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Episode 281 Emily Shares Her Preeclampsia Story + How to Shift Gears

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Nội dung được cung cấp bởi Meagan Heaton. Tất cả nội dung podcast bao gồm các tập, đồ họa và mô tả podcast đều được Meagan Heaton hoặc đối tác nền tảng podcast của họ tải lên và cung cấp trực tiếp. Nếu bạn cho rằng ai đó đang sử dụng tác phẩm có bản quyền của bạn mà không có sự cho phép của bạn, bạn có thể làm theo quy trình được nêu ở đây https://vi.player.fm/legal.

“Your diagnosis of preeclampsia is not forever. It will pass. You will get through it. You can do it.”

Meagan invites her dear friend and doula client, Emily, on the podcast today to share her two very different birth stories and what she has learned along the way. During her first pregnancy, Emily was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia at 27 weeks and 6 days. She talks about specific symptoms to watch for and explains why she advises every pregnant woman to have their own blood pressure cuff.

Emily had to shift her home birth plans to focus on staying pregnant as long as she safely could. Six weeks later, Emily shares her daughter’s wild birth story and tough NICU experience.

Having preeclampsia the first time around does not mean it will come back in the future. Emily talks about the nutrition and lifestyle changes she made during her second pregnancy and how preeclampsia was not an issue at all with her second delivery. Emily was able to have a beautiful home birth and a big, healthy baby boy!

Additional Links

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How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

Full Transcript under Episode Details

01:52 Review of the Week

04:02 Emily’s first pregnancy

10:25 Preeclampsia diagnosis

14:48 34-week induction

21:26 Giving birth

29:25 Learning about and knowing your body

34:37 Second pregnancy

46:16 Working through trauma

53:36 Shifting plans

Meagan: Hello, Women of Strength. It is Meagan, and I am so excited to dive into today's episode with you. The episode that we have today, or the guest, I should say, that we have today is someone so near and dear to my heart. And I'm just gonna kind of give a little bit of a spoil alert.

She is not a VBAC mama so this is not going to be a VBAC story but our guest today is someone that I think is going to leave you guys with a wealth of knowledge through her experiences and so I want to welcome my own personal friend and doula client, Emily. Welcome to the show.

Emily: Hi.

Meagan: Hi, you guys were going to be talking a little bit, well, a little bit about a lot of things, but we're gonna be talking a little bit about preeclampsia. We're gonna be talking about shifting gears from our birth desires and birth plans and so much more. I wanted her to be on the show because you guys, seriously, she really needs to write a book. She can talk all day to me and I just stare at her with amazement in my eyes, because she just is so incredible to listen to with her knowledge, her research, and all the things to make birth different the second time around, and do what she could do the first time around, which also goes along with mindfulness.

There are so many things, you guys, about Emily that I just love and adore. I'm so excited to have her on the show today and I know that you're going to be taking a whole bunch of nuggets away from her episode. So make sure to take maybe some notes, or get your pen and paper out and join us in just one moment.

01:52 Review of the Week

Meagan: But of course, we have a Review of the Week, so I'm gonna hurry and read that, and then we'll get going. This review was left in 2020, so a few years ago. It says, “I love these ladies and this podcast.”

She says, “I love listening to your podcast. I listen almost every day in the car so often that my oldest son knows you by both of your names.” I love that. I love that your kids know our names.

It says, “Since the stories shared here have inspired me so much, I wish that I had the information with my first baby. I've had two C-sections, and I'm not pregnant at the moment but still have to get my husband on board for a third. But I'm so excited to start planning for my VBA2C to see when the time comes. Thank you, Julie and Meagan, for creating the amazing VBAC community. I'm so grateful for the education and support.”

This was a really long time ago. So eecc3, if you have talked your husband into another baby and gone on to have your VBA2C let us know. You could email us, at info@thevbaclink.com. If you want to share your story or share your review please do so. You can email us your review again at info@thevbaclink.com. You can Google us at “The VBAC Link”. You can leave us a review on Apple or wherever you listen to your podcast. We love, love, love, love getting them, and can't wait to read yours on the next one.

04:02 Emily’s first pregnancy

Meagan: Okay, cute Em. This has been an episode that we talked about forever ago and ever ago, right?

Emily: Yeah. And ever, it's been a while. It's been a while.

Meagan: I think you probably think I forgot about you after I talked to you about this, and then never really reached out, but we are here and I'm just so excited to have you on.

Emily: Thank you for having me. I'm really excited. No, I think that I just realized that mom life happens. It's just busy. I knew you'd get back to me. I knew.

Meagan: Yes, yes. Mom life does happen and The VBAC Link has been busy which has been an amazing thing. I cannot believe that we are heading into the 300s episodes here soon. It's been such an amazing journey. But, so, okay. We talked a little bit about why I want you on here, but let's talk a little bit about your first and how the journey has led you to where you are today.

Emily: Okay, well, I got pregnant back in 2020. Oh yeah, that was a rough year for a lot of us. It was especially rough, I think, for just everything that happened. I initially did not want to do a home birth. I just assumed you would birth in the hospital and then I was like, “No I don't want to. I want do a birth center.” So I was on that boat for a minute then I was like, “No. I’m birthing at home.” I just wanted to stay out of the hospital. I was seeing my midwife, Heather, with Sego Lily Midwifery and everything was really good until it wasn’t. It was fast. It was really, really fast. It was actually so fast that I didn’t call you until after everything had happened.

Meagan: Yes.

Emily: That’s how fast it happened. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia at 27+6. For those of you who have experienced preeclampsia, that 27+6 is kind of a big deal. People are like, “Oh, so 28 weeks?” No, it was 27+6. Every day counts when you have preeclampsia. Every day your baby is still inside your body growing is so important. It’s a lot of rollercoasters of emotions. I went from my home birth was planned, getting ready to prepare for that last trimester of nesting and my midwife coming in, setting up, and then it just kind of blew up. It blew up.

Meagan: Plans changed really fast.

Emily: It changed really fast and it was like, “Hold onto your butts.” It was quick. You know, a week before I was diagnosed, I happened to get my teeth cleaned and they took my blood pressure. It was a little elevated. I didn’t even think anything of it because during that time with more blood flow, that is normal for your blood pressure to rise a little bit when you’re pregnant. I just didn’t think anything of it. You feel like garbage. I felt like garbage throughout my pregnancy so I didn’t think anything of it when I wasn’t feeling good because I wasn’t feeling good in general.

07:56 Preeclampsia symptoms

Emily: When I really started noticing when something was wrong, my swelling was insane. It wasn’t normal pregnancy swelling. The best way that I can describe it was my feet felt like they were hotdogs in a microwave. That’s how bad it was. It was so bad. My husband took me on a date to Barnes and Noble and I remember standing in front of the bookshelves like, “I have to sit. I can’t stand anymore.” My feet hurt that bad. I was wearing slippers because I couldn’t fit into any of my shoes. He had to help get me up. It wasn’t like that normal, “Help me up, I’m pregnant.” It was like something was wrong.

Meagan: Physically hard for me to do.

Emily: I’m in pain. I’m actually in pain. That morning, I was taking a shower and I saw white stars, like white dots everywhere but I was shaving my legs. My head was down. It was really hot. I was starting to rationalize what was happening. This is where preeclampsia really sneaks up on women because a lot of the symptoms are disguised as regular pregnancy symptoms and they’re not.

We got home. I was like, “You know what? I’m going to check my blood pressure.” I had a blood pressure cuff. I was a CNA for a while and I had a sister who had preeclampsia so I knew a lot more than some women do. Luckily, I did. I took my blood pressure and it was– oh my gosh. I don’t even remember. It was 120, 130 over 100, and something. It was insane. I remember sitting there looking at my feet. I had no ankles. I took a picture.

I texted Heather. I didn’t even call her. I was like, “So this is my blood pressure.” She immediately called me back and was like, “You need to go to labor and delivery. That is too high.”

10:25 Preeclampsia diagnosis

Emily: I went in and the way that they told me too was matter-of-fact. Well, yeah. I remember looking at the nurse and being like, “Do I have preeclampsia?” She was like, “Uh-huh. Yeah. Your bloodwork shows that you have preeclampsia.” I just remember yelling. The anger that I felt, I can’t remember feeling anger like that. I just knew. I knew everything was going to change and it was really hard.

They were also kind of panicking too because my platelets were so low as well. My blood pressure was insane, but I did not have the ability to clot.

Meagan: Clot, mhmm.

Emily: I was on this really thin wire of, “Okay, she could seize and have a brain bleed and then have brain damage,”

Meagan: Which is scary stuff to think about and hear.

Emily: It really is. It’s really scary. “And then we could do a C-section, but she could bleed out because her blood’s not clotting.” I was in this really weird balance. They gave me magnesium. Ugh. Ugh.” That stuff is the absolute worst. I have never– that’s the closest, I think you could get to being lit on fire. It was pretty terrible.

The good news was that Ripley was fine. Her vitals were good. Everything about her was awesome. It was me. My body was just tanking. Things were happening really fast. A lot of things happened that I really wasn’t okay with, but I’ve really learned to work through a lot of that. As a matter of fact, they wanted to keep me in the hospital and I remember telling my doctor, “If you don’t want me to have a baby right now, you need to let me go home.”

