I truly believe everyone I work with and support during pregnancy and then birth I have come together with for a reason. I always hope to support and strengthen every person and couple in every way I am able but I love how I also am able to grow and learn from them. I enjoyed every second of getting to know Heather and her husband. They have a truly remarkable bond. At one of our prenatal sessions they told me about a hiking trip they went on during their honeymoon and how it was one of the most difficult climbs they had ever been on. They would often use that hike as a metaphor to marriage and sometimes to what they felt birth would be like. Heather would get exhausted and sore but would be able to go on with encouragement and it would feel like nothing else, once accomplished. This analogy rang true for their experience but maybe in more ways than they initially thought. When hiking up a mountain you’ve never been before you aren’t able to feel or know the obstacles or the choices you’ll have to make until they’re right in front of you. You still have to make it to the top, and you will, but the journey isn’t going to be like you expected.
This is an important story and one the writer was hesitant to share for fear of how it would affect others. I told her I would be honored to share this story. People need to hear about warrior women like her. By having this story out there my hopes are twofold. This may make a difference for how someone else is treated in the future and others feeling it is ok to feel everything you feel about how your child’s birth may have gone and to acknowledge it. It’s important to know the details matter in birth. Women need to be held high like queens and nurtured and cared for every second of the way by all providers who care for them. They need to be heard. Unfortunately, this was not the case for Heather at every moment.
ALL women should feel proud of themselves after giving birth, but some are taken on an unforeseen path they did everything to steer away from. The process of labor alone takes and uses every tiny minuscule bit of strength, emotion and determination in our body and soul and then some more. When things don’t go to plan and we have to use what we have left to keep ourselves together and continue on strong for ourselves and for our babies that is a warrior at its finest. I believe this story will resonate with so many and I thank her for sharing this.
Becoming Ezra by Heather Philips
Nobody could have prepared me for how hard it would be to become pregnant. Two years and a bunch of hormone injections later, I finally became pregnant with you. My pregnancy was relatively easy. I had a few bad days of nausea, and a lot of heartburn, but overall, being pregnant with you was an absolute joy. My favorite part of my pregnancy was lying in bed at night with my hands around my belly, telling you I loved you and would do anything to keep you safe, while I felt you moving around inside of me.
My due date came and you were not ready to come. I tried every natural intervention to get you out, but I think I made you too comfortable inside of me. I ate spicy food, drank castor oil, went for hikes, and climbed 30 flights of stairs, but for ten days I was not dilated or having contractions. On April 29, ten days after your due date, I went to the birthing center to get induced. The induction took almost two days to get labor going, and the labor process took two more days.Nothing about labor went to plan. But, as always your dad and I made the best of it, found the humor in it, worked together, and experienced another adventure together.
After two cook catheters and a midwife manually breaking my water, I finally started having contractions. I welcomed the pain. With the help of my doula, Bethany, I found ways to turn the pain into very intimate moments with your dad.
This was my favorite part of labor. With every contraction, I felt more and more confident that I was ready to meet you and be your mom. During all the pain, I felt more and more connected to your daddy. As usual, he made me feel so strong and took all of the pain away. When the contractions started to get excruciatingly painful, Bethany made me feel so empowered and confident; I somehow managed to breathe through another one. Finally, it was time to push. I pushed for hours. I exhausted every labor position, all of my energy, and went through an entire sleeve of throw up bags, only to be told that your head was stuck and that the midwives were starting to worry that I was losing a lot of blood and your heart rate was going to drop. The midwife said that having a C-section was probably the safest option. It was in that moment that I became a mom, because I willingly abandoned my plan for an all natural labor and delivery, to put your needs before mine. Your dad and I shared another intimate moment crying together, mourning the loss of our entire birth plan, and then walked together to the operating room.
The entire C-section process was the only traumatizing part of your birth. The rest of my labor with you was so beautiful. After walking to the operating room, 10 centimeters dilated, having the most painful contractions, and throwing up, I was told that your dad couldn’t be in the room with me while the doctors prepped me for surgery. I felt the most scared, vulnerable, and defeated I have ever felt in my entire life. The doctors seemed very disorganized and I had no idea what was going on. The lights were bright, the sounds were loud, and my contractions were getting worse and worse. Then, my body was numb, my arms were pinned down with IV’s, and I had no idea what was going on. I was crying with panic. Finally, your dad was allowed to come in, and as usual, made me feel stronger.
The C-section was really quick. Your daddy was crying the whole time, because he was filled with excitement to meet you. I was crying the whole time because I was so scared of the unplanned C-section and so tired from the four-day labor. I also couldn’t feel my arms and the doctors were not reassuring me that this was normal. Finally, after what seemed like hours, the doctors held you up and your daddy announced that you were here! And just like that, there you were, Ezra Frankie Phillips, born on May 2nd 2019 at 11:32am at 9 pounds 5 ounces and 23 inches long. The doctors couldn’t believe how big you were! From the second you were born, people were already impressed by you. Your dad helped the doctors clean you off and cut your umbilical cord, then came over and handed you to me. But I couldn’t hold you, because my arms were pinned down. I remember just crying because I felt so guilty that I couldn’t hold you. And so guilty that my anxiety of the C-section and being numb overrode my feelings of excitement and joy from seeing you. And right when I was starting to feel my arms again and my anxiety started to lessen, the doctors took you and daddy away while they finished my surgery, which brought on another round of anxiety and vulnerability.
I don’t remember the rest of the surgery or how I got back into the labor room. But then the nurse put you on my bare skin and you crawled onto my chest, nuzzled into me, and I held you while you took your first sips of milk, and all of the pain, all of the worry, and all of the unknown disappeared, because in that moment, nothing else mattered, because I became your mom. And you became my son.