Faith Robinson (32), Billy (6), Chasestin (4), Aurelia (2), Lillia (3 months)
Key West | Miami, FL
Faith shares -
“I believe I’ve had two early losses. They were before a positive test or missed period. But it felt like a loss. Both incidents - one before my first pregnancy and one before my forth - were followed by heavy bleeding, contraction like cramps, and large clots. I’ll never know for sure but it felt like something was lost. I mourned more the second loss then the first because I truly knew I was pregnant. I’ve known I was pregnant with all my kids before a positive test, and some how I knew.
Becoming a mother was what I had anyways wanted. Before my first pregnancy I was at my heaviest, during my pregnancies I always appreciated not having to hold my stomach in. Which I had been told to do from a young age. I embraced the roundness of my belly. After pregnancy I didn’t know what to expect.
I was always scared I would become obese like my mother had, but the weight melted off. I became one of the “lucky” ones. Between breastfeeding, light exercise, chasing babies, and never having time to eat I was lighter after each pregnancy then before I started. My breasts have shrank drastically. When I’m weaning they will be half the size, or smaller, then they were when they began. As someone who was always well endowed in that department, I feel sometimes that I've lost something because of how sexualized breasts are in our society, some how I’m not as beautiful with my smaller breasts. But I try to look at it as a right of passage. I have nourished four children. My body has aged and changed. Something we aren’t all allotted. I find beauty as well as pain in my changed body.
Ive had four births and four birth experiences. My first was a typical first labor, at 41 weeks. I was scared and didn’t know what to expect. I counted every contraction from the very first one. I was in labor for 45 hours, and near the end my cervix began to swell. I got an epidural to relax my body as my midwife suggested, a sleeping pill and woke up ready to push. Unfortunately, Billy had turned, the OB was called, cesarean was mentioned, but thankfully my midwife manually rotated him, which hurt a lot, but he was out shortly after weighing 8lbs 12oz. Becoming a mother was easy for me. I fell in love and took the job with pride. When Billy was 6 months old I quit my part time job as a preschool teacher and became a full time stay home mom.
My second birth was via induction at 42.6. My induction was a success even though I went in with a great fear of being induced. I had a great midwife who allowed me to go as long as I could, who transferred me to a supportive young woman OB who supported me and encouraged me to have the natural birth I wanted. Unfortunately, I had a nurse who kept trying to get me to take medicine and telling me not to be a hero. Thankfully my mother in law was there to talk me out of one of the epidural calls. Then when I thought it was time to push, I was told I was 10 cm and bulging bags, but they broke my water and my cervix shrank to an 8. In my time of despair I gave into the nurse and got a IV drug which was suppose to make me sleep and rest. Instead I was aware of every contraction, paralyzed, and hallucinating. I woke up ready to push, but the nurse said I couldn’t because the baby had turned sunny side up. She insisted I didn’t push and waited for the anesthesiologist to come so they could rotate the baby or I would need a cesarean. I said fuck that. I got on my hands and knees and rocked my baby around. I screamed I was ready to push but she wouldn’t allow it. Finally a familiar face came from my last birth, the head nurse, came in I told her I needed to push and that this lady wouldn’t let me. She checked me and called in my OB. Chasestin was out in less then 15 minutes weighing 7lbs 13 oz, with only 10 hours of labor. Postpartum with Chasestin was great. Going from 1 -2 was almost as easy as the first time around. It got harder as Chasestin was colicky but we got through it.
Life took a turn for the worst when my sister was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer and passed within three months. My happy life was turned upside down and I fell into a pit of depression that was only intensified by lies being spread in my family about me. I was so devastated. It nearly tore our family apart. My third pregnancy was a saving grace for me. It allowed me to focus on my growing belly and not the pain in my heart. My little girl Aurelia was my out of hospital birth. She was born under a giant full moon, at 42 weeks, the day before Thanksgiving. My husband said we would be there all night since we were leaving at 6 and I said she would be there by 9. I was calm, I was confidant, and I knew it was going to be great! At 8 my waters were broke and I was an 8. At 8:55pm Aurelia Key entered the world into the water weighing 8lbs 10oz after just 4 hours of active labour.
My postpartum period with Aurelia was hard even though we had such a healing birth. We were in a bad place - we were broke, fighting with family, grieving my sister, barely making it. I struggled with postpartum anxiety, depression, and anger. I was not the mother I wanted to be. I regret how I handled that part of my life. But I had so much going on I couldn’t handle it. Finally we made the decision to go home to Florida. We had a work trade lined up to live while we found a boat to live on. With the help of my husbands parents we were able to buy a boat. We spent the next year having the time our lives. Spending time with our kids on the water. Bill teaching the boys how to dive and catch fish, he was in his element raising our kids like he was raised. Playing on uninhabited islands all day long when daddy was off.
When hurricane Irma hit, we evacuated north to property our family owns. It was unfurnished but had water and electric. But soon had to evacuate there due to rising flood waters from the local river. The day we left Key West, I told Bill I was suppose to get my period the next day but knew it wasn’t coming. It never did.
Lillia Cali was born in Key West, our little conch baby. I had so wanted to go back to California and have another natural water birth. I had planned a home birth but we weren’t able to get our boat sold in time. So we stayed. I went into labor on my due date and I was so scared about birthing in Key West because of all the horror stories I had been told. I was scared to birth in a hospital because of my own experiences and having had such a healing out of hospital birth.
