We are all in a different part of our journey to #holdbabieslovebodies. Alisha tells us about how her pregnancy, birth story, and her postpartum healing journey led her to #holdbabieslovebodies:
“[My body] has always just adapted and performed as I expect it to... [t]hen the day came and it all went sideways.”
Phineas is a constant source of joy in our family. Being his mother has changed so much about my life. I’ve been athletic my whole life and have always taken my health and strength somewhat for granted. My body was always reliable. It has always just adapted and performed as I expect it to. During my pregnancy it was no different. I was fortunate to be incredibly healthy and maintain the same level of activity until two weeks out. I continued to work my physical job around horses and rock climb in my maternity harness. I took pride in how fit I stayed. Every appointment showed Phin and I healthy. I was excited about delivery. We selected the perfect birth center, midwife, and doula. My husband and I were looking forward to meeting Phin in this peaceful environment with minimal interventions.
Then the day came and it all went sideways. Phin was not properly positioned. Everybody missed it. Labor stretched on for hours with no progress past stage 3. We transferred to the hospital during a massive flash flood that closed half the city. The second deviation in my birth plan was when I received Pitocin to jump start my contractions and an epidural because I couldn’t bear the pain any longer. With the hospital staff I’d never met and my doula we tried again for an hour to move Phin while he miraculously stayed stable. We tried so many positions but he wouldn’t move. Thirty-six hours after my water broke and 7 hours after I’d started pushing, I was wheeled off to the OR. I was sad but knew this was necessary for all of us.
“ I was disgusted with my body and the ways I felt it failed me.”
I was so exhausted I vaguely remember seeing Phin the first time. They sent us to recovery and then to a room but I never felt fully alert after the surgery. I just remember family and my husband being in the room when I mentioned they should get a nurse because I was going to pass out. Within seconds alarms went off everywhere and nurses surrounded me. I heard 53/30 as my BP and something about blood immediately. When I started to gain full consciousness, I found an IV putting blood into one hand and a second IV pumping fluids into the other. I’d bled badly into my abdomen. Poor little Phin wanted to nurse but I couldn’t hold him so my husband, remembering our breastfeeding class, helped him latch and held him while he nursed for the first time.
I went on to have numerous complications involving a major abdominal hematoma, horrific bruising, infection, cardiac complications, complete intestinal shutdown (ileus), and an ambulance ride due to embolism scare. I spent more time in the hospital than I ever imagined. Our local hospital let me keep Phin at my side every step of the way, ensuring my mental health stayed intact and my breastfeeding journey was miraculously successful. I couldn’t go to the bathroom alone for weeks and I looked more pregnant than when I went into labor.
I was disgusted with my body and the ways I felt it failed me. I was humiliated and vulnerable and so upset that I could labor for so long before I was transferred. As a medical professional I was ashamed at the choices I made and that I didn’t ask for transfer sooner. I was in so much pain I just simply wasn’t present in my birth to advocate.
“ I wore little Phin for the first time. It was so comforting and felt so right.”
Slowly I was able to start walking and my sister came into town. We were in DC headed to a museum and she loaned me a sling. I wore little Phin for the first time. It was so comforting and felt so right. To continue healing I spent my maternity leave walking around our downtown with Phin in his sling. Everyone commented on my babywearing and how peaceful Phin appeared. I felt I was getting this motherhood thing down.
Unfortunately my journey to healing was not done. When I finally felt well enough to resume some of my activities like rock climbing, I knew something was wrong. I was diagnosed with a severe diastasis. I was crushed. For an active climbing mama these are the worst words to hear. It means no climbing for months as you rest and let your abdomen stitch back together. Start back too soon and all progress is lost. Again, I was mad at my body and how it had failed.
Then, that evening, I went on a walk with my husband and in single Lagoon I breastfed while wearing for the first time. It was so peaceful, and I felt so badass and strong. This feeling continues to define my babywearing journey. I put my head down and worked hard with my PT. My diastasis healed in half the time we expected. I’m back climbing at a lower level but steadily making progress while Phin laughs at his crazy parents from his blanket on the gym or forest floor. I regularly hike 4-6 miles wearing Phin with friends from Hike it Baby. Recently Phin and I mastered back carry, which we both love. Through these moments and time, I’ve come to look at my C-section scar and bruising still present not as faults or signs of failure but of strength. I can and have done hard things with this beautiful body and I will honor it’s strength and resilience by loving it. This is how I #holdbabieslovebodies