Postpartum Story: Conceiving after Large Fibroid Surgery, Gentle Cesarean, and Breastfeeding Challenges

Brooke shares more about her story in her own words below.

My story begins in June 2020 when I went in for a Pap smear and they discovered a large mass in my uterus. They thought I was pregnant but after a quick pregnancy test they realized it wasn’t that. Fast forward and I was diagnosed with having a large fibroid on my uterus. I was told if we were done having kids it would have been an automatic hysterectomy. I was devastated – they had me meet with a fertility doctor to make sure the surgical plan was appropriate considering we still wanted to have children. Surgery went really well and they said to wait 6 months and then start trying to conceive. We hadn’t planned on starting our family until my husband finished law school but my doctor felt like the fibroids would return and that we should try and get pregnant before that happened.

We started TTC in June 2021 and got pregnant our first cycle, unfortunately it was a blighted ovum and I miscarried at 10 weeks. I jumped right back into tracking my cycle and I ovulated again a couple weeks later and we decided to go for it. We conceived easily again, something I never imagined would happen so quickly after everything we had been through. I found I was pregnant in September and was due in May 2022.

Pregnancy was fairly uneventful, super healthy. First 16 weeks were hell lol. Because of my previous surgery, called a myomectomy, I had to have a C-section according to my doctors and the second opinions I asked for from the MFMs. I have been holding out hope that I would still be able to deliver vaginally, it’s an experience I always really wanted. I’ve been a birth nerd all my life and the idea that it’s something I would never get to experience was really hard for me. I put a lot of energy and effort into dealing with the loss of that experience before giving birth, I really had to grieve it. 

Because I had to have a scheduled cesarean, they wanted to do it between 37 weeks and 38+9 to prevent me from going to active labor. We picked the day after classes finished for my husband but before finals began. It was very stressful time. My C-section went wonderfully, no complications. I was able to really prepare for the procedure before hand so I felt like I really knew what to expect and I would highly recommend that for anyone else. I was able to have a gentle cesarean, as far as my arms were not strapped down they were able to do delayed cord clamping and placed my baby on my chest afterwards. I quickly learned that I do not like being hooked up to things and I was up walking around just a few hours after he was born. They gave me an abdominal binder in the hospital and that thing was my best friend for a few weeks. We weren’t allowed to have visitors in the hospital due to Covid and our friends and family live a few hours away (we moved for law school) so we had a houseful waiting when we came home.

brooke mckeever pregnancy

Immediately postpartum, my biggest challenge was breast-feeding. Something that I really didn’t expect was to have any issues with that I thought it would be fairly easy for me. My milk supply was low right off the bat, I could tell because my tiny baby who has a tiny stomach was just not getting enough. We had trouble latching at first. He was born at 37+6 and he was so sleepy. He didn’t latch for 12 hours. I think that was the first thing that went wrong. I didn’t know how important it was to hand express or pump if your baby doesn’t latch.  Then once we finally got that I could tell my baby was frustrated and hungry and losing weight. I can go into more detail on this and what we did to help with the IBCLCs we saw. We ended up supplementing with formula which was really difficult for me emotionally. I remember staring at that first little bottle of formula they gave me and bawling. It was so hard and I felt like my body was failing my baby. They had me triple feeding and I was so exhausted. Trying to do all that with company coming to see the baby and trying to host while also trying to navigate this new life with all the postpartum emotions.

Resources

  • The Birth Hour podcast & Facebook group
  • Informed Pregnancy podcast with Dr. Berlin 
  • The Prenatal Nutritionist on Instagram 
  • Labor Nurse Mama on Instagram

Brooke McKeever Bio

Brooke is 33 years old and she and her husband live in the California Bay Area with their 4 month old son Theodore “Teddy” and cat Piper. Her husband is in his last year of law school and she’s currently staying home with their son. She previously worked as a one on one aide for special needs students at an Elementary school. 

Ergobaby

This episode is sponsored by Ergobaby. Founded in 2003, Ergobaby has pioneered the gold standard for comfortable, ergonomic soft structured carriers. Their commitment to providing parents with the foundation to thrive has launched the company into creating a broad range of award-winning products that fit into families’ daily lives seamlessly, comfortably, and safely – where function and quality are not compromised. In 2020, they launched Everlove by Ergobaby, a first of its kind baby carrier buy back and resale program, a sustainability effort to support families and the planet. Check out Ergobaby’s Embrace in Soft Air Mesh that we discussed on the podcast!

Two Hospital Inductions: NICU Stay with 1st and Cesarean Birth with 2nd after Failed Epidural

Kyra had one induced birth with an epidural that ended in her daughter having complications after birth and needing to stay in the NICU for 9 days. Kyra labored for a total of 3 days and left 12 hours after birth to go be with her newborn at a different hospital. She had a very easy physical recovery but a hard emotional recovery leaving permanent trauma.

