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Isabel Faith ~ Born at 33 weeks, 3lbs 11oz (pics added)


So This Is Love

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  #1  
June 17th, 2013, 03:33 PM
alittlelost's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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This was not the birth I wanted. Not anything I expected. And it was scary. I warn those who are sensitive or will get freaked out by the idea of birth by a birth story with severe complications to skip reading this. This isn’t a warm and fuzzy story, but it does have a happy ending, and in the end I was lucky that many things that could have been worse ended up being as good as could be expected under the circumstances. There is definitely a few messages to be taken from this story: about trusting your gut and trusting your instincts and trusting your body, about when to let go of your highest hopes and settle for being alive and regaining health and being grateful for those things, and about strength, support, family, and community, and why we should appreciate those things.


Before the Birth

A huge part of my birth story is how I ended up delivering at 33 weeks in the first place, so I am reviewing that here. Of course, you can skip to the section titled “The Birth” if you don’t want to read this part.

Early in my pregnancy I had protein in my urine, but everything else was fine, so my midwives and I continued to alter my diet. Finally, the proteins were gone, but now I had swelling. Swelling during pregnancy, however, especially in the summer, can be normal. So we tried natural measures to reduce swelling. Despite all efforts, though, the swelling persisted, until eventually it was not just my feet, or my ankles, or my calves, but also my hands and face. However, every time we checked my blood pressure, the reading remained solid and typical.

Each day I felt progressively worse. One morning I woke up and I had reached my breaking point. I was so swollen that I didn’t look like myself anymore. I was struggling to breathe at night. Occasionally, I was seeing spots. Keep in mind just 2 weeks prior my blood pressure was still normal and there were no proteins in my urine.

I called my midwife with my concerns, and she decided they would do blood work at my next appointment to rule out pre-eclampsia, but that in the meantime she wanted me to get a blood pressure reading to see if that had changed, because if it had that would change our plans.

I went to the local fire department, where they took my reading both with a machine and manually, and both times the reading was 187/120-127. That is stage 3, meaning that I was at risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, seizure, and even death. At this point I was instructed by both the fire department and my midwife to go directly to the hospital.

My blood pressures were still high when I arrived and remained dangerously high. They admitted me and began a magnesium treatment (magnesium is the devil that saves you. It is truly evil and makes you feel like you are dying, but in reality it might have been the only thing that kept me alive). A lot of what happened while on the magnesium is a blur. I slept a lot. When I was awake, my friends and family kept me company via phone/social media messages.
'
At the time I was 32 weeks. Because my blood work was fine, and I was responding to the magnesium treatment, there was talk of me going home and bedresting on blood pressure medications, but once they received my lab reports for my protein levels (spilling from my kidneys), that option was taken off the table. For perspective, 300 proteinuria is the concerning level which indicates pre-eclamptic levels. Mine were over 9000 (that is not a typo. Yes, over nine THOUSAND). This was enough to shock doctors and nurses alike, even to double check with the lab—none of them had ever seen levels this high. The doctors instructed the nurses they wanted to know every little change.

Every blood pressure reading over a certain level warranted a phone call (and most of my readings were over that level) and I was asked just about every hour if I was seeing spots, had a headache, or if I had upper gastric pain.

The news from the doctors was all over the place, with the best case scenario being I would make it 34 weeks and deliver the baby to the worst case scenario being they would perform an emergency c-section at any time if necessary to save me or the baby’s life.

In the meantime, the magnesium was losing efficiency and blood pressure medicine had to be added to my care. When one medicine didn’t work, they would try a double dose of another. It was getting to the point they told me that making it to 34 weeks was highly unlikely. Dr. Doomsday (as I lovingly nicknamed him) was sure to impart to me daily how serious things were, how I was on the verge of seizure and death and that I needed to accept that a c-section was the most likely scenario. Nurses also tried to help prepare me for this, but I stubbornly stuck to the hope of at least being able to try a normal delivery.