I had a really good MFM doctor and he trusted me. They did not put me on blood pressure medication. One of the reasons they didn’t put me on blood pressure medication was because they didn’t want to– what’s the word I’m looking for– hide my symptoms or cover up what was happening because when you get preeclampsia, your organs start to shut down because of the high blood pressure. With blood pressure medication, okay, my blood pressure is fine, but my liver is dying.

Meagan: That makes sense, okay.

Emily: So they wanted to see everything that was happening. My blood pressure was still high. Every time I went into MFM to get the tests for Ripley, I had to go twice a week. I practically had a part-time job there. They’d tell me, “Your blood pressure is really high.” I’m like, “I know. I have preeclampsia. My blood pressure is high.”

I was able to keep Ripley in for six weeks.

Meagan: Which is incredible.

Emily: Even my MFM doctor was pretty shocked. He was like, “I didn’t think you would get this far.” I will tell you, I’m just that person when you tell me, “You can’t do this. You’re not going to be able to do this,” I’m like, “I’m going to show you.”

It was hard. I’ve never experienced that kind of exhaustion. I mean, I was tired because I was pregnant, but when you have immediate high blood pressure like that, oh my gosh. I have a tri-level house and walking up and down the stairs was like, “I’m just going to stay right here.”

14:48 34-week induction

Emily: At 34 weeks, my doctor called it. He was like, “It’s time. It’s time to have a baby.” I felt a wave of relief oddly enough. It was like, “Okay. I’ve done all that I can. I have done everything to the best of my ability and it’s time.” They did give her a steroid shot for her lungs and I knew that I was now on a new road of having to advocate for myself.

It’s really hard to advocate for yourself in a hospital. It’s really hard.

Meagan: Especially when they were extra high-alert on you because we’ve got a preemie going on. We have an induction. It’s COVID. There was so much going on.

Emily: Yeah and COVID really did not make it easier. It made it that much harder. I knew that initially, I wanted the least amount of intervention possible. I wanted a home birth. I knew that wasn’t going to happen, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t have options. I still actually had quite a few options.

For example, the induction. With premature babies and babies with preeclampsia, mothers, like I was, typically are on mag during labor and delivery and after. Magnesium makes babies really drowsy. They usually fall asleep and it’s hard. It’s really hard on babies just like it is on moms. I knew that with her being so young, so little, so preemie, I wanted the least amount of intervention to deal with her so I wanted the least amount of drugs as possible because I knew I was going to be induced so I opted on a Foley bulb instead of Cytotec I believe it is.

I also chose not to have an epidural because I just knew the more stuff I was going to be putting in my body than what already was, with the Pitocin and the mag, that it was just up that cascade. So I remember calling you, “It’s time,” and you come in. This is going to sound weird. I think I’m a lazy birther.

Meagan: I don’t think so.

Emily: That feeling of, “I don’t want to move but I know I need to move.” That exhaustion of being on mag and you being like, “Okay, we’re going to roll you over.” And even rolling over was hard.

Meagan: Mhmm.

Emily: You know, I didn’t have an epidural but I feel like you had kind of treated me as though I was because I couldn’t–

Meagan: It was hard, yeah.

Emily: It was hard. I felt like I was running a marathon with a 20-pound vest on. It was just that everything was heavy and hard. Having preeclampsia in the hospital, I still had access to the nurse-midwives and there was one in particular I didn’t really get along with and others I did. I ended up kicking a midwife out of my room because she was not agreeing to the things that I wanted.

My home birth midwife, Heather, told me something that I will always remember. It was that “You can always ask for another provider. You don’t have to stick with someone who makes you uncomfortable even the littlest bit. Even the littlest bit.”

Meagan: How do you feel like you got the confidence to do that?

Emily: Hearing my husband– Shane was at the door when she knocked. We were having problems with her and she knocked and was just like, “We’re going to break her water.” My husband said, “You’re not going to touch my wife.” The moment he said that I was really stressed but it was like that flood of oxytocin like, “Oh my gosh, you are the most amazing man on the planet right now,” and just felt so protected that I heard her say, “Well, she needs someone to care for her. She needs someone to provide for her.” I remember yelling out, “Then you go find me someone else,” and she did. I didn’t have to see her the rest of the time and it was great.

I think that when you’re pregnant in general, just in normal pregnancy, I think you’re in a vulnerable state where you are defending your space. You are trying to keep the peace because you are in a sensitive space and when you are sick like you are, it’s amplified a lot. So I think that a lot of women are like, “Oh, I’m not really happy,” but I think personality and stuff has a lot to do with it and your team and the people that you have in your corner. Luckily, I have a husband who just really doesn’t care about other people’s feelings when his wife is in labor. He’s just like, “She’s my main concern.”

Meagan: He’s so awesome.

Emily: I think having you and Shane as my support made all the difference. I don’t think it would have gone the way it did if I didn’t have you two. Yeah. It made all the difference.

21:26 Giving birth

Emily: I gave birth to her. Oh, do you remember when they didn’t want to let you in?

Meagan: Oh, I remember. I will never forget in my entire life this lovely nurse who threatened you. She threatened us. That is what she did. She threatened us.

Emily: She did. I had such great nurses until the one that had the baby.

Meagan: The one that had the baby and keep in mind, you guys, because of the situation, she didn’t have her baby in the hospital room that she was laboring in. We transferred to the OR.

Emily: Yeah, which they did not tell me until I was in the middle of contractions. I was in the middle of contractions when they were like, “Oh, so by the way, we are moving you,” and I was like, “What the? We’re moving? No one ever told me this,” and they were like, “Yeah. Yeah, we’re moving you.” They were like, “You can only have one person with you.” I will never forget turning to the midwife who, by the way, her name was Shea. I love her. She was a good midwife. I remember turning to her and saying, “I paid really good money for my doula and she’s going to come in with me, so figure it out.”

Meagan: Figure it out.

Emily: How crazy is it that at that time, I had to advocate for my doula?

Meagan: But that, Women of Strength, that is sometimes that we have to do. You have to advocate to have the people that you want in your birth even when it goes to a Cesarean. We weren’t going in to have a Cesarean. We were going in to have a vaginal birth in an OR, however, a lot of the time, we know that doulas aren’t allowed into the OR and we as doulas fight and we try to get into there, but it really does take it from the patient’s side, the mom’s side to advocate for them and even still, a lot of the times they say no but you do. You have to advocate for your people.

Emily: Yeah, you do. Doulas belong in the OR. They belong everywhere in the hospital. That is a hill I’ll die on.

Meagan: Yeah, I believe it too. I believe it too.

Emily: I think it did. It made all the difference. That was wild. You know, and it’s crazy too. I still remember that people say, “Oh, you forget over time.” No. I remember everything. I remember everything in detail. I remember how I felt. I remember the anger. I’m amazed at how angry I was throughout the whole process.

Meagan: I was too, honestly, and I wasn’t even the one giving birth.

Emily: You know, but I don’t think for me, I’ve done a lot of work the past three years. I’m still working through that whole process three years later. My daughter just had a birthday on Saturday. I’m still angry. I’m still angry.

The difference between then and now is that I have given myself space for that anger. I have space for it. I think when you try to namaste your way through those feelings, it can be dangerous. If you’re angry, feel it. Get it out. Be angry. You’re allowed that. You’re allowed to mourn the birth that you thought that you were going to have. No amount of everyone telling you that you’re just going to be fine makes it so.

As a matter of fact, I was so angry that I wasn’t scared. I really wasn’t scared until after. It was postpartum that really kicked my butt and being in the NICU. That was when it really hit me because when you’re pregnant and you have preeclampsia, I felt this really protective, “You have to get through me in order to get to my baby,” because she was still a part of me and then it wasn’t until she was out that I really feel like it got real because I now had to advocate for this little 4-pound human, this beautiful baby girl who could not advocate for herself at all, right?

That was a whole other mess of emotions on top of, I was still on mag. I had to be on mag even after birth because you are still at risk of having a seizure. I was moving up and down that freaking hospital because I didn’t want to be in the recovery room. They ain’t comfortable for a reason. I just wanted to be with my daughter.

I mentioned earlier that a lot of babies will fall asleep after they are born. They just kind of pass out from the mag. Ripley was loud and proud the entire time. She never fell asleep. Even the doctor was like, “She’s kicking and screaming.” I was just like, “Yeah, because she’s like me.”

I will never forget that nurse, that think-in-the-box nurse telling me, “You have 60 seconds.” That was hard. I think about that a lot. “You have 60 seconds to hold your baby.” Golden hour, my butt.

Meagan: Yeah, you did not get that.

Emily: It’s such an ala carte selling point, “Hey, come deliver with our midwives and you can have the golden hour.” It’s marketing. It’s garbage. I had 60 seconds. You know, the reason why was that they had to make sure she was okay, but she was screaming. Her lungs were definitely working. That was hard. You were amazing and you took pictures, amazing photos. I look at those sometimes and I’m like, “Wow. Those are not exactly Instagram-worthy photos but they are cool.”

My placenta was smaller than Ripley and it just fell apart. It just fell apart which is crazy to me. Throughout those six weeks of having preeclampsia, I was pretty angry at my placenta. I was like, “What the heck? Why aren’t you working?” But it wasn’t until after I gave birth that I realized that it was working. Your placenta is amazing.

Meagan: It was. It is.

