. Like I never felt like anybody was freaking out, you know, there yeah, they just, it felt like they were... The one time that people, there was like some tension was when they told me that I needed to go into surgery and the doctor wanted to give me the option of having general anesthesia, which sounded great. But the problem was I didn't, I, you know, I'd been eating, eating food at your house and so my stomach wasn't empty. So the anesthesiologist was like, "We can't do that. She could aspirate," and the doctor, but the doctor was like, "It is, it is up to you. Like you get, you can choose." And I was like, "I don't really want to choose." And then funnily enough, at that moment I got sick. It actually really felt like my body was taking care of me. My body was just saying, "I need to go under general anesthesia. You want to go to get rid of that?" Like the idea of getting us, they were going to have to do a spinal otherwise. And I was like, the idea of getting spinal at that point I was just like, please, no, like just -- I don't care. And it, but it just felt really like, it really just felt like my body, like knew what needed to be done and was getting it done and was like, you know, it was, -- at the end of it I, despite the complications, I felt like I just felt really strong. I felt like, wow, I did this thing, like my body created this person. I went through, you know, what everybody describes as the worst pain that you can experience. And I went through it like, like a champion and at the other end and I just felt really like ....
I, I, you know, I, I, a few weeks later, my, my good friend had her second baby and she had a drug-free childbirth, I guess. I guess she had had an epidural with her first one, I'm not sure. But she texted me and she was like, "Oh, I had, you know, I had a drug-free child birth." And I was like, "Don't you feel like kind of awesome having done that?" And she was like, "Yeah, I really did. I felt like really like bad-ass going through that." It's not fun when you do it, but when you, when you -- having done it, I can't, I, you just feel like I didn't have the option of an epidural because I showed up to the hospital so late. Which was fine because I, that was my plan. I, I planned to not have drugs -- I reserved the option to change my mind, but it just ended up not being in the cards anyway, so, it worked out. But yeah. So that's my birth story.
Do you mind providing a little more detail on what you said it wasn't a hysterectomy, the surgery that they did, could you describe what they did?
Yeah. I don't know what it's called. But basically they had to insert like a balloon into my uterus to keep it contracted. It had to be, the reason I was bedridden was because they just like had that thing stuck up there and I couldn't get up and walk around with it. So, but they had to put me under for it because it would've hurt a lot, I'm sure. So, and, and actually the, the, I think it was in for about 12 hours I think because I think they probably wheeled me into surgery around like, I want to say like 4 or 4:30, and then the surgery I don't think was that long because I remember coming to at like 7 or something like that, and then I think they took it out like sometime that evening, but, and they had to like come and check on it. They like periodically came and checked on it to like monitor the amount of bleeding and the actual process of removing it was like a balloon and like a bunch of gauze. Like I remember them pulling out all the gauze and being like, "That fit up there? It was a lot." But yeah, so it was just something to keep the uterus artificially contracted while it kind of got back to -- and the way they described what happened, which would make sense to me. One of the doctors said, "Basically your body just ran a marathon at sprint pace, and so your body just wasn't prepared for how fast it had to do all of those things and how.
And so it just didn't have, your uterus didn't have a chance to kind of catch up. And so it just wasn't contracting when it, when it normally would have. But they tried like five or six things before they even got to that point that, you know, they gave me pitocin, I think it was pitocin.
Yeah, usually high dose pitocin.
Yeah. They gave, they tried pitocin and they tried a few other drugs and then they tried the massage and so they, they tried a bunch of stuff before they got to that point. Yeah, so as great as a quick, quick labor sounds...
There are drawbacks.
There are drawbacks. But yeah, it was a mostly a very, a positive experience that I look back on and think like, all right, that was probably, except for the complications, like, I don't think that could have gone better.
Yeah. Yeah. And you clearly recuperated, bounce back really quickly because you came to the next-to-last class like a few days later. So it was probably like five days, I don't know, five or six days later. Less than that though after you came home.
Yeah, I guess it was only like a day or two. Yeah. I, yeah, I mean it was, it was helpful that you're very close by.
