A New Normal: Life After a Traumatic Birth
October 14, 2010
Having a healthy baby is the norm in the U.S. (amen for that), and perhaps something that many of us who have only had healthy babies take for granted. But then there are other situations, like that of Jessica Valenti, a feminist writer, blogger, and founder of Feministing.com (and high school friend of moi), and her husband, Andrew.
Valenti recently gave birth to her daughter, Layla Sorella, just 29 weeks into her pregnancy. After developing severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome (but without feeling or knowing she was sick), she was hospitalized after a routine exam showed dangerously high blood pressure. Ultimately, only two days into her hospital stay, Valenti’s labor was induced after her preeclampsia continued to worsen, and when her liver was in danger of failing a few hours into the induction, she was rushed into an emergency c-section. Layla was born weighing just 2 pounds, 2 ounces.
“The next 24 hours were as close to hell as I could imagine. We waited hours to find out if Layla was going to be okay, and even once we knew she was stable I was too sick to visit her… I thought I was going to die; then almost 24 hours after delivering when I saw how little Layla was, I thought she was going to die too.”
“…I am not the same person that I was before Layla was born. Not because I’m a parent – though I’m sure that’s part of it – but I think there’s something about trauma that just shifts your consciousness. It honestly feels like Andrew and I are operating in a different reality.”
Fortunately, not only did Layla survive her premature birth, but the happy next chapter of this story includes her recent discharge from the hospital, after surpassing the four-pound mark and reaching numerous other milestones.
Moms, tell us about your birth stories. Was yours a normal, natural birth? Did you or your baby have complications? What is your “new normal?”