Contractions started at 8am. Bill had been working in Islamorada since I was 37 weeks pregnant, I called him home, he arrived at noon with his mom and dad from California. At 12:30 my waters broke and there was meconium. I knew we had to go in to be monitored. I had a panic attack and after that my labors stalled. I was welcomed by a great staff and my midwife. Everyone expected me to be pushing the baby out, but I was stalling. I was about 5 cm when I arrived. I asked to rest, but I was told I needed to start walking the halls, squatting, lunges. Anything I could do to get my labor progressing. I was getting more and more tired and defeated. I kept asking to rest and they kept telling me there wasn’t any time.
At 9pm I wasn’t progressing and my contractions were still stretched out, so I agreed to some pitocin. The contractors started to come in more of a pattern, but then my cervix began to swell. At 1am I suggested getting an epidural like I had done with my first. I got it at 2 and was told I had till 5 to make some progress. I laid there awake worried about what the next step would be. At 5am, I was only at 7cm and I was told I needed to have cesarean before there was an emergency - the baby wasn’t reacting to the piton well and had some small decells. I begged to let us go a full 24 hours post water breaking but was told because of the meconium that I would be risking my babies life. They scared my husband and he asked me to have a cesarean. I felt cornered and alone. I needed to be heard and no one would listen. I also knew I could handle surgery but I wouldn’t be able to handle loosing my little girl if there were an emergency.
I was brought down to the operating room, and they maxed me out on the meds but I was still able to feel the pin pricks and I had to be put under. I wasn’t able to hear my babies first cry, or see her. My midwife held my hand and stayed with me - she was there when I woke up. She told me that my birth was the most bizarre birth she had attended in 40 years. There was no real reason why she couldn’t have came vaginally, she was only 8lbs 8 oz. only 2 oz. She had a long cord and wasn’t in a weird position.
I knew! It was my fears! At my six week appointment. My midwife told me she was upset about the birth also. She said she had talked to a fellow midwife who had suggested that I wasn’t comfortable, that I was scared. Like an animal in danger I had stalled my labor until I was safe. I just never felt safe. Unfortunately, her hands were tied and on our small island where she is the only woman birth worker, and only midwife she can only do so much. I told her I needed more time, I needed time to rest. I said it wasn’t fair. She agreed. We ended on a good note, and I hope my loss gives someone else more time. I hope our small community will have more options for mothers and babies who require a gentle birth.
Postpartum with Lilly has been a bit of a blur with Bill working still in Islamorada. Selling our boat, and looking for a new one. Having some health scares with rectal bleeding, lengthy vaginal bleeding postpartum, and stomach problems, as well as swollen lymph nodes. I’ve been very anxious. Thankfully we have a great pediatrician who referred me to a wonderful therapist, and through Healthy Start of the Florida Keys I’ve been able to see her weekly. We are making progress on my birth trauma, as well as my cancer phobia, and other underlying issues from my life. I wish I would have made time for myself a long time ago and maybe I wouldn’t have had to suffer in silence.
Talking to someone doesn’t mean you are weak or crazy. It just means you need some help. Which we all do from time to time. We just need to allow the help to be given. I’ve also gotten my first colonoscopy and endoscopy on my stomach. The official results aren’t in yet. But the doctor said there is no cancer and my chronic stomach pain is a treatable infection. It’s as if a weight was lifted from my chest.
I found my true love early at 17, he is my whole heart, my best friend, and he drives me crazy a lot. People always see us as picture perfect on Facebook or take us at face value. They don’t see behind closed doors and realize it takes a lot of disagreements and making up to become so connected. Our love is constantly evolving. Giving and taking. Sometimes its really good and sometimes its really bad. Watching Bill become a father made me love him deeper then ever before. The love he has for our children and me makes me want to be a better person. I’m so blessed to have been able to grow up with him and I pray to grow old with him.
I’ve traveled the country and seen how so many Americans differ, but how similar we all our. We truly are one human family, the motto of Key West. I helped with the Woman’s March of the Florida Keys a year and half ago, it really made me see what the power of one persons voice can do, and how an idea can bring together millions. One of my best friends led the march down here and inspired a generation of women in the Keys, and brought out all the women who came before us. Through motherhood, and through womanhood I have connected with so many women on such a spiritual level. Women gave life to this world. And we have the power to heal it, I truly believe. I hope we can pull together and heal the division in this country and this world so that our children will be able to live in peace on a clean planet.
I believe in cannabis medicine. I believe in the power of the plant. I’ve always used cannabis recreationally but when we went to California after hurricane Wilma and Katrina in 06, I was introduced to the world of medical marijuana. I’ve seen families torn apart because of prohibition and people choose their declining health because of the laws. With my intense anxiety I have been using CBD oil. I have found it helps me cope. It brings a calm over my body with out the “high”. I believe in whole cannabis medicine and I hope one day soon the whole world will think of smoking a joint like drinking a glass of wine, or taking CBD oil like popping an ibuprofen.
I wanted to be a part of this movement because it has helped me so much! The stories helped me feel like I wasn’t alone, or crazy for feeling the way I did. I hope that my story will help someone. Take the steps to help themselves, if its talking to a qualified professional or getting your routine check ups or making the appointment to get a colonoscopy. Self care is so important but, we always forget that when trying to keep little people alive day to day because that alone is hard enough we get laid to the way side.
I also love pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words, memories and feelings. They can help us remember a moment that we thought we had forgotten forever. I wanted to participate, because life isn’t picture perfect. Life is hard, and sometimes the ones who seem to have it all together are falling apart. I know cause I’ve been there and am still there most days. Yet everyone always asks me how I keep it together or tell me I’m a supermom. Truth is I don’t even feel like a good mom most day or even an okay mom. But I know I love my babies with all my being, and I know they love me. Love is what its all about. Stay strong mommas and families, we are all in the same boat.”