We love birth stories. We love hearing birth stories. We love being a part of birth stories and we love helping to tell them. We know it is a privilege when moms share their birth stories with us and even more so when we are given the honor and responsibility to document it. Mary Neubauer was part of our mom series in May. She is crazy passionate about birth and babies and recently had her sweet daughter Ruby. All birth stories are not perfect and Mary shares hers with honesty we appreciate so much at FMD. We adore her and are so honored for her to tell us about her sweet little gem Super Ruby. Be sure to check out her full video
Ruby's story starts in utero. In my third trimester, after months of strange symptoms and my prompting to my midwives to continue to see what was going on, we discovered Ruby had a mass in her abdomen. It's crushing to hear something is wrong with your child, and she isn't even born yet. There were vague diagnoses, more tests, more appointments and changes to our birth plan.
It's hard to plan a birth. It's even harder to plan it with a medical variable. We guided by our doctors to birth at Shady Grove, where a pediatric surgeon could treat her if needed. We had everything set in place even preparing for a C-section if also needed. Brittany, our doula, met with us to help us prepare and align our expectations with a C-section. As you continue to read, I'll explain why this was a crucial part of our birth story.
My appointment before 39 weeks I asked about induction and we decided it was the best choice. Maybe I could have gone another week. Maybe things would be different if I tried to tough it out. But mentally, and physically, I was at my breaking point with this pregnancy. Swelling so bad I wasn't unable to walk (and now have damage to my ankles and knees from the swelling), anxious about what was going on with our baby, and struggling to eat due to incredible heart burn had me over the edge. I was miserable, scared and ready to meet my baby.
My mom and I arrived at Shady Grove the night before 39 weeks. I waited to midnight to be admitted because of some red tape. I was annoyed to say the least. We got back and comfortable and started Cervidil. Neither my mom nor I got much sleep that night. The next morning was a weird blur as my husband arrived and my mom left. They started Pitocin at a low dose and upped it here and there. I was getting excited and felt good and strong. Brittany arrived and continued to help guide us through the labor applying counter pressure, helping me shower, encouraging me to move to keep the contractions going. LR, my husband, and Brittany continued to provide counter pressure during contractions (which is a life saver) and support. Somewhere in the middle of the day I started to get tired and the nurse offered for something to take the edge off. Whatever it was, sucked. I didn't respond to it like I hoped. I felt out of control of my body and I slept a lot. Eventually I got moving again, but I was still tired and the contractions were stronger. Brittany encouraged me to hold out for Sarah, our other doula to get there before I got an epidural but before I knew it the anesthesiologist had the needle in my back. That's when it went from bad to worse with me. I regret asking for the epi. With my first it was a dream. With this baby, it just amplified how I didn't want to feel. I tried to relax with my support teams coaching and eventually felt like I had to push. I asked for a check - and the nurse came and said "I think I'm holding a hand". She was coming out hand first...hence part of her nickname Super Ruby. Cue doctor. He also checked and said those were certainly fingers he felt. Devastated I was told I needed a C-section because my water broke and we couldn't reposition her.
They prepped me and here is where I am so thankful for Brittany's expertise. She had prepared me and LR for every step. Even though I didn't like what was going on around me, I was surprised by it because she told me where my expectations should lie. I can easily imagine being traumatized if I didn't know what C-sections involve. At 10:45pm, Ruby Schorr was born. I was sad I couldn't immediately hold her. The whole thing just didn't feel right.
In recovery, they did normal newborn testing and we were told an ultrasound on her abdomen would be done tomorrow so they could diagnose and treat the mass. I didn't care. My little gem was here. I think we slept 3 hours that night... she was a champ nurser and slept like a dream. The next morning family came, bringing my 2 year old to meet her sister. I was sore and tired but so happy. My husband went with Ruby to her ultrasound and I got some time to rest. Then the staff pediatrician entered and asked me where I would like my baby transferred.
That was never part of the plan. It was briefly explained that they couldn't treat her at Shady Grove and we needed to chose Children's or Hopkin's. Panic started to rise and I asked for her to come back when my husband was back. I texted him and he came almost immediately. Between the WTF's we decided on Children's NICU. The transport was called. We still didn't have solid answers as to why they were transferring her only 12 hours postpartum. I sort of lost it. Brittany flew in like the angel she is last minute to get some family and newborn photos for us. Family scrambled around us. Ruby was baptized by a Catholic priest about 15 minutes before they took her. LR went with her to Children's and I stayed with my arms and heart empty at Shady Grove.
It was a whirlwind. I cried so much. My nurse, Evie, bless her heart let me cry with her. I felt numb. And empty. Torn. Confused. So many feelings to process. My mom was going to stay the night with me, but I asked her to go care for my 2 year old. I needed comfort knowing she was close and cared for. Our postpartum doula Kaylah came to spend the night with me. It was weird being there knowing I was supposed to have a baby with me, and hearing other babies cry. I just didn't let myself feel. I pumped throughout the night and Kaylah helped me with cleaning and getting around. But it was too quiet. There was no baby.
The next day, I was discharged early to go be with Ruby at Children's NICU. My abdomen seared with pain. Moving was such a challenge. My eyes were puffy from crying. Somehow I found the strength to dress myself and get everything together to go. When I was leaving waiting to be picked up, a mom, dad and their baby were walking out too. Anger rose within me. I wanted my baby back so bad. Why did they take her? In that very moment I wanted to scream. Not at the new mom, but at the universe. I'll never be able to describe the ache one feels when their newborn is taken from them and another mom is cooing over hers. It's a cruel joke. Leaving the hospital without your baby, is such an empty lost feeling.
I made it down to Children's and saw my baby in the NICU. My sweet gem with wires and buttons and beeps all over. She was so peaceful. So calm. I was overwhelmed with emotion. The NICU is a strange place. I never wanted to feel more connected to someone and I never felt more alone simultaneously. I hobbled the halls, nursing my C-section trying to pretend to be strong but dying inside. I prayed more than I probably ever prayed in my life. I think I touched every emotion in the book. Parents all over reached out with their NICU success stories, words of love and encouragement and support. NICU parents are some courageous parents It was the little boost I needed to get us through. I'll never forget walking those hallways, feeling like a ship passing in the night.
Through the weekend we got more answers and prognosis for Ruby. She is doing great now, 6 weeks old and 2 weeks out of surgery. She's our little fighter. Our Super Ruby. And my sweet gem.