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Remington Claire’s Birth Story

Nov 14, 2018

Welcoming Remington Claire into the world was the hardest thing I have ever done, but looking back it’s also the most beautiful thing I have ever done.  We watched God gift us a miracle and that is something I still live in awe of each day.

I will honestly admit that when I was pregnant, even though I fought everyday to keep myself stable and my baby alive, I didn’t feel a connection to my sweet baby Roo.  The moment Remington Claire entered this side of the world, the connection was instant and my heart has continued to grow each day since.  I am not a person that loves easily, and usually I put up walls, but loving you my sweet girl was the easiest, most natural experience.

I debated sharing this story, but after a complicated and traumatic pregnancy, plus the added aspect of delivering a baby in a foreign country, in a language I don’t speak, plus a Type 1 diabetes labor and delivery, I decided to share.  I wrote this story mostly for myself to remember the details and for our sweet Remington, but I also wrote this for moms struggling with fear or complications or just anxiety about the whole process.

Do not fear.  Birth is hard but its equally beautiful and empowering.

A few things first…

  • I FIRMLY believe that all forms of birth should be glorified.  I feel like there is this tendency now a days for women to describe home births or laboring without any interventions as glorious (which it is!), but the mom with the emergency C-section or breach baby shies away from using that word to describe her birth story.  Creating a human and bringing a human into this world is one of the most glorious and amazing feats ever to exist.  Own your story, whatever it may be!
  • I am intentionally choosing not to share any photos of birth or the first moments, as I believe those belong to Remington.  I also am choosing to keep some details private, including her weight & size, which I talked about in this blog post.
  • As natural as I am, I personally am SO thankful for hospitals and the medical community—I think that living in modern times has great benefits in this whole birth and pregnancy process because so much can go wrong so quickly, so I truly am thankful for hospitals and modern technology.
  • I also had a very open mind about birth and intentionally chose not to have a birth plan, which considering all my unknowns was my saving grace.  My only big desire was not to have a c-section unless that was necessary for Remington or my safety.

No matter how your baby enters this world, you are bringing life into the world and that should be celebrated, and is forever glorious.  I hope as women and moms we continue to encourage one another and celebrate the uniqueness of our journeys rather than trying to “out-birth” each other!

Giving birth to Remington was both harder and different than I ever expected but the moment her sweet body was lifted onto my chest was something I will never forget. She is truly a gift from God and I am so thankful for her.

To moms out there who may be fearful of birth, yes its hard…quite honestly it is hell…but in the end it is beautiful, so don’t fear it! You can do the hard things!!!

Remington Claire's Birth Story

Remington Claire: Your Birth Story

The Days Before + The Unknowns

Being a military spouse stationed overseas in Spain, there were many unknowns in our story.  Remington’s due date was right in the middle of my husband’s deployment, so mentally I prepared to welcome our daughter into the world without him by my side.  My mom was flying to Spain around week 38, but I also didn’t know if baby Roo would come sooner.  Mentally, I was prepared to do this on my own (thankfully I have amazing friends here!), but that mental preparation saved me.

Somehow, truly a miracle and by the grace of God, my husband was able to come home mid-deployment and we had 2 amazing weeks together before sweet Remington joined our family.  I wish I could go into all the details of how he was able to come home, but due to security reasons I cannot, but truly it was a God thing and I am so thankful for so many people (& prayers) who made it happen!

Due to Type 1 diabetes, I could not go much past 38 weeks, so at my last prenatal appointment we scheduled an induction for Monday, April 30th, which was 38 weeks and 2 days.  I loved my Spanish doctors and felt really confident with this plan.  I knew the hospital care was all midwives and that the Spanish hospital was a bit more “natural” but other than that I had no clue how I would be induced or even where the delivery floor was located.  Let’s just say there were many unknowns, but I had a calm and peace during my last trimester like I have never experienced before in life.

I am so thankful God gave me a sense of peace with all of these unknowns and I knew that whatever happened God had already written Remington’s story.

