Trigger Warning: This birth story includes a traumatic birth and NICU experience including birth haemorrhage, thoughts of suicide and mistreatment by medical staff. If you are triggered by these topics you may wish to skip this blog or read it once you have support available. If you are seeking support for your birth trauma, you may wish to contact our Peer Support Service.
My name is Kellsie and my husband is Matthew. I would like to share our story with you, and I hope it touches anyone reading it. I hope anyone who has been through a traumatic birth understands you are not alone and there is hope and healing. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Please don’t give up , your amazing, you got this, I promise.
My husband and I had been married for 6 years and we had it in our minds that children were not a part of our plan. We had a beautiful niece and a handsome nephew. We did some traveling and had an amazing life. We started to feel our lives were missing something, we started talking about possibly trying for a baby. But like always we put our faith in the Lord and prayed about what we should do.
One night I was lying in bed and decided to look up baby girl names and was flipping through multiple pages. I finally came across one… Eliana. I thought it was beautiful, so I clicked on it and the meaning behind it had me in tears. Eliana “my God has answered”. I knew that the Lord was giving me the answer that we had been looking for. I told my husband what happened and the next night we started trying.
Six days later we got a positive pregnancy test. We felt so blessed to become pregnant so quickly. I loved being pregnant, it was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced in my whole life. We had our ultrasound to find out the gender and it was in fact a little girl and her name was going to be Eliana Elizabeth Grace Evans.
Throughout the pregnancy we did everything we could to have a healthy pregnancy and experience. We had zero complications, and everything looked perfect at every appointment. Our due date was December 21st, 2018! The months were flying by as I was trying to prepare myself for an all-natural delivery. December 21st and still no baby…
A Traumatic Birth
December 23rd, 2018 3am..I woke up with period cramping but they would come and go. I started timing them and realized, this is it! I was so excited; this was the day we had been dreaming about. I spent 9 months dreaming about the moment I would hold my beautiful little girl and what that would be like. We called our midwife and told her what was going on and how far apart my contractions were. We got to the hospital at 7am and got all set up in our room! I was handling the contractions well.
Around 3pm I started to get in my head and told myself to just get the epidural. I felt like I would be able to enjoy the birth so much more. Little did I know, in that moment everything would go downhill. I got the epidural and my body was not taking it well. It wore off after 3 hours and I was in pain. They kept giving me extra doses and nothing was working. I remember laying on my side in so much pain and the anesthesiologist was giving me something in my IV and I asked what it was, and she said it was fentanyl. I had so much in my body that I really was not even there.
My midwife finally came, and it was time to push. I was still in pain and felt like I could not possibly push this baby out. I was pushing for 2.5 hours and only remember 10 minutes of it. By this time, my body was numb, and I was no longer able to push correctly.
Eliana’s head finally came out, but her shoulder was stuck, I knew something was wrong. My nurses started pushing on my stomach trying to get her out. I was laying there being pushed on and my baby being pulled. I just looked up at my husband and started praying “please dear Lord be with us” over and over again.
They finally got her out and I looked at my husband with tears in his eyes. They had to rush Eliana to the nicu, and I told him to go with her. I had no idea in that moment I might not ever get to see my husband again or meet my beautiful daughter.
Something was not right; I told my nurses and midwife I was not feeling well and that I think I am going to pass out. I was haemorrhaging and bleeding quickly. Doctors were being called to the hospital and the room was filling up with staff. My nurses said “I am so sorry” as they were jabbing needles into my legs repeatedly with medicine trying to get my blood to clot. I remember looking over and seeing the blood doctor repeating herself “how much blood has she lost?!”
I kept looking at my nurses and asking them if I were going to be okay and they just looked at me and would not saying anything. They were just squeezing my hands. I was so tired and was losing so much blood, I started to close my eyes and fall asleep. My nurses started shaking me telling me to stay awake. My husband was finally back, and they were preparing him with paperwork for emergency surgery and blood transfusions. They brought the paper to me and picked my hand up and helped me scribble my name. I was finally hooked up to blood transfusions but was shaking so bad they needed to put multiple heated blankets on me. They put the oxygen mask on me and watched my vitals.
The blood transfusions were working, and I was in stable enough condition to not need emergency surgery. A few hours later they needed me to get out of bed to use the bathroom, and they needed me to try and move. Two nurses got me into the wheelchair and took me to the bathroom and helped me stand up, I immediately started getting dizzy and again told them I felt like I was going to pass out. They took me back to bed and hooked me back up to oxygen and laid more heated blankets on me.
7 hours went by and I finally was able to meet my daughter. But it was not how I pictured it, it felt strange and unnatural. I was angry and struggled with holding her. I was still very weak, I struggled with breastfeeding right away. I was thinking this could not possibly be the baby I had inside of me for 9 months. I wanted so badly to go back in time and try and have a different birth. How for 9 months can I bond with this beautiful baby and then in a blink of an eye have no memory of that baby being born. I felt empty and had a hard time bonding with her. I spent 9 months picturing the moment I would get to hold her as soon as she came out. I did not get that, I felt robbed and broken that I missed that first moment with her. I just missed the birth of my daughter.
A Traumatic NICU Stay
Unfortunately with only an hour with her, Eliana had to go back to the nicu because of her breathing. This is where more heartache and trauma set in. The nurses did not treat me well and I found out why two days later on Christmas Day.
