One Mom’s Intense 20-Hour Delivery Story

Giving birth is one of the most transformative experiences a woman can go through in her life.

It’s a journey filled with anticipation, joy, pain, and often surprises along the way. Helen Noble, DPT, shares the candid and emotional story of birthing her first child. Helen, a former Ms. New York America, details how her idealized expectations clashed with the intense reality of an emergency C-section. It is a powerful account relatable to 1.3 million U.S. moms who have C-sections. While surgical births account for less than 40 percent of live births, according to most recent statistics, emergency C-sections have been on the rise since 1975. Today, more than two-thirds of C-sections performed are done due to emergency complications. Currently living in Singapore, the “wife and mom of two cheeky toddlers, Hunter and Grace,” encourages moms to share honest birthing and after-birth experiences. Here’s Helen’s story.

HAB: What was your birth experience like?

Helen Noble: My birth experience with my Hunter, my first-born, was a rollercoaster of emotions. It was glorious and powerful, but also tiring, anxiety-filled, and emotional. I wasn’t prepared for a Cesarean birth, so I had to adjust to how I would need to protect my body while it was healing from major surgery.

HAB: How long did you stay in the hospital after giving birth?

HN: After birthing my son, I ended up staying in the hospital for about a week, as he was not yet stable enough to be discharged. That first day and week until we finally went home was a mix of highs and lows.

HAB: What were your expectations for your first birth?

HN: With my first-born son, Hunter, I went in with the aptly named “rose-colored glasses.” I fake prepared by reading articles that I endlessly Googled, and still didn’t feel prepared after I gave birth! I had envisioned a relatively simple birth. Sure, there would be some pushing, maybe even a little pain (at least until the epidural kicked in), but in the end, I would be lying there in the bed holding my so-called bundle of joy, exhausted, eyelashes still intact, and ecstatic to start this new chapter as a mom. Only recently have I started to read some honest birthing and afterbirth experiences. I think it’s because after giving birth we are just so happy to see our baby, we tend to sweep under the carpet all the mixed emotions that come with it too. 

HAB: How did the reality differ from your expectations?

HN: Fast forward to 20+ hours of labor, the experience included nurses coming in to turn me every half hour because my cervix was not cooperating, painful contractions, sleep deprivation, and ravenous because I could not eat anything. Basically, nothing was as expected. Even worse, my water was broken to help speed along the birthing process, and yet my cervix still hadn’t fully dilated. And oh yes, I was developing a fever too.

 

HAB: What led to the decision for a C-section?

HN: Because my cervix had still not fully dilated, and because in addition to having a fever, the risk of infection to my son was rising with each passing minute, my dreams of having a vaginal birth were suddenly over when the doctor told me it was time to have an emergency C-section. Just a few moments later, my husband was escorted out of the room so that I could have my epidural, and then I was whisked to the operating room.

Only recently have I started to read some honest birthing and afterbirth experiences. I think it’s because after giving birth we are just so happy to see our baby, we tend to sweep under the carpet all the mixed emotions that come with it too. 

HAB: Describe the experience after your son was born.

HN: After momentarily freaking out because of the anesthesia, it felt as if I couldn’t breathe because, and I felt pressure and pulling. Then heard a glorious scream. My son was here. Even as his little face pressed upon my cheek, I couldn’t believe he was HERE. I was a mom! 

HAB: Why was your son taken to the NICU after birth?

HN: Because his blood glucose levels were low, and also because they were still afraid of infection due to that fever I had earlier, he was whisked away straight to the NICU. Another bubble burst. No skin-to-skin, no cuddling my newborn baby. I felt cheated yet again.

 

HAB: How did you cope with being separated from your newborn son?

HN: Fast forward to being back in my hospital room, and even though I had just given birth, I couldn’t relax and lay there alone. I slowly moved myself to the edge of the bed, let my legs dangle a bit until I felt steady and then slowly stood and pivoted to my wheelchair. A nurse came in and tried to talk to me and tell me that everything was ok, but mercifully she looked at me and said “Nothing I say is going to stop you from going to see your baby now.” I said NOPE and she helped me instead. My husband pushed me to the NICU, where I was able to see my son inside the incubator. It felt like I could finally breathe. After a few minutes of crying happy tears, I let my husband wheel me back to my room. And so my first day as a mom had ended.

HAB: What was the most surprising thing you experienced–physically and emotionally?

HN: I wasn’t prepared for a Cesarean birth, so I had to adjust to how I would need to protect my body whilst it was healing from a major surgery. I ended up staying with my son in the hospital for about a week, as he was not stable enough to be discharged yet. That first day and week until we finally went home was a mix of highs and lows. But my maternal instinct kicked right in and it taught me how strong you really could be when you have no other option but to be strong.


HAB: What do you want other women to know about your afterbirth experience?

HN: I want women to read my experience and know it’s ok to not be ok after giving birth. I don’t want to leave women with the feeling that everything was awful with me too–there were so many light-hearted and loving moments too, but that’s what you overwhelmingly hear and see on TV and online, and I want you to know it’s not always like that. And that is normal too.



HAB: What advice would you give to new mothers about thriving during their afterbirth experience?

HN: I want all new mums to thrive, so my humble advice would be to ask for help, speak up, and don’t feel guilty for needing time for yourself to adjust to being a mum. As they say, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Bring someone to the hospital who will be your advocate when necessary. If someone can’t come, then try to have someone who will call the nurse’s station to check on you. Whilst I did not have a midwife present during either of my births, if I were to do it all again, I would definitely have one with me. Another thing is this: Breastfeeding is not as easy as you would think it would be for some of us, so don’t feel disappointed and give up if you don’t get it right away. Most hospitals have a lactation consultant, so make sure you utilize them as much as possible.

Follow Helen on Instagram: @TheNobleMum Twitter: @TheNobleMum Facebook: www.facebook.com/HelenJTroncoso

 

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