Please note: some parts of the story may be hard to read for people sensitive to birth trauma stories.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Kellsie and her sweet little girl Eliana. Eliana was 18 months old with a tiny blonde ponytail and shy demeanor, that also goes by the name Bean. Our time together would be spent taking images of Kellsie and Eliana together for a mommy & me session. A session that would mean so much more than the average one.
Each family photographed has their own story to tell. Kellsie wants to share hers with you, and I’m more than happy to give her the space to do so. More importantly, these images were going to help her recover from the birth trauma experienced while delivering sweet Eliana.
I thought about telling this story for her. In my own words. NOPE. How can I display the same emotions and message behind HER experience? And how could I possibly explain the feelings of excitement and joy of bringing a new baby into this world?
You see, part of the healing process is to share your story and to help others. Not everyone has a perfect or beautiful delivery and it is Kellsie’s hope that by sharing her experience, moms suffering in silence can feel like they’ve been heard.
Our Traumatic and Life Changing Birth Story
by: Kellsie Evans
My name is Kellsie and my husband is Matthew. I would like to share our story with you, and I hope it touches anyone reading it. I hope anyone who has been through a traumatic birth understands you are not alone and there is hope and healing. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Please don’t give up, you’re amazing, you got this, I promise.
My husband and I had been married for 6 years and had it in our minds that having children was not part of the plan. We had a beautiful niece and a handsome nephew. We did some traveling and had an amazing life. We started to feel our lives were missing something. So, we started talking about possibly trying for a baby. But like always we put our faith in the Lord and prayed about what we should do.
One night I was lying in bed and decided to look up baby girl names and was flipping through multiple pages. I finally came across one... Eliana. I thought it was beautiful, so I clicked on it and the meaning behind it had me in tears. Eliana “my God has answered”. I knew that the Lord was giving me the answer that we had been looking for. I told my husband what happened and the next night we started trying. Six days later we got a positive pregnancy test. We felt so blessed to become pregnant so quickly. I loved being pregnant, it was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced in my whole life.
We had our ultrasound to find out the gender and it was in fact, a little girl. Her name was going to be
Eliana Elizabeth Grace Evans
Throughout the pregnancy we did everything we could to have a healthy pregnancy and experience. We had zero complications, and everything looked perfect at every appointment. Our due date was December 21st, 2018! The months were flying by as I was trying to prepare myself for an all-natural delivery. December 21st and still no baby...
December 23rd, 2018 3am..I woke up with cramping but they would come and go. Started timing them and realized, this is it! I was so excited; this was the day we had been dreaming about. I spent 9 months dreaming about the moment I would hold my beautiful little girl and what that would be like. We called our midwife and told her what was going on and how far apart my contractions were. Got to the hospital at 7am and settled into our room! I was handling the contractions well.
At around 3pm, I started to get in my head and convinced myself to go ahead with the epidural. I felt like I would be able to enjoy the birth so much more. Little did I know, in that moment everything would go downhill. My body was not taking it well. It wore off after 3 hours and I was in a lot of pain. They kept giving me extra doses and nothing was working. I remember laying on my side in so much pain and the anesthesiologist was giving me something in my IV so I asked what it was, and she said it was fentanyl. I had so much in my body that I really was not even there.
My midwife finally came, and it was time to push. I was still in pain and felt like I could not possibly push this baby out. I was pushing for 2.5 hours and only remember 10 minutes of it. By this time, my body was numb, and I was no longer able to push correctly. Eliana’s head finally came out, but her shoulder was stuck, I knew something was wrong. My nurses started pushing on my stomach trying to get her out. I was laying there being pushed on and my baby being pulled. I just looked up at my husband and started praying “please dear Lord be with us” over and over again.
They finally got her out. I looked at my husband and he had tears in his eyes. They rushed Eliana to the NICU. I told him to go with her. I had no idea in that moment I might not ever get to see my husband again or meet my beautiful daughter.
Something was not right; I told my nurses and midwife I was not feeling well and that I think I am going to pass out. I was hemorrhaging and bleeding quickly. Doctors were being called to the hospital and the room was filling up with staff. My nurses were saying "I am so sorry" as they were jabbing needles into my legs repeatedly with medicine trying to get my blood to clot. I remember looking over and seeing the blood doctor repeating herself “how much blood has she lost?!” I kept looking at my nurses and asking them if I was going to be okay, and they just looked at me and would not saying anything. They were just squeezing my hands. I was so tired and was losing so much blood, I started to close my eyes and fall asleep. My nurses started shaking me telling me to stay awake. My husband was finally back, and they were preparing him with paperwork for emergency surgery and blood transfusions. They brought the paper to me and picked my hand up and helped me scribble my name. I was finally hooked up to the blood transfusions. They placed multiple heated blankets on me because I was shaking so bad. They put the oxygen mask on me and watched my vitals. The blood transfusions were working, and I was in stable enough condition to not need emergency surgery.
A few hours later I needed to start moving and get of the bed to use the bathroom. Two nurses got me into the wheelchair and took me to the bathroom. Went to stand up and immediately started getting dizzy and that I was going to pass out. They took me back to bed and hooked me back up to oxygen and laid more heated blankets on me. 7 hours went by and I finally was able to meet my daughter. Our first time meeting was not how I pictured it. It felt strange and unnatural. I was angry and struggled with holding her. I was still very weak, and struggling to breastfeeding right away. I thought, this could not possibly be the baby I had inside of me for 9 months.
I wanted so badly to go back in time and try and have a different birth. How for 9 months can I bond with this beautiful baby and then in a blink of an eye have no memory of that baby being born. I felt empty and had a hard time bonding with her. I spent 9 months picturing the moment I would get to hold her as soon as she came out. I did not get that. I felt robbed and broken. I missed that first moment with her. I just missed the birth of my daughter.
