The lovely Lucy McEwen, Audrey (3) and Emmett (1)
Lucy had an easy time getting pregnant with each of her children, somewhat to her husbands frustration. Her pregnancy with Audrey was uncomplicated but her due date came. She was given Cytotec and Pitocin to induce labor and had a very hard time. After 24 hours, not much had happened and her water was broke during a check without her consent. There wasn't support or any help to get her through the pain other than asking if she was ready for her epidural which she had previously told them she did not want. Once her water was broke and she received the epidural things continued to progress but Lucy got a fever and Audrey's heart beat began decelerating. She was given antibiotics and was able to get her out but her daughter's breathing was a bit raspy.
The hospital's immediate skin-to-skin policy was something that Lucy and been very excited about, but she was unable to hold her right away as they took her daughter for examination. Once she had her back for about 20 minutes they came to check Audrey again and decided to take her to NICU for observation. It was very hard for Lucy to see her new baby taken away in an isolette and as they wheeled her to her room they played Brahm's lullaby signifying a new baby had been born, which was heartbreaking due to her empty arms. When Lucy got to the NICU to see her baby they were about to give her formula and she had to convince them that she wanted to nurse her. When she returned to the postpartum floor they didn't have a bed for her, so she was taken to another part of the hospital farther from her baby that had no experience with postpartum women. So much so, that when she asked the nurse for a pad, they brought her a tiny panty liner.
Every three hours, Lucy was wheeled to NICU where she was allowed to feed her daughter. They then weighed her and put her back. She continued this cycle for 36 hours when she finally had a postpartum room and Audrey was brought to her. While Audrey was fine, Lucy felt that she missed out on crucial bonding time with her baby. She found herself waking up to nurse her daughter and crying uncontrollably. Thankfully, she had joined a community of women online who she was able to reach out to and they encourage her to talk to someone about postpartum depression. Though Lucy had told her doctors she was having a hard time, they dismissed it as her just being tired. When she realized she hadn't been adequately screened and monitored, she became very passionate and got involved with Postpartum Progress as a Warrior Mom Ambassador to help other women who where struggling postpartum.
Lucy hired a doula for Emmett's pregnancy and birth who taught her so much about the process of labor and birth and let her know that she had options and choices along the way, she just had to advocate for them. Lucy was ultimately induced due to high blood pressure but left the hospital to labor at home once her blood pressure was stabilized because they were pushing for a cesarean. She checked her blood pressure at home every 30 minutes as she labored around the clock and once it spiked, she immediately went back to the hospital. She had Pitocin to help regulate her contractions and her nurse helped her to labor on a birthing ball as she allowed her body to take over. Lucy progressed from 4-9cms in about 30 minutes, when her water broke and within 9 minutes Emmett was born. The birth was incredibly empowering and she didn't struggle the way she had previously. She felt that what she wanted, had mattered to the people with her in that room.
While Lucy had breastfed Audrey for 17 months, she realized just a few weeks in to nursing Emmett that she really just didn't want to. She consulted her online community and asked her husband what he thought about her stopping and he told her that was fine. With that blessing, she was able to transition to formula and has felt such relief.
In addition to continually trying to get better herself as she navigates generalized depression, Lucy hopes to be a voice for other women who don't know what to say or who to talk to when they are having a difficult time. "We're losing too many women to this. We all need a voice".
Still, Lucy struggles with telling herself the things she would never tell anyone else. She has a lot of negative self talk and felt that she needed this leap as part of her dialogue. She needs to see herself through this lens to help tell herself that she is beautiful. Her body has changed drastically in the past five years and while it represents her babies, their joy and their journey it also represents her struggles which are important to share. Even though this time in her life isn't always easy, she wants to document it and remember it as fully as she can.