The lovely Shannon Lyons, Alexander (4) and Annie (1).
Shannon's pregnancy with Alex was a pleasant surprise and she enjoyed it quite a bit. She developed preeclampsia around 35 weeks when her blood pressure began to rise and says she took it personally. She had been so committed to staying healthy and active she felt as if she was doing something wrong. Shannon's OB put her on blood pressure medication and tried to keep her pregnant for a bit longer. They tried to induce at 37 weeks but things were not going well and she felt like she didn't have any options. So, she signed herself out of the hospital and went home. Shannon ended up carrying to 42 weeks when things started to become risky and she was again induced and given magnesium to manage her blood pressure. She labored with the magnesium and Pitocin and felt very out of it. She couldn't connect her thoughts or communicate effectively and the experience was quite traumatic for her. She was given an ultimatum after 20 hours to have an epidural or have a cesarean. She had been holding out because nothing else was going her way but chose to have the epidural.
Shannon was able to get some sleep but woke up in excruciating pain. She was struggling to communicate how much pain she was in but her providers told her she was just feeling pressure and that she couldn't actually feel the pain. She pushed for an hour with a hand inside her to help open her cervix and the pain continued to be very intense but no one would believe her. She was told by a nurse, "Well, you're going to feel pressure. You are having a baby". Alexander's actual birth is very foggy to her, as are the moments following. She does remember vividly, however, someone coming in to move her and realizing that her epidural had been disconnected and was spilling out under her bed. She hadn't been getting the medication all along and while she felt validation knowing the pain wasn't all in her head, she struggled with how she'd been treated and that no one had listened to her.
Postpartum was difficult. Preeclampsia had worsened after Alex's birth and her vision was greatly impaired. Shannon's husband had to go back to work soon and she was not doing well, physically or mentally. He would set her up with diapers, clothes and snacks all day so she could sit in bed and nurse him, which was going great, but she was not okay and didn't have anyone else there to support her. They had just moved to a new city, 4 hours away from friends and family and she didn't have a support network yet. They eventually figured things out and she got through it but the experience changed her life and she is now a postpartum doula. Shannon needed someone to make sure that she was okay and she wasn't, she now needs to be that for other women. To be there to support them, talk to them, and check on them. Postpartum can be so hard and it's okay to not be okay sometimes. She feels a primal need to mother the mother and fill that role.
Alex nursed until he was two, near the end of Shannon's pregnancy with Annie when they gently weaned. She was having a lot of aversion and didn't want breastfeeding to have any negative connotations for them. She chose a midwife for this pregnancy, as well as a different hospital and hoped to do things differently. When Shannon was 8 weeks along her midwife told her about the Verifi testing where she could find out the sex of her baby and screen for genetic issues. She was very excited and chose to have the blood test done right away. Shannon got the phone call that she was having a girl, but that she had also tested positive for Trisomy 18 and needed to see a geneticist right away. The geneticist gave them the option to terminate, do nothing or wait and have a level two ultrasound at 18 weeks to look for abnormalities. Shannon has an autoimmune disorder and was not a candidate for amniocentesis due to increased risk of infection. She was told not to celebrate her pregnancy, name her baby, or buy anything for her. For 10 weeks, she didn't know what was happening with her baby and went through a very dark time. Still, Annie kicked her every time she worried and she had a sense that everything was going to be okay despite the tests proclaimed 99.9% accuracy. They spent 45 minutes in the level two ultrasound at 20 weeks and learned that their baby was just fine.
Once they learned Annie was okay things were wonderful. Shannon's blood pressure started creeping up around 41 weeks so she was induced but things progressed well. She labored mostly in the shower, panicked in transition and thought she needed an epidural but was able to work through it. Annie was born without complication and breast crawled up to nurse just after. Shannon was able to cosleep with her in hospital and Annie never left her side. Their nursing relationship continues to be wonderful.
Shannon wanted to participate for her children and because our bodies do great things but mostly because of her postpartum work. She wants to show all women that their stories matter, regardless what part of the spectrum they fall and all deserve to be heard.