This was me 4 and a half years ago for the birth of our third…a big air cast on my leg, tired exhausted eyes. Two weeks before this picture was taken (October 31), I was donating clothing to the Salvation Army when I stepped on a piece of LEGO (of all things) in the parking lot. Pretty sure this was a sneak peek into our future with 2 boys who love Lego and leave it everywhere! Being 36 weeks pregnant and having relaxin flowing, my joints were like rubber and I rolled over on my ankle, fracturing my foot in 2 places.
With 2 toddlers at home and having just moved into our house which was undergoing renovations, living out of suite cases and rummaging through boxes, this couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Being the person that can't slow down, I no longer had a choice...this put the brakes on.
My husband had taken parental leave from work so that we could spend time together preparing for and welcoming our expanding family. But we soon realized the parental leave turned into a an endless list of chores and toddler routines with my leg now out of commission.
My incredible mom flew in from Winnipeg to help out with the kids, and give 'Super dad' a hand (or extra foot ;) ) with the endless to-do lists and chores. Just in time, because about a week after she arrived, November 13, 2016 I went into labour. I remember wheeling my way into the hospital on my knee wheeled walker in the middle of intense contractions. Shout out to Community midwives for their calm presence and support. Within a couple of hours Ezra entered the world.
We came home with our new bundle, and I was especially overjoyed to be able to have a purpose for being immobile. I would nurse, cuddle and nurse some more. We said our goodbyes and endless thank-you's to my mom as she headed off back to Winnipeg. After a couple of days being home with Ezra, the WORST stomach bug (Norwalk virus) hit us HARD. My body hadn’t even fully recovered from birth and now we had 2 toddlers crying out ‘make it stop, make it stop’ (from relentless puking) and all the while trying to take care of a newborn. I remember crawling down the hallway to try to get to the bathroom and somehow manage to throw myself onto the toilet with my one working leg. I honestly don't know how I would have survived this time without my amazing husband...cooking, cleaning, bedtime routines and endless laundry. I remember my husband and I sitting on the landing near the kitchen one evening after a LONG 48 hours, staring at a pile of laundry the size of a small hill, finally got all the kids to bed, and in complete exhaustion we looked at each other and agreed this was the most difficult time either of us had ever experienced. We were running on fumes.
We had two family members on two separate occasions, come out to Kelowna in an attempt to rescue us by helping with the kids, but BOTH times, they got the virus and ended up bed-ridden and insanely ill.
I recall looking in the mirror after a few days of this stomach bug, my rib cage showing, dehydrated, painful uterine contractions and wondering if this could get any worse.
Well…it did. I started getting some pain and light throbbing in my calf. I remember my intuition thinking, I just need to get it checked. So I packed up the diaper bag, grabbed the carrier and had Joe pack the car with the kids to drive me to the ER. After waiting in the ER and finally seeing a Doctor, they chalked it up to leg spasms from not using my leg, handed me Advil and sent me home. But something didn’t feel right…I knew something was wrong. I called back to the hospital and explained the situation and told them that I wasn’t satisfied with just taking Advil…I wanted to get further testing.
We packed ourselves back into the van and headed back to the ER. This time they did an ultrasound on my leg and found several blood clots. I remember sitting there and my heart sinking to my feet. The Doctor told me that I needed to go on blood thinners and potentially stop breastfeeding. The latter was not an option for me. At this point, I didn’t even have emotional energy to formulate questions or the brain power to make an informed decision. I got on my cell phone and called my sister in Winnipeg who is a nurse. My sister was so great, she asked the Doctor all the right questions so I could make a decision. In the end, I chose to go on Warfarin, which definitely was the more tedious of the options, requiring me to get my blood levels tested every other day. I chose this because breastfeeding was my number one priority.
I immediately started Warfarin and made several trips to the lab every week to ensure my blood clotting levels were ideal. I had to watch how much salad I ate and anything high in vitamin K which could thin my blood too much. After 2 months of taking the medication and going for ultrasounds, I was in the clear!
I tell you this story mamas for a couple of reasons;
You are stronger than you think! Living in a season of sleepless nights, struggles with breastfeeding, finding your rhythms…whatever it is that you’re going through. When you look back, you will see that you made it, and your little ones did too! Your struggles will someday be someones hope…it might even be yours. In the middle of my own struggle, I felt like I was failing, but I look back and see a fighter, a resilient mama that fought for what mattered most.
Things don’t always work out the way we imagine for our birth. The outcome of childbirth, is not the only factor of importance in a mother’s well-being. Studies actually show the way in which a woman experiences pregnancy and childbirth are also vitally important for a mother’s relationship with her child and her future childbearing experiences. Although I definitely would have chose a fully functioning leg to birth my son, I had no other choice but to work with what I had. Despite my ideal plan of walking around during labour no longer being an option, I spoke with my midwives and felt confident that we could find positions for me to birth. Birth plans are intended to help parents make informed decisions and advocate for their care. Be familiar with your preferences, but be open to alternatives and gather an amazing support team that can help remind you how powerful you are in those moments when you need it most.
Follow your intuition! In those moments when you just know something doesn’t feel right, go with your intuition! You know your body better than anyone else. If I hadn’t have pushed for extra testing, the outcome could have been very dire. Trust your gut mamas.