MotherHEARD: Birthing Alone
Written By: Stephanie Gandelman @Schtoofa
We honor you our birthing warriors!!
"My journey to motherhood began 3 years ago when my husband I decided we were ready to start trying to have a baby. After 1 year and no luck I went to my OBGYN who referred me RMA where I would begin my fertility treatments. Tests showed that I had a low follicle count and my doctor recommended we start IVF. I however, was not ready to jump right in head first, so I decided to try a few IUIs first. After 4 months of unsuccessful attempts, it was time to begin my IVF journey.
I had a positive attitude, thinking I would do it once, get pregnant, and that would be that. Unfortunately for me, though, that was not the case. First round of IVF we retrieved 2 viable eggs. We transferred 1, and YAY!! I was pregnant! 1 week after finding out I was pregnant, however, I had a gush blood (while at a bachelorette party in Savannah, no less) and that was miscarriage #1.
I decided to do another egg retrieval, and got 1 viable egg. We transferred and again, YAY! I was pregnant! This pregnancy lasted a whopping 8 days, until...miscarriage #2.
We decided to transfer the 1 remaining egg, and I was hopeful that 3rd time would be the charm. I got the positive pregnancy results, and 9 days later...miscarriage #3.
On to another egg retrieval, and 4th positive pregnancy test. I kept waiting for miscarriage #4, but it never came. People would ask me throughout my pregnancy if I was excited, I could have lied and said yes, but I never did because I wasn’t excited. I was terrified. I was terrified for 9 months that my pregnancy would not end with me holding my baby in my arms.
The amount of times throughout the past year that I googled “baby after 3 miscarriages” must have exceeded 1,000 times. The only thing that made me feel better was hearing other success stories, and I guess that’s why I feel compelled to share my story now that I finally have my miracle of a baby.
With such an eventful journey to pregnancy I never thought that my labor experience would be equally as dramatic. Enter the Corona Pandemic.
My original birth plan was to go full-term, and deliver at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan with my husband, mom, sister, and sister-in-law all in the room with me for support. But things changed as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the tristate area hard. I decided to get induced a week early, on March 27, when I was 39 weeks pregnant. I was fearful that if I waited, the hospital would be overrun with more coronavirus cases, and I was worried I might contract it there. I decided I wanted to get it done as soon as possible without endangering the pregnancy.
On the date of my delivery, no support person was allowed in the room for labor, or for visiting afterwards due to social distancing rules set in place by the hospital to limit exposure. As sad as I was that my husband couldn’t be there with me, I definitely understood and respected the hard decision that the medical team had to make for the safety of its patients and staff alike. After everything we’ve gone through to get here, my mindset was basically: As long as our baby is okay, nothing else really matters.
As such, my plan B became my reality, and I gave birth while my husband watched via Zoom conference. Surreal, I know.
For the 48 hours my baby and I were in the hospital, we were FaceTiming. I found his “virtual” support to be much more comforting than I initially thought it could be. It obviously wasn't the same as having him next to me, but I felt him in spirit. During labor, he was blowing me kisses every time I looked at him and waved. Literally, one day after I gave birth, Governor Cuomo put out an executive order that allowed a partner in the delivery room. I honestly laughed when I saw this. I’m just so happy that my little guy is okay, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. My husband agrees.
At the hospital, I’m not sure what kind of labor support there usually is, but I felt extremely supported and very well taken care of. If I needed anything, (water, ice chips, more meds) all I did was push a button, and someone would be in in a matter of minutes to help.
Everyone, including me, had to wear a mask. When I first got to the hospital I found the mask to be pretty annoying, and hard to breathe in, but the longer I wore it, the more used to it I got. It was a little complicated during labor because I was exerting so much energy and the mask made it even harder to breathe. I was also SO SWEATY, so my mask was DISGUSTING once I finally delivered.
Eating, drinking, and sleeping was also not ideal. But again, just like anything else, you get used to it.
Anyway, labor really was just that: labor. After pushing for two hours, my doctor informed me that I needed some help getting the baby out, and recommended we use clamps. I guess that was a big deal, because all of a sudden the room was flooded with eight more doctors and nurses. It was petrifying, considering everything.
When baby G finally made his appearance I was in shock, and then overcome with emotion. Baby was put on my chest for a few seconds, then taken by the doctors so that they could monitor his breathing for 5 minutes. Longest 5 minutes of my life. Then, when they gave him back to me and told me everything was okay, I cried in a way I had never cried before.
