Stephanie Abruzzo (29) and Luca (2)
Western, MA. Photographed in West Springfield, Mass
"I had a healthy pregnancy, all positive besides morning sickness that lasted all day for 3 months. At 40 weeks, my midwife offered the option of taking castor oil to induce labor. I took it in the early afternoon and went into labor at 11pm. I had back labor and got to the hospital, but the midwife had not arrived in the room. I felt that I needed to be on my back, but the nurses said they would have a difficult time monitoring baby. I was able to rotate as needed for a while, but baby’s heart rate was dipping with each contraction and I was shaking and unable to hold myself up.
I decided on an epidural. My labor was not progressing so I was given Pitocin and my waters were broken. I began pushing at 3:30pm and by that time the epidural had worn off. The baby’s heart rate continued to lower during contractions. The midwife said if he wasn’t born soon she would need to do an episiotomy. I was able to birth Luca without it a few minutes later at 5:30pm. I was exhausted and had extensive tearing and blood loss which was repaired after being given additional pain medications. I was able to snuggle and nurse Luca though.
Luca began to lose weight within a few days, and after a visit to a breastfeeding group and the lactation consultant I supplemented with formula for a few days and then pumped for a few weeks. It was a struggle to get back to breastfeeding after that but we did it. 5 weeks after birth when he was finally back to exclusively nursing and I was healed from the delivery, I developed mastitis. I didn’t have any normal symptoms besides a lump on my breast. I called the lactation consultants and doctor repeatedly to be told it was just a clogged duct, but it never went away. I knew it was something more, so I went to the doctor and was given antibiotics. The lump turned into an abscess about 3-4 inches large. I saw my regular doctor and she sent us directly to the hospital for an ultrasound. It looked really bad, like it might be something more. She wouldn’t tell me what it was or how serious it was but she honestly just looked scared.
We went to the hospital and I sat with Luca and my husband for an hour waiting to get the ultrasound. It was the scariest time of my life thinking that I might not be around to see Luca grow up. I was hospitalized for a week to figure out what was going on. Luca was able to stay with me in the hospital. I ended up finding out that I had a breast abscess and staph infection. After 4 unsuccessful antibiotics, and two fluid aspirations they found one that worked. In the hospital I was supported in my decision to continue nursing, which was very painful for about 5 months until it healed fully. I didn’t want to give up since it was such a struggle to get where we were. This left me with a large scar on my breast. In the months following the hospital stay, I had lost quite a bit of weight and had friends and family commenting on how great I looked having lost the baby weight. It was more a reminder to me of how sick I was, as much as I tried to understand that they all meant well. Being on so many medications, dealing with wound care, and pain really made me feel like I missed out on enjoying the months after Luca was born. It has been difficult to accept these experiences, and while I would love to have another child, I am not sure if I we will be having any more babies."
"Even though birth and motherhood have changed my body in ways that I had not expected, my body is a reminder of everything that I have gone through and all of the joys I have experienced as a mom. I am certainly more confident now than before."