Today’s guest post is a friend of mine from Elementary School that I reconnected with over the internet. Courtney Jorgensen is the loving wife of TJ, mother of two spirited little girls with a third on the way, and step-mother to four children as well. When she’s not stuck in the laundry room, you can find her baking Tastefully Simple or on the local FOX affiliate station as the Weekend Meteorologist. This is her birth story and her journey to reclaim her birth for her 3rd daughter.
Written by: Courtney Jorgensen
35 weeks, 5 days along with Baby Girl #3
As we came upon our “5-year plan”, we sat and discussed the pros and cons of bringing another baby into our family. We already had a 6 year old and a nearly 5 year old together. In my mind, there was one underlying issue that really would determine it all… can I have a vaginal birth?
I have a few medical issues, but nothing that should hold me back from having a natural childbirth. With my first daughter, I didn’t know any better, and trusted my OB/GYN when she said we shouldn’t go past 40 weeks to prevent any complications. I was induced on my due date and had been having some irregular contractions with a “favorable” cervix, meaning, I was already 2-3 cm dilated. My body was working, it just wasn’t ready to deliver. Nonetheless, I was HUGE, well at least in my mind I was huge… I was ready for that little girl to pop out!
I had always envisioned myself having a completely empowering, natural labor and delivery. I wanted no pain meds. I wanted calm breathing. I wanted butterflies unicorns to run through my head. I wanted to be a Saint. For any of you ‘Been There Done That’ Moms, you know that once the intense drug Pitocin is introduced into your labor plans, everything changes. At first, your body starts revving up, giving you some sample contractions with minor intensity. Then, all hell breaks loose. (I laughed at a recent childbirth class when the instructor said that your contractions should be every 3-5 minutes, lasting about 1 minute. She clearly had never seen a woman on a Pitocin drip!) My contractions were coming every 1.5 minutes, lasting at least 45 seconds. They continued this way for hours.Although I already had two interventions: Pitocin as well as artificial rupture of membranes, I was still determined to go as natural as possible. I refused all pain medicines. I really thought I could do it, with my husband’s support and surrounded by the closest women in my family. Finally, around dinnertime, I swear an ostrich egg was trying to come out of my business! The nurse checked and voila – 10 cm! At that point, I knew I could do it without any drugs.
The doctor came in, cutting her dinner and family time short. Checked me, and wouldn’t ya’ know? I was only 5-6 cm…. What the?!?!?! How could some idiot nurse be off by a fist?!?!?! I was utterly crushed! My dreams of pushing that ostrich egg out were no longer and I demanded an epidural if “this was only 5-6 cm.” So, in goes the epidural.
Now, most women will tell you that their epidural was heaven. They got some sleep,played some card games, yadda yadda yadda. Shortly after mine was started, I started feeling contractions again. In fact, I went the rest of the night getting an extra push from the anesthesiologist every 45 minutes. I had already switched my mind from ‘all natural labor’ to ‘save me from this pain’, so this was a terrible thing for my ‘new plan’.
Anyway, I sucked it up and made it to about 8 cm in the middle of the night when my doctor informed me that “the baby’s head is starting to swell and she’s starting to go back up the birth canal.” Wait, what? She’s retreating?! This is NOT Braveheart – you are going the wrong way baby girl!!! (I’m certain now, 7 years later and a ton of research, that all of the interventions and inability to stay mobile, had an impact on this new turn of events.) The dreaded word was recommended… c-section. My beautiful, stretch-marked body, was going to have to go under the knife. I cried.
Wait, I take that back. First, I vomited. Then, I cried. Again, looking back now, I wonder if I was actually going through transition at that point… I still wonder if I would have waited it out a little longer (which was an alternative the doctor offered – why the hell didn’t I take that?), if she would have come out ‘the right way’. Nonetheless, we prayed about it. I listened to my husband’s plea to get the baby out safely and agreed to go ahead with the c-section.
At 1:02 am, Isabella Addison was born to this world. She was so beautiful, but NOTHING like I expected. I had dreams early on in pregnancy of what my child would look like: blonde and petite. Instead, I got an incredible surprise – a papoose! We even have video of me saying, when I see her for the first time around the curtain, “Awww! She look’s nothing like us!” She didn’t. She had black hair and the chubbiest cheeks you could ever imagine. Wrapped up in the receiving blankets, she looked like an Eskimo. My little papoose. I fell in love the moment I heard her first cry.
Courtney with newborn Isabella
Fast forward 7.5 months later. Surprise, we’re pregnant again!!! Once again, being naïve, I trusted in my OB/GYN when she stated that I’d never be able to push out a baby bigger than 6.5 lbs, so this one would be a c-section as well. (Isabella was 7 lbs 8 oz).
Pregnancy progressed as normal and due to ‘scheduling conflicts’, we agreed to deliver her two weeks early at 38 weeks. My recovery from the first c-section wasn’t too bad aside from all the vomiting the next day after surgery, so this should be similar, right? WRONG!
I’m terrible with anesthesia of any kind. And by terrible, I mean, I vomit, a lot. Usually, not until AFTER I’ve gone through the procedure. This second c-section would be the ultimate test of… well, I’m not really sure what I was being tested on, but it was the worst experience of my life. As soon as my baby girl was yanked out (took them some time, extra cutting, tons of tugging, etc.), I started vomiting. And, I didn’t stop.
For those of you blessed with NOT having to go under the knife, do you have any idea what it’s like to have both arms strapped down, laying on your back, nothing in your belly, and heaving so heavily that your blood vessels break? I was helpless. It was traumatic.
I vaguely remember my husband, who, by the way, cannot stand the sight/sound/smell of vomit, bringing our newest baby girl wrapped up around the curtain, only to turn quickly away as he quickly saw the dreadful shape that I was in. They pushed THREE times the dose of anti-nausea meds to try and get me to stop. Alivia Sunrise was born at 12:01pm,weighing 7 lbs, 9 oz. And that’s about all I remember.
The drugs had a lasting impact on me. I don’t remember the recovery room. I don’t remember my post-partum room or how I got there. I don’t remember nursing the first time or however many more times thereafter. I don’t remember visitors or eating or drinking. I don’t remember what she looked like, or even seeing her, for that matter. It wasn’t until 1am, 13 hours later, that I finally had my vision back and as able to actually see by new baby girl. And wow, she was beautiful! She actually came out looking like us!
I was blessed, but boy, what an ordeal it was to get to this point. Recovery was much harder this round, of course it didn’t help that I had a nearly 16 month old to take care of as well. I actually had to take pain meds for a couple of weeks after. I was weak, physically and emotionally. So, there it was. I wasn’t a Saint after all. My body had failed me, twice. I vowed to NEVER go through this again. Never.
Moving forward five years, and its decision time – to baby or not to baby. My only stipulation: a vaginal birth is required. No interventions, no pain medications, all natural. It took a couple months, but I finally found the ONLY doctor in our area that would let me try for a VBA2C (vaginal birth after two cesareans). We signed right up that day!
And so begins our journey to natural childbirth with baby girl #3 on the way. I’ve got a supportive provider, a supportive husband, and a doula in my pocket. I’m eating right,I’m exercising, I’m doing my birth-ready stretches and movements. No gestational diabetes, weight maintained. I’m ready to go! I’m ready to do this! I’m ready to see those butterflies and unicorns running through my head!
It’s go time!