Mateo Mora – Our Birth Story

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Hello my friends, I’m sorry for the long absence!  You’ll understand why I’ve been gone for so long by the end of this, but for now- meet MATEO!  He was born October 17, 2016.  He’s the love of our lives.  Insert ALL OF THE CLICHES ABOUT PARENTHOOD HERE.  All of them.  They apply.  He’s the most darling baby ever, in my completely unbiased opinion.

I don’t know where to begin with his birth story, so I suppose I’ll start with what we had hoped, dreamed and planned for the birth of our son.  We knew from the beginning that we would attempt to have a home birth.  I’d been by my best friend’s side as she delivered her baby a little over two years ago and knew that I wanted a similar experience for our family.  We hired a midwife who we trust implicitly, borrowed a birth pool from a friend, and I started practicing Hypnobabies to prep myself for the experience.  In my preparation for birth I tried to let go of expectations as much as possible- I made peace with the idea that although a home birth was our ideal scenario, I trusted that Mateo would come into this world exactly as he intended.  I accepted the idea that I might have to deliver in a hospital in a variety of ways, depending on how things went.  I never would have imagined though what actually happened, which was close to my worst nightmare and nothing I could have prepared for.

Typically birth stories don’t start a month and a half in advance, but ours does.  The first week of September I started having pain in my back.  I thought it was the new mattress we bought to prepare for co-sleeping.  As the pain increased over the following weeks I started seeing massage therapists and a chiropractor to help.  I stopped sleeping for more than a couple of hours- the pain too intense for me to rest- and instead took long hot baths and showers to try to cope.  The heating pad became my best friend.  I thought it was maybe part of the trials of pregnancy- my belly felt large and all of the practitioners I was seeing said that back pain in the third trimester is normal.  I struggled to eat, the pain decimating my pregnancy appetite.  I gagged down what I could but quickly began to lose weight.  I struggled to understand what was happening.

Less than two weeks later I got food poisoning.  The next day I went in to see my doctor and she sent me straight to the emergency room- I was too depleted and exhausted to avoid going.  It would be the first of many trips to the ER.  They rehydrated me, checked on the baby and sent us on our way.  Two days later, in a follow up visit to my doctor, I was admitted to the hospital.  She suspected that I was having a Crohn’s flare due to the levels of inflammation she was seeing in my bloodwork and the difficulties I was having with my appetite.

I spent a week at the hospital having tests run.  Imaging showed inflammation in my kidneys, and eventually Crohn’s was ruled out.  The doctors said that the pain in my back was due to a swelling in my right kidney caused by my uterus compressing my ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder).  They said almost all pregnant women have some inflammation in the kidneys during late term pregnancy, and were a bit confused as to why it was causing me so much pain since there was no sign of kidney infection.  The only treatment options, which the urologist was not hopeful would help, involved procedures that I thought may cause more complications.  They kept me in the hospital for a week, developed a pain management plan and discharged me.

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Two days later I had a fever that spiked to 103.4 and rushed back to the emergency room where I was readmitted.  Again the doctors suspected that the kidney inflammation was to blame, and put me on antibiotics and morphine.  They monitored the baby and I for another week.  I should mention that these two weeks in the hospital were difficult, to say the least.  It’s nearly impossible to sleep in hospitals, there is always someone coming into the room to check on you, or speak to you about your care, to adjust the IV, etc.  The machines they hooked me up to were constantly beeping, requiring that I call a nurse in to adjust.  And of course there is the stress of being away from home, the pain, the fear involved in hospitalization during pregnancy, the stress of medical conversations with doctors, the discomfort of relentless tests and procedures.  We relied heavily on our friends during this time- they brought us food, lifted our spirits with visits, phone calls and texts.

After that week they released me.  At this point I knew that a home birth was no longer an option.  The doctors told me that I was now a high risk pregnancy, that a perinatologist would have to oversee my care.  We started to consider that he might arrive early.  I stressed about the pain meds I was taking, both in and out of the hospital.  And of course, also about the antibiotics.  I only put nail polish on once during my pregnancy, avoided chemicals at all costs, ate exclusively organic home cooked food.  I was forced to accept everything in order to survive this period- I couldn’t allow myself to stress about what was going into my and Mateo’s bodies,I had no control, I felt powerless and I was terrified.  I had to trust that we would both be ok.  I had to truly LET GO.  This would become my mantra.

Two days after my release I once again developed a fever and Lou asked me if we should go to the hospital.  I knew that we should but I didn’t know if I could get out of bed to get myself into the car.  I just wanted to sleep, the pain meds I was on were drugging me into a feverish submission.  I somehow managed to get myself up and out the door.  I could barely walk into the ER.  This time things had worsened.  I needed high levels of oxygen, my blood pressure was dangerously low, my white blood cell count was dangerously high and my heart was racing.  The doctor put her hand on my leg in a moment I’ll never forget and said “Sarah, I’m going to transfer you to the ICU, this is a life threatening situation.  They’ll be able to provide the care you need.”  I was 33 weeks pregnant and fighting for the life of our baby and myself.  I couldn’t even wrap my head around how I found myself in this nightmare.  I later found out that I was in septic shock, and the nurses kept saying to me “You’re lucky to be alive!” and “Thank God you came in when you did!”  The mortality rate for septic shock is 50%.  A coin toss: heads I live, tails I die.

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I closed my eyes as they wheeled my bed into the ICU, I didn’t want to see the other patients who were also facing death- it would make it too real and too scary.  I knew I would never be able to unsee it, and my psyche already felt fragile.  When I arrived in the curtained room there was a swarm of nurses and doctors around me, and I was more scared than I’ve ever been in my life.  As they lifted my body to transfer me to a different bed I felt like I was floating above the scene.  They rushed to hook up multiple IV’s, monitors, and began pumping my body full of fluids and the strongest antibiotics available.  There were hands all over my body, and I felt completely detached- I had come out of myself in order to survive.  Lou eventually joined me and we spent the night with two nurses who never took their eyes off the monitors watching my vitals and the baby’s vitals.  Lou slept (ish) in a folding chair beside my bed.