Because of Type 1 Diabetes, the placenta starts to break down typically between 35-38 weeks.  Mine still looked great at 35 weeks (my last appointment) so there was no major cause for concern.  About 36 weeks my blood sugar started to normalize a bit (which during pregnancy it is anything but normal) which is a sign that the placenta is starting to breakdown, again, there was no cause for concern for me but I couldn’t go much longer.

{Words of advice here…so many people are of the philosophy “let the baby cook as long as possible” and that truly isn’t always the best advice.  There are MANY situations when that can be really harmful to both mom and baby, so as a mom that had people telling me to not have the baby early, my best advice is just keep quiet unless you know the full situation!}

The last week of pregnancy (week 37), my body started to collapse—there were clear signs my body was absolutely done being pregnant.  I was beyond miserable, barely left the couch for days, couldn’t open my eyes, had excruciating migraines and I could feel my body actively deteriorating.  Looking back, I wish we would have scheduled an induction a bit earlier, but Remington’s story is beautiful and perfect, so it all worked out!

My plan was to try some “natural induction methods” at the house starting about week 37 + 2 days, but God clearly had other plans.  I had a horrible migraine that whole week and my strength had been completely zapped out of me, there was nothing I could do at this point to gain my energy back.  I could barely open my eyes or even move, sorta like during my first 22 weeks of pregnancy.  So I put off trying those natural methods because I knew I didn’t have the strength to get through giving birth at that point. 

*Since I am not a medical professional, I am not going to detail what natural methods I was going to try but it was a combination of herbs, essential oils, reflexology, craniosacral therapy and homeopathics.*

The beautiful part is that my weeklong migraine broke Sunday morning & my energy returned, so I had a great last day at home with my husband and mom, getting things ready to go and having lots of snuggles with Libby on the couch.  She seriously refused to leave my side while I was pregnant and I have such happy memories of that time together!  

I truly felt this was God’s gift to me, and it felt like a rainbow had appeared after a storm, which is only fitting because sweet Remington was our rainbow baby.  I went to bed that night with such peace.

Remington Claire's Birth Story

Induction Day

My husband and I woke up early and had breakfast together.  We filled our coffee cups and started the 30 minute drive to the hospital.  There was the most beautiful sunrise that morning and I felt so calm and confident.  We prayed together as we made the all too familiar drive to the hospital, through the tiny Spanish streets and parking garage.

I was instructed to ring a button on the labor and delivery floor where we met our translator along with the Spanish team.  I had never seen this part of the hospital or met any of the midwives, but they welcomed us and were SO kind!  To be totally honest, I had NO idea of what to expect, how this process would work or who any of these people were.  But I knew I was in good hands.

The translator left and at that point, we were on our own! Neither my husband or I speak Spanish, but the staff was so kind and tried so hard to communicate with us. One of the sweet midwives and another nurse even dowloaded a translation app on their phones.  It was so sweet and I am forever thankful for their loving care!

For my induction, they hooked me up to monitors and listened to Remington’s heart beat for 30 minutes.  Then they inserted 2 cervix softeners (one fell out shortly after…oops).  Next they monitored her heart for another 2 hours.  It was so comforting to hear her heart beat.  After that, they said, now we wait.  I was carted up to the recovery floor to my room where I would be postpartum.  We shared a room with another couple who just had a baby.

At that point we just waited, I still fully didn’t understand the process since I don’t speak Spanish, but just trusted it would all be ok.  Waiting in a loud, hot, crowded Spanish hospital where you don’t understand the language is tough, but my husband kept positive and I was so thankful for him by my side.  We walked all over the hospital that day, back and forth, up and down the halls.

Eventually they came to check on me before bed, about 8 pm.  I was having contractions!  What? I couldn’t feel ANYTHING. I thought…this is great! Contractions are easy!! (<— HAHA).  The sweet midwife just kept saying “muy bien” and “good contractions Caroline.” I was still so confused, I couldn’t feel anything.  She said get a good night sleep and we will see you in the morning.

My Water Broke

I tried to sleep that night, which I did a little thankfully….then at 4:30 am my water broke!

I didn’t realize there would be THAT much water…I thought it would just be like a ballon pop and then over…but it just kept leaking out…for hours!  And for me it was sorta like the movies depict it, it was sudden and for sure woke me up.  It wasn’t painful at all, just felt like I was peeing the bed. HA

We rang for the nurse and they carted me down to labor and delivery again.  They hooked me up to the monitors and again said good contractions.  I thought wow this is easy, I don’t feel anything!