The baby was continually monitored and my blood work was repeated multiple times daily. I received steroid shots for baby’s lungs and they performed an ultrasound on baby daily for biophysical and to estimate baby’s size and growth. At each ultrasound, baby was breech, and this meant I would most likely need a c-section, though a couple of the doctors did support possibly trying to manually flip baby with a version depending on her size and response to the procedure.

By 33 weeks, nothing was keeping my blood pressure down. Thanks to the little I could do to encourage baby to flip (such as use of peppermint oil), baby showed head down at that day’s ultrasound. The doctor decided we would induce that day, with the caveat being that if any time things got even the slightest bit worse, they would move me to the OR and perform a c-section to remove the baby.


The Birth

I had to be on magnesium for the birth, and this was hard, as it’s not easy to labor when you literally feel like you are being poisoned to death. But I was thankful we were at least trying for a normal delivery. As part of the preparation for induction, pads of blankets were taped to the bed’s rails, which I suspected (and later confirmed) was to prevent further injury in the event of seizure. The concern was that labor could set my body over the edge and into the worst case scenario.

The induction process began with a dose of cytotec, which was to be repeated every 4 hours. Due to how hot the magnesium made me feel, the room temperate was set at 55 degrees, unfortunately for everyone else who was in the room and freezing. But even with the air set this cold, I was burning up. My husband kept changing a cool rag for my head, but it would go on icy cold and within a minute it felt like a warm compress.

4 hours later, there was no change. They gave another dose. Another 4 hours later, still no change, still another dose. I was contracting but did not feel the contractions (I don’t usually feel early labor) so thankfully I was not in discomfort due to that, however, I did end up with upper gastric pain, which felt like a sharp non-stop cramp that eventually made me unable to sleep. The nurse gave me staydol to help, and pretty much with each dose of staydol I was able to get, the gastric pain was resolved and I could sleep through through labor until it wore off. However, the doses could only be given when baby was active, so sometimes I just had to deal with the pain, which was becoming increasingly difficult as the magnesium took its toll on me.

Finally, about 18 hours into labor, I progressed to a 2. But it had taken so long to get there and my blood pressures weren’t doing well and the new symptom of upper gastric pain was concerning. There started being more talk of c-section at this time. Right after the nurse told me I would likely be going into surgery once the doctor was updated, I was jolted from sleep with a sharp pop. I sensed my water had broken. I moved around a bit and was sure. Then I started feeling my contractions. Intense, 1-2 minute contractions with only maybe 20-30 seconds between each one. It felt like transition, and now I KNWE my water had broken. They confirmed it had, but they checked me again and I was still only 2cm and again they told me to prepare to need a c-section.

At this point, I could hardly care. I was so miserable that I was wishing I had just gotten a c-section in the first place. I felt like I was dying, and with the magnesium and gastric pain, I was not coherent enough to cope with anything. I told her to get me the epidural then since I’d need it for the c-section anyway so it wouldn’t matter that I was only 2cm. They couldn’t give me staydol anyway. She agreed that they might as well give me the epidural now since I was going to be getting a c-section so there was no point in me dealing with the contractions anymore.

I have to say, I wasn’t a huge fan of this particular nurse through the process, because she was so negative and never took anything I said seriously. She didn’t believe me that my water had broken until she checked. She didn’t believe me that I was in transition even though my contractions were so close together. She didn’t seem in any rush to help me out of my misery nor did she seem to care that I was going to need a c-section after so adamantly trying to avoid one. But at this point, if I didn’t deliver soon, I was seriously risking seizure or worse.

When the epidural guy came, she told me to just focus on breathing while counting 1, 2, 3, 4 (in); 1, 2, 3, 4 (out). I told her, “You count” meaning that I could breathe but I needed someone else to count for me (it probably sounded like I was being flippant, and I was certainly annoyed with her as it was, but she did count for me). And finally there was peace. For some reason, listening to her count while I breathed made everything easier. The epidural guy was quick, but he admitted it was hard to see where to put the epi catheter because of all the swelling in my back (my whole body was really blown up HUGE), but he did get it in.

