The past two weeks, I have been largely absent from here. I have a really good excuse though – our baby girl arrived! Of course, life has become far more chaotic, beautiful, and exhausting all at once as we figure out a new routine for our family. 

Welcome baby Natasha! 

She’s only 11 days old, and is absolutely perfect! We all fell so deeply in love with her and are so thankful that she is finally here and safe and sound. 

Today, I am sharing the story of our Baby Girl’s birth! 

Paralysis and pregnancy: birth story #birthstory, #paralysis, #paralysisandpregnancy

Birth story: As a paraplegic 

As I mentioned in our birth plan, my doctor and midwives agreed that I should have an induction after dilation started on its own. They didn’t want to push baby girl to come out before my body started showing signs of labour, but also wanted to make sure that the birth was in the hospital and that they could maintain some extra control over it. 

On Monday 7 November, at 38 weeks 5 days, we went for a checkup and the midwife said I was starting to dilate and that we could schedule the induction. We chose to come back Wednesday 9 November.  

On Wednesday, my husband had the day off. We got Y ready for school, and had a friend take him to school. Hubby and I got our things ready and made our way to the hospital around 9 in the morning. 

Once we were settled into labour and delivery, the midwife checked to see how dilated I was. And I wasn’t dilated enough to break my waters. I was exactly 39 weeks along, and they didn’t want to have us go home. Instead, the midwife performed a procedure with a sort of balloon to help dilation progress and we were admitted to stay overnight. The induction (breaking waters and given medicine via an IV) would be taking place the next day, assuming the balloon would do it’s work. 

We were pretty disappointed as this meant an additional night at the hospital. We spent the day watching tv and relaxing, which in the end was really nice. We had been so busy the two days before that having one whole day together with just my husband and I and nothing to do was actually very nice. 

The next morning, everything moved very quickly. We were ready to go to labour and delivery at about 7.30 in the morning. During the night, I had had a few contractions, but nothing regular. Before starting the induction, my midwife monitored baby’s heart rate, and checked for dilation. By then, I was about 2-3 cm, which was sufficient for breaking my waters.  

The midwife then did just that, and started an IV with medicine to help the induction. And then I passed out. To start the IV and break my waters, I had to lay a bit flat on my back. However, everytime I did that, I would get dizzy and my blood pressure dropped. I also have a tendency to faint whenever I am in the same general vicinity of a needle or IV so I wasn’t particularly surprised, but my husband and midwife were pretty taken aback by it. 

I got fluids, and we got to eat breakfast. After a cup of coffee, my blood pressure was back to normal and we got to wait. So we hung out, and waited. By this point it was about 9 in the morning. Contractions weren’t very strong, and I could easily get through them, talk to my husband and relax in between. 

I was lying on my left side at this point. My midwife came in and asked me to switch sides as baby was starting to show signs of distress. By this time, she wasn’t concerned about it, but said that a change of positions would likely solve the problem. 

Ok, I switched sides. A little while later, she came back and said baby was still showing signs of distress and now they were getting worried. She checked to see how far I had progressed – not much, I was only at about 5 cm. 

She then explained that they needed to check baby’s oxygen level by internally taking blood from the baby. If her levels were not within a normal range, we knew that it would be time for a c-section. I tried to stay calm, but inside I was kind of a wreck. 

The midwife took the blood and went to analyse it. She came back saying that her oxygen levels were .02 above what they would consider the cut off – had they been .02 lower, then we would have been rushed to the operating room at that exact moment. Instead, she called the gynecologist on call to discuss what to do. Everything at this point was happening very quickly. 

While we waited for the results of the test and the gynecologist to arrive, I had changed positions yet again to be on back, but not flat and not completely upright. 

My sweet husband was by my side though assuring me that everything would be fine and keeping me calm. We knew though that a c-section would bring additional risk for both baby and I. We had learned the day before that I would not be able to get an epidural as it could cause further damage to my spinal cord (already damaged a year and a half ago, causing my paraplegia). 

Having a c-section under general anesthesia would lead to additional risks for baby and I, but of course, we knew that if our doctor and midwives were to advise this course that it would be absolutely necessary. We also knew that if doctor’s were conducting a c-section because baby was in distress, that this could also lead to complications after birth. I was honestly terrified, but I also knew that if I were to panic at that point, that I wouldn’t be helping my body or my baby and tried to remain as calm as possible. 

When the gynecologist arrived, he noticed that baby girl was now actually stabilizing, but that they would retest her blood oxygen levels in 15 minutes. If the internal test would remain the same, they did not want to risk baby’s safety and would end up going with a c-section. In the meantime, the OR was being prepped. 

By this time it was about 11.15. Everyone left and I had a good cry, and contractions were starting to get difficult to deal with. I couldn’t talk so well through them anymore and needed my husband’s full attention when they came. 

The midwife returned to retest my levels, and thank goodness baby girl was doing better. She also checked for dilation and I was already 8 or so cm. Baby girl was doing well enough and I was progressing quickly enough that labour could continue naturally for now. The midwives were going to have lunch and she would come back in an hour to check on dilation and progress again. I cried again out of relief. Baby was fine and I would be able to be present during the delivery (under general anesthesia, I would be there of course, but I wouldn’t be awake). 

While the midwife was gone, the contractions became quite terrible. My husband held my hand and supported me the whole time. Honestly, the stress of the hour before and then the calm forty five minutes the midwife was gone really made me fall in love with my husband all over again. He was so calm and kept me from falling apart, he held my hand, and supported me exactly how I needed it.

After an hour of concentrating together and trying to get through the pain of contractions – which by the way – in spite of being paralysed, I felt. Childbirth hurt just as much with Natasha as it did with Yvann, who I had before I was injured. Childbirth just hurts. 

Anyway, the midwife came back after lunch and checked for dilation again. She looked a bit surprised and asked me to try pushing. And then told me to stop because her head was already coming out. It literally took one and a half pushes before baby girl was on my chest. It took me a few minutes to even realise what had happened because of how quickly everything had just taken place.

Paralysis and pregnancy: birth story #birthstory, #paralysis, #paralysisandpregnancy

Baby girl was placed immediately on my chest for skin to skin contact. After a little bit of cuddles, my husband cut the cord, and then we got to nurse. One of the midwives took photos of us, and the other helped to deliver the placenta. Also, amazingly, even after a ridiculously quick delivery, I didn’t need to get any stitches. 

All in all, in spite of the scary moment with baby’s oxygen levels, her birth went well. My paralysis didn’t impact the actual delivery. I was still able to have her naturally (no pain meds, only what was needed for the induction), and I am so thankful that baby was safe and unharmed. 

I can’t really explain it, but after finding out that baby girl was okay, we were just so calm and everything was so beautiful, it just went exactly as I had imagined. Most importantly, we are so grateful that baby girl made it safely into our arms.  

Yvann (Иван) has been loving his baby sister and has been having a pretty hard time keeping away from her, not giving her kisses, etc. He’s such a sweet older brother and I can’t wait to watch their relationship grow. 

Paralysis and pregnancy: birth story #birthstory, #paralysis, #paralysisandpregnancy

It’s also amazing to see the similarities between the kids. We think that Natasha looks a lot like her older brother! 

Paralysis and pregnancy: birth story #birthstory, #paralysis, #paralysisandpregnancy

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