We were finally in a new room close to the nicu; I had not ever been in the nicu. I remember pumping some milk right before I was able to go down there with my husband, I felt proud to be able to bring her some food, especially after everything we went through. Even with my body being so week and losing so much blood, the good Lord gave me food for her.
My husband wheeled me into the nicu, and I felt very out of place and scared. He wheeled me to my daughters’ section and I just cried. I held her and cried, I listened to all the other babies cry and all sorts of monitors going off. Eliana had so many things hooked up to her. The nurses wanted us to change diapers, weigh them and record her temperature. Everything was a lot, all at once. The nicus demands where a lot for me especially because I felt I didn’t know how to be a mother, let alone trying to learn while I have a nurse over my shoulder telling me what I’m doing wrong. I had a lot of anxiety going through those doors every day.
Our daughter was moved to a different area and we got a new nurse. She was extremely mean to me, and to this day thinking about the way she treated my daughter and I makes me cry. I remember I was in the recovery room pumping and our phone rings and it was Eliana’s nurse and she says, “your daughters hungry, when do you plan on coming?”. There was no nurse answering my call for a wheelchair as I was still very weak to walk, so I found the strength to stand up and wobble my way in pain down the hall. I put my breastmilk in the nicu fridge, and the nurse yelled and said I was not allowed to be in there. I wanted to cry, there were other parents in this room with their babies. I felt so embarrassed.
As I was feeding Eliana, they noticed that her heart rate would go up when she would eat so they had to put a feeding tube in. Because I was pumping, I was washing the milk containers when they were empty because neither the nicu or the nurse were providing me with new ones. Eliana’s nurse said I was bringing back dirty bottles for my daughter. I remember in that moment I felt crushed, I wanted to completely give up. I kept thinking, did this nurse not even read our chart? Does she have no idea what we just went through? Why is she treating me so bad? She would constantly tell us how loud our baby was and that all she does is cry.
That night we tried to get some rest, but I kept hearing a baby screaming and it sounded like Eliana. At 3am I went into the nicu and it was my little girl crying, so I held her for an hour and laid her back down but had to perform the checklists per the nicu. I was trying to change her diaper but was having a hard time because of all the wires. As I was struggling with her diaper, Eliana managed to pull her feeding tube out. I could tell the nurse was frustrated and she said I should leave for the night. I gave Eliana a kiss and went back to my room.
Christmas day was here, and I went to our room to finally have my first shower and when I got out Eliana’s Doctor was waiting for me and had questions for me. She told me Eliana was showing signs of “withdrawal” and asked me if I had been taking anything during the pregnancy. In that moment I lost all hope and became even angrier. What was supposed to be such a beautiful time in someone’s life was anything but that for me. My husband was in the nicu and I called him and told him what the doctor said, I could not stop crying.
We got a new doctor and all my blood work was looked at during pregnancy, during labor and after and I was cleared of being on anything. They had no idea why she was breathing the way she was. We were treated so badly because they thought I was taking drugs. No one ever read or looked at our chart or lab tests or blood work. We were discharged the next day, without Eliana. I remember walking down the hall to leave the labor and delivery floor and this dad walked around the corner to tell his family his baby had been born. While my husband and I walked through a joyful lobby, I felt anything but joy. I was so sad. I am leaving the hospital without my baby after living a nightmare. I sat in the lobby downstairs waiting for my husband to pull the truck around and I just started crying all alone. I could not believe all of this, it felt like a horrible dream. We went home and went to bed for the night. I woke up in the middle of the night looking for Eliana and my husband says, “she’s in the hospital”. I will never forget that night.
We were finally able to bring her home on December 28th, 2018! We were so excited, but I was struggling with bonding and feeling like a mother. I still felt so angry and did not understand why all of that happened. I started blaming myself, my husband, the doctors and nurses. I would replay that day in my head repeatedly. I was unable to watch the pampers commercial of the mom holding the baby right away. Seeing that commercial made me so angry.
Anything that reminded me of that day, from going into labor to the very end would set me off. Passing the Starbucks, we went to on the way to the hospital would make me cry. Taking a shower would make me cry because it reminded me of when I was in labor at home. I was so down, depressed and angry, on top of lacking a bond with my daughter. I felt I truly did not want to be a mother.
I suffered so bad that I often would think about taking my own life. I did not want to continue living this pain. I always had a close relationship with the Lord, I thought. My husband would tell me to continue praying and that everything would be okay. I said, “I am and it’s not working”, I was even losing faith in God. I suffered in physical and emotional pain for 6 months before I started to feel better. I have never been in a constant state of prayer the way I had been during those months. The Lord was truly by my side and showed me so many things. He gave me an understanding of what happened. Sometimes the Lord will bring you through hard times to bring you closer to him. I understand now, and my faith as never been stronger. Even though we went through so much that night, the Lord never left our side.
I still struggle emotionally and physically, but on my hard days. I pray. My daughter is my everything, and although I wish we had a different story to tell, I could not be happier where we are now. Now when I see women struggling with birth trauma, I see myself back in that same place. This time though, I know I can help. I want all women to know you are not alone, your strong and everything will be okay. It may not seem like it now, but you will be okay. I truly hope and pray from the bottom of my heart our story reaches someone in need. Someone who feels they cannot overcome this battle; I want to help. Your story is your story, and it will never go away. Your pain is real, but that is not a bad thing, it is all a constant reminder of your strength, and your ability to overcome anything. You are strong and you are hope for mothers out there struggling, just the way I pray I am hope for you.
Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”