Unfortunately, I still felt pain, so I thought maybe he had it in wrong, but they kept saying I needed to give it time for the first dose to kick in. I laid back, waiting for it to work and wondering if they could fix it before I needed surgery, but moments later, I felt a lot of pain and pressure in my cervix. I told the nurse, who said it was from sitting up, that the baby must have dropped lower. I asked if it should hurt and she said I would feel pressure and I told her yes, there’s pressure, but it HURTS.
In the space of about 1 minute, I went from thinking making the baby was about to come out to being certain the baby was coming. The nurse took her time because, as she said, she JUST checked me and I was 2cm with a thick cervix that wasn’t even halfway effaced. But I told her I feel something coming.

She checked (probably just to shut me up) then called out, “I need a doctor NOW. I need NICU NOW.” Then two seconds later repeated her request. I told her, “The baby is coming and I can’t stop it so don’t even ask.” Moments later, the nurse delivered my baby girl as the doctor and NICU staff walked into the room.

Isabel Faith was born at 9:48am (my first daytime baby!) weighing 3 lbs 11 oz and 17 inches long.

At first, they said I would not be able to hold her, but a few moments later they said I would be able to after all because she started breathing on her own. They wrapped her and put her on my chest, hubby snapped some pictures, and then they whisked her off to the NICU.

The nurse told me later she has never seen anyone go from 2cm to delivery so fast and that people say the baby is coming all the time when the baby is not, so that is why she didn’t take me seriously. She said “It was 25 minutes. 25 minutes prior you were only 2cm. No one goes from 2cm to delivery in 25 minutes. There was no reason for me to think that what you said was happening was even possible.”

The way things played out was truly a miracle. A stunning, unbelievable miracle.


After the Birth

I had to stay on the magnesium for another 24 hours after the birth. I couldn’t even think about wanting to see my baby. I could barely stay awake or think or anything other than wanting to come off the magnesium. I couldn’t believe I had another 24 hours to deal with it. During this time (and several others along the way) I found little pockets of peace in being able to talk to my husband, my friends, my family. People on twitter, on facebook, on forums I belong to, etc. When I was awake, I distracted myself with those things and with pictures my husband sent me of our daughter. The rest of the time, I slept.

Once I was off the magnesium, things for me improved physically. I still had a lot of swelling and my blood pressures were still high, but more of a stage 1 and sometimes 2 and not stage 2 and 3. They did have to sometimes give more than one medication to bring it down during periods it was stuck higher. I am home now and continue to have high pressures and swelling, but both are manageable with rest, restricted diet, and taking blood pressure medication 3 times a day. The swelling at one point was worse after delivery but has recently started to go down a little.

Between the pre-eclampsia and the treatments, I didn't look like myself. Though my kids cried at home that they missed me, whenever they came to visit, they were too scared to come near me. (And since being home, there's been a lot to "come back" from. My youngest is moody and my daughter is scared to sleep at night.) It's really been something that has affected our entire family.

After the physical things subsided, I started having nightmares about not being able to get to my baby and I started having panic attacks. There is a lot of things emotionally I still have to deal with. I struggled to make enough milk for her and that brought me to tears at times. I felt like my body wasn’t good enough to carry her until term. She had to be brought into this world prematurely because *I* wasn’t doing well. She was doing fine. She could have stayed in there forever but was forced out because of my body. I know logically it was not in my control—I ate healthy and exercised through the pregnancy—but there’s still that feeling that my body wasn’t good enough. And then, after she was born, I couldn’t make enough milk to keep up with her feedings, so there was my body failing her again. She was doing great, but my body was not great enough to keep up with her.

I had a breakdown over leaving her at the hospital. I am only able to go visit once a day. I have breakdowns sometimes when I see her things around the house. I have breakdowns when I go to the store and have to pick something up from the baby aisle. I worry about her future and wonder what I can do to help make sure she is not negatively affected by being born prematurely. I have already begun making plans for special care when she is released so that her pediatrician can monitor her closely.