Kyra’s second birth was an unintentional unmedicated labor that ended in a cesarean birth due to her epidural clotting twice and doctors making the decision that an epidural was not an option. Her postpartum recovery was a shock after not being prepared for a c-section and also this was the first time she had her baby in the room immediately after birth. Kyra is currently 11 weeks postpartum and is still trying to navigate having a new postpartum body and being a mother of 2.

nicu stay for cooling treatment

Kyra Jean Bio

Kyra is a stay at home mom and is nursing her 11 week old on demand. She is so grateful for having both experiences during her birthing process.  Connect with her on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kyra.wilson.543792

Resources

  • The Birth Hour
  • Peanut app


Simply Magnetic Me

This episode is sponsored by Simply Magnetic Me. Simply Magnetic Me is the new sister brand to Magnetic Me, beloved for its smart magnetic fasteners that make changing baby practically effortless. We love that they make shopping for baby clothes easy by offering curated multi-packs with built in savings – with outfits as low as $15 each. Create your own bundle by mixing and matching prints, styles, and sizes – the more outfits in your cart, the more you save. Made from certified, 100% organic cotton, Simply Magnetic Me fabrics are as soft as they are sustainable. So head over to simplymagneticme.com/birthhour and use Promo code: BIRTHHOUR

Long Labor, Processing Unexpected Cesarean Birth and Postpartum Anxiety

Candice had an unplanned c-section 10 days after her son’s due date. She was admitted to be induced two days prior. Candice endured contractions that were lengthy and back to back, which prompted an epidural 21 hours after being admitted. She was induced three times; however, with each attempt, Bear’s heart rate dropped. After being rushed into the OR due to Bear’s heart rate dropping for 6 minutes, it was recommended to do a c-section. Thanks to her husband, doula, team of midwives, nurses, and obgyn, Bear was successfully born after suffering from fetal distress. They found out that his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck after his birth.

Candice experienced both prenatal depression and postpartum anxiety. Utilizing coping skills, support, and outside resources, she was able to manage both and improve her mental health. 

Candice Marie Bennett Bio

Candice lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, Avi Bernard, and 5 month old son, Bear. She is an actor and health coach. Her career prior was in mental health as a therapist and she obtained her PhD in business psychology. Connect with her on Instagram – @CandiSample

Bear Candice and Avi

Resources

Motif Medical

This episode was sponsored by Motif Medical. Motif designs insurance-eligible products for busy moms. With a focus on innovation and empowerment, Motif’s line of breast pumps and maternity compression garments are sophisticated, yet discreet, and made to support mothers as they navigate new motherhood. Discover why moms are reporting more milk in less time with the Luna breast pump, and see how you can get it covered through insurance at motifmedical.com/birthhour

Positive Birth After Emergency Abdominal Surgery in Pregnancy and NICU Stay

In 2018, Joy and her husband Ian were ecstatic to be pregnant with their first child. After recovering from pancreatic cancer, being able to carry a healthy baby girl felt like a miracle.

However within 24 hours of announcing the news to friends, Joy had sharp pains and was rushed to hospital. A complication arose from her previous surgery to remove the tumor. She needed a life saving abdominal surgery when she was just 18 weeks pregnant. Though the surgery was a success, having a major surgery so early in her pregnancy made the rest of it a struggle. So when she made it to 38 weeks she was relieved. Unbeknownst to them, they weren’t out of the woods yet.

During her planned c-section delivery, her daughter’s heart rate was dropping and the team coded red whilst she was on the operating table. Her daughter was born blue, limp and non responsive. She was terrified but the medics never lost hope. After resuscitating for 6 minutes, her daughter took her first breath before being rushed to the NICU.

After a traumatic birth experience, Joy had to find a way to breastfeed and bond with her daughter. Being separated at birth made both things challenging. With support, patience and resilience, she discovered ways to connect with her baby girl, breastfed for 19 months and enjoyed the early years of motherhood.

skin-to-skin-baby

3 years later, in 2021, Joy and Ian loved parenting so much they decided to get pregnant again. Though family members were concerned she’d be putting her life at risk again, Joy had faith the second pregnancy would be different. She reflected on what went wrong last time, made new choices and hoped it would lead to a better pregnancy and birth experience.

As a result, Joy had a healing pregnancy and birth with no complications. It was everything she’d ever dreamed of and gave her faith that it’s possible to have a positive birth experience after a nightmare journey. All you need to do is reflect on what works well and what doesn’t.

