Mama Kara Erickson shares the emergency C-section birth story of her first baby on the Honest Birth birth story series! After finding out she was having high blood pressure, Kara went into the ER at 38 weeks, was sent to L&D, induced, and then ended up having an emergency C-section. Her daughter was in the NICU for 10 days before they brought her home.
Hey mamas! Welcome to the thirtieth post in my Honest Birth series! I’m excited to share another real mama’s birth story, because I think it’s so important to share our childbirth experiences with each other. My goal with this series is to provide a place for women to share their birth stories without holding anything back, as well as compile stories for pregnant mamas to read in preparation for their own childbirth experiences. Every mama is different and every birth is different, and I believe that when we share our stories we help each other.
Today I am featuring Kara Erickson. Kara is the mother to two beautiful daughters; K, who is 2 1/2, and T, who is almost 1. They currently live in the PNW, and before that they spent the last five years in coastal Georgia. Kara loves to run, cook, bake, and most importantly, eat. You can find her most days of the week running with a double stroller pushing her two favorite passengers. You can follow along with her on Instagram @runningkerickson. Today Kara is sharing the emergency C-section birth story of her oldest daughter, K.
Ready to read her daughter’s story? Let’s do it!
The Birth Story of K Erickson
K is a baby that my husband and I prayed long and hard to be able to have. Months and months of negative pregnancy tests had me wondering if, or at least when, I’d be able to have a baby of my own. I spent many months in a puddle of tears each time I found out it was another negative. I am blessed with an amazing husband who stood by me, and wiped countless tears away, hugged me, and cheered me up time and time again. I remember feeling broken, incomplete, and defeated. At the start of 2016 we sought answers to our failed attempts, we went through testing, and nothing seemed to give us answers as to why we couldn’t get pregnant. Doctors came to our aid and helped us see our options for having our family, and on March 17th at 24-years-old, we found out that with their help, we were finally pregnant, thanks to IUI.
I had a fairly textbook pregnancy. I had Braxton hicks contractions throughout my pregnancy. Apparently some people have that periodic tightening early on, and I was one of them. Up until 38 weeks, I exercised about 5-6 days a week, and other than some back/pelvic pain issues, and some foot numbness at the end of my pregnancy, I really can’t complain on how my pregnancy went. But at my 38 week appointment, my textbook pregnancy took an eventful turn.
I went in for my 38 week appointment after a trip to the gym that morning. I sat in the waiting room anxiously waiting to hear that I was more dilated than the 1cm I was two weeks prior. The nurses took my vitals, 138/84 she said as she read off my blood pressure. I knew immediately it was high, especially for me. My heart sank, but I went on my way back to meet the doctor. Everything seemed normal as I was examined, and with little to no progress, it seemed that I was about to go on my way. Dr. O opted to take my blood pressure again before I left though to see if it was a fluke or not, 136/82, still high, so I was told to make an appointment to come back on Monday (it was Thursday), and have my BP checked again. I was also told that if I had any vision changes, I needed to head to L&D. I felt prompted to ask the doctor if my headache from that morning was related to my blood pressure, and he quickly told me it likely was. We discussed that if my headache didn’t go away with Tylenol in the next few hours it was time to head to L&D.
I left the doctor feeling defeated, but hopeful that everything would be alright. I spent the rest of my day worried, as I felt my headache still lingering. That night, my husband and I decided to stop at the grocery store and check and see if my blood pressure was any better. We decided if it wasn’t lower we’d call the nurse hotline and head to the hospital. My BP this time was 155/78, I think. My heart sank and I took it twice hoping it would miraculously go down. I knew things were getting worse, and the nurse hotline advised us to go to the hospital ER where we’d be directed to L&D.
I packed what was left to put in my hospital bag, showered, and tried to stay calm as we made our way to the hospital. I had been so excited to meet our daughter, but here I was completely scared and worried, and terrified that I wasn’t ready for her to come yet.
As we arrived at the ER, things were far from smooth sailing. We were seen quickly, and my BP was now 196/84. I had a nurse that did my IV wrong, and I had no idea why on earth I was still in the ER when I had been told they’d take me up to L&D. I tried to stay calm, but my nerves were shot. (Funny story, I was given a pregnancy test in the ER, as if walking in 38 weeks pregnant and saying I was pregnant wasn’t enough). Long story short, after 2.5 hours of waiting we finally made it up to L&D and met our amazing L&D nurse Amanda.
