I hope that by meeting these courageous mothers that have navigated their way through the toughest of circumstances, they can be uplifting and encouraging to those of you who may be experiencing the same. If you ever want to submit your story for consideration, you can always email me at: email@example.com with a little snippet of what you would love to talk about!
Read about some other courageous mamas below:
Meghan (battled breast cancer) / Gabby (her son was diagnosed with brain cancer and here is their journey) / Megan (lost her baby girl and is finding hope after loss) / Lindsey (overcame postpartum psychosis)
Hi, my name is Talia! I’m a former middle/high school teacher turned stay at home mom to a baby boy that likes to try and eat my nose on a daily basis. I love Netflix, singing silly songs, and reheating my cup of coffee every day. Here’s my story…
Each year, an estimated 700-900 women die in the first forty two days after giving birth in the United States. This is one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world. Last May, I was nearly one of them.
My entire pregnancy I had felt “off.” After surviving the morning (all day) sickness and extreme fatigue of the first trimester, I thought it would be smooth sailing until I neared the finish line. Yet things didn’t really settle down. I was constantly plagued with bad headaches and floaters in my field of vision. I gained twelve pounds in one week towards the end of pregnancy despite not changing my eating habits (you should only gain about 1-2 pounds per week). My belly and baby measured small at 36 weeks. Yet my blood pressure was always good, so the nagging, pesky feeling that something was wrong always seemed to wash away until after I left an OB checkup.
The weekend before I ended up giving birth, I felt downright horrid. I was 38 weeks pregnant in a state we had just moved to four weeks prior for my husband’s job. The entire weekend (Memorial Day) I lay in bed with heartburn that felt as if I would rip open at any moment. A headache so bad I was seeing flashes of blue and stars everywhere. Pain under my right breast that radiated into my shoulder. I remember laying around wishing contractions would start, thinking that would be less painful than what I was encountering.
Mine and my husband’s world changed by that following Tuesday morning at my 38 week checkup, as I had protein in my urine, which indicated that something wasn’t right. Despite good blood pressure at the time, this meant I had to be sent over to the hospital for monitoring. They determined that they should begin the induction process, but as the day wore on, my stats began to tank. Routine bloodwork showed that I had HELLP Syndrome, a rare and can be fatal variant of pre-eclampsia, with which I had also been diagnosed. Additionally, my sodium levels were precipitously low, putting me at a great risk for seizures (on top of the risk for them that comes with pre-eclampsia).
Quickly, the low hum of activity that centered around an induction shifted into full tilt throttle as we decided, at the cautious urging of the OB on call, that a C-section was the best course of action. Less than twelve hours after my 38 week check-up, our son was born with a full set of lungs and pink, wrinkled newborn perfection.
The only cure for HELLP syndrome is to deliver, and we were very fortunate that my pregnancy had progressed as far as it had. Many women face longer, harder and more painful roads than I have, with long NICU stays, or, sadly, losing their precious babies because of early fetal age.
Despite the cure being delivery, it gets worse before it gets better. The twenty f our hours that followed were the darkest. I threw up for hours until there was nothing left but bile. My blood pressure tanked at one point to 50/20, and they almost couldn’t revive me. I required three blood transfusions. I went into kidney failure. The wonderful staff in labor and delivery had reached the end of their scope of care, and I was transferred to the ICU to be treated and recover there.
There, in the quiet halls of the ICU, I had hourly neurological checks and was on a severely restricted liquid diet until my kidneys trended in the right direction. Our parents came to assist us, with my parents keeping watch over me and my in laws over my tiny new son so that my husband could go home and sleep. About thirty six hours after giving birth, I got to hold my son. I wept with joy and sadness, but mostly joy over this new, precious life with which I had been entrusted.
Two days after being admitted to the ICU, I had recovered enough to go back to the maternity ward and begin caring for my son and bonding with him. I would often break down into tears as the waves of trauma washed over me. (It was also postpartum hormone changes which are the worst; talk about crying at the drop of a hat!)
Eight days after giving birth I was discharged on strong blood pressure medication as my body needed time to heal itself. I figured life would be a new “normal” with a tiny not nearly five pound infant that liked to nurse around the clock. Yet what I hadn’t counted on was the immense mental and emotional toll everything had taken on me.
I began having crippling panic attacks that would last for hours. Despite being on medication for my blood pressure, I was convinced that I was going to stroke out in my sleep. I never wanted to be alone, even if someone offered to watch our son (family was with us for the first month after I gave birth due to my slow recovery). I wouldn’t go to bed unless someone would lay right next to me. One day my husband took me to CVS so I could check my blood pressure no less than ten times. I was anxious, depressed, weeping constantly, and trapped in a world of thought that I was going to die.
We all knew that life couldn’t continue like this, and with the guidance of my doctor and husband, we all agreed the best course of action was a low dose of anti-anxiety/anti depression medicine. I at first felt so ashamed by this, that I couldn’t “handle” everything that had happened to me. Yet, everyone in my life who knew was so encouraging and comforting, and made me realize that it was a tool to help me get better, not hold me back.
It took about two weeks for me to feel “okay,” as in not waking up in a panic that I was going to have a stroke or die in a car accident driving my son to a checkup. A month in, I felt like myself mentally and emotionally. The panic attacks stopped; and the anxiety was at a low ebb until about four months after giving birth. I worked hard at talking about my feelings and worries so that I didn’t bottle things up.
They say having a baby changes everything. And it did, in the most wonderful and exhausting ways possible. Getting there was hell, as there were hours after I gave birth where we didn’t know if I would make it. By God’s hand, I was sent to a hospital that knew what to do and ran the necessary tests to determine my diagnosis. My husband and I had a village of people help us the first six weeks. As my son’s first birthday approaches, I can say that I do have some sadness over what happened to me, but it pales in comparison to the life I have been entrusted with, and all those who helped bring me back to life.
To learn more about pre-eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome, please visit: https://www.preeclampsia.org/