Emily: My placenta sacrificed itself for Ripley because Ripley was fine the entire time. It just gave everything it possibly could to make sure she was okay because placentas do have a shelf-life. You grow a new one every time and it did. That, to me, was so phenomenal to experience. Looking at the pictures, it was just so small. It was smaller than my hand. I still think about it and just go, “I can’t believe that that happened.”

29:25 Learning about and knowing your body

Emily: I never had a seizure. I never had issues with preeclampsia after. I don’t struggle with high blood pressure. I don’t have heart problems. It’s really common for women in their first pregnancies to get preeclampsia. During that whole process, I did a lot of research and it’s kind of hard to find. Don’t Google the first page because it just tells you garbage stuff like you’re not eating right and it’s very vague. It’s super vague like, “You’re not eating right.” Well, our culture tells us as women and men that we’re doing that all the time. It’s a little bit more in-depth than that.

It’s not just women. I think men also play a role in that because their DNA determines that placenta and that information. So men’s health, your health is also just as important as conception.

The idea with preeclampsia is that when the placenta is developing and as it adheres to the uterine wall, something goes awry and that’s what causes the high blood pressure.

As a matter of fact, when I went into labor and delivery– I had to go in a couple of times during those six weeks because of headaches, I mentioned that to one of the doctors on staff and she just looked at me and was like, “Well, if you know that preeclampsia adheres to the wall, you know everything that you need to know.” She was like, “Okay, this woman has done her research. She is not medically illiterate. She knows her body. She understands. I was actually treated better by doctors than I was by nurses when it came to that.

I had a handful of good nurses, but I had a handful of nurses that I could have done without. What was actually probably the most exhausting was the constant advocating for myself and being like, “Hey, I’m not stupid. I know my body.” You know your body. Yes, doctors have a time and a place. They do have the education. I don’t discount that, but you know your body. You know your body. You live in it every single day. You know when something doesn’t feel right. I knew that something was wrong when my feet felt like hotdogs. I knew something was off when I was seeing stars. I knew it. How many stories of women that I heard where they’re like, “My doctor’s not listening to me and I’m having these symptoms,” and I’m just like, “What?” If you have to scream it from the rooftops, then you have to scream it from the rooftops, but you also don’t have to do it alone.

I didn’t do it alone. I had you. I had my husband. My mom is a nurse. She’s been a nurse for over 20 years and that was really helpful in navigating the hospital because she just helped me understand policy and where they were coming from so I was able to map that out every time I went in, what I could and couldn’t do or whatever so I was really fortunate to have the support that I had.

34:37 Second pregnancy

Emily: I was told not to get pregnant until after 18 months so I got pregnant after 15. My plan exploded, but I got to rebuild it. You know, having a diagnosis of preeclampsia does not mean that your birth plan just gets to be thrown out the window. You just get to change it. That’s why we have birth plans A, B, C, D, and E. There are so many options and as a matter of fact, when I talk to other women, they are always amazed like, “I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that we could do that. We didn’t have that when I was giving birth.”

We have so many options nowadays. There is so much information. Preeclampsia is pretty common and a lot of the variables are the same with women, but that doesn’t mean that you have to do it by the book because someone says. I made all of my decisions and I let the hospital know that I was going to make my decisions and they were going to help facilitate that or it was going to be hard.

There were times that it was really, really hard but preeclampsia showed me what I was capable of. It really tested my grit. It was a really big life lesson for me beyond just normally just having a baby. It really showed me what I was made of. I think preeclampsia will show any woman what they’re made of because it’s hard. It’s so hard. I was really lucky. I was so lucky.

After having Ripley, I got in touch with a lot of women who were in places with preeclampsia which just broke my heart. Women that died, babies that died– this is something that can kill you and many times when I came in that first night with high blood pressure, they were like, “What made you think to check your blood pressure? What made you think to check your blood pressure?” Well, what is the first thing that happens when you go to urgent care, when you go to the emergency room, and when you go to doctor’s appointments? They check your blood pressure because it’s that cascade effect of, “We do this first, then we do this, then we do this.”

I think every woman should be checking their blood pressure throughout pregnancy. Every woman should have a blood pressure cuff. That is one of my biggest recommendations.

Meagan: Not a bad idea.

Emily: They are not expensive and they are easy. I recommend every woman to have a blood pressure cuff. Obviously, don’t obsess about it, but check it regularly, weekly. Just once a week because mine happened quick.

Meagan: Yeah, and it can. It can happen quick.

Emily: It can happen really fast. And to be honest, I probably wouldn’t be here if I didn’t check my blood pressure that night.

Meagan: It could have gotten that bad.

Emily: They told me so. They said, “It’s very possible that you could have just had a seizure in the middle of the night and died.”

Meagan: So scary.

Emily: Isn’t that crazy that fear? I didn’t have any of that fear initially because I think I was in that fight or flight and just that all of a sudden, that masculine energy came in and it was just this, this, this. We’re going to go from one point to the next and that very methodical get your butt in gear happened that I didn’t really have time to be scared. I had some moments of emotional grief relief, but yeah. If I wouldn’t have checked my blood pressure, I would have been in a lot of trouble.

Meagan: Yeah, I think it just circles back to be in tune with your body. Don’t hesitate if you feel like something’s off. Don’t hesitate because just like with any illness and things like that, it can get bad. We don’t want it to be bad, but if you do get it, there are ways to control it. There are ways to stay safe and sometimes that means your plans change from home birth to hospital birth or maybe spontaneous, unmedicated delivery to a scheduled C-section or whatever. It can always change. Having gone through this really wild twist of a turn of a hurdle and all of these things through this birth, as you get pregnant again, what kinds of things did you do differently for this time? What did they say to you as far as your chances for preeclampsia again? We can’t look at someone and say, “You’re going to have preeclampsia.” We don’t know.

Emily: I don’t think that preeclampsia is a “Once you have it, you’ll always have it. That’s just going to be your life while you’re pregnant.” Now, statistically, you’re more likely to get it because you’ve already had it.

But this is crazy. So with preeclampsia, what they found is that DNA has a lot to do with it. Typically, the male’s DNA like we mentioned earlier. Now, my husband, because I have already had a baby with him, though I’m more likely to get it a second time, I’m least likely to get it because I’ve already had a baby with him.

Meagan: Really? I didn’t even know that.

Emily: Isn’t that crazy? So if I had another partner, my chances would be higher.

Meagan: Interesting.

Emily: Because I’ve had it before and I would not have had a baby with this partner. I am of fair intelligence and I think in my brain, I just think, “Okay, because my body is like, ‘Hey, I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen this DNA makeup. I know how to do this.’” Our bodies are brilliant and they know what to do if you just kind of let them. We can definitely help them out and that’s what I did with my second pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant and I prioritized protein. I think you should do that no matter what, but I prioritized protein and salt.

I sprinkled Himalayan sea salt on everything. I was drinking. I was not overdrinking. I think that you can be over-hydrated. Throughout my second pregnancy, I pretty much just looked at my urine and if it was a pale yellow, we were good. If it is dark yellow, drink more water. If it is clear–

Meagan: Back off a little or add some electrolytes.

Emily: Yeah. Add some electrolytes. That’s where that salt comes in, right? I did the adrenal gland drink, the orange juice stuff. I don’t know if that worked, but I really liked it. It was delicious. You know, Vitamin C, electrolytes, it doesn’t hurt.

Supplements-wise, I did not take a prenatal. I decided not to take a prenatal. I did liver. I really like perfect supplements. I think cost-effective wise and where they source their vitamins I think is great, so I did liver.

Meagan: Liver pills?

Emily: Liver bills, yeah. I did liver and I did fermented beets. Beets and beet juice are amazing for blood pressure. I’ve heard of people drinking beet juice and their blood pressure points going down by like ten.

Meagan: Whoa.

Emily: Yeah, beets are amazing for blood pressure. I love beets, but I can’t eat beets every day, so I just did a fermented beet supplement and I took that every day. I also stopped drinking coffee, but I did add a collagen supplement in the morning. I did creo-brew which is a cacao drink. It’s good if you like dark chocolate. It was yummy. It was kind of like my coffee substitute.

Meagan: Yeah.

Emily: I mixed collagen in with that and I really tried to hit a minimum of 30g of protein per meal. Now, I pretty much lived off of Uncrustables my first trimester because oh my gosh. I was really sick the second time around. So sick. My diet was not perfect, but I was pretty religious about the liver, the collagen, and the magnesium.

Two eggs, man. Two eggs a day– there’s your prenatal right there. I also drank raw milk. I did raw milk.

Meagan: Hmm, okay.

Emily: I am a milk snob now. I will never go back to pasteurized milk. We purchase our milk from Utah Natural Meat and Milk in West Jordan. They’re a small, home family company and they’ve got the best milk.

Meagan: Awesome.

Emily: We would buy our eggs from there too. I really changed to whole foods other than those Uncrustables, man. They just hit the spot. But I really focused on eating whole foods and not eating fast food, not the processed stuff in boxes. I really tried to stay away from that stuff as much as possible. My blood pressure through my second pregnancy was awesome. It was so good. It was fantastic.

Even during that into the third trimester where your blood pressure naturally rises, mine didn’t. It didn’t at all. As a matter of fact, the day that I gave birth, Heather checked my blood pressure and it was so low. It was the lowest ever. My pulse was at 60 which it never is. I’m always in the 80’s or 90’s. It’s always high but I prioritized what I put in my body tenfold.