That was just the coolest thing. Not only was it the first time for someone to go into labor in my class, but then it was also the first time for somebody -- I had had people have their baby before they finish the series, but I hadn't ever had anybody come back after and tell their birth story live to their cohort. So that was so special
I'm very happy that I was able to, I was only sorry that like we were just so tired that I was sorry that I couldn't bring Nola. Because I was very excited to show her off to everybody but I thought it would be easier for me to go solo.
Sure. And I remember you're saying Nola is one of the very, very rare babies who didn't cry when she was having her diaper changed. Because I always say how every, every baby cries. I can't say that anymore. I say almost every baby cries when they have their diapers changed.
One thing when we, you know, brought her home and there, I mean I don't want to tell people to like not listen to their doctor's advice but there was some advice where like it just ended up being, you're just like, "This isn't even practical." And one of them was, you know, feed -- well the other thing that I thought was always funny, they were like, "Feed on demand," but then they were like, "But wake your baby up -- but feed them every two hours." I'm like, let's, those are two different things. And so yeah, they, you know, they were saying like, "You need to feed her every two hours." And, and again, I was, I was having trouble breastfeeding, but then we just could not wake her up. So we would be there trying to wake her up for 45 minutes to an hour and then finally she would wake up and then, you know, we'd feed her and then, and, and so I was like, "Why is it so hard to wake this baby up?'"
And, and you, I think you mentioned, "Well, have you tried changing her diaper?" And I was like, "Yeah, she just sleeps through it." We, I mean, we tried everything. Like there, I, you know, I was reading all the books, like techniques about like how to like stroke their hands or, you know, I, I've, all of these, I don't even remember what they were anymore and just none of them worked, none of them worked. Luckily, I don't remember that phase lasting that long. And at a certain point where you would just like, you know, we were going to the pediatrician and they're, she's gaining weight, so I'm not, I'm not gonna kill myself trying to like feed her every two hours on the dot. Like she'll let us know when she's hungry and as long as she's healthy, it'll be fine. But yeah, that was, she really liked to sleep for those first few days. Of course, you know, not at the same time as we did.
Right. All too often the case. Well, anything you want to share about these first 10 months of being a parent, or the transition back to work and like how long you took off?
I took eight weeks. I work from home, so I could have figured out a little, I could have taken a little bit more. I was in a kind of an awkward position, but I was with the, I was still like in the first year at my job, so like the full, like benefits hadn't kicked in, so I opted to take eight weeks instead of say 12 weeks. Simply because like, I wasn't going to be making my full income if, you know, for part of that time. But I also figured like I work from home, so the transition back to work should be relatively easy. You know, I, even if I'm not fully healed or you know, if I need to attend to Nola in some way or -- it'll be easy. And also her dad stays at home so we didn't have to worry about like daycare and things like that. So, so that, that part wasn't so bad, at least not that I remember. I mean it is -- now that she's more and more mobile, working from home with a 10 month old is extremely entertaining and also very distracting at the same time. I think we've gotten very, very lucky. We have a daughter who is, well, first of all, she started sleeping through the night at like four months, you know, like eight to nine hours. Not, not like a full 12, but -- and we didn't have to do anything, which was -- wow. We were fully prepared to, you know, do the sleep training if we needed to. But she ended up just kind of finding her own schedule. And so she mostly -- most nights she sleeps through the night. There are obviously exceptions to the rule, but she is an extremely happy, personable baby. And our friends always comment about how like chill she is. She can be like out in a room full of people and she, you know, if she gets really tired she'll start to cry. But other than that, like she's fine with, with meeting new people. She, she's just a really fun kid and we like having her around, there she is, she's looking at me and hopefully, you know, it stays, but she's, she's very pleasant and happy and healthy. Glen just said, "How's the childcare?" We have excellent childcare -- her Dad -- that, you know, and we're lucky in that regard too, that we, that we are able to, like stay at home with her. Just, it just kind of worked out. It Glen's kind of -- I guess he's retired now. It wasn't really a choice, but you know, he was unemployed when I got pregnant and we decided, you know, he's nearing retirement age anyway. And so we decided, you know, he could try to find a job in order to pay for childcare or he could just stay at home.