The next afternoon I was stable enough to be transferred out of the ICU.  I had developed pneumonia in the ICU and fluids from the treatment they gave me had seeped into my lungs.  I would need oxygen for days to come, my breath would be short and painful.  The doctors told me that if I didn’t force myself to take deep breaths I would be at risk of my lungs collapsing.  I don’t remember much of this week, I think I’ve blocked it out.  But it was another week of limited sleep, pain, tests, fear, drugs and doctors.  On the bright side, our friends once again rallied around us.  We didn’t eat a single hospital meal during our entire stay.  The doctors weren’t sure what was going on, why I had developed sepsis when all tests showed no infection in my kidneys.  They told me I’m a “unicorn”.  My condition had everyone baffled.  At the end of the week they released me, once again, with a pain management plan and a prescription for antibiotics.

Like clockwork, two days later I woke up in the middle of the night gasping for breath and feverish.  I woke Lou and we scrambled to get to the ER.  I knew things were bad, I could barely walk and it took every bit of fight I had in me to get myself into the car and into the ER.  When we arrived they immediately started checking on Mateo.  He wasn’t doing well, his heart rate was not what it should be and he wasn’t moving.  The doctor told me they’d need to do an emergency c-section.  I was 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant.  I was, once again, terrified.  They brought me to the operating room and held Lou back to get into scrubs.  Once in the OR they gave me an epidural.  Once again I left my body to cope, feeling like it was happening to someone else and I was witnessing the scene from somewhere far away.  As soon as the epidural hit Mateo’s heart rate started dropping and they went into emergency mode.  The room flooded with nurses and doctors and they began rushing, yelling out numbers and telling me that we had to move quickly.  I started begging for someone to get Lou.  The nurse told me, “there’s no one that can leave right now, we’ll get him if we can.”  I thought I was going to have our baby without him there.

I was so scared, staring up at the ceiling I felt more alone than I’ve ever felt in a room full of people.   Thankfully someone was able to get Lou and he arrived minutes later while they were already cutting me open.  Within what felt like just a breath or two Mateo was in this world, 4 lbs 15 oz and not breathing.  They immediately whisked him off to the NICCU to care for him but told us that he would be fine.  When they returned asking Lou if he’d like to cut his umbilical cord. I told Lou to go to him and not leave his side.  I hadn’t even laid eyes on him, I couldn’t cope with the thought that his first hours in this world would be without his mama by his side.  It was almost too much to bear.

This is the time that almost broke me.  It was four hours before I was able to be wheeled into the NICCU to meet my son, and I was only allowed a 15 minute visit before I was transferred to the ICU to receive treatment once again for septic shock.  I have never felt so broken.  I just couldn’t bear that he was without me, and I without him.  My heart felt like it would crack.  Thankfully my family had arrived from the east coast the night before and stayed with me in the hospital room while I waited for what felt like an eternity.  I kept begging the nurses to take me to him, sobbing and saying that I needed to see my baby.  I couldn’t believe that he had been here for hours and I hadn’t even been able to touch him and tell him how much I love him.  Lou sent me photos from the NICCU and I clung to them for life while I watched the clock tick.

I was dazed, emotional and at the end of my rope when they brought me to the NICCU, but I’ll never forget the joy and relief I felt in seeing him.  I can’t think of it without breaking down.  He was tiny and connected to a million wires and hospital contraptions.  I was, once again, leveled.  The doctors told us he would likely need at least a week’s stay in the NICCU but that he would be fine.  I was in a precarious state and would have my own battle to fight to survive.

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That day they discovered, via CT scan, an abscess (infection of tissue filled with pus and blood) the size of a baseball on my liver.  Somehow months before, randomly, strep had entered my bloodstream and landed in my liver.  Because of my compromised immune system due to pregnancy, over the course of my third trimester it had developed into an infection that nearly took both of our lives.  It had gone undetected because none of the imaging I had done included that part of my body- because that’s where Mateo was.

I spent 2 more nights in the surgical ICU having gone once again into septic shock and the day after my c-section I underwent a procedure to install a drain that went into my belly, and attached to my liver to drain the abscess and get rid of the infection.  The doctors warned me that liver infections can be really difficult to clear and tried to prepare me for the possibility that I would have months of treatment ahead of me.  In addition to the drain they put me on heavy antibiotics specific to the type of strep that was in the abscess.

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We were in the hospital for a total of 10 days after Teo was born.  I won’t go into details but it was the worst care I’ve ever experienced.  It was a non-stop struggle and I had to fight to receive the treatment I needed, I had to advocate so much for myself that I sometimes felt like if I didn’t pay enough attention I wouldn’t make it out of there alive.  I started experiencing PTSD like symptoms after my c-section.  I would start to fall asleep and my body would jerk- and I’d wake up feeling panicked, with the feeling that if I slept I would die.  I couldn’t catch my breath.

Lou, my love, my hero, spent every minute he could in the NICCU with Mateo.  He would go home for a few hours to sleep and rush back.  I’ve never seen anyone more dedicated to anything than he was to spending every second he could with our son.  And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  It meant that when friends and family weren’t visiting I was alone, but it gave me so much peace of mind knowing that Teo was with his dad getting all of the love and care he needed.  I was able to visit him in the NICCU most days, with the visits increasing in length as I started to recover.  It was incredibly difficult to make the decision to stay in my room and rest at times when I desperately wanted to be in the NICCU but knew it wasn’t the best thing for me.  Ultimately I was focused on recovering as quickly as possible so that we could go home.

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Mateo showed incredible progress, hitting the milestones required by the NICCU seemingly without effort.  I attribute it to Lou’s dedication, love and support.  It seemed like every day there was more good news coming from the doctors about his progress and our fears about his health were quickly easing up.

