A Paralyzed Mother's Labor And Delivery Story

Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via Backbones
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

Erin Gildner is a mother who uses a wheelchair because of a spinal cord injury. In a blog entry for Backbones, Erin writes about her labor and delivery story of her son and daughter.

woman in labor

Erin began going into labor at 25 weeks. She says, that morning her body started showing signs of going into labor while she was in the shower. However, Erin thought nothing of it (stating she felt fine) and went to her internship. During the day, Erin began feeling tightness in her chest and abdomen, but no pain associated with the symptoms.

“While I was working on the computer, I started to feel a tightening in my chest and abdomen. No pain was associated with this, it just felt weird and I wasn’t able to draw in a full breath. As the feeling got more frequent a thought came into my head that they might be false contractions.”

Erin admits that after making a trip to the bathroom she realized that something was happening with her body. Her mother took her to the hospital. Erin says that she tried to tell the hospital staff that she was experiencing early labor, but they did not seem too concerned. Erin’s water broke as she was trying to give a urine sample. She says the nurse (who was “cool as a cucumber”) had to help calm her down. Erin remembers the feeling of fear she experienced through the whole process. Erin was given a drug to try and stop her contractions. However, she experienced many side effects and the doctors decided to stop the drug.

“Because I was having so much trouble with the drug, they had to stop it; I’d have to go without. They put the babies on a heart rate monitor and I remember it being a constant battle to keep track of both of their heartbeats. It was chaos and it was scary.”

Erin writes that there were problems finding both babies heartbeats. After many failed attempts, someone suggested checking her cervix. “Not once did anyone think about my paralysis and lack of feeling in my nether regions-this was a mistake and so I urge expectant mothers with SCI to have their cervix checked during visits-it’s something that could possibly help prevent a preterm birth, which is more likely to happen to women with SCI than those without,” she says. After checking her cervix, Erin’s medical team discovered that her son’s head was crowning. The high-risk obstetrician was called in and Erin states the once chaotic scene of her hospital room became more organized. Erin’s son was delivered naturally. However, her daughter’s umbilical cord was prolapsed and Erin had to be rushed to emergency surgery. Erin’s son was born at 11:33 pm with her daughter following behind him twenty minutes later.

“(My babies) were so tiny and red and undercooked. My boy was a whopping 1 lb. 11.5 oz and my baby girl was even tinier at 1 lb. 5 oz.  I knew that this was going to be a long road full of uncertainty.”

“Wish I could say that everything turned out okay and that there wasn’t a lot of heartbreak and pain, but that’s just not the case,” says Erin. Erin’s daughter passed away due to complications. Erin’s son came home from the hospital on his due date of September 8, 2004. He spent fifteen weeks in the NICU at two different hospitals. Erin’s son underwent several surgeries but is thriving today. Erin praises her son saying, “he’s awesome and I think that his disability from Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and all that he has endured have made him the truly unique and one-of-a-kind person he is today.”

Be sure to check out Erin’s full blog post!

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