46:16 Working through trauma

Emily: I couldn’t tell you if it was the liver, the collagen, or the raw milk. I couldn’t tell you. I think it was a combination and also working through the trauma of Ripley’s birth. That was hard. I felt like I was really stuck in that masculine energy and I really needed to embrace the feminine side during my second pregnancy. I think mindfulness practice helps a lot.

I thought about this last night. I worked a lot. I read Mindful Birthing during my first pregnancy and they talk about mindful pooping. You guys, it’s a thing because guess where I gave birth to my son? On the toilet.

Meagan: Yes, you did.

Emily: That’s where I had practiced. Thank goodness for magnesium, but I was able to mindfully practice and I would play out my birth and how it was going to go down. I was able to really visualize on the toilet every day. I would do it in the bath, but I didn’t take a bath every day. So that literally was like my birth prep. It was just having my moment to go to the bathroom and then sure enough, it wasn’t until last night it dawned on me. I didn’t give birth in the tub.

Meagan: Nope. Me and your husband were standing in the tub.

Emily: Yeah, and you guys were standing in the tub.

Meagan: We were standing in the tub. You were definitely not in there with us.

Emily: At one point, there was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 people including my son in the smallest bathroom of my house.

Meagan: It was so awesome though.

Emily: It was amazing and you know what? Not being induced– I will never be induced again if I can help it. Oh my gosh. I remember looking at you. You were standing on the edge of my bed and being like, “Oh my gosh. It’s right here. It feels so normal. Everything feels normal. Everything feels like how it should be.” Night and day difference between my first and my second when it came to how I felt and I think nutrition did play a huge role in that mindset.

Having a support system. And you know what? Also, the wisdom of having done it before. Being a first-time mom is really hard. You have nothing to compare it to. Nothing, so my heart goes out to you mamas who are experiencing this for the first time because it’s really hard. It’s really hard. But in the end, you made a human and then you birthed it. They’re there. You’re a mom and it’s a wild trip.

It’s crazy to me because I think the hardest part is before and after. Give me giving birth any day. That’s my favorite part. I love giving birth.

Meagan: I like it too.

Emily: That’s the best part. That’s the bread and butter right there. My placenta the second time around– let’s circle back to my placenta. I had a 10-pound, 2-ounce baby the second time. Asher was 10 pounds, 2 ounces, and my placenta was the size of a Thanksgiving platter. To go from a placenta that was so tiny and just had given everything to the second time, it just beamed this massive– it was huge. I mean, you and Shane heard it. It gushed all over and it was really hard to birth that for me because it was just big.

But I really remember looking at it and being like, “That’s because I really took care of myself. I really, really prioritized my health this time.” You know, I just didn’t know then what I know now. Isn’t that just how it goes?

Meagan: Right. It really is, yeah.

Emily: You really have to give yourself some grace too. That’s really hard for us women sometimes to just give ourselves that credit. You just didn’t know. You can’t blame yourself for what you don’t know. But that second time around, it was just like, “Yeah. I’ve got this.” And I did. It was fantastic.

I still didn’t struggle with blood pressure even after that. I have yet to really struggle with that I really do think that diet plays a huge role as well as your spouse’s diet– what they are putting into their body. They play a pivotal role in that. It’s like that beginning part.

Meagan: Yeah. I was just going to say that. That’s something that we need to focus on before we are even conceiving. I don’t know. I just think it’s so hard in our day-to-day life. I mean, I think of my husband and his life. It is insane. We were talking about this before the episode started. It’s busy. We’re busy. We’re raising kids. We’re doing things, but when we are also conceiving, growing new babies, and adding to our family, I think it’s always important, but it seems to be extra important to really dial in and focus on that. It can be hard to get the nutrients that we need to give back to our bodies. It’s harder, I think, than it is easy because we have to really dial in and find the best supplements and nutrients that are best for us and figure out what we want to consume and how we can help our husbands know what to consume and get their vitamins and their healthy sperm.

Their sperm, like you said, needs to be healthy too so it’s just so important to always remember that there is more than even just prep for labor, birth, and pregnancy. We have to dial in before we have those babies and before we conceive these babies because it can play a really big factor in things.

53:36 Shifting plans

Meagan: Preeclampsia is hard. Like I said, we don’t know who’s going to get it and who’s going to have it and if you’re going to get it, how badly you’re going to suffer from it, but if there is anything we can do along the way to try and avoid and decrease our chances of it, I think it’s worth noting. I love your stories because they are so vastly different and they did take turns. I think it applies so much to this community for a variety of reasons.

One, most of us don’t plan a C-section. We might have those one-offs where we’ve got a breech baby or a transverse baby or something’s going on or we do have a medical necessity like preeclampsia that is too severe and a Cesarean is maybe going to be the best mode of delivery. But there’s a lot of us I would say, a good chunk of us that don’t expect a C-section, that don’t expect our plans to change in the way that yours did so dramatically.

Or even us planning out of hospital and we transfer. We don’t always plan or hope for those things to happen, so to be able to shift our minds, and I love– that’s something that I just value you so much in that. Your mindfulness and your power to get in this mindset and not only be mindful, but have it connect to the entire body it’s this whole plumline that it goes through and your mind was able to connect. You would start having high blood pressure. You would start having these things and you would be able to get into this mindful space and control that and help that and give, like you said in the beginning, your baby every single day more that she could get.

Then, you had this really rocky situation in the NICU and all of these things and then you persevered through that and you learned and you grew. I think you would just be one of the best postpartum doulas, especially for NICU moms.

Emily: NICU is a whole other bag. NICU is a whole other bag. And you know what? You NICU moms out there, I hear you. I see you. It is real, dude. It is a whole other rollercoaster, but if I have any advice for a NICU mom, I want you to know that you know when it’s time to leave. You know it. Call it divine intervention, but you’ll know. You will know when it’s time to leave and I knew I had to be there for a while with Ripley, but it got to a point where I was like, “Okay, we’re ready to go. Get us out of here. We’re ready to go home and start being a family.”

Meagan: You did.

Emily: I mean, I had an amazing NICU nurse. She was like a NICU doula. She was really, really great. But NICUitis is a thing. Get a room with a window. Just know that NICUitis is a thing. It really is and it hits you hard and it kind of sneaks up on you. But yeah, you know when to leave. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You know.

Meagan: It goes back to following your heart. Follow your gut. Do what you need to do for yourself because it’s real and it speaks loudly and then also embrace the change even when it sucks and it’s not what we want. Dialing in, getting the education, getting the information that you need to make the best decision for you, and then knowing that like with you, next pregnancy, new adventure, you had this, “I know what could happen. I know that I may have this risk, but I’m going to do these things,” so again, dialing back in and prepping, getting all of the things that we can do to control what we can control. I think that is a really big thing that a lot of the time we forget about. We want to control the things that we can’t control, but we need to reel it in and try to control what we can control, and then if there are those out-of-control moments of, “I need to go home. They are telling me no,” then again, fight for what you and your gut say.

But yeah, I just think mindfulness, obviously nutrition. We talk about nutrition a ton. I think it’s so important. Get the nutrition you can. If you are like me, I swear that girl, you kill it with your nutrition. I do not.

Emily: I’m going to be honest, this last year has been really rough and it’s just tanked. I’m working back. It’s crazy. Both of my births were so different with preeclampsia and not preeclampsia, but I will tell you that postpartum is so hard. It kicked my butt this time around. I had an amazing, dreamy home birth, but postpartum is still like, “Oh hey, I’m here.” You know? So I think that it’s just really important in your planning to also plan for that. It’s almost– I don’t want to say it’s more important because I think every woman is different. There are some women who are like, “Oh, I had my baby and it’s like the clouds lifted.” I’m just like, “Dang, that’s awesome,” because when I had my baby, I could just see the clouds on the horizon. I’m like, “All right, here we go.”

Nutrition is key to that, too. You’ve got to feed yourself and some of you ladies were only getting 30g of protein a day. You need to be getting that meal.

Meagan: I know, yes.

Emily: But also, I think you need to go back to giving yourself some credit. You’re not going to do it overnight. It takes rhythm. It takes consistency. You’re going to fall off that wagon a couple of times, but you just get back on.

Meagan: Just like going to the gym.

Emily: What?

Meagan: I feel like we’re on it to the gym. We’re going. We’re going, then we fall off the horse and we’ve just got to get back on.

Emily: You’ve just got to get back on. There’s one thing that I know about women and you guys, we’re so freaking resilient. We’re so freaking tough. We’re so freaking tough. You’re a badass. You really are even when you don’t feel like it, just know as corny as it sounds, this too shall pass. Your diagnosis of preeclampsia is not forever. It will pass. You will get through it. You can do it. The crazy thing about birth, right? There’s always that doubt, “I don’t know if I can do it,” well, you are. There’s no other option. The end result is you’re going to have this baby. I hope that these women know that it is going to show you how tough you are and how strong you are. You can manifest anything. It’s kind of like fake it until you become it. I’ve thought about that a lot with my first. People are like, “Fake it until you make it.” No. Fake it until you become it.

Meagan: I love that.

Emily: This is it and we’re doing the thing. Parenthood and becoming a mom, getting pregnant, having babies– none of it is easy. None of it is easy. It wouldn’t be worth it if it was, right? So I think you know yourself best. You know your body. Find your people. Get your people in your corner. You’ve got it.

