The beautiful Brie Tyler, Cole (4.5), Alison (2.5), Ryan (11 weeks).
Brie has a family history of infertility and endometriosis and was worried that she too would be effected. She and her husband decided to start trying right away incase it took some time to conceive and were surprised to get pregnant on their honeymoon.
Brie gave birth to her first son ten days past his due date via emergency cesarean after about 20 hours of painful back labor, an ineffective epidural and worries due to a low fetal heart rate. "My strongest memory associated with his birth was asking the doctor if we were too late heading into surgery and the baby might die. No one knew for sure but fortunately he was born healthy". They were separated for a while after his birth and she remembers feeling so exhausted and disconnected from him and her experience. "I had hoped for a natural birth so part of me was embarrassed - I didn't have a story that matched those of my friends and I avoided talking about my labor and delivery altogether and hoped no one would ask".
When Brie got pregnant with her daughter, she found a supportive OB, interviewed Doula's, and felt hopeful for a VBAC. Her daughter was born just three hours after her first contraction a day after her due date and she was holding her in as they drove through rush hour traffic to get to the hospital. She came so fast that the doula didn't make it. Her daughter was bruised from her speedy birth and was taken away briefly to get checked out for meconium aspiration. Brie had tested positive for Group B strep but hadn't had time for an antibiotic so they wanted to be more diligent with Alison. Thankfully she was totally fine, latched immediately and Brie felt like a rock star.
In the recovery room, she began insisting that something was wrong. The nurses didn't believe her though and sprayed her for hemorrhoids despite my screaming in protest and in agony. Within a couple minutes, a hematoma filled with over a liter of blood burst all over her. "I didn't know what had happened aside from an immediate sense of relief and excitement that now we could move on and I could hold my baby. Instead, I was told I needed emergency surgery to stop the blood loss and my husband and I both asked the doctor if I might die. Again, I was separated from my baby and felt very disconnected". Everything was okay, despite significant blood loss and they decided that taking a chance on a third was probably not the best idea.
Additionally, after her daughter's birth, Brie was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease (a thyroid disorder) which took a long time to diagnose because her only symptom was rapid weight loss after her birth, which instead of concern brought way too much praise from everyone; doctors, family, friends, strangers. When Brie learned she was pregnant two years later, she was scared. She thought that "three times a charm" would result in the death they'd felt so close to in both of her previous births. They found a doctor in her OB practice who was extremely supportive and validated their fears with a promise that she'd do her best to ensure their safety and survival.
They planned a repeat cesarean at 39 weeks and both the surgery and baby were flawless. Brie was again excited to move forward with her new baby in her arms. Still recovering at the hospital 24 hours after surgery she began experiencing excruciating pain down her leg. She couldn't walk, or move without more pain than she'd ever experienced - even back labor, even natural childbirth. The nurses found a sedative that worked and called in for Ortho consults and X-Rays. An MRI revealed that a 15 year-old back injury had flared up to the point that part of a disc had broken off and was pushing against her sciatic nerve. She was sent home with a walker and referrals for a physical therapist and orthopedic surgeon. She lost all of her baby weight within 5 days of delivery and learned that her thyroid had become overactive again and she needed to change medication. "At this point, the pain is managed with physical therapy, I do not need the walker, and I have had one steroid injection. I have no sensation on part of my left leg and my left toes are totally numb. The next step is another injection and then we'll consider back surgery".
"I've often felt like my body wasn't meant to birth babies, that without massive medical intervention neither my children or I would be alive today. It had been a humbling and scary and lonely feeling until I discovered the 4th Trimester Body Project and learned that so many women have gone through so much to bring their babies into the world. I want my own daughter to know that if she struggles with infertility, loss, fear, health issues during or after pregnancy that it's worth it. Grappling with the decision (your own or the doctor's) to ditch your birth plan, accepting the challenges of breastfeeding, managing postpartum health issues; the physical and emotional toll having babies has on a woman is inevitable, and a woman should not feel like she is alone in this. I've been helped by this movement because while at first I was impressed with those bold enough to share how childbirth had affected their bodies, I soon realized that the women who participate in this movement have been so brave to share deeply personal stories that are far more significant than what we look like in our underwear. I'm so proud to be a part of this."