Some of you know that my love for nutrition and food came to life with my first blog called Me, Myself, and Food.   Every now and again I get the urge to go back and read one of my old posts.   Yesterday was one of those days, except there was nothing but an error message for me to read.

The hosting company explained that my site renewal had expired (somehow I missed the email warnings) and ALL of my content was gone.

I balled my eyes out as the guy on the other end of the line stayed awkwardly silent.  I didn’t care – my blog wasn’t just a blog.  It was my baby before having real little humans to love.  It was my journal and creative outlet for my love of food and nutrition.  It was where I spent my weeknights for 3+ years, writing hundreds of posts, along with many others from my guest writers (naturopath, chiropractor, and yogi).  This blog was where I shared the finer details of my life story including my engagement, wedding, pregnancy, and birth to my first daughter.   Yet I never thought to back it up.

Me Myself and Food My birth story

My husband must have heard me whimpering while watching the Super Bowl and came to the rescue. He told me about a website called Wayback Machine that takes snapshots of webpages over time.  I wanted to kiss him (and I did) as a page of my old site emerged.  I will be going into hibernation this week as I capture any salvaged content, but there’s some relief having saved a few important posts like this one…

I wrote this back in 2012, nine weeks after having my first daughter.   It was a rough start (and the months following this post were even more so).  At this point we had no idea that our struggles were related to her genetic condition which would not be diagnosed for another 7 months.

So why am I sharing this old and long post here?  Two reasons:

  1. Sienna’s birth is the reason I started this new website and why I help moms everyday
  2. I know it will be backed up!
Danielle Binns

30 weeks pregnant

My Birth Story

Published: October 14, 2013

Last time you heard from me I was 35 weeks pregnant.  I was also preparing myself for a natural labour and arrival of our Baby Binns in about five weeks.  Little did I know that my natural birthing experience would be anything but so, and just 2 weeks later we would be parents to a precious baby girl.

I’ve been dying to share the news with you about our little one, but only now (9 weeks later) am I getting the chance to do so.  I’ve been writing this post in bits and pieces over the course of a few weeks; a few sentences here and there.   I had NO idea being a mother to a baby who eats and sleeps all day would be so time consuming!  I can hardly find time to prepare a meal and eat…god forbid!!

For that reason, I ask that you do not judge the quality of this post.  I’m also running on an average of 4-5 hours sleep which makes writing coherently and concisely a little more challenging 🙂

Now that I got that out of the way, I’d like to share our birth story.

If you recall…

I absolutely LOVED being pregnant (despite a few weeks of nausea in the first trimester).  I had tons of energy, was getting great sleep, and was just a happy mom-to-be.  But the blissfulness of my pregnancy came to an abrupt end shortly after my last post.

My natural birth turned to this…

 Danielle birth story

When it all changed…

Around my 34th week we learned that Baby Binns was measuring in the 10th percentile (not too concerning).   Shortly thereafter she dropped to the 3rd percentile (which was very concerning).  This shouldn’t have been much of a surprise given that my fundal measurement was consistently behind by about 4 weeks.  Our care was then transferred from our amazing midwife to St. Michaels Hospital High Risk Clinic.

That’s when my birth plan went off the rails.

Being considered “high risk” is never in anyone’s birth plan.  But there I was…at the hospital every few days for an ultrasound to assess the baby’s health and growth.  I was concerned about having so many ultrasounds because of the unknown effects on babies.   Looking back however, that was the least of our worries.

During one of the routine ultrasounds, the sonographer called in one of the high risk doctors to look at ‘something’.   Panic set in as they both reviewed the images with somber expressions.  You can imagine the thoughts that started to swirl around in my head.  A few minutes later (which felt like hours) they shared what no new parent wants to hear.   They found a hole in our unborn baby’s heart.  I broke down when she delicately asked us to book an appointment with the pediatric cardiologist, handing us a requisition that read “congenital heart defect”.  I was heartbroken.

That week we met with the cardiologist who confirmed that our little one had a “large hole” in her heart – otherwise known as a VSD or ventricular septal defect.  Most babies are born with hole(s) but they tend to heal with time.  Our situation was different.  The hole was too large to repair on its own, which meant our baby would require open heart surgery in her first year of life.   It was that moment that I truly knew what it was like to be a mother – to be so worried and feel so much love for someone I hadn’t even met.   I was a mess and scared as hell.  I couldn’t help but ask ’what did I do wrong?’.

RSS

Just as we were dealing with this unexpected situation, we were surprised again.   At my next ultrasound the doctor told us it was time to pack our bags and head to the hospital.  I was going to be induced at 37 weeks.   The rationale:  there were too many variables working against us (with the heart defect, the baby’s small size for gestational age, and a decrease in my amniotic fluid levels).  We were going to have this beautiful little baby in our arms sooner than expected.