They took me back down to my room and I ate a protein bar because I thought that was a good idea (wrong) and went back to sleep…still leaking fluid!

About 7:30 my husband went to get himself coffee since poor thing had been sleeping in a chair all night I stood up to go to the bathroom and wash my face and instantly was hit with the most excruciating pain ever, of course right at the moment when my husband stepped out.  Thankfully a nurse came into check on the baby next to us and saw me crying in pain.  I was bent over the bed unable to move and crying in so much pain.  They took me down to labor and delivery pretty quickly as the pain was increasing very rapidly. 

This point starts to become blurry.  I went from absolutely no pain to extreme, unmanageable pain in a matter of minutes.  There was no work up for me and pretty much no time in-between contractions.  It was just hell.  I remember being on the elevator down to labor and delivery thinking I can’t do this.

They offered me an epidural and I declined at that point…I am thankful that they never pushed it on me, simply said let us know if you want one.  We are here support you.  (Seriously, I can’t say enough good things about the Spanish care!)

At this point I started vomiting and having diarrhea (sorry TMI) all at the same time.  The pain was so intense and was constant.  You hear people talk about time in between contractions and my pain was so intense I never really experienced that. 

I don’t quite know how long this lasted, but I believe it was about 3 hours.

During all of this I was on an insulin drip as your blood sugar skyrockets when you are in pain, so my blood sugar needed to be controlled during labor and delivery.  I also wasn’t dilating enough.  After all of those horrible contractions the past few hours I was only at 2 cm.  So I was then put on pitocin.  The intense pain had started before the pitocin but I will say I am so thankful that my induction process wasn’t strait pitocin from the start!

Remington Claire's Birth StoryThe Epidural That Saved Me

The pain was so intense, I started to blackout…my husband had to keep my eyes open and hold me up and he said he thought he was going to loose me.  I remember thinking to myself, I am going to pass out, I can’t stay awake anymore.  Everything kept going black then coming back to life.  It was intense.

I had no clue what was going on, but thankfully Stephen told them to bring in the epidural paperwork because he knew I would want it and sign the papers…So thankful he did that!

Looking back now, if it wasn’t for the epidural, I most likely would have had an emergency c-section, because I was blacking out.

They told my husband to leave the room and told me I had to stay completely still because they were putting a very large needle in my spin (ok, yeah that sounds scary)!  Completely still? I was VIOLENTLY shaking from the pain and screaming and had no clue how I would stay still, but somehow I did it.  I just kept praying in my head, God help me through this.  One of the nurses held my hands and looked at me straight in the eyes…I don’t think I’ve ever held someone so tight!

This was about 10:30 am—the epidural wasn’t instant…I still had a few more horrible moments of pain and contractions, but then it started to get better.  It took a good 10-15 minutes, which seemed like a lifetime.  I still felt every contraction but it wasn’t painful, it just felt like a giant bowling ball was trying to come out of me! 

And then I went to sleep…I slept for a few hours and that saved me! I got my strength back up again!  They gave me a second round of anesthesia because they didn’t give me enough at the beginning and it started to wear off and I was in horrible pain again.  My husband put Friends on his iPad and I even watched an episode or two.  I was in and out of sleep this whole time, I still felt every contraction but it wasn’t painful.

I am SO thankful for this time of rest because it was exactly what my body needed.

I got to hear sweet Remington’s heartbeat the whole time and that truly was comforting!

Let me just say, that epidural saved me quite literally.  Going into birth, I didn’t have a birth plan because I wanted to keep an open mind and I am SO thankful I did.  I hear people say getting an epidural is “giving up” but hear me loud and clear, there was NO giving up by getting an epidural.  I carried sweet Remington through a traumatic 9 months, I labored in intense pain for hours and pushed for well over an hour.  Sweet mamas and mamas to be, please do what is best for you in your situation but NEVER have any shame in taking advantage of modern medicine when you need it!!!