Teo was discharged from the NICCU the day before me and the three of us spent one night in my hospital room together.   I had this incredible relief that my time with him wasn’t limited to a few hours in the NICCU and as our small family squished together in a hospital bed I wept for how happy I felt after 2 months of so much pain, fear, confusion, struggle, and sadness.  I will never forget that moment either.  It was pure and raw emotion and it flooded out of me as I hugged Lou and Mateo with such relief that we were all alive and together.  It felt like a beginning, even though I knew we had a long road ahead of us.  We were together.  I clung to that.  I wanted to freeze time, waves of fear that something could take this away from me overpowering at times.

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The next day I was discharged and sent home with the drain still attached and an IV line in my arm.  A home health care nurse met us at the house less than an hour after we arrived and walked me through the process of administering my own IV antibiotics, every six hours.  I had been instructed in the hospital on how to monitor and flush the drain, change my bandages, and care for myself at home.  I had an intense pain medication schedule- every three hours around the clock.  It was incredibly surreal.  Our room was filled with medical supplies, and newborn supplies, side by side.  I was more overwhelmed than I’ve ever been in my life.  It was a daunting thing, to care for our new baby and manage the health crisis I found myself in.  My best friend and stepmom went to work arranging donors for breastmilk- the wonderful community here in San Diego rallying around me to help us through.

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I undressed in the bathroom and prepared for the shower I’d been waiting 10 days for.  As I saw my reflection for the first time I broke down.  I looked like I’d been to war.  I had bruises all over my body.  My arms, legs and body were covered with marks where they had applied bandages or monitors and the leftover stickiness had turned black.  I had a 6X6″ bandage on my abdomen with a tube coming out of it and a plastic drain at the end that would collect whatever came out of the infection.  I was too scared to look at what was under the bandage.  My teeth were stained and the circles under my eyes silently told the story of the horror of what I’d been through.  The veins in my arms and hands were swollen from the relentless blood draws and my hair was a matted wreck.  The IV picc line dangled from my arm and an angry red c- section incision ran along my belly.  I barely recognized myself, and once again I broke down and wept for all that we had been through, for all that we had lost.

I had to let go of all of the hopes and dreams I’d had for how our birth would be, what our first weeks/months would look like, what our son’s first experiences in the world would be, how I would feed him.  I had to accept a reality that no one should have to accept.  I’m still mourning, and at times it feels like I may never stop.  But I know I will.  Life will go on, God willing.  My body will heal.  Our son will grow.  We will slowly piece our lives back together.  One day at a time.

Two and a half weeks after the drain was installed they removed it, it had shrunk the abscess in half and the doctor said it would be up to my body to heal the rest.   This brings us to the present.  I am still on the antibiotics and pain medications (thankfully a variety that doesn’t effect my cognitive abilities).  Mateo is THRIVING.  He weighs six pounds now and is as sweet a babe as I could’ve dreamed up.  I finally understand the powerful love that I’d only been told about.  He has gained more weight than they even expected, is alert, strong and by my perceptions- perfect.  He’s a survivor just like his mama and papa and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

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The details of this story are dark, but there was so much beauty too.  I have never felt more loved by our incredible family who spent weeks schlepping all over the city to get us whatever we needed, who held my hand in the hospital as I was handed bad news over and over again, who wiped my tears and lifted me up every chance they got.  I have also never felt more loved by our friends who rallied around us in ways I couldn’t ever have anticipated they would-providing meals and hugs and creature comforts to make our hospital stay just a tiny bit brighter.  They are still carting me from doctor appointment to doctor appointment, checking in daily to make sure we’re surviving at home, loving us in ways that have made me realize over and over just how insanely lucky we are to have them and love them back.  Lou and I have survived another crisis together, each one bonding us to each other even more.  Seeing him as the most devoted father I know has made my love for him grow deeper and stronger.  I’ve been reminded of how many people are generous and giving as the breastmilk donations have come in, mamas who’ve never met us are taking time and resources to support our family (as well as some lovely women who have met us).  And lastly I’ve been reminded again how precious life is, how tomorrow isn’t a promise, how important it is to stay present.  I’m soaking up these sleepless newborn nights in a way I couldn’t have without having gone through this- I know that this time is fleeting, that we’re so incredibly lucky to be here, that I’ll never get this time back, that things could turn in a second.

We’ll continue to look for the goodness in this experience and as we get a bit more distance from it I’m sure I’ll have a much longer list.  For now I’m focused on healing my body and spirit, loving my sweet family and moving forward one day at a time.  Thank you so much for reading and for your support now and over the years of this site.  I’ll be doing my best to get back to work, which means back to posting!  We have a stack of medical bills 8″ tall already, and there’s no sign of them stopping anytime soon.  As much as we’d like to press pause on our businesses as we recover, the two months of time off coupled with the expense of this nightmare won’t allow for it.  Fortunately, Lou and I both love what we do and count ourselves as lucky to be able to do it!!!  Onward my friends, ONWARD!!!!!!  xx- Sarah

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Reader Comments

  1. Sarah|

    Sarah, wow, you are a wonder woman. That’s for sharing that powerful and beautiful (as well as traumatic, I can’t believe the number of times you were in and out of the hospital) story. I’m so glad you, Mateo, and Lou are all home now! I had a baby boy in May – <3 of my life! – and I was surprised at how long it took to recover from birth. Prayers for 100% healthy recovery.

    P.S. My birthday is also Oct. 17 – that's a great date:)

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  2. Annie|

    Sending you strength and love as you recover – may it be speedy and smooth. You are a warrior.

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  3. Mandy|

    So many tears. Your strength, resilience, and ability to turn towards positivity are truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I am sending your family tremendous amounts of love as you continue to heal and grow. XO

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  4. Amanda|

    Thank you for sharing this, Sarah. What a painful and emotional read (albeit nothing compared to living through it)…so far from what you both hoped birth would be. What was birthed was not just Mateo but an absolutely fierce and incredible mother (and father) throughout this process. Sitting here In awe of your strength and determination and love (Lou’s too). Mateo is precious and absolutely perfect! Sending so many good vibes and blessings to you and the fam for continued healing and recovery and also joy in motherhood/parenthood. Take very good care of yourselves. In my prayers, x

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  5. Lynne|

    Sarah, your son is so beautiful! I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult this has been for you. I was in tears reading about it. You and your family will be in my prayers. I’m so glad that Mateo is doing so well and that you are on the path to more peaceful time together.