The not so natural birth…

I spent the next four days at St. Mike’s hospital undergoing various induction methods, being woken up in the middle of the night to be examined, and strapped to machines every few hours to monitor the baby’s heart.  I pranced around in a hospital gown for days and with no exposure to sunlight.  For someone ’planning’ on having a natural birth with no medical intervention, it was a real slap in the face.  But I now understand and appreciate that it was all for the right reasons and the best thing for our baby.

I was not emotionally, mentally or physically prepared for this experience.  That may be why the induction process was sooo slow.  I was only dilating one centimeter every day!!

Baby Binns must have been fed up and anxious to get the heck outta me, because on April 8th we had some action.  Around 6am, I had FINALLY reached 3 centimeters. The doctors broke my water, put me on antibiotics (did I mention that I also tested positive for Group B Strep…grrrreat) and hooked me up to the IV.   Then around 11am, the Oxytocin started to flow and my contractions came on fast and furious.   I was relegated to the hospital bed, only getting up to go to the bathroom with my new friend…the IV stand.  It sucked.  Around 1pm I was STILL measuring 3 centimeters and they worried that the intensity of the contractions were impacting the baby (her heart rate was dropping with each).

I almost died when the nurse told me it could be another 10 to 12 hours until I was fully dilated.  They also mentioned that a C section is likely in these situations because the baby was small and being affected by the intensity of the contractions.   That’s when I threw in the towel and agreed to do what was never a part of my “birth plan” – an epidural.  The artificial contractions were beyond my pain threshold and I was worried about our baby.

Sienna in incubator

Here she(??) comes!

Around 2pm the contractions eased up, so I sent Keith to the mall to grab me a few magazines to pass the time.  After all, it was going to be another 10 hours.  Or not!  At 4pm, I was 10 centimeters and a small army of hospital staff started to flow into the room.  Bright fluorescent lights nearly blinded me while I was exposed to the world.   The resident then asked me to try pushing and the baby’s head started to crown.  That’s when I realized something was missing…my husband!   My girlfriend Sam (who thought she was simply bringing me flowers, not witnessing a birth) called Keith at 4:02 pm.   I just chilled out with my midwife until he arrived in about 10 minutes.   A few pushes later, and at 4:20pm our baby girl was born.   Wow. Wow. Wow.  I was over the moon, oozing with pure joy…and shocked it was a girl!   When they showed her privates, my first thought was “what happened to the penis?!?”.   Clearly the psychic was wrong!

SiennaHospital-433-2_resize

So there you have it….Sienna Leigh Binns was born on April 8th at 4:20pm at 37 weeks and 5 days.  She weighed a delicate 4 pounds 5 ounces (which explains why I gained so little weight) but looked otherwise healthy.   Although she came 3 weeks early and was super tiny, Sienna was not premature.  She was however considered an IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction) baby who, for one reason or another, did not thrive during my pregnancy.   Just how small is she?  Well…I’ll let the photo do the talking.

Here is Sienna (3 months) with her friend Lauren (2 months).

3 months old with other baby her age_resize

It had been one hell of a ride leading up to this precious moment, but it was all forgotten.  And it was all worth it. Thanks to my midwife, they delayed the cord clamping, didn’t wipe the vernix immediately, and gave me a bit of skin-to-skin time with our baby (who renamed nameless for the next 24 hours).  By 4:20pm the next day we gave her the name Sienna Leigh (named after her loving auntie Leigh).

After the birth, Sienna was taken to the NICU for monitoring where she passed all her vitals. Then to our surprise, just 48 hours later we were on our way home with our 4 pound baby.  We were thrilled but completely clueless.   What do we do now?

And then there were three…

Holistic Solutions for moms and small children

The following weeks at home weren’t without challenges.  In particular when it came to breastfeeding.  Why doesn’t anyone tell you just how difficult something so natural can be?   I thought it was as simple as baby-to-boob and we would just “get it”.  Nope.  I really struggled with feeding, especially with the added stress of Sienna’s small size.   In her second week she dropped to 3 pounds 14 ounces which was really disheartening and discouraging.  Her weight gain/loss is another story in itself and will take me another month to write about.  So I’m going to leave you with a few photos and go to bed instead.  Sleep is precious and limited these days!

SiennaHospital-651_resize

So yes, it’s been one hell of a rollercoaster ride.  Every week, every day, every hour is so unpredictable.  But there’s one thing I do know – I’m incredibly grateful that, despite our challenges, we were able to bring a perfect baby into our world.  She may have some complications, but we know that with all the love and support we are surrounded with, this too shall pass.  As Keith puts it, we are parents now and have to be strong for our child.  Seeing this little face every day is just the motivation I need.

Our sweet Sienna doesn’t have much to say these days, but she will surely be making a few appearances in my posts. 🙂   Be sure to stop by and say hello.