The phenomenal Elizabeth Paine mother to Oliver (7), Holden (34 months), Atticus (17 months) and three babies miscarried 01/2011, 08/2011, and, 12/2011. When Elizabeth and her husband got married she had been very vocal about waiting five years or so to have children. Just a couple months later though, she says she decided it was the best idea ever to have a baby right then. Her husband was on board and they conceived right away. She had a very typical pregnancy with an OB but had some difficulty with her doctor. She took a hypnobirthing class and was adamant on having a natural birth and having her plan followed but when she asked for support she told her whatever happens, happens. She knew then that she didn't want that doctor to be there when she delivered. Thankfully, when she went into labor, on labor day that year at 40 weeks 6 days, she wasn't the doctor on call.
Elizabeth went to the hospital to be checked but they told her to go walk the 5 miles around the bay and come back. She chose to instead to go home where her water broke in her driveway just as she stepped out of the car. She went to take a shower before returning to the hospital and met with the doctor on call who was amazing. The new doctor was fully on board with her birth plan and said she would everything she could to make it happen. Elizabeth had arrived at 3 in the afternoon and things moved very quickly. Her doctor was supposed to leave at 5pm but Elizabeth asked her to please not leave her, she agreed to stay and Oliver arrived at 5:08pm. The doctors calm, sweet and respectful demeanor allowed her birth to be a beautiful experience.
Breastfeeding was very difficult in the beginning and the lactation support in hospital was very much lacking and didn't give her the tools to make it work. She went home pumping and bottle feeding before she hired a lactation consultant near her home. After three hours they had figured everything out with the help of a nipple shield. They were able to wean off the shield at about 6 months and he self weaned at 37 months.
In late 2010, Elizabeth felt ready to have more children but struggled to understand how exactly her love would grow to more than her one child she'd been caring for. She got pregnant right away but in January 2011 she woke up to blood everywhere. She got cleaned up and went to the hospital where the emergency doctor was horrible to her. She was sobbing and devastated and he told her that his wife bled like a stuck pig through her whole pregnancy, it wasn't a big deal. He kept insisting that she needed to call someone and perhaps her husband should be there as if she was too emotional to talk to. Blood tests and ultrasounds revealed she was miscarrying and she was sent home with orders to come back for follow up blood work. She felt like no one cared or respected her in the hospital as if she wasn't allowed to process her baby dying.
They waited a few months before trying again and she conceived right away but at 8 weeks along she woke up again bleeding. She chose not to go the emergency room and instead went into her doctors office where she experienced the same treatment she had last time. They told her that she was only 8 weeks along so it wasn't really a big deal but to her it absolutely was, she was loosing her baby and felt like she was dying inside. Elizabeth was pregnant again the beginning of December and on the 23rd she miscarried again. That whole Christmas was awful and she couldn't understand how she was supposed to walk around and continue her life when so many things were going wrong.
She needed to know what was happening with her body and fix it but her doctor told her she would be just fine. Elizabeth found a reproductive endocrinologist and went to go see him. This was the first doctor that she had felt safe with in so long. He reaffirmed her belief that there were good doctors with empathy who cared for people. He listened to her and took notes without trying to take away what she was feeling. He ran every test he could, blood work and ultrasounds, only to find out that there was actually nothing medically wrong and they didn't know this was happening to her. She was left in a position where she couldn't fix anything and didn't know how to process it.
They decided to try one more time and if it didn't work, she wanted to have a full hysterectomy, adopt of just be a family of three. She was determined but it was so sad and she just hated her body, a stark contrasts for the love she felt for her body when she was pregnant with Oliver. She says its so hard when you hate your body because you're always with it. Elizabeth wanted to find a way to have her babies always with her and decided to get a tattoo on her back to keep them close. Because they aren't here with her she needed them to always be a part of her. That appointment was more therapeutic for her than any appointment had ever been. Her tattoo is the pregnancy loss symbol and part of a quote from EE Cummings that reads "I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)". She has a lot of guilt because she couldn't do anything to stop it and felt like she wasn't a good mom for a very long time.
Elizabeth's babies she lost were her catalyst to send her back to school. She needed something to throw herself into to consume her time. She was working and going to school full time as a way to escape and cope. She readied herself to try one last time and became pregnant again with Holden quickly. She enjoyed her pregnancy but found herself every day checking for bleeding and waiting for things to be not okay. She decided to have midwives this time and to give birth at home. She wanted to be in her space where she knew she would be safe, but also be in her home where she had lost her babies to have it all connected somehow. She didn't find out what she was having as she just wanted to have a baby at the end of it and focused on just getting from one day to the next. She lost a lot of the joy that should have come with baby because she so consumed with worry. Holden was born on December 23, exactly one year after her last miscarriage. His birth was a sigh of relief for her. Her midwives had come to check on her but her labor had slowed so they left her to labor. She went to lay down and about two hours after they left her water broke in bed. As she jumped up, his head was out and she yelled for her husband to help. He didn't hear her so she yelled again and held her baby in. He came running upstairs and caught Holden in one push. She couldn't stop laughing and there was something about that birth happening just she and her husband, in their bedroom that was so therapeutic. It didn't make the pain any less but there was something about that birth - she had waited so long for him and couldn't say thank you to him enough.
When Holden was 7 months old, she had that feeling of just knowing she was pregnant. She took a test that confirmed and reached out to her midwives to have another home birth. Her midwives told her they were never leaving her this time but nothing else would be different. She had a a great pregnancy but was very busy as she went to school full time with a heavy course load. She had worried about having to wean Holden but he happily nursed through her whole pregnancy and is tandem nursing both Holden and Atticus today. At 41 weeks 5 days she went in for an ultrasound to make sure things were okay and felt a little funny that day. Everything look great and her midwives met her at her house when she returned. Around 11pm that evening she felt like something was definitely happening and she labored through the night. She sat up quickly on the couch and her water broke everywhere and his head was already out. Her husband was sleeping upstairs so her midwives asked if they should go get him and she asked for a moment. She took her moment and Atticus was earth side and crying. Her husband ran down stairs and she had to say, surprise! he's already here! They realized when Atticus was 45 minutes old that they hadn't even checked if he was a boy or a girl.
Holden and Atticus' births were wonderful and everything she had imagined birth would be. There was something about giving birth at home, where she had her miscarriages that allowed her to see that maybe her body wasn't as awful as she had thought, maybe she should focus on the things that it could do and maybe she could finally forgive herself. People have a hard time understanding why she feels she needs to forgive herself but she is trying very hard to do so. At the end of the day she just wants her boys to be proud of her and to see herself as they see her. She wants her boys to know how lucky she is to have them and some day think, "wow, my mom was really brave for sharing her story". She's trying very hard to love her body because... to raise feminist boys, and see that she is the one responsible for shaping their views on women and know they don't need to look one particular way or feel bad because of the way their body looks.