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  6. Kelly|

    Hi Sarah – I am a new reader and have never commented but this story was very powerful. I too had an unexpected birth story with my daughter who ended up in the NICU for a week. It was beyond anything I expected and like you, could not believe I had to spend that time separated from her. When I got pregnant with my second; I suffered terrible PTSD. It was an unconscious thing that I didn’t even know I was harboring. I went through some serious counseling etc but got through it and both kids are amazing and thriving at 4 and 6 years old! It seems you are aware of the impact this experience has had on you and you are aware of the possibility that the stress will not simply go away just because you are finally out of that nightmare but I encourage you to take as long as you need to process it all and come to terms with it all in some way so that it will not continue to haunt you. You will be in mourning for a while and that is ok. It is possible to experience that while also experiencing the exquisite joy and awe Mateo brings you. If you need any suggestions or resources in this regard; I am also a SD mom so hit me up! Mateo is absolutely adorable…Best wishes as you and your sweet family continue this journey.

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  7. Tracy Rainwaters|

    Sarah you are a force of nature! Mateo won the lottery on wonderful parents. Send you all hugs amount of love and well wishes.

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  8. Rebecca|

    Sending strength and love and healing to you and your family. My mom just passed away from septic shock complications a week ago. I’m glad you were able to fight for your life and that you are on the road to recovery with your sweet baby.

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  9. jessica grady|

    God bless you guys. You are braver and stronger than you even know. You are both miracles.

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  10. Rachel|

    This was one of the most inspiring and beautiful stories I have ever read, you are SO strong and an absolute trooper. Congratulations on the birth of beautiful Mateo. Sending you lots of love and well wishes, I hope your recovery is a fast one. xx

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  11. Daria|

    Dear Sarah, your story touched me sooo much and brought ms to tears!
    I feel so happy for you and Mateo and Lou! Just wanted to say it and wish all the best to you and your family! Mateo is the sweetest little pea indeed! Take care and get better soon!

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  12. Mia|

    Oh my goodness, Sarah! As a longtime reader and follower of your blog/life, this was such a harrowing story to read – I am so heartbroken for you that you had to experience such trauma and pain during the last months of your pregnancy with Mateo (who is absolutely adorable!) You are a true warrior and a fierce survivor, I am so inspired by your and Lou’s strength during this difficult time. Sending wishes for a fast, painless, and full recovery, as well as best wishes for little Mateo. ~Mia

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  13. Lizzie|

    Hi Sarah
    wow Sarah, I’ve been following your blog a while and have been looking forward to hearing your baby news. But I definitely wasn’t expecting you to tell that story at all. You’ve been through so much, it bought tears to my eyes. As a mum of 2 I know the love you are talking about and you describe it so well and so beautifully. Mateo is absolutely gorgeous and I wish you so much good health and a speedy recovery. It does go so fast so definitely soak in every moment, enjoy the perfect little bubble of love you have in your home and hope you get many long and restful sleeps in between a billion cuddles. Xxxx

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  14. Simone|

    Sarah, I am touched by your story! It must have been so hard for you. I wish you and your family all the best. It’s so wonderful to be a mother …. My son Matteo was born on October 7th 2015 :-)

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  15. Mary Beth|

    Sending so much love and good wishes, Sarah. I’m a longtime follower and I’ve always appreciated your openness and honesty. Rest and enjoy your sweet family.

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  16. Krissy|

    Wow Sarah! So insane, sending you lots of healing vibes. Mateo is so beautiful!! xoxo

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  17. carmen|

    Tears in my eyes reading this, Sarah. But that last photo of beautiful Teo says it all. He will be your anchor and the 3 of you will rise above all this…in time. Meanwhile, don’t push yourself. (It’s hard enough being a mother to a newborn when you are healthy!) What a beautiful beautiful being Teo is. I know his love will see you through this. Heck, I never met him and I already love him! Please don’t push yourself. We aren’t going anywhere! oxoxoxoxox Carmen

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  18. Valentina|

    Oh my gosh. I realized about half way through that I had tears streaming down my face. I’m so glad that you and your beautiful family are ok after such a horrible ordeal. Giving birth is hard enough. You deserve a trophy!! Hugs and blessings and prayers for continued recovery and unending joy for your family!

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  19. Rachel|

    Your son is perfect! You are such a strong person and I love how much you have given for your son! He is one blessed little boy to have a Mama like you Sarah!

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  20. Amy|

    First of all, he is precious! Thrilled that your beautiful son is here and healthy. Having followed your story for many years now, I’d been wondering about you and when we might learn about your baby’s arrival. I could never have imagined the horror you’ve been living. You are a f#%*ing survivor, many times over! I began following you due to your experience with chron’s. I was diagnosed with UC while pregnant with my son, who then shockingly arrived 5-weeks early (also weighing 4 1/2lbs) by way of a “this is urgent!” scenario. I cried as you so eloquently described the pain of being apart from your baby immediately following his birth. I know that trauma. I have so much faith that with the support of your amazing husband and the fact that you are a wise woman and are able to see some light even during very dark times, that you will become whole and thriving- I will pray that this will happen for you so soon. Sending you love. I appreciate your sharing.

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  21. Beth|

    Wow what an incredibly strong mama, baby and father. While many of us have had to let go of not having the birth story we had dreamed, my reality was nothing compared to your story. You will savor every snuggle, every cry in the middle of the night, every exhausted morning. I also think that any new mother goes through an emotional journey and times where you feel alone- I can’t imagine the ptsd you must have- continue to take advantage of all of those supports you are so lucky to have. And Mateo is absolutely adorable and I cannot stop looking at his sweet face.

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  22. sassygirl|

    this story touched me more than you’ll ever know.
    sending you good thoughts toward healing, happiness
    and a wonderful life with your son. he is so sweet!
    congrats!

