Welcoming Heidi Rose Pt. 1 (Pregnancy)

Friday, July 24, 2020

On Thursday July 2nd, 2020, we welcomed our beautiful rainbow baby, Heidi Rose Rubin to the world. Now that Heidi is three weeks old, I wanted to take a minute to write down her birth story, so I would never forget the special details of her birthday, and what our experience was like through her pregnancy and early newborn days. 

Finding out & First Trimester

I found out I was pregnant with Heidi on the morning of our due date with the baby that we miscarried last spring. Based off my calculations, it should have been too early for me to even get a positive pregnancy test, but our sweet angel Lennon and our rainbow Heidi had other plans and wanted us to have something to celebrate that day. Spenser and I had planned to get out of town that weekend and celebrate Lennon's life in Asheville, NC. It was so special to be able to celebrate this little life that weekend, as well! 


**A quick note -- After our miscarriage, I was told by 2 other OBs that they would not run any tests on me or my hormones until I had had 3 or more miscarriages. I was sure that something hormonal was going on with me and had documented my cycles for months, sharing this information with each OB I visited. I couldn't believe they expected me to just accept the pain of the miscarriage and live through 2 more before I could even get a blood panel drawn. If you ever face something like this, do not accept it! I pushed and pushed and went to different practices until finally I found an OB who agreed that I likely had a hormone imbalance and wanted to run tests on me. Turns out, my intuition was right, and I had chronically low progesterone. All I needed was some supplemental progesterone through the first trimester. Without the supplemental progesterone, any pregnancy I had would almost certainly have ended in tragedy. I am so glad I advocated for myself and my babies and didn't let up until I received the care I deserved. Miscarriage is common, but no woman should be expected to live through multiple tragedies before receiving basic care to try and rule out hormonal causes!**

My pregnancy with Heidi was truly a dream. I was nauseas and tired in the beginning, but I was so thankful to be pregnant I found the symptoms reassuring that this baby was growing and healthy, and my progesterone was balanced. I held my breath throughout the first trimester, and was so thankful to my amazing providers at Reply OB/GYN who patiently let me come in for extra blood tests and ultrasounds to make sure this tiny baby was growing safely.  I'll never forget how cared for I felt by the nurses and doctors who validated my anxiety and celebrated with me each time we saw the baby growing safely on the ultrasound. 

Because of our miscarriage experience, we elected to do genetic testing to identify any potential chromosomal issues with the baby. We were terrified of losing another baby and just felt like the more information we had, the more we could relax. We got our genetic results back on Christmas Eve, and sent them to my sister in law so she could tell us if we were having a boy or a girl! She wrote us the most perfect "letter from Santa" that we opened on Christmas day and learned... we were having A GIRL!  We had both dreamed of having a baby girl, and it was such a dream come true to see those words. A girl! Our daughter! She was healthy and she was coming! Knowing we were having a sweet baby girl so early in pregnancy (only 12 weeks) was such a gift to me. It really allowed me to connect with my baby in a way I had not allowed myself to do, and never got the chance to do with Lennon. My girl. She was coming! 

Second Trimester & the Pandemic 

The second trimester was a dream -- I truly loved being pregnant and had such a blast tracking my growing belly. Every week I documented pictures of it. Looking back, I barely looked pregnant, but to me, I could see my baby growing and it made me so happy to see it change week after week. I had so much energy, no food aversions, was working out, and just enjoying every moment. I had such peace that this baby was healthy and safe and we were going to meet, Earthside. Anxiety still came for me, but I would use those moments to pray for her safety and center myself knowing that what I was feeling, she was feeling. And I wanted her to only feel my love, not my fear! 

When the Coronavirus Pandemic started in March, I was just over half way through our pregnancy. Things felt like they were changing so rapidly; it was overwhelming. We didn't know anything about how COVID affected pregnancy or infants, so we immediately went into lockdown - much earlier than most of the people we know! I was terrified that this pandemic would worsen and Spenser wouldn't be allowed to be with me during the birth of our daughter. He ended up not being allowed to attend any more of my OB appointments, but he was able to be at our birth. While I missed him being able to see our ultrasounds in person, it was a fair trade for me.  The hardest part for me about being pregnant in the pandemic ended up living our pregnancy in isolation from family and friends. But, knowing we were doing what we could to protect our family was worth the sacrifice. 