Nola will have her daddy -- such a special relationship.
You know, he's just, he has two older daughters as I as I know, you know, and so, but he, you know, when he, when they were born -- they're both in their twenties now. And when they were born he was -- he lived on Long Island and he was working in Manhattan and so he had like a really long commute every day and a full work day. And so he, you know, during the week he didn't really see them that much when they were very small because they were, you know, asleep. And so he's really been delighting and like having this time with her and like seeing all of her developments and you know, being able to just hang out with her and bond. A few months after she was born, he actually said, he was like, "You know, I'm starting to think of her as like my little buddy. Like she's just like my little buddy and we hang out during the day" and so we're really happy. I can't believe it's been 10 months. Her new thing is waving. She just waves at everything and everybody all of the time. It's delightful. I really, I really enjoy being her mom. I don't really know what I expected, but it's so much more rewarding and entertaining to just see them do something new. It's seemingly every day we either reach a certain milestone or just start doing something that they didn't do before. Like the past, like week or two Nola has started doing what we call yodeling. She makes the sound that sounds like yodeling with like, tongue, she'll go like bla-bla-bla-- and we can't even mimic it, but it sounds like she's trying to yodel and we're like -- she didn't do that yesterday and now she is. So it is really delightful and to kind of see like who she starts to look more like or you know, how like which features she has of certain people and, you know, what personality traits she's developing. It's just like wonderful to see this tiny human kind of develop into a full blown, have a, get a personality and, and get interests and things like right before your eyes. It's really, really fun. I recommend it.
Wonderful. I love it. So, any last tips or takeaways besides like "expect the unexpected"? That's a big theme for your birth or for like the first year of parenthood?
I don't know if this is so much advice because, but it's an observation that I've made that I think might translate to advice. I in general can be like a very anxious person. And I worried a little bit that despite my best efforts, I would be a very anxious parent. And my mother was a very anxious parent and she was always like, you know, worried about what I was getting into and all of these things. And I worried, I was like, I don't really want to be that type of parent, but you know, I'm worried that like I'll just, that'll be my natural inclination and I've, I've actually found that I, I'm actually a pretty calm parent and you know, we kind of watch her do stuff and we're always like, as long as she's not in danger, I'm like, fine. Like, well, whatever. Like, you know, she'll pick up stuff and put it in her mouth and we're like, is she gonna choke on it? Is it going to kill her? No. Great, fine. Like I don't really -- . So, you know, I think that, I think "trust your instincts" is probably the best piece of advice. And you know, obviously like listen to advice, but you know, nobody knows your baby as well as you do and you can read their cues and you know what they need and you know what you need as a parent and people are going to tell you -- doctors and other parents and just everybody, your parents -- they're all going to kind of weigh in on like what you should and shouldn't be doing. And you know, maybe maybe they have a useful perspective, but ultimately you just kind of need to be the parent that that makes sense for you and for your baby. That's my best advice.
I love that. That's so important.
And you'll be much more sane. And also don't, I guess another piece of advice is, like don't think that just because you're a parent means like you, you are like a parent above all else and that you can't go out and have fun, you can't like take a night off. Like that's really important. And having, having a happy, healthy, having happy, healthy parents is more important than anything else you can give your child. Well, except for, you know, like keeping them healthy, you know? But you know, all of the things like, "Oh, you should be doing all these things and like helping them reach these milestones and, and enrolling them in this thing" and whatever. It's like, that's so much less important than just like being there for them and making them feel safe and, you know, seeing, seeing them, happy, seeing you, happy seeing you and your, and your, your partner happy, and happy with each other. I think that's just so much the most important thing, so.
Speaker 3: (45:22)
Wow, that's good. But a lot of that stuff does take intentionality, right? Like being happy with your partner and just being healthy yourself.
I think all -- so many of us just let that be neglected as we become parents. So, I think that's great advice to be intentional with that.
