The phenomenal Samantha Phillips, Adin (9), Alijah (7), Ember (4), and Spencer (4.5 months).
When Samantha was in second grade she lost control of her bladder while sitting in class without having any awareness of what was happening. It was then that she was clinically diagnosed with anorexia. A trusted family member had told her she was fat and her response was to stop eating entirely. She had starved herself so much that her body had broken down all of her fat for energy and had started to eat away at her muscle and organs. Her bladder was the first to be affected. Trying to eat again was painful. If Samantha tried to chew, her body wouldn't let her swallow because the food was so foreign.
By 16, Samantha was an addict. She made the decision to try to get clean and hopped on a train from Oregon to California, where she is originally from. It was on that train ride, she conceived Adin. Samantha's pregnancy went well physically despite the fears that came from with her young age along with the addiction and anorexia she was struggling to overcome. She carried Adin to a few weeks prior to his due date when she ultimately had to deliver via emergency cesarean. They had suddenly become unable to pick up any fetal heart tones and had to put Samantha under general anesthesia to get him out safely. They almost had to shock her heart back but Adin was just fine. Her physical recovery was very difficult but after an extra day in hospital to keep an eye on him, Adin did well and is incredibly smart and healthy today.
Samantha had the support of her mother and grandmother in caring for him those first few weeks, which she's incredibly grateful for, as she couldn't get out of bed or lift him. She was able to breastfeed until he was about 6 months old but she was still struggling to get herself enough nutrition to make milk for him and take care of herself.
Not long after Adin was born, Samantha reconnected with the man who is now her husband. They've known each other since grade school but had lost touch over the years. They married soon after and she learned she was pregnant with Alijah just after their wedding day. This pregnancy went well also and Samantha was determined to VBAC. She'd had a midwife with her first but found that by time she was ready to deliver she didn't want her anywhere near her. The midwife had told her to imagine her vaginal canal opening and at her young age, the thought of that was terrifying. She found an OB this time who was supportive and was able to have an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. Alijah was also a couple weeks early but was able to nurse without any issues and they were discharged from the hospital on time.
Samantha's pregnancy with Ember went well but Alijah had begun to struggle with health issues around that time. After two years of him constantly sick and not growing he was diagnosed with kidney reflux disease. After an operation to correct the flow of his kidney's he's been doing well. Ember was Samantha's second VBAC and her longest to nurse. She continued for 14 months despite a rough start. Ember was born with a minor tongue tie and when the lactation consultant came to see her in hospital, she told her from the door way without every checking them out that she should probably just try formula. Samantha responded that she had already successfully nursed two babies and wasn't interested, to which the LC said, "Oh, I didn't realize you weren't a first time mom".
No one would bring her a pump and Samantha was so engorged that she couldn't even hand express herself, as it was too painful. An amazing nurse hand expressed for her and collected her milk into a syringe. They were able to get Ember to take her milk from the syringe, through a tube and a nipple shield and within a day they had it all sorted out.
Samantha's pregnancy with Spencer is decidedly her last. She knew she wouldn't be able to have another VBAC at the hospital where she lived because it's too small to assume the risk. She stayed with her mom in the weeks leading up to her delivery and carried Spencer longer than any of her babies. Things progressed so quickly, Samantha was worried that she was going to give birth in the car. When they got the hospital she was complete but Spencer and flipped and was stuck. Her body was transverse but she had one foot down into the birth canal. The doctors told her that had her water broke on it's own, her foot would have already slipped out. The decision was made to deliver via repeat cesarean but Samantha was able to stay awake this time with a spinal block. Spencer was so stuck that they had to make an anchor incision on her uterus. She had already decided to have a tubal ligation and was even more grateful she was able to as the chances of uterine rupture with a subsequent pregnancy are greatly increased. Spencer was her smallest baby at 5lbs 11oz and they had to stay in town near the hospital for two weeks just to make sure she was gaining weight okay but she's been doing very well and is nursing like a champ.
Anorexia is still a constant struggle for Samantha and because she's been trying to get healthy mostly on her own, there are times she's doing great and then plummets. She's learned that if she snacks constantly, rather than eat big meals, she's able to keep herself fed and is constantly trying to remind herself that the number on the scale is less important than her being healthy. People tell her all the time that she's skinny as a form of praise without realizing how unhealthy she is. She's tried to focus on working out in fun ways like dancing to build muscle but it's a difficult balancing act to not burn too many calories while doing so. She knows that her children see her habits and hear her negative self talk sometimes and she doesn't want them to have the same struggles she has. She hopes that putting her story out there and seeing how strong and beautiful she is will help her along the way, as well as, serve as a testimony to other women who may be navigating a similar path.