The NICU Stay
Unfortunately with only an hour with her, Eliana had to go back to the NICU because of her breathing. This is where more heartache and trauma set in. The nurses did not treat me well and I found out why two days later on Christmas Day. We were finally in a new room close to the NICU; I had never ever been in the NICU before.
I remember pumping some milk right before I was able to go down there with my husband. I felt proud to be able to bring her some food, especially after everything we went through. Even with my body being so weak and losing so much blood, the good Lord gave me food for her. My husband wheeled me into the NICU, and I felt very out of place and scared. He wheeled me to my daughters’ section and I just cried. I held her and cried, I listened to all the other babies cry and all sorts of monitors going off. Eliana had so many things hooked up to her. The nurses wanted us to change diapers, weigh them and record her temperature. Everything was a lot, all at once. The NICUs demands where a lot for me especially because I felt I didn’t know how to be a mother, let alone trying to learn while I have a nurse over my shoulder telling me what I’m doing wrong. I had a lot of anxiety going through those doors every day.
Our daughter was moved to a different area and we got a new nurse. She was extremely mean to me, and to this day thinking about the way she treated my daughter and I makes me cry. I remember I was in the recovery room pumping and our phone rings and it was Eliana’s nurse and she says, “your daughter is hungry, when do you plan on coming?”. There was no nurse answering my call for a wheelchair as I was still very weak to walk, so I found the strength to stand up and wobble my way in pain down the hall. I put my breastmilk in the NICU fridge, and the nurse yelled and said I was not allowed to be in there. I wanted to cry, there were other parents in this room with their babies. I felt so embarrassed.
As I was feeding Eliana, they noticed that her heart rate would go up when she would eat so they had to put a feeding tube in. Because I was pumping, I was washing the milk containers when they were empty because neither the NICU or the nurse were providing me with new ones. Eliana’s nurse told me I was bringing back dirty bottles for my daughter. I remember in that moment I felt crushed, I wanted to completely give up. I kept thinking, did this nurse not even read our chart? Does she have no idea what we just went through? Why is she treating me so bad? She would constantly tell us how loud our baby was and that all she does is cry.
That night we tried to get some rest, but I kept hearing a baby screaming and it sounded like Eliana. At 3am I went into the NICU and it was my little girl crying. I held her for an hour and laid her back down but had to perform a checklist per the NICU. I was trying to change her diaper but was having a hard time because of all the wires. As I was struggling with her diaper, Eliana managed to pull her feeding tube out. I could tell the nurse was frustrated and she said I should leave for the night. I gave Eliana a kiss and went back to my room.
Christmas day was here, and I went to our room to finally have my first shower. Eliana’s Doctor was waiting for me with a few questions. She told me Eliana was showing signs of “withdrawal” and asked me if I had been taking anything during the pregnancy. In that moment I lost all hope and became even angrier. What was supposed to be such a beautiful time in someone’s life was anything but that for me.
My husband was in the NICU and I called him and told him what the doctor said. I could not stop crying. We got a new doctor and all my blood work was looked at during pregnancy, during labor and after and I was cleared of being on anything. They had no idea why she was breathing the way she was. We were treated so badly because they thought I was taking drugs. No one ever read or looked at our chart or lab tests or blood work.
We were discharged the next day, without Eliana. I remember walking down the hall to leave the labor and delivery floor and this dad walked around the corner to tell his family his baby had been born. While my husband and I walked through a joyful lobby, I felt anything but joy. I was so sad. I am leaving the hospital without my baby after living a nightmare. I sat in the lobby downstairs waiting for my husband to pull the truck around and I just started crying all alone. I could not believe all of this, it felt like a horrible dream. We went home and went to bed for the night. I woke up in the middle of the night looking for Eliana and my husband says, “she’s in the hospital”. I will never forget that night.
We were finally able to bring her home on December 28th, 2018! We were so excited, but I was struggling with bonding and feeling like a mother. I still felt so angry and did not understand why all of that happened. I started blaming myself, my husband, the doctors and nurses. I would replay that day in my head repeatedly.
I was unable to watch the pampers commercial of the mom holding the baby right away. Seeing that commercial made me so angry. Anything that reminded me of that day, from going into labor to the very end would set me off. Passing the Starbucks we went to on the way to the hospital would make me cry. Taking a shower would make me cry because it reminded me of when I was in labor at home.
I was so down, depressed and angry, on top of lacking a bond with my daughter. I felt I truly did not want to be a mother. I suffered so bad that I often would think about taking my own life. I did not want to continue living this pain. I always had a close relationship with the Lord, I thought. My husband would tell me to continue praying and that everything would be okay. I said, “I am and it’s not working”, I was even losing faith in God. I suffered in physical and emotional pain for 6 months before I started to feel better. I have never been in a constant state of prayer the way I had been during those months.
The Lord was truly by my side and showed me so many things. He gave me an understanding of what happened. Sometimes the Lord will bring you through hard times to bring you closer to him. I understand now, and my faith as never been stronger. Even though we went through so much that night, the Lord never left our side. I still struggle emotionally and physically, but on my hard days. I pray. My daughter is my everything, and although I wish we had a different story to tell, I could not be happier where we are now.
When I see women struggling with birth trauma, I see myself back in that same place. This time though, I know I can help. I want all women to know you are not alone, your strong and everything will be okay. It may not seem like it now, but you will be okay. I truly hope
and pray from the bottom of my heart our story reaches someone in need. Someone who feels they cannot overcome this battle; I want to help. Your story is your story, and it will never go away. Your pain is real, but that is not a bad thing, it is all a constant reminder of your strength, and your ability to overcome anything. You are strong and you are hope for mothers out there struggling, just the way I pray I am hope for you.