Joy Randolph Bio

Joy lives in the Cotswolds in Oxfordshire, with her husband Ian and two daughters, Skylar and Riviera. She’s a holistic health coach that has inspired over 2 million women worldwide to do what brings them joy. She’s currently studying an MSc in Psychology so that she can help women find resilience and joy in times of difficulty. When she’s not with her family or working, you can find her working out, decorating her home and gardening.

You can find her on Instagram at @iamjoyrandolph and her website is joyrandolph.com

joy-randolph-pregnancy

Resources

Motif Medical

This episode was sponsored by Motif Medical. Motif designs insurance-eligible products for busy moms. With a focus on innovation and empowerment, Motif’s line of breast pumps and maternity compression garments are sophisticated, yet discreet, and made to support mothers as they navigate new motherhood. Discover why moms are reporting more milk in less time with the Luna breast pump, and see how you can get it covered through insurance at motifmedical.com/birthhour.  Check out great content from Motif here.

Emergency Cesareans and Navigating Breastfeeding and NICU Stay

Despite feeling prepared, Amanda’s first birth experience ended in a cesarean birth when her baby started struggling with heart decelerations. Before the doctor even made the cut, she already knew she wanted a VBAC experience with her next birth. The postpartum experience with her first was challenging, but things settled after a few months.

When Amanda became pregnant over a year later, she did everything she could to prepare for a VBAC. She went into labor at 41 weeks and had an amazing labor but experienced a complete uterine rupture after one hour of pushing. She was rushed into emergency surgery. Once delivered, her baby was rushed to the NICU and remained there for 9 days. While recovering in the hospital Amanda experienced chest pain, and a CT scan revealed a pulmonary embolism. Postpartum had other challenges related to low breastmilk supply and she had a physically and emotionally painful recovery. 

ruptured-uterus-birth-story

Amanda Jamison Bio

Amanda lives near Denver, CO with her husband Jonathan and two kids: Rowan (2.5 years old) and Aria (8 months). She can be found on Instagram at @amanda_moves or on Facebook under Amanda Jamison. 

Resources

Ergobaby

Today’s episode is sponsored by Ergobaby. Founded in 2003, Ergobaby has pioneered the gold standard for comfortable, ergonomic soft structured carriers. Their commitment to providing parents with the foundation to thrive has launched the company into creating a broad range of award-winning products that fit into families’ daily lives seamlessly, comfortably, and safely – where function and quality are not compromised. In 2020, they launched Everlove by Ergobaby, a first of its kind baby carrier buy back and resale program, a sustainability effort to support families and the planet. Check out Ergobaby’s Embrace in Soft Air Mesh that we discussed on the podcast!

Planned Birth Center Birth Turned Emergency Induction and C-Section

Jewel shares her story in her own words, listen to the podcast to hear the full story!

My husband and I started talking about babies a little over a year after we got married. I had gotten off the pill after being on it for ten years, so I was off of it for two when we started. I was really familiar with FAM, so when we started trying it only took three months to actually conceive. 

I found out I was pregnant on our delayed honeymoon. We were supposed to go to Vietnam when the pandemic started and that went out the window so we went to Louisiana a year later. I packed a box of soft cups and a few pregnancy tests since we were trying and I would need one of those two things no matter what. I was a day late, and that seemed suspicious, so I took a test but it was negative. Then on the second day, I was supposed to start, nothing. So I lad a pregnancy test on top of the toilet to take the next morning. I rushed to the toilet when I woke up on the third day, took the test, and while waiting…which felt like forever, I finally saw two faint lines. I sat in there for about five minutes making sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me and called my husband in to look at the test with me. I cried from excitement, he’s the more level headed one so he was really excited but told me to wait until we could confirm at home since I was barely three weeks along at this point. We had to keep it from family and friends until we could come home and make sure with about five more tests. Which were also positive. 

I, like countless other women, watched The Business of Being Born before getting pregnant and was determined to have a natural labor with midwives. I received care from The Bastrop Birthing Center under Ellie Noble and that could not have been a better choice. 

Pregnancy was great, I never had any complications until after my due date. I went to the gym, got some funny looks in the weight room, and took long walks. When I got ultrasounds the techs commented on how good the oxygen delivery was from placenta to baby so that’s what encouraged me to keep some sort of active routine. I did suffer from some serious pelvic pain and swelling. Since I’m black, my midwives monitored me closely for preeclampsia, protein in the urine, and hypertension, (plus my mother ended up having both when she was pregnant with me) but I think from a combo of reducing stress and exercising often I was able to avoid developing those issues.

My body was trying to go into labor for about two weeks but nothing was progressing past evening contractions. One night I was convinced we would have to go to the birth center but once the sun came out, contractions stopped. Since I was so far past my due date, my midwife scheduled me at Austin Perinatal and I had a biophysical done on the baby. This was scheduled when I was 41 weeks and 5 days pregnant. 