Meagan: You have got it. Women of Strength, you are strong. You have got it. You can get through it even when these things sneak up on us or plans change like we were saying, you can do it. Know that we here at The VBAC Link are here for you. We are here. We are rooting you on. We are here to give you education, information, these empowering stories, tips, and all of the things. We love you and we are so grateful that you are here.

Closing

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“Your diagnosis of preeclampsia is not forever. It will pass. You will get through it. You can do it.”

Meagan invites her dear friend and doula client, Emily, on the podcast today to share her two very different birth stories and what she has learned along the way. During her first pregnancy, Emily was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia at 27 weeks and 6 days. She talks about specific symptoms to watch for and explains why she advises every pregnant woman to have their own blood pressure cuff.

Emily had to shift her home birth plans to focus on staying pregnant as long as she safely could. Six weeks later, Emily shares her daughter’s wild birth story and tough NICU experience.

Having preeclampsia the first time around does not mean it will come back in the future. Emily talks about the nutrition and lifestyle changes she made during her second pregnancy and how preeclampsia was not an issue at all with her second delivery. Emily was able to have a beautiful home birth and a big, healthy baby boy!

Additional Links

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Full Transcript under Episode Details

01:52 Review of the Week

04:02 Emily’s first pregnancy

10:25 Preeclampsia diagnosis

14:48 34-week induction

21:26 Giving birth

29:25 Learning about and knowing your body

34:37 Second pregnancy

46:16 Working through trauma

53:36 Shifting plans

Meagan: Hello, Women of Strength. It is Meagan, and I am so excited to dive into today's episode with you. The episode that we have today, or the guest, I should say, that we have today is someone so near and dear to my heart. And I'm just gonna kind of give a little bit of a spoil alert.

She is not a VBAC mama so this is not going to be a VBAC story but our guest today is someone that I think is going to leave you guys with a wealth of knowledge through her experiences and so I want to welcome my own personal friend and doula client, Emily. Welcome to the show.

Emily: Hi.

Meagan: Hi, you guys were going to be talking a little bit, well, a little bit about a lot of things, but we're gonna be talking a little bit about preeclampsia. We're gonna be talking about shifting gears from our birth desires and birth plans and so much more. I wanted her to be on the show because you guys, seriously, she really needs to write a book. She can talk all day to me and I just stare at her with amazement in my eyes, because she just is so incredible to listen to with her knowledge, her research, and all the things to make birth different the second time around, and do what she could do the first time around, which also goes along with mindfulness.

There are so many things, you guys, about Emily that I just love and adore. I'm so excited to have her on the show today and I know that you're going to be taking a whole bunch of nuggets away from her episode. So make sure to take maybe some notes, or get your pen and paper out and join us in just one moment.

01:52 Review of the Week

Meagan: But of course, we have a Review of the Week, so I'm gonna hurry and read that, and then we'll get going. This review was left in 2020, so a few years ago. It says, “I love these ladies and this podcast.”

She says, “I love listening to your podcast. I listen almost every day in the car so often that my oldest son knows you by both of your names.” I love that. I love that your kids know our names.

It says, “Since the stories shared here have inspired me so much, I wish that I had the information with my first baby. I've had two C-sections, and I'm not pregnant at the moment but still have to get my husband on board for a third. But I'm so excited to start planning for my VBA2C to see when the time comes. Thank you, Julie and Meagan, for creating the amazing VBAC community. I'm so grateful for the education and support.”

This was a really long time ago. So eecc3, if you have talked your husband into another baby and gone on to have your VBA2C let us know. You could email us, at info@thevbaclink.com. If you want to share your story or share your review please do so. You can email us your review again at info@thevbaclink.com. You can Google us at “The VBAC Link”. You can leave us a review on Apple or wherever you listen to your podcast. We love, love, love, love getting them, and can't wait to read yours on the next one.

04:02 Emily’s first pregnancy

Meagan: Okay, cute Em. This has been an episode that we talked about forever ago and ever ago, right?

Emily: Yeah. And ever, it's been a while. It's been a while.

Meagan: I think you probably think I forgot about you after I talked to you about this, and then never really reached out, but we are here and I'm just so excited to have you on.

Emily: Thank you for having me. I'm really excited. No, I think that I just realized that mom life happens. It's just busy. I knew you'd get back to me. I knew.

Meagan: Yes, yes. Mom life does happen and The VBAC Link has been busy which has been an amazing thing. I cannot believe that we are heading into the 300s episodes here soon. It's been such an amazing journey. But, so, okay. We talked a little bit about why I want you on here, but let's talk a little bit about your first and how the journey has led you to where you are today.

Emily: Okay, well, I got pregnant back in 2020. Oh yeah, that was a rough year for a lot of us. It was especially rough, I think, for just everything that happened. I initially did not want to do a home birth. I just assumed you would birth in the hospital and then I was like, “No I don't want to. I want do a birth center.” So I was on that boat for a minute then I was like, “No. I’m birthing at home.” I just wanted to stay out of the hospital. I was seeing my midwife, Heather, with Sego Lily Midwifery and everything was really good until it wasn’t. It was fast. It was really, really fast. It was actually so fast that I didn’t call you until after everything had happened.

Meagan: Yes.

Emily: That’s how fast it happened. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia at 27+6. For those of you who have experienced preeclampsia, that 27+6 is kind of a big deal. People are like, “Oh, so 28 weeks?” No, it was 27+6. Every day counts when you have preeclampsia. Every day your baby is still inside your body growing is so important. It’s a lot of rollercoasters of emotions. I went from my home birth was planned, getting ready to prepare for that last trimester of nesting and my midwife coming in, setting up, and then it just kind of blew up. It blew up.

Meagan: Plans changed really fast.

Emily: It changed really fast and it was like, “Hold onto your butts.” It was quick. You know, a week before I was diagnosed, I happened to get my teeth cleaned and they took my blood pressure. It was a little elevated. I didn’t even think anything of it because during that time with more blood flow, that is normal for your blood pressure to rise a little bit when you’re pregnant. I just didn’t think anything of it. You feel like garbage. I felt like garbage throughout my pregnancy so I didn’t think anything of it when I wasn’t feeling good because I wasn’t feeling good in general.

07:56 Preeclampsia symptoms

Emily: When I really started noticing when something was wrong, my swelling was insane. It wasn’t normal pregnancy swelling. The best way that I can describe it was my feet felt like they were hotdogs in a microwave. That’s how bad it was. It was so bad. My husband took me on a date to Barnes and Noble and I remember standing in front of the bookshelves like, “I have to sit. I can’t stand anymore.” My feet hurt that bad. I was wearing slippers because I couldn’t fit into any of my shoes. He had to help get me up. It wasn’t like that normal, “Help me up, I’m pregnant.” It was like something was wrong.

Meagan: Physically hard for me to do.

Emily: I’m in pain. I’m actually in pain. That morning, I was taking a shower and I saw white stars, like white dots everywhere but I was shaving my legs. My head was down. It was really hot. I was starting to rationalize what was happening. This is where preeclampsia really sneaks up on women because a lot of the symptoms are disguised as regular pregnancy symptoms and they’re not.

We got home. I was like, “You know what? I’m going to check my blood pressure.” I had a blood pressure cuff. I was a CNA for a while and I had a sister who had preeclampsia so I knew a lot more than some women do. Luckily, I did. I took my blood pressure and it was– oh my gosh. I don’t even remember. It was 120, 130 over 100, and something. It was insane. I remember sitting there looking at my feet. I had no ankles. I took a picture.

I texted Heather. I didn’t even call her. I was like, “So this is my blood pressure.” She immediately called me back and was like, “You need to go to labor and delivery. That is too high.”

10:25 Preeclampsia diagnosis

Emily: I went in and the way that they told me too was matter-of-fact. Well, yeah. I remember looking at the nurse and being like, “Do I have preeclampsia?” She was like, “Uh-huh. Yeah. Your bloodwork shows that you have preeclampsia.” I just remember yelling. The anger that I felt, I can’t remember feeling anger like that. I just knew. I knew everything was going to change and it was really hard.

They were also kind of panicking too because my platelets were so low as well. My blood pressure was insane, but I did not have the ability to clot.

Meagan: Clot, mhmm.

Emily: I was on this really thin wire of, “Okay, she could seize and have a brain bleed and then have brain damage,”

Meagan: Which is scary stuff to think about and hear.

Emily: It really is. It’s really scary. “And then we could do a C-section, but she could bleed out because her blood’s not clotting.” I was in this really weird balance. They gave me magnesium. Ugh. Ugh.” That stuff is the absolute worst. I have never– that’s the closest, I think you could get to being lit on fire. It was pretty terrible.

The good news was that Ripley was fine. Her vitals were good. Everything about her was awesome. It was me. My body was just tanking. Things were happening really fast. A lot of things happened that I really wasn’t okay with, but I’ve really learned to work through a lot of that. As a matter of fact, they wanted to keep me in the hospital and I remember telling my doctor, “If you don’t want me to have a baby right now, you need to let me go home.”

I had a really good MFM doctor and he trusted me. They did not put me on blood pressure medication. One of the reasons they didn’t put me on blood pressure medication was because they didn’t want to– what’s the word I’m looking for– hide my symptoms or cover up what was happening because when you get preeclampsia, your organs start to shut down because of the high blood pressure. With blood pressure medication, okay, my blood pressure is fine, but my liver is dying.

