Unmedicated Hospital Birth During Covid + Postpartum Brain Surgery
Rachael and her husband, Zane, found out they were pregnant in September of 2019. The pregnancy was very easy and she felt great the whole time. Rachael was planning for an unmedicated birth with the mid-wife practice at her local hospital. Her and her husband did the Know Your Options birth class to prepare and it was very helpful and informative. On May 23, when she was 39 weeks and 1 day, she started having cramps that quickly moved into near constant contractions. She labored at home for a few hours and then finally timed the contractions, realized they were 2 min apart, and rushed to the hospital. Once at the hospital, she labored in the tub and also on the ball. Her water broke and almost immediately she started pushing. Her daughter, Juniper, was born at 7:26pm, so labor and delivery took just over 9 hrs.
Initial postpartum went well, just some nipple pain and baby blues. After the first few weeks, Juniper and Rachael were able to exclusively breastfeed and Rachael was feeling much better emotionally and mentally. However, Rachael started running around 8 weeks postpartum and developed a debilitating headache. The splitting headache was present most of the day, every day. It would go away when she lay down, but the minute she sat or stood up it would come back. After trying chiropractic care, massage and physical therapy, she finally got an MRI and the doctors discovered she had a subdural hematoma, bleeding on her brain. In order to find relief from the headaches, she needed brain surgery to drain the blood and fix the blood vessel on the covering of her brain that the surgeon suspected was causing the bleeding. Also, while all of this was happening, they moved into a new house and Rachael turned 30.
She had the surgery on August 31st and even though she was discharged a few days later, her husband knew that there was something wrong. She went back to the hospital and they found more fluid had accumulated on her brain, so a week after the first surgery she had a second surgery. After the second surgery, recovery went much better and she was headache free and home from the hospital at the end of the week.
Coming home from the hospital was wonderful but also really hard. Rachael felt like she had come home to a different baby, because Juniper had changed so much in the 2 weeks Rachael was gone. Because of this Rachael experienced postpartum anxiety. Also, her milk supply was down so she worked really hard with pumping to get it back up. They finally landed on feeding Juniper with a mix of formula and breastmilk. It took a few months, but Rachael, Zane and Juniper fell into a great rhythm and Rachael is feeling much better physically and mentally.
Rachael DeGraffenried Bio
Rachael DeGraffenried is married to Zane DeGraffenried and they have a daughter, Juniper, who is almost 9 months old. They live in New Castle, CO. Rachael is currently a stay at home mom and Zane is a programmer for Getty Images. You can contact Rachael on Instagram at rachael.deg and Facebook as Rachael DeGraffenried.
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