Amanda took over my care, and it was such a breath of fresh air. She felt terrible the ER hadn’t called and she therefore hadn’t known I was downstairs. She got us set up, and then even transferred us to a larger room where my husband got a nice couch to try to get some sleep. The OB on that night called and complained to the ER about my poor care. I was then given Cervadil and the contractions started. I was uncomfortable, but tried to sleep.
Unbeknownst to me my mom had booked a ticket to GA to fly in the following morning! So as 9am rolled around, I sent my husband to pick her up because my labor wasn’t progressing quickly. The best news of the rough start labor was that Dr. O (my OB) was working that day in L&D, so he’d be watching over my care. Baby K seemed to be doing well, it all just seemed like it would be one big waiting game. Well, time went on, they removed the Cervadil early and got the Pitocin started.
I had really hoped to be able to have a natural childbirth, but my contractions and swelling started to be more than I could handle. Pitocin contractions are no joke! I remember crying to my husband and my mom that there was no way I could do it. I remember feeling so defeated. Well, time went on, and I was about 6-7 cm. I finally begged for an epidural. After the epidural, I was checked again and not too long after that, my water broke while Dr. O was there. I remember there being some blood and being very concerned, but they tried to tell me everything was normal.
Around 3pm K started not doing so well. Her heart rate started to show some fetal distress. My Dr. and awesome nurse worked together to try to keep her healthy. They started pumping me with fluid hoping it would help her thrive. My Dr.’s face showed that something wasn’t right, and he asked for an OR to be prepped just in case. I remember tears streaming down my face as I begged to not have to have a C-Section. My nurse kept trying to have me move around to find a way that would help K’s vitals to improve. All of a sudden things took off. Her heart rate started to skyrocket and then plummeted to extremely dangerous levels. I was given oxygen, and nurses seemed to start filing into the room. I remember hearing Dr. O as they all the suddenly couldn’t find her heart rate, and he made the call that it was time to head to the OR for an emergency C-section. I was completely hysterical and worried, and it all quickly became a whirlwind of going down the hall. I remember them telling me they’d come back for my husband, (I didn’t know he couldn’t come). I got into the OR and time seemed to be passing quickly, but somehow at a standstill as I knew every second was critical to my baby.
I remember listening to the anesthesiologist and hearing the nurses and Dr. O get set up and cleaning off my belly. And then it all goes dark. I was told later they got K out 90 seconds after I was out.
(6pm-ish) I’ll admit this part is still fuzzy to me, so the details may not be quite right as to who was where exactly, but I’ll try my best. I remember waking up from my C-section completely alone. I had no idea where my baby was, where my husband was, or where my mom was. I hit the call button I saw on my bed, but nothing happened. No one was there. I burst into tears, and started to call out trying to figure out what was going on. The nurses finally heard my desperate cries for help, and came to my side. I asked them to please find my husband or my mom.
Eventually, I was met by the NICU Dr. and I was told the news that I had given birth to a very sick baby. I was told she was born as white as a bed sheet (hypoxic) and that she had lost a lot of blood. I wasn’t told how exactly what she was doing. I remember not even knowing if she was alive. They finally got around to the part of telling me that she may have brain damage, and that she needed special care. I quickly asked that they please let my husband go be with her. My husband left my side and there I was again alone. In the next few hours my husband brought me my first pictures of our perfect, but very sick baby K. 5 pounds 15oz and 20.5 inches long. Even under all that medical equipment, she was perfect to me.
She was placed on something called an HIE protocol of three days on being in a medically induced sort of hypothermia to help repair potential brain damage, and then they spend the 4th day slowly warming our baby back up. We couldn’t hold her, and she was in a lot of pain. On day four, I was finally able to hold my daughter. For the first time I felt like a real mom, and not just someone chained to a pump trying to pump every two hours. It took 10 days for us to bring K home from the NICU and to get my high blood pressure under control.
My birth wasn’t what I imagined it would be. Some might see my c-section scar and feel bad or wonder if I’m “self-conscious” about it. Every time I see my scar, I think of how blessed I am that my daughter is alive today. Even now 2.5 years later she’s beating the odds. She shows no ill-effects from her rough start and we can’t imagine our lives without her.
Wasn’t that wild? Kara and I actually both had a very similar experience getting pregnant, but our births were so different. And I love how she has made peace with her emergency C-section, even though it was far from what she had planned for! Thanks so much to Kara for sharing her story on the Honest Birth series! Make sure you follow her on Instagram here! And check back next month for another Honest Birth post!