Meagan: That makes sense, okay.

Emily: So they wanted to see everything that was happening. My blood pressure was still high. Every time I went into MFM to get the tests for Ripley, I had to go twice a week. I practically had a part-time job there. They’d tell me, “Your blood pressure is really high.” I’m like, “I know. I have preeclampsia. My blood pressure is high.”

I was able to keep Ripley in for six weeks.

Meagan: Which is incredible.

Emily: Even my MFM doctor was pretty shocked. He was like, “I didn’t think you would get this far.” I will tell you, I’m just that person when you tell me, “You can’t do this. You’re not going to be able to do this,” I’m like, “I’m going to show you.”

It was hard. I’ve never experienced that kind of exhaustion. I mean, I was tired because I was pregnant, but when you have immediate high blood pressure like that, oh my gosh. I have a tri-level house and walking up and down the stairs was like, “I’m just going to stay right here.”

14:48 34-week induction

Emily: At 34 weeks, my doctor called it. He was like, “It’s time. It’s time to have a baby.” I felt a wave of relief oddly enough. It was like, “Okay. I’ve done all that I can. I have done everything to the best of my ability and it’s time.” They did give her a steroid shot for her lungs and I knew that I was now on a new road of having to advocate for myself.

It’s really hard to advocate for yourself in a hospital. It’s really hard.

Meagan: Especially when they were extra high-alert on you because we’ve got a preemie going on. We have an induction. It’s COVID. There was so much going on.

Emily: Yeah and COVID really did not make it easier. It made it that much harder. I knew that initially, I wanted the least amount of intervention possible. I wanted a home birth. I knew that wasn’t going to happen, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t have options. I still actually had quite a few options.

For example, the induction. With premature babies and babies with preeclampsia, mothers, like I was, typically are on mag during labor and delivery and after. Magnesium makes babies really drowsy. They usually fall asleep and it’s hard. It’s really hard on babies just like it is on moms. I knew that with her being so young, so little, so preemie, I wanted the least amount of intervention to deal with her so I wanted the least amount of drugs as possible because I knew I was going to be induced so I opted on a Foley bulb instead of Cytotec I believe it is.

I also chose not to have an epidural because I just knew the more stuff I was going to be putting in my body than what already was, with the Pitocin and the mag, that it was just up that cascade. So I remember calling you, “It’s time,” and you come in. This is going to sound weird. I think I’m a lazy birther.

Meagan: I don’t think so.

Emily: That feeling of, “I don’t want to move but I know I need to move.” That exhaustion of being on mag and you being like, “Okay, we’re going to roll you over.” And even rolling over was hard.

Meagan: Mhmm.

Emily: You know, I didn’t have an epidural but I feel like you had kind of treated me as though I was because I couldn’t–

Meagan: It was hard, yeah.

Emily: It was hard. I felt like I was running a marathon with a 20-pound vest on. It was just that everything was heavy and hard. Having preeclampsia in the hospital, I still had access to the nurse-midwives and there was one in particular I didn’t really get along with and others I did. I ended up kicking a midwife out of my room because she was not agreeing to the things that I wanted.

My home birth midwife, Heather, told me something that I will always remember. It was that “You can always ask for another provider. You don’t have to stick with someone who makes you uncomfortable even the littlest bit. Even the littlest bit.”

Meagan: How do you feel like you got the confidence to do that?

Emily: Hearing my husband– Shane was at the door when she knocked. We were having problems with her and she knocked and was just like, “We’re going to break her water.” My husband said, “You’re not going to touch my wife.” The moment he said that I was really stressed but it was like that flood of oxytocin like, “Oh my gosh, you are the most amazing man on the planet right now,” and just felt so protected that I heard her say, “Well, she needs someone to care for her. She needs someone to provide for her.” I remember yelling out, “Then you go find me someone else,” and she did. I didn’t have to see her the rest of the time and it was great.

I think that when you’re pregnant in general, just in normal pregnancy, I think you’re in a vulnerable state where you are defending your space. You are trying to keep the peace because you are in a sensitive space and when you are sick like you are, it’s amplified a lot. So I think that a lot of women are like, “Oh, I’m not really happy,” but I think personality and stuff has a lot to do with it and your team and the people that you have in your corner. Luckily, I have a husband who just really doesn’t care about other people’s feelings when his wife is in labor. He’s just like, “She’s my main concern.”

Meagan: He’s so awesome.

Emily: I think having you and Shane as my support made all the difference. I don’t think it would have gone the way it did if I didn’t have you two. Yeah. It made all the difference.

21:26 Giving birth

Emily: I gave birth to her. Oh, do you remember when they didn’t want to let you in?

Meagan: Oh, I remember. I will never forget in my entire life this lovely nurse who threatened you. She threatened us. That is what she did. She threatened us.

Emily: She did. I had such great nurses until the one that had the baby.

Meagan: The one that had the baby and keep in mind, you guys, because of the situation, she didn’t have her baby in the hospital room that she was laboring in. We transferred to the OR.

Emily: Yeah, which they did not tell me until I was in the middle of contractions. I was in the middle of contractions when they were like, “Oh, so by the way, we are moving you,” and I was like, “What the? We’re moving? No one ever told me this,” and they were like, “Yeah. Yeah, we’re moving you.” They were like, “You can only have one person with you.” I will never forget turning to the midwife who, by the way, her name was Shea. I love her. She was a good midwife. I remember turning to her and saying, “I paid really good money for my doula and she’s going to come in with me, so figure it out.”

Meagan: Figure it out.

Emily: How crazy is it that at that time, I had to advocate for my doula?

Meagan: But that, Women of Strength, that is sometimes that we have to do. You have to advocate to have the people that you want in your birth even when it goes to a Cesarean. We weren’t going in to have a Cesarean. We were going in to have a vaginal birth in an OR, however, a lot of the time, we know that doulas aren’t allowed into the OR and we as doulas fight and we try to get into there, but it really does take it from the patient’s side, the mom’s side to advocate for them and even still, a lot of the times they say no but you do. You have to advocate for your people.

Emily: Yeah, you do. Doulas belong in the OR. They belong everywhere in the hospital. That is a hill I’ll die on.

Meagan: Yeah, I believe it too. I believe it too.

Emily: I think it did. It made all the difference. That was wild. You know, and it’s crazy too. I still remember that people say, “Oh, you forget over time.” No. I remember everything. I remember everything in detail. I remember how I felt. I remember the anger. I’m amazed at how angry I was throughout the whole process.

Meagan: I was too, honestly, and I wasn’t even the one giving birth.

Emily: You know, but I don’t think for me, I’ve done a lot of work the past three years. I’m still working through that whole process three years later. My daughter just had a birthday on Saturday. I’m still angry. I’m still angry.

The difference between then and now is that I have given myself space for that anger. I have space for it. I think when you try to namaste your way through those feelings, it can be dangerous. If you’re angry, feel it. Get it out. Be angry. You’re allowed that. You’re allowed to mourn the birth that you thought that you were going to have. No amount of everyone telling you that you’re just going to be fine makes it so.

As a matter of fact, I was so angry that I wasn’t scared. I really wasn’t scared until after. It was postpartum that really kicked my butt and being in the NICU. That was when it really hit me because when you’re pregnant and you have preeclampsia, I felt this really protective, “You have to get through me in order to get to my baby,” because she was still a part of me and then it wasn’t until she was out that I really feel like it got real because I now had to advocate for this little 4-pound human, this beautiful baby girl who could not advocate for herself at all, right?

That was a whole other mess of emotions on top of, I was still on mag. I had to be on mag even after birth because you are still at risk of having a seizure. I was moving up and down that freaking hospital because I didn’t want to be in the recovery room. They ain’t comfortable for a reason. I just wanted to be with my daughter.

I mentioned earlier that a lot of babies will fall asleep after they are born. They just kind of pass out from the mag. Ripley was loud and proud the entire time. She never fell asleep. Even the doctor was like, “She’s kicking and screaming.” I was just like, “Yeah, because she’s like me.”

I will never forget that nurse, that think-in-the-box nurse telling me, “You have 60 seconds.” That was hard. I think about that a lot. “You have 60 seconds to hold your baby.” Golden hour, my butt.

Meagan: Yeah, you did not get that.

Emily: It’s such an ala carte selling point, “Hey, come deliver with our midwives and you can have the golden hour.” It’s marketing. It’s garbage. I had 60 seconds. You know, the reason why was that they had to make sure she was okay, but she was screaming. Her lungs were definitely working. That was hard. You were amazing and you took pictures, amazing photos. I look at those sometimes and I’m like, “Wow. Those are not exactly Instagram-worthy photos but they are cool.”

My placenta was smaller than Ripley and it just fell apart. It just fell apart which is crazy to me. Throughout those six weeks of having preeclampsia, I was pretty angry at my placenta. I was like, “What the heck? Why aren’t you working?” But it wasn’t until after I gave birth that I realized that it was working. Your placenta is amazing.

Meagan: It was. It is.

Emily: My placenta sacrificed itself for Ripley because Ripley was fine the entire time. It just gave everything it possibly could to make sure she was okay because placentas do have a shelf-life. You grow a new one every time and it did. That, to me, was so phenomenal to experience. Looking at the pictures, it was just so small. It was smaller than my hand. I still think about it and just go, “I can’t believe that that happened.”

