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Kassandra’s Story

Kassandra celebrated the birth of her daughter, Kacela Raye, on April 16. Today, Kassandra shares her pregnancy story with our community to highlight the fact that every birth, like every mother and child, is completely unique. In this raw story, Kassandra shares with you her experiences from the hours leading up to Kacela’s birth. 

Kacela’s Birth Story

At 4:00 in the morning on April 15th, I began feeling my first contractions. As this was my first pregnancy I wasn’t completely sure if these were real contractions or the Braxton Hicks ones I’d been feeling for weeks. I started timing my contractions and soon realized that they were in real. My contractions were only five mins apart and getting intense. I attempted to quickly shower and then I woke up my husband, Hunter. We drove to the hospital and then we were sent to triage where I was hooked up to machines. The triage room was very busy as was the maternity wing. I knew it was going to be a long day. The doctor eventually came and told me I was 3 cm dilated. She wanted me to walk around the hospital for two hours and then come back. By this time, my mom and sister were at the hospital, so Hunter and I met them at the food court and we began walking around.   

It was 11:45 AM as we went back up to the triage room. I was told I was far enough along now to be checked into a birthing room. I was apprehensive but excited because this meant my little girl was on her way. The nurses came into the birth room and began to get me ready. I wanted to have an epidural so they did blood work and inserted an IV so I would be ready.  My problem was, I was so swollen from pregnant water retention that the nurses had trouble finding a vein. They attempted my left hand-which hurt!-after 5 minutes of them digging around in my hand to draw blood, the needle popped out. This meant they had to do it again! I am terrified of needles and usually pass out…so of course, this is exactly what happened when they tried my right hand. I remember the pain and then hearing my mom and the nurses calling my name. I eventually came back to and was glad to have that behind me, but I now had two very sore hands. As if the pain from the contractions wasn’t enough already! Little did I know that my pain was just beginning.

Around 3 PM the doctor came in to check on me and decided it was time to break my water.  I did not like the sound of that but she told me it would help speed up the dilation process. Let me tell you: for those women out there who say the feeling of your water breaking is the most amazing feeling, I’m here to tell you it’s not.  Having a long rod with a pointy hook on it inserted into you to pop your water was bad enough but then the gush and soaking feeling to follow was way more than I bargained for.  

It was now 5 PM and my contractions were unbearable.

I asked the nurse to call for the anesthesiologist to come and administer the epidural. It took an hour before she was able to make it to my room and by then the contractions had gotten so bad I could hardly sit through them. Contractions usually rise, peak, and then weaken until they’re gone but mine were double peaking. My nurse told me this was because my baby was turned the wrong way and pressing on my spine.

As the anesthesiologist began the epidural, I was crying from the contractions and scared I was going to move and paralyze myself. You hear about the horror stories and risk factors that come with an epidural but, honestly, I barely felt the epidural being put in. The pain from the contractions far outweighed the discomfort and once the epidural started to work, I was so thankful to have it.  Definitely worth it!

As the hours went by, I started to dilate more and more. Things were finally looking up and seemed like my baby was soon going to be in my arms. Then, I developed a really high fever. The nurses gave me three Tylenol, which did nothing, and then they added two bags of medication to my IV, which after a couple of hours finally broke my fever. I was exhausted by this point and starving since I hadn’t eaten anything since that morning. The nurse came in to check on me and told me I should really try to get some sleep. She finished her usual check-in and as she was leaving, alarms starting going off. Three other nurses came rushing into the room to assist her. I panicked, having no idea what was going on. Once stable again I was told that they had completely lost the baby’s heartbeat for a couple of minutes but all was OK now.

I was terrified at the thought of losing my baby.

I just so badly wanted her out and safe in my arms; 8 cm dilated so I thought that should be soon.

Around 3 AM, now April 16th, the nurses demanded that I get some sleep before the pushing began. They put me on my right side, lowered me onto the bed and I fell asleep.  About 20 minutes later I woke to the pain of contractions on my left side. I thought, How is this possible, I had an epidural! I called the nurse in and she explained to me that the epidurals work by gravity and probably wore off because I was on my side. So, she turned me over to try and get the freezing back. I feel back to sleep and was woken by alarm bells again, the baby’s heart rate had dropped off from 169 to 36.  Again, I was totally freaked out by this but was assured she was OK and to go back to sleep.

I woke up around 5 AM and threw up all over myself. Disgusting! A side effect from all the medication in my system. There was a shift change with the doctors, so, after getting cleaned up I was introduced to my new doctor.  He told me the news I had been waiting to hear for a long time now. “You are 10 cm dilated and you’re ready to push now.” I was relieved and anxious to start pushing but then realized I was starting to really feel the pain from my contractions again. How was this possible, I’d had an epidural and it had been topped up! Was my body not responding to the medication anymore?! I threw up again. I felt scared as I began to push because the pain was becoming unbearable again and I felt everything as I pushed.