Everyone tells me how “strong” I am, and it started to make me wonder what makes a person strong. Am I strong because of how I react to what I go through or because I somehow survive what I go through? Or am I strong because people want to believe I am? I don’t feel strong. I feel broken, in more ways than one. I know Isabel will be okay. I know she will come home after what feels like a short eternity. I know things could have been worse. I know Isabel is doing amazing for a 33 weeker and that 33 weekers usually do great as it is. And so sometimes that makes me feel anything but strong—that even with things as “good” as they are (considering) I am still a mess.

Although I do not feel strong, it’s all these people who believe I am strong who have been helping me through this. Another preemie mom is sending some preemie clothes. My family has sent packages as well. Friends have helped clean my house and prepare meals for my family and they stop by to check on me and help out and babysit our other kids when we need. Meanwhile, I focus on giving Isabel what she needs and getting ready for her to come home. I focus on healing my body. And I also focus on helping my children, who were badly affected by my hospital stay and need me more than ever right now.

But, through all of this, I still think of how lucky I am in so many other ways: Lucky for all of the people who have been there for me, lucky to be alive, and lucky to have Isabel.





(flipping off the NICU staff...)



(they lose weight before they gain, but this isn't too bad so far)


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Last edited by alittlelost; June 18th, 2013 at 05:22 AM.
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  #2  
June 17th, 2013, 04:56 PM
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What an amazing story!!!
You are definitely strong and I'm glad Isabel is doing well. Love her name too!!
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  #3  
June 17th, 2013, 05:02 PM
ElliotsMommy13's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Im glad to get the whole story but so sorry it was such a nightmare!! I know it isn't anything you wanted to go through. Isabel will be amazing and I hope people stop using the word "strong" without really thinking it. I can only imagine how much you get it and I know in your situation.. you have two choices- be strong or give up and not care.. but as a mom.. you really don't have that choice. You were hercules at the moment and I know being told to be strong didnt help or mean anything. You are understandably emotionally broken but when you have your Isabel home you will feel whole and complete as a family again. I cannot believe through all that you were able to give us little updates so we know how you were doing! You have an amazing story that you will be able to share with Isabel one day and she will know how hard you worked to get her into this world in the best condition possible and how much you love her!
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Last edited by ElliotsMommy13; June 17th, 2013 at 05:04 PM.
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  #4  
June 17th, 2013, 05:42 PM
JessKeller24's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Great story and I'm glad everything turned out ok. I'm sorry you didn't get the birth you wanted. I wanted a vbac with my second and didn't get it and a million people would tell me "just be happy, you're alive and baby is alive". I wanted to punch them! Obviously you are happy you and baby are alive, but that doesn't take away the pain of not having the birth you want. hugs!
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  #5  
June 17th, 2013, 05:45 PM
BeachMum's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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I'm so glad you are ok now and that Isabel is doing well, despite her preemie birth. I'm so sorry it wasn't the birth you had planned but so thankful for a good outcome and I'm looking forward to the day that you post that you get to bring your baby home. BTW, I LOVE her name. Congratulations on your baby girl.
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  #6  
June 17th, 2013, 07:28 PM
alittlelost's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melissamarie247 View Post
Im glad to get the whole story but so sorry it was such a nightmare!! I know it isn't anything you wanted to go through. Isabel will be amazing and I hope people stop using the word "strong" without really thinking it. I can only imagine how much you get it and I know in your situation.. you have two choices- be strong or give up and not care.. but as a mom.. you really don't have that choice. You were hercules at the moment and I know being told to be strong didnt help or mean anything. You are understandably emotionally broken but when you have your Isabel home you will feel whole and complete as a family again. I cannot believe through all that you were able to give us little updates so we know how you were doing! You have an amazing story that you will be able to share with Isabel one day and she will know how hard you worked to get her into this world in the best condition possible and how much you love her!
Thanks hon At the time, it was such a blur. I tried to make the story as streamlined and coherent as I could though. Don't get me wrong, there were definitely good moments throughout where I was able to talk (obviously) but it was in between these periods of a state of near-death. I feel like I slept through most of this past week. But if I didn't have anyone to talk to, those waking moments would have been so much more depressing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom2RickyRanaJavier View Post
Great story and I'm glad everything turned out ok. I'm sorry you didn't get the birth you wanted. I wanted a vbac with my second and didn't get it and a million people would tell me "just be happy, you're alive and baby is alive". I wanted to punch them! Obviously you are happy you and baby are alive, but that doesn't take away the pain of not having the birth you want. hugs!
Thanks for understanding! I know people mean well with the things they say. I am sure I have said things like that before myself and will again one day, too! When you are going through it it can be hard though because you want your feelings to feel validated, for people to understand, and often they can't or just don't want to. They want to play everything off as no big deal, in a well-intentioned attempt to keep you "thinking positive" but sometimes what you want to hear is that it's okay and understandable to be unahppy with your situation.
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  #7  
June 17th, 2013, 08:01 PM
yvee80's Avatar SmileyMom
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This was not the birth that you wanted at all but I am so glad that you and Isabel are both ok and getting healthier each day. You are strong...what makes you strong is everything you questioned (the reasons why people say you are strong) as well as being able to breakdown but still knowing it is ok, feeling the feelings that you are feeling and still continuing to go on for your children...we as parents tend to think that what we do is a given (and for most of us it is BUT in our children's eyes we are superheros, don't discount anything that you have gone through you are Isabel's Super Hero mommy and don't you forget that ! Touching birth story Lost.
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  #8  
June 17th, 2013, 08:14 PM
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What an amazing story. It truly was a miracle that you got to deliver her without a C-section. Don't be harsh on yourself - you went through a horrible time leading up to her delivery. You didn't fail her and you are not failing her now that she is here. You are an amazing mommy and Isabel is an equally amazing little girl and awfully cute too