29:25 Learning about and knowing your body

Emily: I never had a seizure. I never had issues with preeclampsia after. I don’t struggle with high blood pressure. I don’t have heart problems. It’s really common for women in their first pregnancies to get preeclampsia. During that whole process, I did a lot of research and it’s kind of hard to find. Don’t Google the first page because it just tells you garbage stuff like you’re not eating right and it’s very vague. It’s super vague like, “You’re not eating right.” Well, our culture tells us as women and men that we’re doing that all the time. It’s a little bit more in-depth than that.

It’s not just women. I think men also play a role in that because their DNA determines that placenta and that information. So men’s health, your health is also just as important as conception.

The idea with preeclampsia is that when the placenta is developing and as it adheres to the uterine wall, something goes awry and that’s what causes the high blood pressure.

As a matter of fact, when I went into labor and delivery– I had to go in a couple of times during those six weeks because of headaches, I mentioned that to one of the doctors on staff and she just looked at me and was like, “Well, if you know that preeclampsia adheres to the wall, you know everything that you need to know.” She was like, “Okay, this woman has done her research. She is not medically illiterate. She knows her body. She understands. I was actually treated better by doctors than I was by nurses when it came to that.

I had a handful of good nurses, but I had a handful of nurses that I could have done without. What was actually probably the most exhausting was the constant advocating for myself and being like, “Hey, I’m not stupid. I know my body.” You know your body. Yes, doctors have a time and a place. They do have the education. I don’t discount that, but you know your body. You know your body. You live in it every single day. You know when something doesn’t feel right. I knew that something was wrong when my feet felt like hotdogs. I knew something was off when I was seeing stars. I knew it. How many stories of women that I heard where they’re like, “My doctor’s not listening to me and I’m having these symptoms,” and I’m just like, “What?” If you have to scream it from the rooftops, then you have to scream it from the rooftops, but you also don’t have to do it alone.

I didn’t do it alone. I had you. I had my husband. My mom is a nurse. She’s been a nurse for over 20 years and that was really helpful in navigating the hospital because she just helped me understand policy and where they were coming from so I was able to map that out every time I went in, what I could and couldn’t do or whatever so I was really fortunate to have the support that I had.

34:37 Second pregnancy

Emily: I was told not to get pregnant until after 18 months so I got pregnant after 15. My plan exploded, but I got to rebuild it. You know, having a diagnosis of preeclampsia does not mean that your birth plan just gets to be thrown out the window. You just get to change it. That’s why we have birth plans A, B, C, D, and E. There are so many options and as a matter of fact, when I talk to other women, they are always amazed like, “I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that we could do that. We didn’t have that when I was giving birth.”

We have so many options nowadays. There is so much information. Preeclampsia is pretty common and a lot of the variables are the same with women, but that doesn’t mean that you have to do it by the book because someone says. I made all of my decisions and I let the hospital know that I was going to make my decisions and they were going to help facilitate that or it was going to be hard.

There were times that it was really, really hard but preeclampsia showed me what I was capable of. It really tested my grit. It was a really big life lesson for me beyond just normally just having a baby. It really showed me what I was made of. I think preeclampsia will show any woman what they’re made of because it’s hard. It’s so hard. I was really lucky. I was so lucky.

After having Ripley, I got in touch with a lot of women who were in places with preeclampsia which just broke my heart. Women that died, babies that died– this is something that can kill you and many times when I came in that first night with high blood pressure, they were like, “What made you think to check your blood pressure? What made you think to check your blood pressure?” Well, what is the first thing that happens when you go to urgent care, when you go to the emergency room, and when you go to doctor’s appointments? They check your blood pressure because it’s that cascade effect of, “We do this first, then we do this, then we do this.”

I think every woman should be checking their blood pressure throughout pregnancy. Every woman should have a blood pressure cuff. That is one of my biggest recommendations.

Meagan: Not a bad idea.

Emily: They are not expensive and they are easy. I recommend every woman to have a blood pressure cuff. Obviously, don’t obsess about it, but check it regularly, weekly. Just once a week because mine happened quick.

Meagan: Yeah, and it can. It can happen quick.

Emily: It can happen really fast. And to be honest, I probably wouldn’t be here if I didn’t check my blood pressure that night.

Meagan: It could have gotten that bad.

Emily: They told me so. They said, “It’s very possible that you could have just had a seizure in the middle of the night and died.”

Meagan: So scary.

Emily: Isn’t that crazy that fear? I didn’t have any of that fear initially because I think I was in that fight or flight and just that all of a sudden, that masculine energy came in and it was just this, this, this. We’re going to go from one point to the next and that very methodical get your butt in gear happened that I didn’t really have time to be scared. I had some moments of emotional grief relief, but yeah. If I wouldn’t have checked my blood pressure, I would have been in a lot of trouble.

Meagan: Yeah, I think it just circles back to be in tune with your body. Don’t hesitate if you feel like something’s off. Don’t hesitate because just like with any illness and things like that, it can get bad. We don’t want it to be bad, but if you do get it, there are ways to control it. There are ways to stay safe and sometimes that means your plans change from home birth to hospital birth or maybe spontaneous, unmedicated delivery to a scheduled C-section or whatever. It can always change. Having gone through this really wild twist of a turn of a hurdle and all of these things through this birth, as you get pregnant again, what kinds of things did you do differently for this time? What did they say to you as far as your chances for preeclampsia again? We can’t look at someone and say, “You’re going to have preeclampsia.” We don’t know.

Emily: I don’t think that preeclampsia is a “Once you have it, you’ll always have it. That’s just going to be your life while you’re pregnant.” Now, statistically, you’re more likely to get it because you’ve already had it.

But this is crazy. So with preeclampsia, what they found is that DNA has a lot to do with it. Typically, the male’s DNA like we mentioned earlier. Now, my husband, because I have already had a baby with him, though I’m more likely to get it a second time, I’m least likely to get it because I’ve already had a baby with him.

Meagan: Really? I didn’t even know that.

Emily: Isn’t that crazy? So if I had another partner, my chances would be higher.

Meagan: Interesting.

Emily: Because I’ve had it before and I would not have had a baby with this partner. I am of fair intelligence and I think in my brain, I just think, “Okay, because my body is like, ‘Hey, I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen this DNA makeup. I know how to do this.’” Our bodies are brilliant and they know what to do if you just kind of let them. We can definitely help them out and that’s what I did with my second pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant and I prioritized protein. I think you should do that no matter what, but I prioritized protein and salt.

I sprinkled Himalayan sea salt on everything. I was drinking. I was not overdrinking. I think that you can be over-hydrated. Throughout my second pregnancy, I pretty much just looked at my urine and if it was a pale yellow, we were good. If it is dark yellow, drink more water. If it is clear–

Meagan: Back off a little or add some electrolytes.

Emily: Yeah. Add some electrolytes. That’s where that salt comes in, right? I did the adrenal gland drink, the orange juice stuff. I don’t know if that worked, but I really liked it. It was delicious. You know, Vitamin C, electrolytes, it doesn’t hurt.

Supplements-wise, I did not take a prenatal. I decided not to take a prenatal. I did liver. I really like perfect supplements. I think cost-effective wise and where they source their vitamins I think is great, so I did liver.

Meagan: Liver pills?

Emily: Liver bills, yeah. I did liver and I did fermented beets. Beets and beet juice are amazing for blood pressure. I’ve heard of people drinking beet juice and their blood pressure points going down by like ten.

Meagan: Whoa.

Emily: Yeah, beets are amazing for blood pressure. I love beets, but I can’t eat beets every day, so I just did a fermented beet supplement and I took that every day. I also stopped drinking coffee, but I did add a collagen supplement in the morning. I did creo-brew which is a cacao drink. It’s good if you like dark chocolate. It was yummy. It was kind of like my coffee substitute.

Meagan: Yeah.

Emily: I mixed collagen in with that and I really tried to hit a minimum of 30g of protein per meal. Now, I pretty much lived off of Uncrustables my first trimester because oh my gosh. I was really sick the second time around. So sick. My diet was not perfect, but I was pretty religious about the liver, the collagen, and the magnesium.

Two eggs, man. Two eggs a day– there’s your prenatal right there. I also drank raw milk. I did raw milk.

Meagan: Hmm, okay.

Emily: I am a milk snob now. I will never go back to pasteurized milk. We purchase our milk from Utah Natural Meat and Milk in West Jordan. They’re a small, home family company and they’ve got the best milk.

Meagan: Awesome.

Emily: We would buy our eggs from there too. I really changed to whole foods other than those Uncrustables, man. They just hit the spot. But I really focused on eating whole foods and not eating fast food, not the processed stuff in boxes. I really tried to stay away from that stuff as much as possible. My blood pressure through my second pregnancy was awesome. It was so good. It was fantastic.

Even during that into the third trimester where your blood pressure naturally rises, mine didn’t. It didn’t at all. As a matter of fact, the day that I gave birth, Heather checked my blood pressure and it was so low. It was the lowest ever. My pulse was at 60 which it never is. I’m always in the 80’s or 90’s. It’s always high but I prioritized what I put in my body tenfold.

46:16 Working through trauma

Emily: I couldn’t tell you if it was the liver, the collagen, or the raw milk. I couldn’t tell you. I think it was a combination and also working through the trauma of Ripley’s birth. That was hard. I felt like I was really stuck in that masculine energy and I really needed to embrace the feminine side during my second pregnancy. I think mindfulness practice helps a lot.