Go Time

About 4:30 pm my midwife Monica, who was seriously an angel sent from above, said she could see the head and we needed to do some practice pushes.  She had a mirror and showed me Remington’s head—our sweet daughter had hair!!

We did some practice pushes, which I totally did wrong at first, but then quickly got the hang of it.  Again this was mostly all in Spanish, so my vocabulary was expanding quickly!!

TMI alert: since I had the epidural, I also had to have a catheter…so at this point, the midwife “drained” me and “cleaned” me out so to speak…It sounds scary but it only felt like a pinch, so don’t be fearful of this at all!!! You can’t really feel much and although your entire body is totally exposed and vulnerable it never felt weird to me.

After that I got transferred to the delivery room and a delivery chair.  It was go time.

Due to the epidural just starting to wear off, my legs were still tingly, one side was still pretty numb, but I started to be in excruciating pain again.  The pain thankful was manageable and not causing me to black out like before.

I pushed for over an hour.  

There was a whole team of people in there, all so kind and sweet! This was all in Spanish at this point, but honestly you just figure it out and I feel like birth transcends any language barrier.  

During pushing, Stephen was holding my hand on one side and another midwife on another side was pushing on my belly to move the baby down.  That honestly was the worst part of the whole experience.  I have never wanted to punch someone so hard.  Every-time she pushed it was some of the worst pain I have ever experienced.

I am the girl who always wants to finish strong, and never in my life before have I felt like I physically couldn’t push anymore.  About halfway through I went from pushing for 10 seconds to 15 second pushes with barely any rest in between.  I think maybe I had a few seconds in between pushes, or at least it seemed that way.  My husband counted every push in Spanish, yes, he pretty much is my hero!  

After about an hour the baby’s heart rate started to drop.  I looked at the monitor for a brief second and the Spanish midwife turned my head away and said focus.  She did not want me to be concerned with that!

When Remington’s heart rate dropped, I could see the main midwife Monica panic a bit—she worked SO hard and never once gave up.  Seriously she was such a gift.  She snipped me and I had a few more pushes left Stephen said.  Stephen said this is the last one and I was crying and said “NO it’s not.”  Then all of a sudden, while I was still pushing Remington was lifted onto my chest.  I did it.  It was over so quickly!!  She was HERE! 

Remington Claire's Birth StoryRemington Claire's Birth StoryAfter birth

As the midwife placed her on my chest, I said “we get to keep her right?!”

Having Remington on my chest was an indescribable moment.  It is a moment I vividly remember and play over and over again in my head.  There were tears, there was joy.  In that moment I didn’t care if she was perfect by worldly standards because she was perfectly ours.  And thankfully, she was healthy and perfect! You my sweet Remington are the greatest gift I have ever been gifted.

(Thankfully they did not clip the umbilical cord right away which was one thing I requested and did immediate skin to skin.)

I instantly felt relief and all the pain was over, you sorta even forget about all that you just went through, or at least I did.

I still had to deliver the placenta, which I have heard from many people is painful and thankfully it was not painful for me—all of a sudden it was out and boy that thing is large!! Stephen was holding Remington at this point and I had to be stitched up and cleaned up as there is A LOT of blood.  So that process took a while!

Remington Claire's Birth StoryThe first hours

I am hesitant to share this part, because this is where the story becomes Remington’s.  But I think there are a few important aspects here that might be helpful to other women.

Remington’s blood sugar: A big concern with babies from Type 1 mothers is that the baby will not be able to regulate her blood sugar, which is one of many reasons why we were at the big Spanish hospital.  Remington’s heal was pricked pretty quickly after birth to test her blood sugar and it was very low.  I can’t remember the numbers but I want to say it was about 28-30.  I didn’t know this at the time, so I want to share this, but a baby’s blood sugar is naturally much lower than an adults.  These numbers are concerning but not as concerning as if an adult had that number, but I didn’t know that at the time. The midwives got a little syringe and we gave her some formula.

About 20 minutes later she was tested again and her blood sugar went up but she still needed to improve, so again a tiny bit more formula.  Thankfully her blood sugar kept going up which was a huge relief, because otherwise she would have been transferred to the NICU.  I was prepared all along for her to go into the NICU because we knew that was most likely, so I kept asking in my broken Spanish if she needed that but they said no she was ok.  