We are here for you if you need to vent or just talk at any time. Please please continue to post updates on her and you, as you feel fit to. *big hugs to you and a gentle hug for sweet Isabel*.
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  #9  
June 17th, 2013, 09:00 PM
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What an amazing story!! First of all, I am so glad that both you and Isabel are doing well. She is so precious and her pictures just take my breath away- what a little miracle. The "flipping off" one is just awesome...definitely one to frame in the future.

I am so in awe and have so much respect for how you handled and continued to handle everything. You have a great attitude and seemed to through most of the hospitalization- you really are an example of how far positive proactive thinking can get you. I'm so sorry you had to go through so much (I was only on magnesium for 48 hrs and wouldnt wish it on anyone) and did not get the birth you wanted, but I am so very glad you are ok.

I can't wait to see more pictures and hear more updates. Thank you so much for sharing with us.
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  #10  
June 17th, 2013, 09:05 PM
alittlelost's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beachbabies View Post
What an amazing story!! First of all, I am so glad that both you and Isabel are doing well. She is so precious and her pictures just take my breath away- what a little miracle. The "flipping off" one is just awesome...definitely one to frame in the future.

I am so in awe and have so much respect for how you handled and continued to handle everything. You have a great attitude and seemed to through most of the hospitalization- you really are an example of how far positive proactive thinking can get you. I'm so sorry you had to go through so much (I was only on magnesium for 48 hrs and wouldnt wish it on anyone) and did not get the birth you wanted, but I am so very glad you are ok.

I can't wait to see more pictures and hear more updates. Thank you so much for sharing with us.
I think technically they can only do magnesium for 48 hours at a time. Because they had me on it for I think 24 hours, then off of it (so I had to do the whole "coming off it" thing...which also sucks) and then a couple days later had to go back on it for the labor and for 24 hours after delivery (which basically put me at ANOTHER 48 hours on it). So altogether, I was really only on the mag about 72 hours (not continuous) but they only allow it for 48 hours at a time. It's just the worst thing to be on and sucks coming off of, too. I felt soooo ill coming off it both times. Sorry you had to be on it before, too. I wouldn't wish it on anyone! It's amazing that it's actually something that saves lives when being on it makes you feel like you are dying.
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  #11  
June 17th, 2013, 10:15 PM
mirdeemrlvs's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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wow. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. Tough, but some definite miracles threaded throughout. Time will heal. Especially when you are able to bring your little bundle home!! Hoping and praying that she continues to grow and gain and you are strengthen along with your husband and other children. Happy to hear you have help and people coming by to see to your needs. Can't wait to hear updates!!!
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  #12  
June 17th, 2013, 10:50 PM
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Thank you for sharing your story. Such an emotional roller coaster you have been on. What a relief you are both doing so well. I hope she gains weight well and can come home as soon as possible.
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  #13  
June 17th, 2013, 11:06 PM
Lucy S.'s Avatar POAS addict
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*lurking*
Trying not to sound like a creep but I have been follow your pregnancy for sometime (I fell upon a thread about your parenting philosophies and since then popped in to see how you were) and wanted to tell you congratulations!!
And brave people rarely know how brave they are. You ARE strong and you are very brave! You could have done things so differently and probably 'easier'. You survived! You thrived and now your little one if thriving too!