Yeah. And also like kind of along with that is there's a lot of guilt that comes with being a parent and like, if you're not doing something that you feel like you should be doing or you know, whatever. And, and I, you know, I, I've definitely been prone to that a lot. I still am, but I try to remind myself that like, that's about me. It's not about her, like me feeling guilty for doing or not doing something that I'm supposed to do doesn't help her. And so as long as I'm, you know, paying attention to what's most important, and, and just trying to be like the best mother that I can. And I also like wanna set an example for her. She's a little girl. She might be a mother one day. Like I don't want to set an example for her that she has to be like an anxious parent in order to -- like, that's what parenting is.
Yeah. I'm convicted as you're saying this. Yeah.
I work during the day and, and, you know, even though I'm at home, like there are times when I'm just like, I can't really be focused on her right now or I have to leave in order to get something done. And I remind myself that like, that is setting up right now. She probably isn't paying any attention, but soon she will, you know, see hopefully see that as like my, you know, "Mom is doing stuff to support our family but also doing stuff that's rewarding for her and that she's able to also be a good mom to me when she's here." Like hopefully maybe not immediately. She'll figure all of that out and you know, any sort of guilt I feel about like, "Oh I, you know, I wish I could go to the park with her in the middle of the day" will kind of net themselves out.
Yeah, it will. It will. Good stuff. All right, well thank you so much Brooke. I really appreciate your taking the time out, especially in your work day to chat. And I wish you well. I think -- did you say you're able to come to the reunion?
I hope so. I have it in my calendar.
I hope we'll see you there. I'd love to see Nola. All right. Thank you so much. Tell Glen and Nola hi for me.
I will, take care. Bye.
Well, that was no dull story was it? Brooke's story will always hold a special place in my heart since it started on my classroom floor while we were all having what I always call a slumber party, relaxing with yoga mats and pillows on the floor. I still can't believe after all she went through that she came back to class to share her story only a few days later. Isn't it amazing how our bodies can bounce back from so many things? To wrap things up, I want to comment on a few quick things. I want to reiterate that Brooke's birth was very unusual in several ways and that she definitely had the uncommon dramatic movie version. First, the bag of water breaks (or I like to say releases, since nothing's broken) the bag of water releases as the first sign of labor for only 10 to 20% of births and could release at any time in your labor. In fact, sometimes though rarely a baby will be born in a bubble or we call it "en caul." I'll link to an en caul photo or two in the show notes just in case you're interested in seeing that. Usually the bag will release some time in labor. Another way in which Brooke's labor was non-textbook is that the length of a first labor is usually 18 hours on average. That's an average of course, so it could be longer or it could be shorter, as with Brooke's story. A third way that Brooke's story was highly unusual is that she experienced such an uncontrollable degree of bleeding after birth, which is called hemorrhage, that she required surgery. This is quite rare. Hemorrhage itself occurs only one to 5% of the time, and most of these cases can be treated with far less invasive techniques than Brooke required. You can read more about this topic in a link in the show notes, so please be aware that these things were uncommon ways that birth can play out. I always like to say there's a huge range of normal in all things pregnancy and birth so that it's impossible for anyone to predict how things will go. This lack of certainty is a great opportunity to grow personally in surrendering to the unknown, especially as you enter into parenthood with our highly unpredictable babies, toddlers, and eventually children. Also, I just want to echo the things that Brooke said about parenthood. Sometimes surprising you trusting your instincts because they're there for a reason and that finding time for yourself is so important. I just watched an episode of a great comedy series on Netflix called The Letdown that drove this home. So I recommend checking out season two, episode five for more on this. Oh, and I mentioned the reunion there at the end of the interview, so I just want to mention that I hold a reunion for all my Birth Matters alumni once or twice a year. So you'll hear me bring that up in several of the interviews. What did you think about today's episode? Please feel free to DM me on Instagram or Facebook. You can find me at Birth Matters NYC. Here's a sneak peek of next week's episode.
Speaker 2: (50:37)
You know, I said to her at that point, I was like, "Look, like, I understand it's probably not going to go according to my plan or my hopes, but at the very least you can explain to me like why the decisions are being made that we're making. Like that would be really helpful." Because I'm kind of a talky person and like just to be like, "Okay, like this isn't what you wanted, but here's why we think it's the best move." And so she was totally game for that and that was great.
That's all for now. Thanks for listening to the birth matters podcast. And remember you got this.