Her blood sugar was monitored every few hours for the first 48 hours and thankfully she regulated on her own within that time so she didn’t need additional help.  I was able to nurse her thankfully, but she also had to be given formula those first 48 hours to regulate her blood sugar.

Shortly after delivery, I spiked a small fever, which the midwife said was common.  I had been through A LOT, so it didn’t really surprise me.  I was given a bag of fluids and that took it right away.  

Other than that, my blood sugar greatly dropped within 24 hours and remained pretty low for the next few months, which was a huge relief after 9 months of blood sugar drama.  I was on an insulin drip all of labor and delivery, but after birth I was able to return to monitoring myself.  It took a few days to figure out my new insulin needs but was nothing too difficult thankfully.

It was close to 11pm at night when we finally got back to our room.  The sweet Spanish couple next to us was so worried as we had been gone all day.  They were so kind to make sure we were ok and gave Stephen a box of chocolates.  Seriously, delivering a baby in a foreign country isn’t easy but it was our story and looking back I am so thankful.

Stephen really encouraged me to get in the shower, but at this point I could barely walk and most of my body was still numb.  So he gave me a shower that night, probably one of the most sacrificial things he has ever done.  (TMI alert) There was A LOT of blood and I didn’t expect there to be that much blood.  It was the worst for the first 48 hours then significantly dropped after that.  

Remington Claire's Birth StoryRemington Claire's Birth StoryThe First Days

The next 5 days in the hospital were rough.  The Spanish hospital care was incredible and I am so thankful for that because that is the most important aspect, but it was hot and crowded and very loud and we so badly wanted to go home.  We were told we could go home after 2 days but then there were no doctors available to release us! So we waited another day.  That 3rd day both my husband and I lost it…I held our sweet baby just sobbing wanting to go home so badly.  We prayed over her and tried to keep calm but seriously just wanted to go home.  

Those first few days were also glorious—Stephen immediately turned into papa bear and watching him sweetly care for all my needs, try to translate everything, find me food, protect Remington, sleep in a hospital chair for 5 nights….gosh all of it just made me fall in love a million times over.  Having him there was the biggest blessing ever!

The next day they were about to release us but then the doctor suspected jaundice.  Remington was tested at birth and was fine but I guess they do a second test before sending you home.  We then had to wait 5 hours for her test results.  She did in fact have jaundice and had to be transferred to the NICU.  We then had to wait a few hours for that to happen and again, cried endless tears.  I so badly wanted to take our sweet baby home.

Looking back it was actually a blessing she went to the NICU.  She finally got good sleep and peace (the hospital was loud and they were doing tests on her all the time so she never got good rest the first few days) and both my husband and I were so thankful for that.  She sat in her little sun tanning bed and was just the cutest little thing.  We called her our sunshine baby!

Breastfeeding was VERY hard the first few days.  I didn’t have any lactation support and my nipples were raw and it felt like someone was sawing them off.  It was horrible and I didn’t know how to communicate to the Spanish nurses that I needed to pump.  Thankfully once Remington went to the NICU, they had to set me up with a pump and were so helpful at that point.  Man when your milk comes in it is intense!! Pumping gave my body time to rest and heal, so I did that for the first few days which was so nice.  Thankfully, I had been in contact with the lactation consultant at our little American hospital here in Spain. She seriously was a gift from above that first week and talked me through so much when I was in the Spanish hospital those first few days.  I called her sobbing and am so thankful for her encouragement or I probably wouldn’t have made it.  Seriously, don’t be afraid to ask for help with breastfeeding.  It isn’t as natural as its made out to seem at first!

Going home

After 24 hours in the NICU, Remington was given the clear to come home. The most calm doctor I have ever met came to Stephen and I and calmly said, “Do you speak English? Would you like to take your daughter home?”  We were not expecting that in the moment and it was such a happy surprise!!!  

After 6 days in the hospital, we finally were heading home with our sweet Remington Claire as a family of 3!!  

Sweet little love, I hope you know how much we love you and would give anything for you.  You are ours to love, nurture and cherish, forever!Remington Claire's Birth Story

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