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  23. Natalie|

    sending you all my love, Sarah! Mateo is absolutely perfect! Take care of yourself, beautiful lady! And – is there anywhere we can donate? I am sure there are many that want to give, so you can heal and spend time with your loved ones <3

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  24. Anne|

    Sarah. You are a BIRTH WARRIOR. I was crying reading your story. I kept checking your blog and Instagram – I knew something was up! I am just so thankful that you all are okay — of course, a ton of healing is coming your way, but you have such a wonderful partner, and family, and friends to help you navigate this journey. I’ll be thinking of you ALL, and always wishing you health and joy. Mateo is adorable!!! I can’t wait to watch him grow! Congratulations and thank you so much for sharing your story. You survived – and are so strong!!! xo

    Reply
  25. Maria|

    Wow Sarah, I was NOT prepared for that story at all. What a brave and courageous lady you are and how wonderful of a husband Lou is! sandwiched between all those words detailing your traumatic experience were the most joyous photos of you and your little family which was such a great way to tell your story. Mateo is simply gorgeous and you guys are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing and wishing you all the best for a healthy recovery, it can only get more and more positive from here x

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  26. Morgan|

    Wow Sarah, I am so so sorry. I have been a big fan of your blog for a long time, and I am pregnant too, and have been wondering how you were doing. I am just so terribly sorry for all this horribleness that you all went through. Thank you for sharing your story. I hold you and your beautiful family in my thoughts and prayers, sending love for a quick recovery. I am learning (at 24 weeks now!) that pregnancy, even under the most ideal of scenarios, is a super hard, emotional, scary, vulnerable process. My heart is breaking that on top of the normal pregnancy scariness, you faced such overwhelming and horrifying times. As I cried my way through reading your birth story, I am amazed and in awe at your strength and bravery. And not to mention, you made a really beautiful little human!! Sending you so much love and hugs. And PS I am going to look into how to donate breastmilk in my own area (Los Angeles), in case I am lucky enough to have a lot – thank you for that inspiration.

    Reply
  27. Geri|

    dear sarah, Mateo is beautiful! you grew a perfect, strong, fighter that is lucky to have you as his mother. I am so very sorry that you had to go through all that you did. I know all to well the pain and suffering you experienced because I lost my son at 32 weeks. It’s a real kick in the stomach when your pregnancy goes from dream to nightmare. I know that you will see all the good and not the bad that brought you to this place with your gorgeous new son and the love of your life, lou. From here on out the three of you will experience a life so full that your heart will feel like it is bursting. Chin up sarah, soldier on and feel better everyday and enjoy every moment xx- geri

    Reply
  28. Renee Rosenfeld|

    Sarah, you are amazing!!!!! I have been a follower of your blog for many years and can tell you a common theme that always comes up: perseverance. You persevere, my dear. You are a survivor and that baby is so lucky to have you as his mama. My sister has Crohns and has a similar story to yours. I became a Naturopahic Doctor to help more people like you! I am so sorry this nightmare happened to you, but I have no doubt you will come out on the other side stronger than ever. After all, you are a true fighter and inspiration! Sending all the love!

    Reply
  29. Nicole|

    To a speedy recovery Sarah! Your baby story, like many others of yours in the past, have brought tears to my eyes! You are truly an inspiration with your strength and courage, you deserve every bit of happiness that comes to you in the future. Congrats to you and your amazing hubby on your beautiful baby boy!

    Reply
  30. Diane|

    He is absolutely delicious! I will pass this good new on to John who may already know. Take care of yourself and that scrumptious baby and the rest will fall into place eventually!

    Reply
  31. KIm|

    Tears are running down face. What a amazing story. You are so strong. Your husband is a star as well as you. Thank god for that baby every day. I’m so happy you are all striving and going strong!

    Reply
  32. Caitlin|

    Your strength and optimism is amazing. I spent about a week in the hospital, strapped to an IV, unable to eat, being poked and prodded every 2 hours, hoping my baby would stay inside me for longer. It was one of the most stressful and emotionally painful experiences of my life. He came out at 31 weeks and spent 25 long days in the NICU. Looking back, it all now feels like a bad dream. I have a healthy, happy one year old boy who loves to giggle and give his momma hugs. I hope the trauma of your bad dream fades from your memory as quickly as mine has. <3

    Reply
  33. Tricia|

    I am a few months behind you in pregnancy and have enjoyed following you along your journey. I am so so sorry that you did not have the birth experience you’d hoped for and that you had to endure so much pain and trauma. I think it makes sense to grieve the loss of what you had hoped for in your birth and initial experience of motherhood. One day Mateo will look back and be amazed at his mama’s fierce strength and love and everything you endured to bring him safely into the world. :)

    Reply
  34. Tracy|

    Oh, Sarah! I’m so glad you’re okay! He is beautiful! Sending healing thoughts + love your way!

    Reply
  35. Nikki|

    Holy sh*t…what an unbelievably difficult and beautiful time for you. You all are survivors and fighters. I wish you continued healing, inside and out. Enjoy your little miracle. Breath that sweetness in. If you need, I’m nursing now and would be happy to donate milk. LA area. I’m a healthy gal too ;)

    Reply
  36. Amy Squires|

    So thankful to hear you’re OK and let’s talk about that little man Mateo – well he is just about the sweetest boy ever. Sending you continued healing thoughts.

    Reply
  37. Kirsten|

    First off, welcome to the world beautiful Teo! I had to stop reading your story and come back to it a few times to finish it.. The hardship and sadness you experienced was heartbreaking. But your families love and your communities commitment to your family is inspiring. Sending you healing thoughts.

    Reply
  38. shannon karas|

    congratulations to both of you on your beautiful and healthy baby boy. My heart goes out to you as you continue to heal.

