Kenosha, WI

Labor & Delivery RN, BSN, MSN Education, RNC-OB, Aspiring Doula and Midwife

As far back as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with pregnancy and the female anatomy. I admired pregnant women as a little girl so much. I couldn’t wait to have my own babies one day.

I spent my early twenties in nursing school. During that time my husband and I suffered two miscarriages. I was 12 weeks with my first miscarriage and 13 weeks with the second one. I yearned so badly to be a mother. I didn’t even know I had miscarried until the ultrasounds. No heartbeat was found either time. I ended up having three dilatation and curettage procedures because I bled excessively with both miscarriages. My body left behind tissue that I could not pass on my own. I was left feeling empty inside, wondering what was wrong with my body. Why couldn’t I carry a baby past the first trimester? Later I found out that my progesterone levels run very low and are not high enough to maintain a pregnancy.

I became an RN when I was 27 and I landed my dream job in Labor and Delivery. I found myself quickly immersed into this wonderful world and I was just, in heaven. A year after I started working in OB, my husband and I found out we were pregnant once again. I immediately contacted my doctor and was put on progesterone. We were elated! We could not wait to be parents finally.

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Well, pregnancy. It was not so good to me. I ended up being put on bedrest at 18 weeks due to vaginal bleeding and threats of preterm labor. I spent much of my pregnancy in and out of the hospital for complications. I was even on IV magnesium twice and sent to a tertiary hospital for extensive monitoring. Bedrest was a change of pace for me. I am used to living the life of a nurse, always working and keeping busy. I spent much of this time working on school work to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. I also nested preparing our home and nursery for the baby. During the pregnancy I developed cholestasis and it was determined I should have an induction at 36 2/7 weeks. I was so excited to finally experience labor for myself after supporting so many women through theirs. I ended up starting with Cervidil overnight to ripen my cervix and Pitocin was started the next morning. My OB came in to the room to break my bag of water. I was 2 cm dilated and ready for an epidural. The nurses helped me rotate back and forth on the peanut ball to continue my labor progression. At around 5 cm, Delilah’s fetal heart tones indicated that she was not tolerating labor. She was having recurrent late decelerations. The doctor came in to discuss a plan of care with me given the circumstances. Late decelerations indicate that there is placental insufficiency and we decided it was best to proceed with a cesarean section and get her out safely. Once our baby girl Delilah was delivered she had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice which was another probable cause as to why she was not tolerating labor. Becoming a mother was life changing for me in the greatest way. It gave me a whole new perspective and further drove my passion and respect for all things regarding OB nursing.

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Over the next eight months I worked on my Master’s Degree in Nursing Education. We found out during this time that we were pregnant with another girl! Again, I was put on bedrest around 22 weeks due to similar complications with my first pregnancy. Bedrest this time around was much more challenging for me both mentally and physically. This time I had a toddler who depended on me. I felt useless as a mother, unable to care for her like I was before. I felt immense guilt for putting so much on my husbands shoulders during this time. Very little activity and my uterus would begin to cramp and contract. The vaginal bleeding happened almost every single day and I lived in constant fear of losing my baby. I began to feel hopeless, let down by my body and what it was putting me through. Despite how I felt, I pushed through. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to have this baby.

I was 37 weeks exactly the day I woke up with larger than normal bright red vaginal bleeding. Strong contractions were coming about every minute and my old c-section incision was burning. It felt like it was ripping open. My OB was on call that day and happened to be at the hospital when I arrived in triage. I was having so much pain and my contractions were not backing off. I was rushed to the operating room to have my baby- the doctor said we couldn’t wait for my husband. We had to go now. I was so scared as I had never experienced this with a patient before. I was praying that my baby would be okay. I was alone during my surgery and was attempting to put myself in my patients shoes. Thank god for the amazing nurses (my coworkers) who were taking care of me. My second daughter, Reese Elizabeth, was born via cesarean section on December 11th 2019. The day she was born my life would change forever.

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Tessa holding Reese for the first time after being transferred to a higher level of care

Just hours after her birth, I noticed that her breathing pattern was off. That’s when she turned blue in my arms. She was having an apneic episode. The team transferred her to a higher level NICU and I spent the first night in the hospital without my newborn baby. My husband had to be home with our first daughter, Delilah so my sister came to the hospital to support me. I would later find out that my sweet newborn was having seizures. She suffered a stroke in utero resulting in oxygen deprivation to the left side of her brain being severely damaged. Reese spent nineteen long days in the NICU before being able to come home with her family. The doctors told us that she might never walk or talk, but they didn’t have all the answers. In these circumstances, sometimes only time reveals the extent of the damage done. We had every test possible done, but still don’t have answers as to what caused her stroke. I feel guilty every single day. I constantly wonder if there was anything I could have done differently to prevent it. I feel like I failed her as a mother because I couldn’t protect her and keep her safe.

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Reese during an EEG

Today Reese is eleven months old. She is meeting every single milestone she should and even surpassing some. She eats solid food, talks up a storm and will be walking any day now. The most noticeable residual effects are that she does have slight right-sided weakness with her hand and a slight left eye droop. She is currently not requiring speech, physical or occupational therapy. I couldn’t be more thankful for how well she is doing and she is thriving on her own! Reese is a pediatric stroke survivor. She is a reminder to us that every single day is new and to never give up.

After Reese’s birth I was able to finish my Master’s Degree in Nursing Education. I’m teaching birthing classes, I am in the process of becoming a certified doula and applying to a local Midwifery program. Labor and Delivery has become such a huge part of my life. I feel privileged and blessed to be able to support families in their pregnancies and labor journeys. The connections that I have been fortunate to make are lifelong and I will always be grateful for that. I know that even on the worst days (not everything in labor and delivery is beautiful and happy) that I will be okay because I have experienced it first-hand. The fear of the unknown keeps me on my toes at work and thankfully I work with the most wonderful people who help support me. My love for OB keeps me coming back for more today and forever in my future.