About three months into a new relationship, on Valentine’s Day, Leighton couldn’t sleep because of a terrible cold. At about 2 am she took whatever cold meds she could find because she was desperate to sleep. At about 5 am, she woke up again and threw up. She assumed it was from taking multiple meds that were partially expired, so she decided she would just sleep in until work at noon and was sure she’d feel better then. When she didn’t feel any better at work, she grabbed an old pregnancy test from the car just to be sure, and was stunned to see a blazing positive 3 minutes later.
While the pregnancy was mostly uneventful health wise, it didn’t start out that way. At 7 weeks, Leighton woke up around 4 am in a pool of blood. The ER called it a threatened miscarriage, gave a 50/50 chance for continuing a healthy pregnancy, ordered pelvic rest, and instructed her to call the OB immediately to be seen. The OB said they didn’t need to see her for 5 more weeks, and when she finally went they said it was a subchorionic hematoma that was no big deal whatsoever and never required pelvic rest. While the SCH healed perfectly fine, the relationship never recovered sexually. Leighton blamed herself and her body.
Leighton’s partner at the time was in a police academy, and was only granted one day off for the birth of the baby. Her family lived two states away as well, so her OB agreed to an elective induction after her due date to allow for as much support as possible. Leighton wanted her partner, mom, and her grandmother with her for the birth. He consistently argued that it wasn’t fair to also include his mother. This was the beginning of being unsure of what decisions Leighton was allowed to make for herself.
At 39 weeks, Leighton’s regular OB was unexpectedly out of town, so she saw a midwife instead. The midwife scoffed at Leighton’s request to be checked, but she did it anyway and said she was only maybe a fingertip if she was being generous. She went on to lecture Leighton about the potential consequences of an elective induction and epidural. Again, Leighton already felt very unstable in her ability to make decisions, so this made her feel like she was being selfish instead of being a good mom.
On October 24, Leighton had contractions for 3 hours with her mom. When she left for the hospital with her partner, they slowed down and eventually stopped. The next day was her last prenatal appointment, and the OB scheduled her for induction that night at 8pm.
They arrived at the hospital at 8pm, and Leighton was given Cytotec around 9pm. Her mother-in-law showed up pretty much immediately, but promised to leave come push time. They started Pitocin at about 10:30pm, and shortly after contractions got very intense. She got an epidural at about 12am and slept until 7am when she woke up to pressure. The midwife on call was the same midwife from the 39 week appointment, and Leighton knew shift change was at 7am so she purposely stayed quiet until the new midwife came in. They weren’t doing any checks because Leighton’s water had broken earlier in the night, but the pressure feeling was building. At about 9am, the new midwife came in to check and said she found baby’s head instead, so she started pushing. After 15 minutes of pushing, Selah was born. Leighton immediately thought she was beautiful, but also that she didn’t look right. Leighton and her partner expressed concerns over her lack of movement or crying and the royal blue color of her skin upwards of eight times before being taken seriously. The NICU team rushed in, as did her mother-in-law while Leighton was in stirrups waiting on placenta and stitches. Dad and mother-in-law went with baby to the NICU.
The placenta and stitches took about 45 minutes, and at the hour mark the nurses demanded Leighton get up and use the bathroom because they “needed the bed.” She insisted she wasn’t ready and was still fairly numb, but they grabbed her arms and pulled her up anyway. In the bathroom, she fainted. She woke up maybe 2 hours later feeling enraged, but unsure who to direct it to. After 5 hours, mother-in-law was finally told to leave the NICU so that Leighton could see her baby. Upon arriving, she was informed that Selah had a lot of fluid in one lung and needed help breathing.
For four days, she went to most feedings to nurse. On day two, the hallways were closed so they were about 5 minutes late to feed. The nurse had already fed Selah formula, and she scolded them for being late and asked that they didn’t hold the baby. At the next feed, Leighton nursed and the nurse smacked Selah’s hand away from her cheek. After this, Leighton cried to the charge nurse about getting a new nurse for the baby. The same midwife that hadn’t been very nice was back, and when she came to check on Leighton she broke down and told her about the nurse as well. The next morning, the midwife insisted they would be able to stay until 8 pm the following night and that she would make sure the issues in the NICU were taken care of. Not even 30 minutes later, Leighton was given discharge papers and told they had to be out in 30 minutes and that the midwife had no authority to give us that information.
Once they were all home, Leighton started really feeling the effect of sitting upright in a hospital chair at the NICU for so long. She went back to the doctor for the pain, and was told there was an issue with how things healed but that it shouldn’t be painful. Getting Selah off formula was difficult, but she did it by 6 weeks. At the 6 week appointment, she was diagnosed with a labial fusion that had to be cut with a scalpel in office.
Dad consistently fell asleep while feeding the baby, so Leighton did it alone. Soon she learned that he also fell asleep while “watching” her so Leighton could sleep, so she stopped doing that too. He refused to keep the baby so she could attend her college classes. Leighton sleep trained Selah at 4 months, and luckily it stuck really well. Unfortunately, at this point the abuse ramped up. The previous sexual issues led to rape incidents, he pointed weapons at Leighton and the baby, and refused to participate as a parent. They broke up when Selah was 9 months old, and custody battles ensued.
Two years later, the same OB office failed to report Leighton’s chlamydia test results to her for over a year.
At Selah’s 3 year wellcheck, they found a heart murmur. It was eventually diagnosed as an atrial septal defect that she was born with and had just been found. Leighton took her out of state for treatment, which was an imperative decision for Selah’s sake. Connect with Leighton at @leighte01 on Instagram.
This episode is sponsored by Ergobaby. Founded in 2003, Ergobaby has pioneered the gold standard for comfortable, ergonomic soft structured carriers. Their commitment to providing parents with the foundation to thrive has launched the company into creating a broad range of award-winning products that fit into families’ daily lives seamlessly, comfortably, and safely – where function and quality are not compromised. In 2020, they launched Everlove by Ergobaby, a first of its kind baby carrier buy back and resale program, a sustainability effort to support families and the planet. Check out Ergobaby’s Embrace in Soft Air Mesh and new Evolve 3-in-1 Bouncer that we discussed on the podcast!