    Reply
  39. Sarah|

    This is a truly unbelievable story. I am shocked reading it. I have always enjoyed your blog. I do not know you personally but I want you to know I am thinking of you and your family and wishing you all a lifetime
    of health and happiness. You have been stricken with so many health challenges in life and for that my heart goes out to you. Two words from this story stand out to me and I hope you will continue to take them to heart as I truly believe stress and the need to control so much of our lives can literally take over them. LET GO. Your heart cried out those words to you and I hope you will listen. All the best to you and your family…

    Reply
  40. el|

    What a horrifying story! Yet, you BOTH made it! Hallelujah! And how ironic that you’d have a liver issue when you eat so well, wow. Silymarin and Turkey Tail mushroom extract are specific for healing the liver, I believe…a million healing blessings for you and your beautifully loving family and friends – and thanks for sharing your story. You’re amazingly lucky to be alive! Love and light!

    Reply
  41. Julie|

    Hi Sarah and Lou and Mateo. Wow what a challenge you have all been through. I kept checking your blog to see some pics and share your news. I wanted to go beyond the Roasted Plum Ice Cream! Your story truly exemplifies the risks of pregnancy and childbirth. Not one to be repeated – but one to look back on and marvel at the strength and courage of your experiences. Life should not be that hard. Stay strong in the face of adversity. Congratulations and best wishes for a fun happy and powerful life together.

    Reply
  42. Linda|

    Oh Sarah, this post brought tears to my eyes. What a horrendous thing to have to go through at such a precious time. I wish you a speedy recovery and hope you can all get back to a normal happy life soon. Your son is beautiful. Love from another mama all the way from the UK.

    Reply
  43. Cassandra|

    I have been thinking about you a lot lately. I wanted to send you a message yesterday to as how you were, but something told me you’d let us know soon :)

    I’m so sorry you had that experience. I cannot imagine how scary that must have been for all of you. You are a strong lady and now mama!

    Teo is gorgeous. I mean, come on!

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure it was not easy to relive.
    I hope you heal physically, mentally, and spiritually with speed, love, and laughter.

    Reply
  44. Jenny D|

    So moving Sarah. It’s easy to be traumatised by birth stories (we all have so many of them and I suggest when you’re well you get the proper counseling), but hoping you can put it behind you at some point and as you seem to be able to do already, focus 100% on your amazing beautiful miracle boy!

    Reply
  45. Gloria|

    Wow! You’ll never know the warrior you really are until you’re pressed into battle. Onward sister – you’ve come through this stronger than before. Enjoy this side of things!

    Reply
  46. Renan|

    All the best for you and your family! Stay as strong as you are and get well soon. Sending you much energy and positive vibes. <3

    Reply
  47. Alevtina|

    Your story touched me so much. Sarah, you are a brave woman. So much will-power and love finds place in your big heart! Lots of love, strength and blessing coming to you from Denmark.

    Reply
  48. Susanne|

    I was on the verge of tears while reading this. You are incredibly, incredibly strong. I wish you and Matteo a safe and speedy recovery. I am waiting for my own son to arrive any day now, and I’ve been reading your posts with great interest, and you remind me that I have so much to be grateful for. Thank you for your post!

    Reply
  49. Chance|

    Wow. Your story is incredibly moving and I am overwhelmed just thinking about what you had to go through. Mateo is beautiful and I hope you will be getting good news from your doctor soon. Hard to believe how life can be changed so drastically in the blink of an eye.

    Reply
  50. Jenna of This Is My Happiness|

    Crazily enough, I found myself nodding while reading this because of many similarities, the main one being that my husband also had strep that traveled and became an infection that almost killed him. He had to have it surgically removed, which included cutting out muscles and permanent nerve damage. Those antibiotics are tough, and like you, he was on them for a long time. I am so sorry to hear what a time you’ve been through. Pregnancy and birth are not easy! Your son is beautiful. Sending you and your family lots of light and love. xoxo

    Reply
  51. Kaylin|

    You have a beautiful family and soul, Sarah. I’ve been a follower of yours for years. I had a daughter eight months ago and while things went rather smoothly, I know how challenging having a newborn is even when you feel well. I can’t imagine what you went through and what you’re going through. But I do know that Mateo is so lucky to have such a strong and brave mama. I’ll be sending you and your family lots of love and healing thoughts. Can’t wait to hear all about Mateo and your future adventures as a MOM! It’s the most exhausting, yet awesome thing ever.

    Reply
  52. Corina Nika|

    I just couldn’t go through with the whole post, my heart broke into so many pieces. You are so so so strong and went through so much, no-one should be allowed to go through all of that. You’re such an inspiration and it makes me so happy that this traumatic story has a happy ending. Sending you lots of love, strength and a very speedy recovery <3

    Reply
  53. Robin Pulsifer|

    wow. and wow. i have been checking your blog often hoping that something health related wasn’t going on but sensed in some way it was. i am SO happy that you are all ok and together and enjoying every minute of this amazing new beginning. thinking of you and sending you healing thoughts…;)

    Reply
  54. Lisa|

    What a beautiful gift of your son! You endured much pain and suffering; I’m so very sorry you had to experience all that, but I’m so glad you’re healing may God bless you and your sweet family :-)

    Reply
  55. Caitlin|

    Hi Sarah,

    This story moved me to tears over and over. You and Mateo are truly fighters. I am 7mo post partum and while my story doesn’t compare to your struggle, my baby was in the NICCU, breastfeeding didn’t work out and overall my expectations were shattered. After going through my own experience, I encourage you to see a therapist. I know it will add to your list of appointments but I struggled with PPD and wish I had talked to someone from the start- just to hear validation and work through my feelings. All the best to you and your sweet family. Healing thoughts!

    Reply
  56. Kerry Hyatt|

    I have no words… You have a strength in you that is unmeasurable and unbreakable. Warm thoughts and wishes to your beautiful family and hopes you heal peacefully. Sending so much love and support your way.

    Reply
  57. Jess|

    Mateo is gorgeous and will continue to thrive and amaze you!
    I’m so, so sorry for your experience and continued recovery. You are beyond brave to share all the details and be able to truly embrace letting go.
    I just had our second baby boy (via csection) yesterday so I’ve definitely teared up reading this and can’t imagine having to go through all this. You should feel the most pride and strength of your life right now and I wish you, Lou and Mateo continued strength and endless love. xoxo

    Reply
  58. Caroline|

    Oh chicky, you have been through a tough time. You have been wonderful, and have made a beautiful family. Lou must have been so scared too, it’s so hard watching the one you love suffer. I hope you continue to feel better, and be kind to yourself. Xxx

    Reply
  59. Ewelina|

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are realy brave woman and your sweet little baby boy is adorable.Lots of love and lots of health for you guys from Poland.