I pushed and pushed for over an hour and the baby wasn’t coming down.

Eventually she crowned and was coming and then she was gone again. I was so frustrated because I was pushing with all my might but it felt as if my body was working against me.  Turns out it was. The doctor came in and told me that my baby was locked in my pelvis and was very unhappy.

What!! My baby is stuck?!

Her heart rate kept dropping. The doctor rushed out of the room and then quickly came back with a waiver for me to sign and said the OR was ready for me.  

I’M FREAKING OUT!!! WHAT!!!

He told me I needed an emergency C-Section and fast! All of a sudden everything felt surreal. I felt like I was in a scene from a movie, with doctors and nurses rushing around everywhere! I was petrified! I was reluctant to sign the waiver as the thought of having a C-Section terrified me so much.  But, knowing that my daughter was dying scared me more. I signed and was rushed down the hall pass the waiting room where many of my family members had been waiting. Everyone looked panicked as I was rushed passed them.

I remember hearing my sister’s crying voice telling me she loved me.

The doors to the OR opened and I was transferred to the operating table, where my arms and legs were strapped down so I couldn’t move. I was scared and crying uncontrollably. The anesthesiologist who had administered my epidural the day before was still on shift and began rushing freezing agents throughout my body. They weren’t working! I could still feel everything. She told me not to panic. She got to the fourth administration and I could still feel everything!! The surgeon and nurses were a bit annoyed because I think they thought I was trying to stall out of fear, but I assure you I was not. I could feel them giving me needles of local anesthetic across my stomach, I could feel them touch my legs and then touch them again with cold ice. The nurses put a sheet up in front of me so I couldn’t see the surgery, and again began to touch me and try to trick me.

I’M FEELING EVERYTHING!!

I could hear the nurses say to each other quietly, how is she still feeling this, and this caused me to lose control in a panic. I begged the anesthesiologist to put me to sleep so I wouldn’t feel anything but she told me I’d need to sign a death waiver because I probably wouldn’t make it off the table if she did, because of all the different medications in my system. I thought about it quickly and before I could answer I felt a blade cut through my lower abdomen. I screamed! I had never felt so much pain in my entire life! I was not frozen! But they needed to get the baby out. I still don’t know how I didn’t pass out from the pain, it must have been because of my adrenaline.

Luckily, certain sections of my abdomen did freeze but I could still feel the pressure from the surgeon at work and then the sharp pain again when they entered a non-frozen area. I now know that the clinical term for this is called patch freezing: frozen in some places but not all. I was one of the lucky few who have this resistance to anesthetics which is also why my epidural was failing earlier that day. I then remember hearing my husband’s voice as I flopped around on the table like a fish as the surgeon attempted to remove the baby. I was told that the baby was very very stuck in the pelvis and they were having difficulty getting her out. Then finally I heard a baby crying. It took me a few seconds to realize that was my baby crying.  

They had brought Hunter into my surgery because he had wanted to cut the baby’s umbilical cord. He did that and once the nurses had the baby cleaned up, they came and placed her on my chest.  I just remember her eyes locking on mine and I knew everything was going to be OK.

She was the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen, and she was safe in my arms. She was mine. I was so thankful and despite my pain as they began to stitch me up, I just focused on my little girl, she was the reason I made it through the rest of that surgery.  

You hear mothers talk about it all the time, that immediately unconditional, unending love you become overwhelmed with when you hold your baby for the first time. This feeling is absolutely true and is something you can’t fully appreciate or understand until you become a mother. Despite my traumatizing experience, I am so thankful to all the medical staff that helped save my little girl’s life, and mine. Becoming a mother was one of the proudest moments of my life and one that I will never take for granted.  

Time heals all wounds but I will forever have the scar from my daughter’s birth, but I will never wear it with shame.

My scar will be my constant reminder of how quickly life can change and how lucky I am. It will remind me how strong I was, when I never thought I could be. It makes me feel proud.

Join us in celebrating Kassandra and Kacela. Every pregnancy, and birth, is unique. With InvigoPhysio, we’re here to help you at every stage of your motherhood journey. Scars from c-section, like Kassandra’s, are proud markers of your journey but if they are causing you pain, pelvic physiotherapy can help.

If you have questions about your pelvic floor health, reach out. We’re here for you. You can share your unique pregnancy and birth story with us this May by using #MyPregnancyStoryTO. 

What was your reaction to Kassandra and Kacela’s story? What words can you share with mother and daughter as they start the next part of their story, together?

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