As far as the milk I can offer some encouragement- I was in the ICU when my exclusively BF DS was only 5 weeks old. By the time I got out of the hospital he was off formula and my starved body had no supply left. We managed within a month to get him solely back on the breast! And went on to nurse for years!
If you need an ear or advice or whatever, you can PM me Although I am sure you will get plenty of support I thought I would offer!

Much luck to you mama!! And you daughter is beautiful!
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  #14  
June 18th, 2013, 06:05 AM
alittlelost's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Thanks everyone

Lucy, that is AMAZING what you overcame with breastfeeding. It couldn't have been easy. What an inspiration <3
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  #15  
June 18th, 2013, 06:42 AM
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Lost, you are such a beautiful person. You really are. I love that Isabel was putting her middle finger up. I hope that each and everyday you both get stronger and stronger. I am so glad you are both ok.
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  #16  
June 18th, 2013, 08:05 AM
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Wow.. Lost what an amazing birth story. You are truly such an amazing, strong woman. I know this wasn't the birth you wanted, but you handled it so well and did what you had to do to bring this beautiful little girl into this world. She is so lucky to have a mother like you!
Thank you so much for sharing your long hard journey with us, truly inspiring.

I love that Isabel is flicking off the nurse in that picture! Totally made me laugh.

I will continue to think of you and Isabel and I hope that each day she gets strong and you can take her home before you know it!
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  #17  
June 18th, 2013, 09:55 AM
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Oh lost I am broken hearted for you for all you have had to endure and for not getting the birth you wanted,
And I am rejoicing for you for your sweet baby girl doing so well.
She is breath taking and I am praying for you guys for the weeks to come to go quickly and the transition to be smooth. Hugs to you you are a beautiful soul.
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  #18  
June 18th, 2013, 10:14 AM
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Isabel's birth story is amazing, Lost. Thank you for sharing it with us. I'm so sorry you didn't get the birth experience that you imagined or wanted, but I'm so glad that you and Isabel came through everything safe. It seems like you handled everything so gracefully... your story is inspiring.

Isabel is absolutely beautiful. I'll continue to keep you both in my thoughts. I so look forward to any and all updates on you and sweet Isabel.
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  #19  
June 18th, 2013, 01:48 PM
IvyMommy's Avatar Veteran
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 498
Thank you for sharing your amazing story and the beautiful photos of your baby girl ! You are on brave strong woman ! Prayers she will come home soon
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  #20  
June 18th, 2013, 02:07 PM
MyFantasticFour's Avatar Mommy of 4
Join Date: Dec 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom2RickyRanaJavier View Post
Great story and I'm glad everything turned out ok. I'm sorry you didn't get the birth you wanted. I wanted a vbac with my second and didn't get it and a million people would tell me "just be happy, you're alive and baby is alive". I wanted to punch them! Obviously you are happy you and baby are alive, but that doesn't take away the pain of not having the birth you want. hugs!
Yes, I agree with Jessica...your birth desires matter too and your feelings about it are totally relevant! You didn't get that birth you wanted and instead it was scary and it seems like surrounded by some staff with not the greatest bedside manner.

Your daughter looks completely beautiful and fantastic and especially for her early age she looks perfect. I hope she gets to come home with you soon and that you are feeling better.
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