    Reply
  60. Patricia|

    Hi Sarah, wow, I am so sorry you had to go through this. I have always respected you so much for sharîng the difficult stories with us as well, and even more so after reading this. You are so strong, and I think your willpower is amazing. You’ve been to hell and back, but you made it… I hope this rough start is the beginning of a better time for you and your family. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Reply
  61. Kelly|

    Holy shit! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog over the last few years, and I don’t know you personally, but I had noticed the radio silence and honestly was a little worried that something was wrong. I’m so sorry. This is unimaginable. I hope you getting stronger and stronger every day.

    Reply
  62. Sofia|

    Sarah, you are a true hero. I’ve never, ever, met (even if it’s online) a woman as strong as you. Like previous readers have said already – you are a wonder woman. If Superman was a woman, it would be you. I’m sending all the love I have in my heart to your little family, hoping you’ll recover as soon as possible. I’ve been following you and this site for years and years and you’ve always been a huge inspiration to me. And now, you’ve gone from inspiration to idol and my hero. You are unbelievable Sarah <3 And Mateo is perfect. He's the cutest baby I've ever seen. Really, he is. I'm not just saying that. I'm sending you all the strength and love I can and hope that you will be recovered soon. Lots and lots of love, Sofia.

    Reply
  63. Jane|

    Sarah, I have been following along for several years now and I’ve been checking back regularly the last couple of months wondering if you had given birth or not, I got an uneasy feeling when nothing showed up but I hoped you were just a little overwhelmed with being a new mum, it certainly happens! Little did we know this nightmare had befallen you, I’m so sorry that you, your husband, your precious boy, family and friends had to go through such a horrendous nightmare. So pleased that you are on your way to wellness and you are all together at home now and starting your lives as a little family. I hope that this becomes a distant memory for you, you feel healthy and vital once more and that the bills disappear soon too. I hope that you and Lou can settle in now and really enjoy what is an incredible time in your lives with Mateo.

    Reply
  64. Béné|

    Dearest Sarah,
    even though we have never met, I have so much respect for you. Since you had been absent online these past months, I already thought to myself that you were probably having hard time, but this?!…
    There is only one thing we can be sure of in life, everything passes, and time heals everything.
    You will get back in shape, and you will only get stronger from this.
    You are lucky to be surrounded by so much love! Your Cutie looks amazing!
    I send you all my support! Get well soon! xx – Béné

    Reply
    • Kazu|

      Your baby is beautiful! Congratulations on a tremendous journey! It’s time to fight for better maternity rights in Anerica! It’s a sad state of affairs!

      Reply
  65. Chase|

    Oh my goodness! All I can say is blessings to you and your family. Your son is beautiful. You have shared so much of yourself…glad that your friends and family, and even strangers, rallied to save the lives of you and your son. Wow!!!

    Reply
  66. Diana|

    Wow. You are a warrior, mama!! You have endured so much!! Thank you for sharing your story! Will pray for you as you continue to heal and get stronger. Also, Mateo is the most beautiful baby!! Congrats!!! Sending hugs and love!! Xx

    Reply
  67. Isabel|

    Sarah, I had been wondering if you had your baby and went to instagram and was so happy to see his sweet face! Then I read your blog post and it gave me chills. I’m a new mother myself, my daughter just turned 7 months, and being a new mom is the most beautiful and most physically and emotionally challenging thing I’ve done, but it’s also the coolest and the greatest reward. I can’t imagine going through this new phase of Motherhood with the challenges you have been given. I’m so sorry you didn’t have the birth you wanted and that you can’t breast feed your baby, but WOW! what a support network you have built around you to make the very best of such an insanely challenging situation. I read your blog post about 2 days ago but I’ve been thinking about it on and off since then and felt moved to comment. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers, from one new Momma to another, you can do this and it will all be beautiful.

    Reply
  68. Rebecca|

    Good heavens, Sarah. I can’t imagine at all what this is like for you all. I’ll be adding you to my prayers, though it looks like God has been keeping a pretty good watch over you.

    Reply
  69. beatrice|

    i send you all of my love and support, as well as to your husband and your amazingly beatuiful son. what a brave strong woman you have prooved to be, you are such an inspiration for knoking down all that horror.
    truly wishing you the best of luck and the happiness that you all much, much deserve.
    with love from italy.
    beatrice

    Reply
  70. joyce|

    Oh Sarah, my heart is bursting and breaking for you all at once. Mateo is absolutely gorgeous. I am so happy he is here, and safe, and that you’re on the way to recovery. I can’t imagine going through all that you did, and still being able to reflect on it so beautifully and openly. Thank you for sharing with us all, and sending you, Lou and Teo so much love, peace and wishes for good health. xoxo

    Reply
  71. Shelley|

    You have been through so much. So grateful that everyone is okay. You guys are serious inspiration.

    Reply
  72. maria|

    much love and strength, sarah. you’re amazing. and mateo is incredibly precious
    xx -maria

    Reply
  73. Polly Alexandre|

    Wow. What a beautifully written and powerful account of your journey, of love and survival and making it through despite all the challenges. You have been truly tested and I am so thrilled for your happy ending and for the safe birth of your son. HUGE congratulations and sending you all so much love. What a bunch of survivors you are all; so much admiration for your courage and strength. May the road ahead be filled with joyful, happy, healing and peaceful times together as a new family.

    Reply
  74. Katie McCarty|

    I am praying restoration over your family and for everything you went through those past few months. God will restore and built back all that was lost and stolen and he will restore your health and body. Thank you so much for being so open and sharing, I truly appreciate it! I will be praying over you and your sweet family.