He was a 4 out of 8 on where he should be and his amniotic fluid was almost halfway gone. The head nurse came in, sat down, looked me in the eye, and said, well, you will be having a baby in the next 24 hours. I immediately resigned all my lovely Birth Center plans and accepted the fact that I would be having the hospital birth I did not want. 

I called my midwife and she immediately got all my labs and paperwork sent over to St. David’s Main in Austin. I was admitted to L&D and the nurses were wonderful, one of them even told me she was sorry I didn’t get to have the Birth Center experience I wanted and that made me feel a lot better. 

I scarfed down some Soup Peddler while she went over paperwork with me and then waited for my husband to show up with my truck and my hospital bag. The initial plan was to induce with a foley bulb but I was actually at 3 cm when I came in, so they offered a combo of cervidil, Cytotec, and Pitocin. I kindly asked them if I could just do the Pitocin and see how I progress and they were fine with that. The Pitocin contractions were so intense I caved and asked for the nitrogen, which did nothing other than made me feel sick. Then I needed an epidural because the contractions were sending me out of my body and I really could not handle the pain. After three rounds, it wasn’t really working, but my body progressed to 8cm. Unfortunately, it stayed at an 8 for almost 10 hours or so. By this point, I had intense shivers, had developed a fever, and the head midwife came in to let me know I had developed Chorioamnionitis. The baby was rather large and in a sunny side up position (I think) so a C-Section was recommended. I cried and agreed to it, nothing about this experience was going the way I intended but at this point, all I wanted was our baby boy to get here safely. 

A lot of what happened next is a blur because of the surgery but I remember my midwife being the best cheerleader I could have asked for during the process and she really kept my husband and me calm. Her energy was absolutely perfect and she turned a less than ideal situation into a positive one. My husband was encouraging me letting me know our baby boy would be here soon. 

There was a point where they struggled to get him out of me because apparently my abdominal tissue was so dense it required an extra hand and the sight (from what I’ve been told) was NOT pretty. I’m glad I was told this after the surgery and not during. They got the baby out and once I heard his cry my life changed forever. I cried, my husband cried, and he was the first to hold him 

and do skin to skin while I regained my energy and awareness. He latched like a champion and he’s gained 7 pounds since birth.

His birth weight was 9.86 and he was 21 inches, now he’s about 25 inches long, 16 pounds, and he fits in 6-month-old clothing at 3 months lol. 

Postpartum

I had a lot of help after surgery, but since I could walk the same day I really overdid it and had to remind myself to rest. I was walking around in the recovery room of the hospital and the nurses were like, “What are you doing?!?!” So if any other athletic mommas have a cesarean planned or think they won’t have one, just keep in mind not to overdo it. 

I have some diastasis recti and my pelvic pain is better but hasn’t completely gone away. It’s really flared up by laying on one side the entire night or wearing my baby too long. 

Even though I had the opposite birth experience of what I wanted, it was still really positive and my baby boy never had to do any NICU time so I have that to be grateful for. And even though I had a c-section, my breastfeeding experience has been wonderful. I thought my milk would never come in since it took a full five days to show up, but it did, and now I’m a little bit of an oversupplier so I donate to a national service called ni-q HDM. So if you find yourself having an unplanned or surprise c-section, keep latching your baby as much as possible and use balm if there’s any pain. I didn’t even have to use my pump to get my milk supply started! 

Jewel Broussard Bio

Jewel lives in Smithville, TX with her husband Wyatt, their 3 month old son named Theodore, a cat, dog, and two donkeys. Jewel is a graphic designer and Wyatt is a jeweler. They met through jiu-jitsu almost five years ago. Connect with her on Instagram @ruraljewel.

Resources

  • The Birth Hour – I am grateful for the women who shared their experiences, especially when things didn’t go as planned. Because of that, I went into my induction and surgery very calm knowing that medical interventions might not be ideal, but they can save lives.
  • Aeroflow
  • Kindred Bravely (code BIRTHHOUR for 20% off)
  • STIX – their ovulation/pregnancy tests are amazing
  • Haakaa
  • La Leche League
  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
  • Babywearing – I use an Ergobaby and a Moby wrap and it does wonders for bonding and nap time.

Kindred Bravely

Part II of this episode is brought to you by Kindred Bravely. From adorable maternity wear to comfortable nursing bras, this mom-owned company has you covered.  See all of their comfy clothing at kindredbravely.com! I especially love their Simply Sublime nursing tank, their high waisted leggings (for pregnancy AND postpartum). Listen to this episode for a special coupon code and to hear about my new favorites in their summer line of clothing and loungewear!