We're nearing the end of Cesarean Awareness Month and asked one of our favorite Birthsmarter moms, Alex Redelico to share her story:
Let me start by saying that I loved being pregnant. After the discomforts of the first trimester passed I felt so lucky to have felt so strong - I continued to lift and train and became so well versed in this new body I was quite literally growing into. I read, asked lots of questions, and took some Birthsmarter courses to prepare (as much as you can prepare for something that is out of your control) for this major event that was about to take place. I knew labor and delivery would be one of the greatest challenges I’d ever face but I was also strangely excited to take on this great obstacle.
My birth plan was no plan. I went in with the mindset that I was as prepared and informed as I could be given the circumstances - I knew what questions to ask, how to advocate for myself, was confident in my partner, knew all the birthing ball bounces, how and what to do to help baby get moving, and more. I felt READY. Unfortunately, my body and baby were not as amped as I was to get this labor party started and at 42 weeks and 3 days I was ‘forced’ to be chemically induced with Cytotec and was also given a cooks balloon…wah wah😓. All good! I was still hopeful that I could do this with as little intervention as possible and have a successful vaginal birth. Fast forward ‘5.5 cm dilation’ later and I was feeling great. In all the excitement of my (almost) natural progress, I allowed my water to be broken (PS this is the one definite thing I would have done differently if I could go back). They wanted to intervene with Pitocin fairly quickly and I insisted on having a few more hours to try some of the techniques I had learned to move myself along. I did some rebozo partner work and some ball movement which was feeling good, and my contractions were getting more intense so I thought for sure we were moving in the right direction. I was incorrect, so after those few hours I was placed on a Pitocin drip (this is around hour 24 post induction).
My contractions started really picking up and also started getting closer together so I was assuming that we were making some headway. According to the monitor on my belly, my contractions were promising, but I was informed that the external monitoring was not really accurate for contractions (why even have the contraction line on the monitor then 🙄), and in order to really get a gauge on contractions I would have to have an internal monitor inserted..so I did. Between the internal and external monitoring I was so fed up with all the cords, not to mention my amniotic fluid was still in ‘full drip’ on a fairly constant basis.
Although my contractions were very close together and feeling like an eight or nine out of ten, based on the internal monitor, they were actually only a level two or three on the ‘effectiveness scale’. I was still doing all of the things trying to progress my labor along - walking around, doing hip circles, etc, but the pain just kept increasing, my belly started getting super tender, and I started to get really shaky.
Throughout this whole process, all of the nurses and PAs had been trying to convince me to get an epidural so that I could just relax and maybe dilate more naturally - maybe take a nap and wake up at 10cm (lol), but I hated the idea of not being able to get out of bed so I had declined. Even though I went in with a ‘no plan’ mentality, it was really challenging for me to wrap my head around the fact that even with all of my preparation, nothing was going ‘according to plan’ - because, if I’m being honest, the idea of an epidural and potentially a C-section were circumstances I never thought would be my reality.
Well, that was incredibly naive of me to say the least, because both very quickly became my reality. I unfortunately got an infection called chorioamnionitis (from my membranes being open for so long - hence the regrets about my water being broken). I had a fever, was incredible shaky, and both mine and the baby’s heart rates were significantly elevated. At this point I was so exhausted and in so much pain that I was genuinely looking forward to having a needle in my spine if it meant I could just get some rest. I was administered an epidural, took a three hour nap, and was woken up by a doc I had never met before informing me I needed a c-section. Even though I was incredibly disappointed, in that moment, I was also relieved. I was so ready to get this baby out of my body and into the world, by any means necessary.
The entire procedure was a very vivid blur. I felt like I was a subject on a surgery reality show - hearing all the hospital team involved announcing themselves, listing off all the tools, the surgeon talking about me and my ‘case’ to everyone as if I wasn’t completely lucid on the other side of the curtain having full anesthesia shakes already. It was overwhelming but I was looking forward to putting a period at the end of this incredibly long and traumatizing sentence.
Baby Beni was born at 10:29 AM on Tuesday, April 1st after 30ish hours of labor and a cesarean section. I can still hear amongst all of the very sterile chaos the doc instructing the nurses to pull down the curtain so we could see our son for the first time. His little hairy body curled up hovering above me is an image engrained in my memory forever. It was surreal. To have something that was so connected to you that you nourished for the better part of a year now be on the outside of your body as a living breathing being is something I will never fully wrap my head around. Women are f-€%ing superheroes.
The point of this incredibly long story is that I had imagined my birth to be this very holistic, intimate experience with my partner and our little one, and instead it was a traumatizing event that left me feeling powerless, a little angry, and super defeated. Despite all of that, I am so grateful to have gone through this and I wear my scar as a badge of strength and perseverance. I’m so glad that I know firsthand just how challenging this process is, so that I can be compassionate towards other women who have had similar experiences and be there to support my #momtribe however I can.
I’m now almost six months postpartum, and while I am throughly exhausted and slightly overwhelmed at times, I am properly obsessed with my little and learning to lean into the beautiful chaos that is being a parent!
Follow Alex on IG @alexredfit or join her for a workout class in LIC, NY at Strength City Fit!