My Two CF Birth Stories: Part One
There’s days where I wish August 4th, 1995 could peek into the future and see me now 26 years after my cystic fibrosis diagnosis. So much has changed in life expectancy and quality of life that I don’t think anyone would have guessed I would be a mom to two kids at the age of 31. I certainly did not! But here I am: a mom to two little boys, my worlds-- ages 4 year old and 5 weeks.
Although motherhood with CF is of course extremely exhausting, it is also the greatest joy I have ever experienced. One of the best moments in a culmination of happy moments is watching your baby enter the world. I love hearing other women’s birth stories since it’s such a transformative process. Now that I have given birth two times, I would like to share each of my birth stories with CF and how they were different and similar, uniquely their own.
My birth wishes
With our first son, we had always planned a 38-week induction that’s commonplace when the mom has any form of diabetes including CFRD, like I do. My hope for birth was to try to have an unmedicated birth while keeping in mind the energy it requires to push your baby out. I wasn’t sure I could do it with 65% lung function, but hoped to experience the full range of birth in that way. I understand having an unmedicated birth is not for everyone.
However, it was important to me because after so many years of my body working against me with CF, I knew it would be redemptive to watch my body do something it was designed to do. Giving birth that way was a reminder that I am capable of motherhood from the very beginning, despite CF.
Waking up on our son’s birthday
I was 37 weeks and 5 days, two days prior to my induction, when I was woken up out of my sleep at 7:15am by a popping noise and rush of fluid. My water broke in my sleep! We took our time getting to the hospital as I was warned labor is often very slow for first time moms. At this point, my contractions were coming every 4 minutes as we pulled out of our driveway hospital-bound.
On the highway the contractions were painful enough that I couldn’t talk through them and I remembered this meant labor was progressing. Man, labor really did suck far worse than I could have imagined if I was in this much pain early on.
Upon arrival at the hospital, I skipped the wheelchair ride and walked through the various buildings that were as comfortable as home to me.
Clueless in labor
In triage, it was confirmed my water did break. As the contractions grew in intensity, I remember turning to my husband and telling him I wasn’t sure I could do this if I was only at the beginning stages of labor. Maybe I needed an epidural after all? Everything was so intense as my contractions grew even more powerful and overlapping. I was clueless as to the progression and how much longer this would take.
I was moved to an exam room to get my IV and at that point the pain was all consuming. I was moving my head and body in ways I never needed to before to cope. Thankfully, my mom was waiting in the room and with one look at me, she knew I was further along than everyone expected at that point.
From all my CF experience, she was aware more than anyone else that my pain tolerance was very high. And she was right! About 10 minutes later, a very sudden urge to push came over me and I gasped out “I need to push!!” as the medical team rushed in to check me.
Happy birthday, baby boy
Before I was aware, the nurses were prepping for delivery and quickly explaining what I needed to do to bring my son into the world. It was the most chaotic moment of my life filled with so many emotions--fear, urgency, excitement, disbelief. My mother, who is a respiratory therapist, made the brilliant move to put oxygen on me and the unmedicated pushing began, just as intensely as you would think.
Within 30 minutes, our son was born and the moment he cried, it was as if I had heard that cry thousands of times before. I knew him before even meeting him in the greatest moment of my life.
My labor was extremely quick-- three hours and 45 minutes from when my water broke at home. And because of the intensity and speed of his birth, it was an even more powerful experience than I expected.
However, because of all the challenges I have face living with CF, I truly feel my disease prepared me for the biggest day of my life--meeting our son.
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