*All information revealed in this birth story was graciously given consent from my client. She wishes to share her story with others who may face adversity.*
Our culture shies away from complications and realities while the birth world reveals an array of truths.
Proving how different we all really are.
How each of us carries a different pregnancy.
How the paperwork we fill out doesn't always meet a "collective majority".
How unique our individual anatomies are.
How some of us have to find expensive ways to conceive.
How a lot of do not initially find quality care.
How other countries handle birth in ways that we are not accustomed to.
This experience was different than what I was used to in the birth world.
It had nothing to do with her birth, really...
It was her.
In my line of work, I'm exposed vast lifestyles that directly correlate to the way women choose to birth.
Flavia is from Brazil.
She wanted to hire me to capture her birth work.
I distinctly remember asking her why she wanted to work with me and she said,
"Your work makes me feel included."
At this point, I had no idea what she was referring to but that didn't stop my heart from smiling. That's all that I want my work to achieve. Inclusivity.
The further along we spoke, she revealed that she was facing a lot of adversity due to her health and age. A lot of guilt was surrounding her pregnancy due to the opinions of others. She wanted a child and she was considered extremely high risk.
After knowing this information, I knew that I was going to work with her.
During her pregnancy, she experienced doctors continuously trying to convince her that she needed to be induced.
She needed this.
She needed that.
Never being shown data but somehow always attempting to be coerced. When she went for one of her checkups, some of her fluid had "drastically dropped" and they wanted her to stay in the hospital until delivery. They did not explain anything very well to her & she felt unsupported. I remember getting texts from her updating me. At 34 weeks, the hospital she was admitted to was doing everything possible to keep her there. All the while she told me that her gut just wasn't agreeing. It didn't take a medical degree for her to understand that things were off.
The next day she notified me that she was releasing herself from their care once they were finished monitoring their baby. There were no signs of labor so she left. Shortly after leaving, she went to another doctor for a second opinion.
With plans changing so late in her pregnancy, the choice of leaving was the best one she made. The doctor she ended up seeing monitored her just as the previous hospital had and his numbers were completely different than what she was told. She realized the previous location that she was at was a teaching hospital. She also found out that their rates of interventions was staggeringly high because again...it was a teaching hospital.
A lot of things get tested on patients without their proper understanding because we are taught to just "trust them".
Trust is earned.
Consent should always be given at the patients FULL understanding.
Not round about words to cover up intentions and possible outcomes.
The new OB said she could bed rest at home and have the cesarean she wanted as long as things stayed as they were.
A few weeks later, the big day arrived.
I found her ready in pre-op with that contagious grin.
Her family from Brazil flew in to be with her as well.
Shortly after wishing all the luck, it was time for surgery.
She and her husband anxiously awaited the nurse to escort them out.
On her way to the doors, I asked them to take a moment to be with one another one last time before their beautiful baby arrives.
To soak up the present.
While we head towards that table, the loves of our lives watch us walk away.
Leaving them with their thoughts and anxieties.
Women go through so much physically, emotionally and mentally that most partners stay silent in empathy. They understand what their women have gone through and just want them to be okay.
When the 15 minutes that felt like hours has passed, they called us into the operating room.
They were together again, at last.
Several minutes went by and the blue drape was dropped.
The doctor then presented their baby to them and they wept.
The NICU team quickly assessed the baby.
Their baby was here.
Nathan went to check on their new love and help the nurse get everything ready for skin to skin with Flavia.
She was about to feel the fabric of him for the very first time.
After several minutes of staring at him she finally said the words she waited over 40 years to say.
which translates to "Hello, baby." in Portuguese.
As the doctors were closing her up, Nathan followed Benjamin to the recovery room.
The nurse checked vitals while they waited for Flavia.
Nathan took the opportunity to marvel at their son.
We heard wheels coming down the hall and in came Flavia.
Women are amazing.
Not half an hour prior, she was flayed open on a table and literally none of it mattered because she was searching for her baby. A mother's instinct and love are incredible.
Decades of patience.
Months of persevering through fear mongering.
Months of trusting her gut over manipulation tactics.
Weeks of overcoming stress from outside parties.
She walked out of hospitals.
She walked out of appointments.
She had this moment thanks to her believing in herself.
Thanks to her actively seeking the support system she knew she could find.
None of us should have to search to be supported and respected during our pregnancies. We are going through ENOUGH during this process.
However, when we do...the results can be life changing.
The people who meant the most to her, filled the room.
Flavia not only gave her and her husband a child...she also gave her loved ones a grandson.
Despite facing adversity, Flavia gave life to Benjamin.
She fought to bring him earth side.
She calmly stated her plans and followed through.
She did her research and self advocated in ways that we, as patients, shouldn't have to but more than likely do.
Through that fight came love.
Their love for this child will ripple and inspire other women all over the world.
Thank you Flavia for sharing your birth story with all of us.
We are in awe of you.
To the doctors and nurses who truly care for their patients, thank you.
Your empathy and hearts for women and families during their most vulnerable times in their lives should be the standard. I know it takes tremendous amounts of emotional, psychological and physical effort to continuously invest in strangers, but you do it anyway...a lot of the time without any recognition. Not that you need that recognition, but you all definitely deserve it. You deal with the good and the bad that comes with becoming parents. Motherhood is both beautiful and terrifying.
Because of people like you, women like Flavia get to have a fighting chance at having a healthy start to early motherhood. Their pregnancies, births and postpartum trauma improves significantly due to them feeling supported by people like you.
On behalf of the community that interacts with these women and supports them long after your hard work is done, we appreciate you.