    Reply
  75. Erica|

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story that reminds us all to be present and value the goodness in our life each day. It’s heartwarming to hear that you have such love by your side throughout this ordeal. Congratulations on your beautiful new arrival. Hugs to you all!

    Reply
  76. Jess|

    Congratulations your story is amazing and beautiful. My water broke at 21 weeks and I had to stay in the hospital until I went into labor at 31 weeks and my daughter spent 73 days in the nicu. She’s been home for two months and I still think about everything we went through everyday and when I look at her. It takes time to heal from an experience like yours but you will heal and you will move forward. I find that the silver lining of traumatic events is that they bond you to people you love and make love stronger and make future bad days seem not so bad. Your so is so stinkin beautiful I’m sending love and prayers your way!

    Reply
  77. Kellie|

    Sarah,
    I kept checking back to your blog daily for an update and wow! what a life (so far) story!

    Sending you prayers of comfort and healing and to the family, prayers of peace and joy, now and in the future.

    October 12 is my bday – Mateo has that calmness and balance after a storm – typical Libra!

    Reply
  78. Elisabeth|

    Hi Sarah – thank you for sharing. It’s so difficult to experience the grief, anger, pain, love, gratitude all at once — I’m sure it can be overwhelming. If you’re in need of postpartum mental health support (and I can’t imagine that someone who went through what you’ve been through wouldn’t!), I can’t recommend Postpartum Support International highly enough. Postpartum.net has amazing resources for new moms, and dads too. Love to all of you.

    Reply
  79. Annie Carolin|

    Dearest Sarah,
    Well, you have me weeping in the middle of the damn day! Thank you. In all seriousness, thank you for sharing your experience with us. God’s presence in this story is undeniable, and the numerous angels working to aid you and Mateo back to health is so apparent. Mateo is one of the cutest babies I’ve ever seen! He looks a lot like you!
    If I may suggest… You have been providing inspiration to countless people with your blog for years now. And that is worth something. I know hospital bills can be so hard. Our son was born with a heart defect just about a year ago and we are still trying to pay the bills for his open heart surgery. I think you should set up a fund that your readers can help contribute to, because like I said before, you have offered so much to us and I feel the least we can do is contribute to you and your family right now. We are all in a virtual community after all, and if one of us can use some extra help, I would personally be more than happy to contribute to that effort. Just an idea :)
    My warmest wishes for the 3 of you,
    Annie Carolin

    Reply
  80. Kelsey|

    Sarah this post brought me to tears. I was beyond blessed to have fairly low maintenance pregnancies and labors but the feelings, the raw emotion, I definitely relate to! I had a c section with my first and I had the same issues as you with not being able to hold him! Not be able to see him or touch him or nurse him for hours! It nearly killed me! Now that same boy is 8 and healthy and amazing and smart and totally FINE. Those memories will dissipate as time goes on and you’ll focus on what truly matters…which is your adorable boy! What a DOLL! Seriously swooning over here! Praying for continued healing for you and peace as you settle into this new life that is full of so much love!!! Blessings!

    Reply
  81. Rachael|

    Powerful. All my love and hugs and best wishes to you and your gorgeous family Sarah – I am expecting a little bub in one week and will be thinking of you x

    Reply
  82. Jennie Sullins|

    Sarah my heart goes out to you and your family. Such an emotional experience and one only time will heal. Your sweet baby is beautiful, perfect in every way. Shows how all the fighting you did was worth every ounce of pain and heartache. Hugs and positive energy your way as you heal your body and heart. ❤️

    Reply
  83. Shony|

    Oh my god, your story is as shocking as your baby is cute! You are a champ for taking this all in stride. Seding positive healing thoughts to you and your family. Congratulations on the birth of your son, hoping all the years to come are joyful. x

    Reply
  84. Zoe|

    Oh Sarah! I read this with tears in my eyes. Your son is so beautiful, and what a time of it you’ve all had. Take care my love, wrap up, keep warm and surround yourself with love. You are stronger than you know. x

    Reply
  85. Arlene|

    Wow I can’t even imagine what the 3 of you went through. Your story was so powerful, we never know what’s going to occur in our lives. Prayers to you, husband & baby. Take care.

    Arlene <3

    Reply
  86. Celia|

    Your story brought back so many emotions for me. I had a similar experience with my second pregnancy, except mine was a burst appendix. Thankfully I was at 38 weeks and bub was fine, but yes, the drama and trauma and emergency c-section and emergency room and ICU and long recovery resonates with me. I couldn’t believe it – I had twins the first time around, naturally! No c-section so I thought a single baby would be piece of cake! Ha. Take care and allow yourself to heal slowly. Take as long as you need. 2.5 years down my track I now reflect and think wow, that was tough. But I am proud of how tough I was/am! You are too! Well done and congrats xx

    Reply
  87. Agustina|

    Sending you love and support from Argentina. Mateo is a beautiful baby and has such strong and loving parents.
    xoxo

    Reply
  88. Rachel|

    Oh my goodness, what an incredible story of strength – yours, your beautiful son’s, and your husband’s. I have been an occasional visitor to your website for years and still use some of your recipes. I was so happy to see your pregnant photo when I looked at your site a few months ago. I truly can’t believe what you went through to get this precious little baby born into the world.

    I am an MD and psychiatrist and I can’t help but think about the healing process you, your son, your family will go through as you reintegrate this traumatic experience. I can see how resilient you are just in reading your post and seeing your lovely photos.

    I hope it’s not intrusive, but I wanted to share a parenting website called Hand in Hand Parenting (http://handinhandparenting.org/) that can be so helpful in helping our children heal from traumas (like a scary delivery or being separated from their mama). Kids are naturally resilient and they know how to heal if we can let them. This source was incredibly useful to me and my family after the birth of my daughter and continues to be as she grows. Again, I hope it is not intrusive, but I think you may consider exploring something like EMDR (eye movement desensitization reintegration therapy) to reintegrate what sound like multiple traumatic events in which you had to detach in order to survive. I’m happy to share additional resources if you have any interest.

    You are truly an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Sending so much love to you and your beautiful family.

    Reply