The sun was still hiding behind the night sky when I walked into Carolyn's home. Her family welcomed me in, and then showed me the way upstairs to where Momma and baby slept.
Seeing Carolyn and Ilana in their nest was so peaceful and pure. A few months prior I had spoken to Carolyn and we felt it was important for her to share her story.
If you ask Carolyn she will tell you without a doubt, that we must "trust that we are experts in our bodies", and that this deep knowledge "needs to be respected by our medical system".
On Christmas Day of 2019 Carolyn found herself in the maternity triage. She had a feeling accompanied by pain, that she was suffering from appendicitis. She had asked for an ultrasound but the medical staff refused her simply because they believed she was not showing severe signs of pain.
She was sent home and over the course of a week her pain and symptoms worsened.
When the week passed she went back into the hospital with her midwife, and at that time she had a burst appendix and an abscess.
As a result she spent two months away from her children in the hospital. While in the hospital , she contracted a secondary infection that she had also mentioned to the medical staff who assumed her symptoms were nothing to worry about. At that point she knew she had to take charge of her own health.
Carolyn eventually had a c-section and an appendectomy simultaneously. During that time she had voiced that something was wrong with the pain medication, and it took them several hours to realize that the epideral had come out.
When Ilana was delivered she aspirated some blood. Carolyn tried to explain to the medical staff that skin-to-skin time would help Ilana regulate, but instead they took Ilana away, and Carolyn was then put under because she became agitated.
Once Ilana was returned to Carolyn, she discovered that the labour and delivery nurse had no knowledge of breastfeeding. Luckily Carolyn was an experienced mother of two other breastfed children, and explained to the nurses how to provide effective physical support for breastfeeding while recovering from major surgery.
Carolyn eventually healed, thankfully. She got better and feels lucky to have had the knowledge and support from being a La Leche League Leader. Carolyn also feels fortunate that her partner was able to take 6 weeks off of work with pay, which allowed her the time to heal, effectively support Ilana and their two other children.
She often thinks about how many women trust that others may know more about their own body, and this concerns Carolyn. She hopes her story motivates more women to seek help if they need it and to trust their intuition. To always get a second or third opinion if something seems unsettling and/or not right. To speak up and be loud.
Carolyn shares her story hoping to encourage and empower others to trust their intuition. She wants people to understand that they have a deep knowledge about their own body.
Too often, like Carolyn's story, it can be too late.
It was a pleasure walking into this tender home in the early hours of the morning camera-in-hand. This family's love is truly an inspiration and a living-miracle.
I hope Carolyn's open heart moves you as deeply as it has moved and encouraged me.
Love: Jo xoxo