Get The OR Ready! {An Unlikely Birth Story}

Get The OR Ready! {An Unlikely Birth Story}

I loooove to plan! I thrive on knowing when things are going to happen and try to be prepared for them as much as possible. It’s irony at it’s finest when we know from experience that real life works in the exact opposite way.  Well, I couldn’t have learned a greater lesson on this until this past October.

birth storyHere’s a little background about one of my first lessons about “expecting the unexpected.” When I was 16, I quit dancing to become one of the world’s worst basketball players. Truth. I was 5’3, playing a post position and I ended up taking a nasty fall and rupturing two discs in my spine. Fast-forward to the future and two spinal surgeries later, I was so relieved to have made it through my first pregnancy without any back complications. Sweet relief. Although I labored for over 20 hours plus three hours of pushing, my nurse and OB respected my wishes to give me the best possible chance to deliver naturally, but we decided it was best to go for a c-section. Even though this wasn’t my “plan,” I was grateful for a healthy end result. After having my first son, I learned that another disc above the already damaged discs had slipped. My physician advised that if I had another child, it was best to schedule a c-section and not risk any more damage. I had been hopeful to try to VBAC, but I was left feeling defeated.

Two and half years later, we were expecting another baby boy! My OB, Dr. Nicole Chauvin, {whom I absolutely love for the great care and support she provides} held my hand through my pregnancy as I accepted the fact that I was not a VBAC candidate. At my appointments, I would even lament about how he was head down most of my pregnancy and was in a perfect position for a VBAC. We scheduled the date for October 20th and I counted down the days until I could meet my boy. At this point, I felt very content. I looked on the bright side of being able to “plan” that day out. I was going to have childcare arranged for my toddler, bags fully packed, wash my hair and maybe I’d even put on some makeup! I “planned” to wake up, enjoy time with my family, then be on my merry way with my husband to welcome our baby.

Well, that isn’t what happened. Like, at all.

It was a quiet Monday night and all was calm in my 38-weeks-pregnant world as my toddler went to bed effortlessly that night (a rarity). I got to cuddle with my husband on the couch alone, and we had a great visit with my doula, Rachael. Some people asked why we had a doula with a scheduled c-section, and the answer was simply for the amazing support they provide which goes beyond just vaginal births. We discussed what to expect when going into the procedure that following Thursday at 39 weeks. I was SO glad to have my doula in the OR to support us along with Cher Bebe Birth Stories to capture the memories so that my husband could just focus on our family. Little did I know how truly important it would be for me to have a doula and birth photographer. She said I could have my own music playing, a clear divider and immediate skin to skin with my baby! I slept the best I had in weeks. That was until 5:45am, when I awoke to a gush. We all know what that means! My water broke … what?! This can’t be happening. It’s Tuesday. My bags aren’t fully packed! I thought I had some time, so I took a shower, called a dear friend to watch my toddler until my sister could come, and I EVEN sent my husband to the store to get groceries for caretakers to be stocked while we stayed at the hospital for a few days! Why did my husband even listen to me? He tells me now that “you listen to what the pregnant lady asks of you!” HA, well I guess he does listen well! About 20 minutes into his trip, I called him and said GET BACK NOW. I’ve heard of people’s water breaking and they labored for quite a while so that’s why I didn’t initially panic.

Maybe I should have panicked.

It had only been an hour since my water broke; we were still at home and then all of a sudden my body tried to start pushing. I was so fearful. This cannot be happening … I am a scheduled c-section because I have a physical limitation! When we finally made it to the hospital, I remember looking at the wheelchairs by the assessment center and thinking that I could really use one of those right now. But I couldn’t sit, so I told myself to power on woman! Get into that hospital fast! I made it past the assessment center into a waiting room … again and again the urge to push. Agony. With my whole body, I clung with a death grip to my husband. Where is my darn epidural people … I think I’m DYING?! After the nurse stuck me several times to place an IV, she said, “We need to get one bag of fluids in you before you can get an epidural.” There was no time for that nonsense!

At that point, I zoned everyone out and turned onto my hands and knees. I couldn’t even communicate with anyone … my body just led the way. The staff didn’t know what to do with me. Get the OR ready or not? I remember everyone bustling around and sounding frantic while rolling me into the OR as I was on all fours. Tools were being tossed over me! In this moment, I felt so vulnerable. I definitely didn’t prepare for an unmedicated birth. Nope. I did read about that whole “ring of fire” deal and it sounded like a form of torture! I didn’t have a clue what to do, but my body DID. It took over as if I were alone in the wilderness. Have you seen that show Naked and Afraid? That was me. But on top of an OR table. I heard the anesthesiologist say “oh no, she’s not getting an epidural!” WTH Sir. Then alas, there was a defining moment for me. I heard my doctor say “the baby is turning under the bone”… whatever that means, I thought! She came over and whispered in my ear: “You’ve got this, you’re going to push this baby out. I’m right here.” All of a sudden, I got BRAVE and felt empowered. I mustered all the strength I had and with the whole OR cheering me on, I focused on pushing with all my might.

A few seconds later, we had a baby!

A 7 lb 11 ounce little boy who was so content that he didn’t even cry out right away. Maybe he was in disbelief like I was! After all, I couldn’t even believe what I had just done. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way, but it certainly did. I was so lucky to have the support of my husband, doctor, nurses and doula. Last year was sucky in so many ways, but I also grew a lot in how I wholeheartedly live my life with vulnerability and bravery (thanks Brene Brown!). Although the situation wasn’t in my hands, it was truly symbolic of what my year of growth had been about — to show up, be seen and let bravery win no matter what. Even if the original plans would have remained and I had a c-section, I would still be just as proud of myself. I don’t know that it could ever happen for me again in this way, but I’m so grateful that it did. 

A big thank you goes out to Dr. Chauvin, the nurses and staff at Woman’s Hospital, Cher Bebe Birth Stories and Three Cords Birth. Bravo to them for handling this unexpected, eventful birth and taking excellent care of us!

Ericka is originally a New Orleans gal who was raised to begin many dishes with a roux. Since 2011, she has happily embraced the Red Stick life with her husband of seven years, Tyler. Although she met her husband at an LSU game after her car broke down, they both attended Northwestern State University where she graduated with a Business Administration degree. After graduation, she and Tyler took a leap of faith and tied the knot. She dabbled in the corporate scene but eventually returned to school to pursue her passion for teaching and earned a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. She taught at an inner-city school in Baton Rouge for 3 years where she gained a family of students and colleagues alike. She’s traded in her beloved Expo pens and clipboard to stay home with her sweet and adventurous one-year-old son, Cullen. She is so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the sisterhood of fellow moms. Motherhood has been the best roller coaster she’s ever been on and even at the most challenging times, she tries to remember to embrace the chaos and “bless this mess” mentality. Ericka loves a good conversation, coffee, empowering other women {because we can all use a little encouragement}, laughing, baking and making memories with her family.



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