Third Trimester & Our Stubborn Breechling 

Around 28 weeks, we learned (I had already been suspicious) that Heidi was breech. I had felt a really hard lump under my ribs/in my side for a few weeks by this point, and I was concerned it wasn't her butt. Sure enough, my instincts were correct and she was breech! Our doctors reassured us that she would likely turn on her own but gave us a list of things to try to encourage her to turn. We just needed her to get head down by 37 weeks -- it seemed like plenty of time! We tried all the things. I was doing inversions multiple times a day off the couch, handstands in the pool, ice packs on her head, music at the bottom of my belly, acupuncture, chiropractic care... nothing worked. At every appointment we had she was still breech, and the reality was setting in that as she got bigger the less likely she would be to turn on her own. 

Being the Type A prepare-er that I am, I started researching breech babies to educate myself of what our birth options would be. Heidi was in a position for about 8 weeks called Frank Breech. She was folded completely in half with her feet up by her head. At our 36 week ultrasound, she was sucking on her toes! Babies that stay in this position *can* be born vaginally if the provider is able to perform a breech vaginal birth, but after doing some research, I felt the risks for a first time mom were a bit too high for my comfort level. We looked into a doing a procedure called an External Cephalic Version, but ultimately decided / Heidi decided it wasn't for us. An ECV is a procedure done in the OR at the hospital (in case there is an emergency delivery needed) where the doctors give the mother an epidural (if you're lucky), and then manually try to turn the baby with their hands. I spoke to a few people who had done this, and it sounded excruciatingly painful. For first time moms, the success rate is really low (<25%) and can cause fetal distress to the baby. My instincts were telling me that Heidi was not going to turn on her own, but I felt a lot of guilt/self inflicted pressure to try everything we could to get her to have a vaginal birth. 


Thankfully, she made the call for us and said "No thanks!" to the ECV. At our 37 week appointment, we learned that Heidi had already engaged in my birth canal -- she was LOW at -1 station. Our chances of an ECV being successful at that point pretty much went out the window and our provider said she really didn't think it was worth the stress to me or the baby to even try. Heidi had also gotten her legs free and had moved into a position called Complete Breech -- her feet were cross-legged in my pelvis. Vaginal birth was also no longer a safe option for us. 

Because of Heidi's foot-first positioning, and the risk of what could happen to either of us if I went into labor naturally, we decided to schedule a c-section at 39 weeks. I spent the next two weeks talking to every mom I knew who'd had a c-section and tried to prepare and educate myself for my risks, recovery, and return home. I had taken 3 or 4 birth classes during the pandemic to prepare myself for a pain-med free, vaginal birth... c-section wasn't even on my radar. Let alone a planned one! But in my mother-gut, I knew this was our path and the safest way for Heidi to be born and just embraced it. She was in her breech position for a reason, and wasn't turning, so I needed to embrace Plan Z and get ready. 

Planning for her Birthday 

A week before Heidi's birthday, we got the call that we had a scheduled date with the hospital. We decided to keep the exact day a secret from family and friends because we wanted it to be a special day just for us. We wanted to be able to surprise our family with her arrival, instead of everyone waiting / texting us all day for updates. It was the perfect choice for us and added an extra element of fun and suspense that drove our families crazy leading up to it! 

We spent the next week really enjoying our kid-free life, making plans for her arrival (scheduling a house cleaner during our hospital stay was #1 best choice we made!!), and wrapping up work projects. It was actually so nice to know when she was coming and really removed a lot of stress! The night before her birthday, we cooked a big steak dinner, watched a movie, and talked about our hopes and dreams for her life. We went to bed early (knowing we had to wake up at 4am to get to the hospital), and had a lovely, full night's sleep... our last for a while :) 

Early the next morning, the alarm went off.... it was BABY DAY!  (Pt. 2... coming soon!) 

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