And my husband cried too, one of the only times I've ever seen him cry in an over 10-year relationship. The nurse brought the computer over to me as I held our baby for the first time, and in that moment, where it mattered most, he was right there with me.
Due to Corona, as long as baby and mom were ok, the hospital was discharging patients 24 hours after labor, instead of the usual 48 hours.
Also, day I delivered, the policy in the hospital changed from testing only Covid 19 Symptomatic moms to be, to testing every mom to be. So, right after I delivered, I was given a test to see if I was positive for Covid 19. Then, the postpartum floors were divided, the moms who tested negative were on one floor, while the moms who tested positive were on another floor.
My postpartum nurse was actually an angel from above. I had a very large tear on my right side from delivery so I could barely walk. Every few hours when my nurse came into my room, she’d give me my meds and go to the bathroom with me where she’d prepare my ice pack, topped with a pad, topped with witch hazel pads, topped with cooling spray, that all went into a pair of mesh underwear. These underwear ice packs saved me for the 24 hours post delivery in the hospital, and then for a solid week once I got home.
The 24 hours after delivering were pretty tough because I was in a lot of physical pain but also had to take care of my newborn. I couldn’t wait until 5PM when my husband was going to come and pick us up!
I kept imagining what the moment would be like when my husband met our son for the first time. He’s a pretty happy guy, so I figured he’d either be smiling ear to ear, or just break down and cry.
He was so ecstatic when he came to pick us up. He was so happy to meet our son, Jake, and he was SO happy to see that I was ok. He went straight into dad mode, took Jakey boy out of my arms, and put him in the car seat as if he had done it a million times before. I was so ecstatic to be going home with my new little fam.
Despite all the challenges, we’re so thrilled to finally be parents to the most delicious little guy. We feel so extremely blessed.
Our lil family has now been home for a week and we have settled in to our newborn-quarantine-life consisting of changing diapers, feeding baby Jake, sleeping, chilling, and then doing it all again, and again, and again. It’s kinda fun. It’s kinda like Groundhogs day. It’s kinda like what having a newborn is like whether there’s a global pandemic or not. That is, except for the fact that in the real world Jake has a huge family. In the Corona world, however, we are a family of 3.
One could argue that video chat is the 4th member of our family.
Maybe it’s because everyone is home quarantining themselves, or maybe it’s just because Jake is so super loved, but my Jake, may in fact, be the most connected 1 week old this world has ever seen. On any given day, he gets serenaded by Aunt Mollie and her Eukalalee. He plays Zoom family game night. He loves a good girl hang with mommy’s friends. He has video check ups with Dr. Grandpa and Dr Auntie Devo. And he even had 200+ of his nearest and dearest attend his virtual Bris. I know...ridic.
If we were not living in the time of Corona, we would have circumcised our boy at a Bris 8 days after he was born. Instead, for obvious reasons, we had him circumcised in the hospital. This left the question of what about The Bris? For those who don’t know, a Bris is a ceremony performed on the 8th day of a baby boy’s life, entering him into Judaism. We decided to do a Bris via Zoom.
I was hesitant at first, thinking it would be boring, and I also didn’t want people to feel obligated to come. However, I also didn’t want my boy to miss out on this life milestone. The outcome was greater than I could have ever imagined.
My husband welcomed everyone and did an amazing job of capturing exactly what we were feeling.
“It’s hard to put into words what it’s like having a baby during the coronavirus pandemic. But -- it has really enabled us to put this whole thing into perspective.
As many of you know, Steph delivered Baby G without me there. And, he has not met his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or any of you.
He is however -- here. He is healthy. And, he is everything we’ve been wishing for.
It might seem like the world is falling apart around us, but we’ve never felt more loved or supported in our whole lives. We almost feel guilty about how happy we are right now.
This is my first zoom bris, and I imagine it’s yours, so here goes nothing!”
The service followed, and then our family members spoke so incredibly beautifully about our boy. So much so that multiple friends and family members reached out after to let us know it was the best Bris they had ever been to. Which is mind blowing because we didn’t even feed them!
It was such a special day that we will never, ever forget.
Even in this crazy time, we are still making memories. We are still in love with our baby boy. We are still extremely grateful that after a long IVF journey our lil guy is finally here.
So, all in all week 1 was a success. I can’t wait to see what is in store for week #2!"