The beautiful Nicole Bickel, Holden Edward (2.5) and Thatcher Cove (4 mo).
Nicole and her husband tried for over a year to conceive when they finally got pregnant. She was so thrilled to have a positive pregnancy test and just keep testing to see the results. Unfortunately, a week later she experienced what felt like the worst period of her life and says that in her naïveté, she assumed that all the tests had just been wrong and perhaps she had never really been pregnant after all. She was sad, but a different kind of sad than if she realized they'd lost their baby. It wasn't until she conceived Holden and discussed it with her doctor that she realized she'd had a chemical pregnancy but she still didn't begin to process her feelings and would be years later she was hit with the grief of her loss.
Nicole had an amazingly healthy pregnancy with her rainbow baby, Holden, and had never felt so sexy in her life. They live in the middle of nowhere, and midwives were difficult to find but after searching she settled with a midwife who was not licensed but had been referred to her and had helped women deliver babies all over the world. She also hired a doula who was just starting out and had a beautiful home birth planned. Labor began naturally but after 11 hours of labor, as she was going through transition, her midwife lost all confidence and transferred her to the hospital. Nicole went from 7 centimeters to 9 centimeters in the two-hour trip to the hospital but once there the doctor didn't come in to see her for 8 more hours. 21 hours into labor she accepted Pitocin because they told her the babies heartbeat was wavering and things needed to be sped along. After Pitocin, her water was broke, she had two epidurals placed and ultimately she delivered via cesarean. She was thrilled to have her beautiful boy and didn't learn until after he was born that he had been posterior.
Just under two years later, after eight and a half months of trying, they conceived again and this time she was determined for things to be different. She found an amazing, well qualified midwife willing to travel the 2 hours to her and her doula was also amazing. Not only did she believe in herself but so did her team but still, she could not feel secure in her pregnancy. Nicole had never mourned her previous loss and residual postpartum depression/PTSD from her birth took over any space she had for those emotions and she struggled to bond with her baby. Nicole had just got into burlesque dancing and at 11 weeks was putting her finishing touches on makeup for a photo shoot when she felt a gush of fluid similar to a period. She had cramping and continued to bleed, convinced she was miscarrying. Nicole contacted her midwife and doula who confirmed her worst fears were likely happening but after a few hours the bleeding stopped and the cramping subsided. The following day, on her first born's birthday, they went into the hospital for an ultrasound thinking they would have confirmation of another loss but instead learned that cervix was closed and there was a beautiful baby inside with a heart beat.
Nicole was incredibly relieved her baby was well and she was diagnosed with a severe subchorionic hemorrhage that healed itself throughout the next few months pregnancy. It was at the anatomy scan weeks later that everything became so real and she began to feel bonded with her baby. She never again doubted her pregnancy and was on track towards getting her home birth when at 35.6 weeks her water broke. Midwives couldn't legally deliver at home until 37 weeks and Nicole lived 6 hours from the nearest hospital that allows VBAC's so she drove two and a half hours away to a birth clinic who had been known for being more friendly to "cesarean refusals." Her midwife, met her there and she learned she wasn't dilating at all. Fearing another cesarean, Nicole checked herself out of the hospital against medical advice but with the support of her midwife and doula.
Nicole's doula checked her baby's heartbeat on doppler and she monitored her temperature every hour or so to check for any sign of infection and they avoided any vaginal checks so as not to introduce infection. Nicole remained pregnant until 37.7 weeks when she labored beautifully and Thatcher was born safely at home fifteen days after her water initially broke.
"One thing my birth experiences have really taught me is that we all have birth experiences. Occasionally you get the cookie cutter pregnancy that you always see on TV but the reality is most of us don't. You don't really get to hear about or learn that until something happens to you surrounding your own birth and you start to talk about it. Then others start to open up too. That's why I think it's important for women to share their birth experiences, good and bad. To help prepare future mothers for anything that may happen. Since becoming a mother I've found my voice and self love. I love my body. It's far from perfect but who cares if it's a little saggy, dimply, or not tight at all. I want to celebrate my bodies accomplishments, not bring it down by judgement on myself."