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I had an unexpected C-section and these pictures tell my story

One mama tells us how she coped when her birth didn’t go as planned.

I had an unexpected C-section and these pictures tell my story
Photography by Laura Vladimirova, of www.Naturalbirthbebe.com; who also served as Terri and Michael's birth doula.

I have PCOS, so getting pregnant wasn't easy. After three years, countless fertility treatments, four miscarriages and one round of IVF, my husband Michael and I learned that a healthy male embryo was sprouting inside of me. I was anxious and worried and scared. But I was also overjoyed and hopeful.

Once I hit the 24-week mark (a point that I had yet to reach with my other pregnancies), I tried to set my mind free from all the worries and had a renewed sense of determination. I wanted to welcome my son into this world with a drug-free vaginal birth.

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But I had gestational diabetes. So my doctor scheduled an induction at 39 weeks, right before Memorial Day. The morning of my induction started like any other day, except when I used the bathroom, I felt a huge gush. My water broke, and for once, I thought, my body was cooperating with me and I may avoid induction.

Our doula Laura advised me to get active to help my body get into active labor. For the next several hours, I bounced on my ball, walked around and did nipple stimulation. As the contractions came on, they were only about eight minutes apart. I began doubting myself and decided it was time to go for my induction appointment at 5pm.

After we made a pit stop at Shake Shack for my last meal as a mom-to-be, we arrived at the hospital. I checked in, met with the on-call doctor, reviewed my birth plan and was in a gown within 20 minutes. At that point, I was one centimeter dilated. About an hour in, the nurse hooked me up to four different IVs, the last one being Pitocin. It was like an IV web, and I was Spiderwoman.

I've heard so many horrors stories about Pitocin, so I expected the reaction to be immediate. But it took two hours to take full effect. I was able to watch the new Game of Thrones episode before the pain began to steal my focus. It's when the doctors turned the Pitocin up to a level eight that the pain kicked in.

These new contractions were fast and intense. By hour three, we needed help to manage the pain. Laura arrived at 2 am, and her soothing voice and magic hands went to work right away. She, Michael and I became a well-oiled machine. For the first hour, we talked, cracked jokes and tried not acknowledge the fact that another contraction was on its way. The contractions were now 1-2 minutes apart.

The pain became unbearable, cutting me off mid-sentence and turning me into a howling banshee. Before I could catch my breath, I had to jump back into counting down through the contractions. We moved from leaning on a chair, to squatting on a ball, to laying down. A few hours later, I begged to be examined because in my heart I knew (or at least I prayed) that I had made some significant progress. I was only four centimeters dilated.

My heart sank. I felt defeated. I knew I could push through, but mentally I was nearing a breaking point and needed to get some rest. So I opted for an epidural, if only so I can sleep. Once I got it, around 6 am, everything changed. I wondered to myself, “why did I want an epidural-free birth?" and after 15 minutes, I was finally able to sleep.

After about 2 and half hours, my doctor came in with a slew of others and told me that my baby wasn't doing great. Once you hear those words, nothing else in the world matters. She explained that his heart rate was dropping and recommended a C-section. I tried not to panic, but Laura could tell that I was very overwhelmed and needed a minute to evaluate what was going on. She asked that Michael and I had some alone time to discuss our options.

As my doctor went over the consent form and proceedings, I saw my dreams of having a vaginal birth vanish, but all I could think of was my unborn son. I gave my approval for the operation and signed the paperwork. The doors swung open and a slew of people came in. It was like a TV show.

I was rolled down the hallway and into the OR, strapped down to a table. My anesthesiologist was very good looking, "McDreamy" good looking—a welcome distraction while I waited for Michael to arrive. Once the anesthesia kicked in, he asked what Pandora station we wanted to listen to. We chose the smooth sounds of Maxwell. My doctor then began the procedure. I felt some pressure and tugging, but within minutes, I heard his cry.

Three years of pain, stress, sadness and anger were all out-weighed by this sweet, sweet sound. Michael and I burst into tears. Minutes later, Michael brought him over to my face. I was in love and so relaxed that I fell asleep with his face still pressed up against mine. I awoke in recovery to Laura, Michael and Miko, my son. Life couldn't have been any sweeter.

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $100

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

    $100

    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

    $45

    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

    $179

    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

    $100

    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $33

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $88

    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

    $75

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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    So, what's new this week?

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    Created by renowned pediatrician, baby sleep expert and (as some might say) lifesaver Dr. Harvey Karp, Happiest Baby has been helping new parents understand and nurture their infants for close to two decades. Building on the success of his celebrated books and video The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block he's developed groundbreaking, science-based product solutions that conquer a new parent's top stressor—exhaustion.

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    WSEL stands for work smart, enjoy life—an ethos we couldn't agree with more. Founded by a stay at home dad who struggled to find a diaper bag that he not only wanted to use, but one that would last far beyond the baby years, these premium, adventure-ready backpacks are ideal for everything from errands to week-long getaways.

    Codex Beauty: Exceptionally effective sustainable skin care

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