Yo Mama

Here are Sharktooth, we love our fellow mothers and want to take the time to show our support. Having a baby during a pandemic is something nobody prepares for but we want you to know you are loved and supported. You can do it. 

Hi, I’m Brey. I blog for Sharktooth and I’m a mama to three. I was so excited when Sharktooth wanted to make this weeks blog post about mothers and pregnancy because, if I’m a seasoned pro at anything, it’s this. I have three kiddos and sometimes it seems I have experienced a little bit of every kind of pregnancy and birth. It took some life altering moments to realize, but I finally discovered my love for birth and more importantly the need for support that was lacking for women during their journey into motherhood. During my last pregnancy, I traveled to California and became a trained doula. I believe in a positive pregnancy journey and want every woman to feel empowered with their birth. I’m also pretty good at massage techniques during labor and different laboring positions (open that pelvis, mama!). No matter if you need a doula supported birth or someone to listen to your birth story over coffee, I’m your gal. 

I started my motherhood journey in an infertility clinic. After a consult, proposed treatment plan, many, many hormones, freezing my husbands sperm, and more vaginal ultrasounds than I’d care to admit, I was finally pregnant! I was so excited and proud of the little soul I was blessed with. I surprised my husband with an announcement, bought a super cute onesie, and told all of my loved ones. That baby is one I have yet to meet personally and will never meet on this Earth in this life. My first pregnancy was an ectopic miscarriage. Every February I remember that baby that I worked so hard for. I still love that baby and can’t wait until the day I can meet him or her. Miscarriage and child loss effects many women and if you fall into this path during your pregnancy journey don’t feel like you have to grieve alone. While miscarriage is fairly common (about 10%) it doesn’t make it any less hard. You are allowed to grieve your lost baby, the future you planned with them, and your sense of self. To put it blatantly, miscarriage and child loss sucks and it’s not your fault. 

My second pregnancy, also conceived in that infertility clinic, was a doozy. After getting that initial confirmation I was pregnant I didn’t get excited. I didn’t buy a onesie, I didn’t surprise my husband. I was scared and treated my body like it was made of glass for fear of losing another baby. I gave myself nightly shots of progesterone in the butt and stayed away from everything, everything, on the “no-no” list. At 26 weeks I started showing signs of preeclampsia that hit fast and hard. By 28 weeks I was on hospital bed rest and my baby had a gloom diagnosis of severe intrauterine growth restriction. The day I hit 30 weeks they took her from me via emergency cesarean. I didn’t get to see her born, and due to the lovely drugs I was on to prevent brain bleeds, I have no memory of meeting her those first 24 hours. She was born weighing 1lb 15 ounces and spent 52 days in the NICU. I don’t wish that on anybody. No mother wants to leave the hospital without there baby. It took me a PTSD diagnosis and a good year to work through that shitstorm. To my fellow NICU mamas: You are strong. SO strong. You are patient. You are resilient. You are faithful. You might be sad, and scared, and confused but you will come out the other side and it will be okay. And you know what? If you need therapy afterwards, get it. Postpartum mental health is something we need to take care of; especially after trauma like a NICU stay and that’s okay.

My third pregnancy was conceived without the fertility doctor (we were all surprised) and I was terrified. By that time, I'd known nothing but heartache and fear when it came to pregnancy and childbirth. Around 9 weeks I sprung a leak. And by a leak I mean a subchorionic hemorrhage that resulted in a lot of bleeding. A lot. I still remember getting that ultrasound where the tech wouldn’t say anything to us. I knew something was wrong but she just kept telling me “the doctor will go over everything”. That doctor told me I was miscarrying and it was common and to try again when my cycle returned. Then a quick “I’m sorry” and sent me on my way. I drove home in tears. What was I doing wrong?! The minute I got excited it was taken away from me and I was reliving my previous two pregnancies all over again. But God had other plans. My son was a high risk pregnancy with a 2 vessel cord but he was alive and growing. At 37 weeks I was showing signs of another IUGR baby so they decided to induce me at 39 weeks. After a foley bulb and 10 hours of labor I ended up with an unsuccessful VBAC (vaginal birth after ceserean) and another csection. At the time of delivery I was just glad to have a healthy baby. No NICU stay and I got to hold him immediately! I felt like my chance of VBAC was taken from me and I mourned the loss of a vaginal birth. Nevertheless I was grateful for my healthy baby. 

My fourth pregnancy was the healthiest of them all. I was cleared by the high risk doc at 20 weeks and other than the intense “morning” sickness and my amniotic fluid being outta wack he grew beautifully. My mindset was different this pregnancy. I decided to be in 100% control of my body and my baby. So, I got myself a doula. Best thing I've ever done. Shannon with Vintage Doula was wonderful and I am so happy to have had her there by my side. 22 hours of labor and a SUCCESSFUL VBAC and I had a healthy, squishy baby in my arms. I will say that even though my pregnancy was much easier, my birthing wants and needs were harder to be met. In my experience, many OBGYNS were much more reluctant and much less patient with a vaginal birth after a cesarean. And me? Well I was asking for a vaginal birth after two cesareans. After many eye rolls and reluctant sighs, I finally found an OBGYN that not only supported my wishes but cheered me on to achieve them. If a VBAC is what you want, I suggest finding a midwife over an OBGYN if possible.

Pregnancy and childbirth is such a huge part of a woman’s life. That journey into Motherhood is unlike anything else you will ever experience. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time! Our best advice, get a doula. We have many wonderful doulas in the area! It can seem kind of daunting to find the “right” one. Always have a sit down, face to face meeting with a potential doula. This person will most likely be staring into your cervical cavity so being comfortable with them is an obvious must. Your relationship should be easy and they should be encouraging of your birthing needs. You can find a good list of questions to ask your doula here. It’s important to remember that a doula is present to provide emotional and educational support. Doulas are trained in massage techniques, helping in labor pain management, and are excellent at understanding and helping you advocate for your birthing plan. They do not provide medical support.

Finding the right midwife or OBGYN (and in Brey’s case also a perinatologist) is so, so important.  If you have a healthy pregnancy and there are no concerns of complications for birth, then a midwife is the way to go! They are dubbed “baby catchers” for a reason! Midwives can deliver in home births, birthing centers, and some hospitals. If you need a little more assistance or have a high risk pregnancy it’s possible your midwife will refer you to an OBGYN. These doctors can support your baby’s delivery vaginally, perform a csection when necessary, and can be ready for any emergency situation. They deliver in the hospital. If things get murky and your baby needs help in utero, a perinatologist will be needed. This is the person you are trusting with your baby’s life so choose wisely! 

We can’t imagine what it would be like having a baby during a pandemic. Many times, you are attending your appointments without your partner or spouse and may feel like you are doing it all alone. But try to remember that you aren’t! Find strength in numbers by searching for support groups that understand what you are going through. Talk to friends and family about your struggles and let them support you any way you can. You got this mama!  No matter if it’s your first or fiftieth (whoa) pregnancy, you are doing great!