I thought about this last night. I worked a lot. I read Mindful Birthing during my first pregnancy and they talk about mindful pooping. You guys, it’s a thing because guess where I gave birth to my son? On the toilet.

Meagan: Yes, you did.

Emily: That’s where I had practiced. Thank goodness for magnesium, but I was able to mindfully practice and I would play out my birth and how it was going to go down. I was able to really visualize on the toilet every day. I would do it in the bath, but I didn’t take a bath every day. So that literally was like my birth prep. It was just having my moment to go to the bathroom and then sure enough, it wasn’t until last night it dawned on me. I didn’t give birth in the tub.

Meagan: Nope. Me and your husband were standing in the tub.

Emily: Yeah, and you guys were standing in the tub.

Meagan: We were standing in the tub. You were definitely not in there with us.

Emily: At one point, there was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 people including my son in the smallest bathroom of my house.

Meagan: It was so awesome though.

Emily: It was amazing and you know what? Not being induced– I will never be induced again if I can help it. Oh my gosh. I remember looking at you. You were standing on the edge of my bed and being like, “Oh my gosh. It’s right here. It feels so normal. Everything feels normal. Everything feels like how it should be.” Night and day difference between my first and my second when it came to how I felt and I think nutrition did play a huge role in that mindset.

Having a support system. And you know what? Also, the wisdom of having done it before. Being a first-time mom is really hard. You have nothing to compare it to. Nothing, so my heart goes out to you mamas who are experiencing this for the first time because it’s really hard. It’s really hard. But in the end, you made a human and then you birthed it. They’re there. You’re a mom and it’s a wild trip.

It’s crazy to me because I think the hardest part is before and after. Give me giving birth any day. That’s my favorite part. I love giving birth.

Meagan: I like it too.

Emily: That’s the best part. That’s the bread and butter right there. My placenta the second time around– let’s circle back to my placenta. I had a 10-pound, 2-ounce baby the second time. Asher was 10 pounds, 2 ounces, and my placenta was the size of a Thanksgiving platter. To go from a placenta that was so tiny and just had given everything to the second time, it just beamed this massive– it was huge. I mean, you and Shane heard it. It gushed all over and it was really hard to birth that for me because it was just big.

But I really remember looking at it and being like, “That’s because I really took care of myself. I really, really prioritized my health this time.” You know, I just didn’t know then what I know now. Isn’t that just how it goes?

Meagan: Right. It really is, yeah.

Emily: You really have to give yourself some grace too. That’s really hard for us women sometimes to just give ourselves that credit. You just didn’t know. You can’t blame yourself for what you don’t know. But that second time around, it was just like, “Yeah. I’ve got this.” And I did. It was fantastic.

I still didn’t struggle with blood pressure even after that. I have yet to really struggle with that I really do think that diet plays a huge role as well as your spouse’s diet– what they are putting into their body. They play a pivotal role in that. It’s like that beginning part.

Meagan: Yeah. I was just going to say that. That’s something that we need to focus on before we are even conceiving. I don’t know. I just think it’s so hard in our day-to-day life. I mean, I think of my husband and his life. It is insane. We were talking about this before the episode started. It’s busy. We’re busy. We’re raising kids. We’re doing things, but when we are also conceiving, growing new babies, and adding to our family, I think it’s always important, but it seems to be extra important to really dial in and focus on that. It can be hard to get the nutrients that we need to give back to our bodies. It’s harder, I think, than it is easy because we have to really dial in and find the best supplements and nutrients that are best for us and figure out what we want to consume and how we can help our husbands know what to consume and get their vitamins and their healthy sperm.

Their sperm, like you said, needs to be healthy too so it’s just so important to always remember that there is more than even just prep for labor, birth, and pregnancy. We have to dial in before we have those babies and before we conceive these babies because it can play a really big factor in things.

53:36 Shifting plans

Meagan: Preeclampsia is hard. Like I said, we don’t know who’s going to get it and who’s going to have it and if you’re going to get it, how badly you’re going to suffer from it, but if there is anything we can do along the way to try and avoid and decrease our chances of it, I think it’s worth noting. I love your stories because they are so vastly different and they did take turns. I think it applies so much to this community for a variety of reasons.

One, most of us don’t plan a C-section. We might have those one-offs where we’ve got a breech baby or a transverse baby or something’s going on or we do have a medical necessity like preeclampsia that is too severe and a Cesarean is maybe going to be the best mode of delivery. But there’s a lot of us I would say, a good chunk of us that don’t expect a C-section, that don’t expect our plans to change in the way that yours did so dramatically.

Or even us planning out of hospital and we transfer. We don’t always plan or hope for those things to happen, so to be able to shift our minds, and I love– that’s something that I just value you so much in that. Your mindfulness and your power to get in this mindset and not only be mindful, but have it connect to the entire body it’s this whole plumline that it goes through and your mind was able to connect. You would start having high blood pressure. You would start having these things and you would be able to get into this mindful space and control that and help that and give, like you said in the beginning, your baby every single day more that she could get.

Then, you had this really rocky situation in the NICU and all of these things and then you persevered through that and you learned and you grew. I think you would just be one of the best postpartum doulas, especially for NICU moms.

Emily: NICU is a whole other bag. NICU is a whole other bag. And you know what? You NICU moms out there, I hear you. I see you. It is real, dude. It is a whole other rollercoaster, but if I have any advice for a NICU mom, I want you to know that you know when it’s time to leave. You know it. Call it divine intervention, but you’ll know. You will know when it’s time to leave and I knew I had to be there for a while with Ripley, but it got to a point where I was like, “Okay, we’re ready to go. Get us out of here. We’re ready to go home and start being a family.”

Meagan: You did.

Emily: I mean, I had an amazing NICU nurse. She was like a NICU doula. She was really, really great. But NICUitis is a thing. Get a room with a window. Just know that NICUitis is a thing. It really is and it hits you hard and it kind of sneaks up on you. But yeah, you know when to leave. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You know.

Meagan: It goes back to following your heart. Follow your gut. Do what you need to do for yourself because it’s real and it speaks loudly and then also embrace the change even when it sucks and it’s not what we want. Dialing in, getting the education, getting the information that you need to make the best decision for you, and then knowing that like with you, next pregnancy, new adventure, you had this, “I know what could happen. I know that I may have this risk, but I’m going to do these things,” so again, dialing back in and prepping, getting all of the things that we can do to control what we can control. I think that is a really big thing that a lot of the time we forget about. We want to control the things that we can’t control, but we need to reel it in and try to control what we can control, and then if there are those out-of-control moments of, “I need to go home. They are telling me no,” then again, fight for what you and your gut say.

But yeah, I just think mindfulness, obviously nutrition. We talk about nutrition a ton. I think it’s so important. Get the nutrition you can. If you are like me, I swear that girl, you kill it with your nutrition. I do not.

Emily: I’m going to be honest, this last year has been really rough and it’s just tanked. I’m working back. It’s crazy. Both of my births were so different with preeclampsia and not preeclampsia, but I will tell you that postpartum is so hard. It kicked my butt this time around. I had an amazing, dreamy home birth, but postpartum is still like, “Oh hey, I’m here.” You know? So I think that it’s just really important in your planning to also plan for that. It’s almost– I don’t want to say it’s more important because I think every woman is different. There are some women who are like, “Oh, I had my baby and it’s like the clouds lifted.” I’m just like, “Dang, that’s awesome,” because when I had my baby, I could just see the clouds on the horizon. I’m like, “All right, here we go.”

Nutrition is key to that, too. You’ve got to feed yourself and some of you ladies were only getting 30g of protein a day. You need to be getting that meal.

Meagan: I know, yes.

Emily: But also, I think you need to go back to giving yourself some credit. You’re not going to do it overnight. It takes rhythm. It takes consistency. You’re going to fall off that wagon a couple of times, but you just get back on.

Meagan: Just like going to the gym.

Emily: What?

Meagan: I feel like we’re on it to the gym. We’re going. We’re going, then we fall off the horse and we’ve just got to get back on.

Emily: You’ve just got to get back on. There’s one thing that I know about women and you guys, we’re so freaking resilient. We’re so freaking tough. We’re so freaking tough. You’re a badass. You really are even when you don’t feel like it, just know as corny as it sounds, this too shall pass. Your diagnosis of preeclampsia is not forever. It will pass. You will get through it. You can do it. The crazy thing about birth, right? There’s always that doubt, “I don’t know if I can do it,” well, you are. There’s no other option. The end result is you’re going to have this baby. I hope that these women know that it is going to show you how tough you are and how strong you are. You can manifest anything. It’s kind of like fake it until you become it. I’ve thought about that a lot with my first. People are like, “Fake it until you make it.” No. Fake it until you become it.

Meagan: I love that.

Emily: This is it and we’re doing the thing. Parenthood and becoming a mom, getting pregnant, having babies– none of it is easy. None of it is easy. It wouldn’t be worth it if it was, right? So I think you know yourself best. You know your body. Find your people. Get your people in your corner. You’ve got it.

Meagan: You have got it. Women of Strength, you are strong. You have got it. You can get through it even when these things sneak up on us or plans change like we were saying, you can do it. Know that we here at The VBAC Link are here for you. We are here. We are rooting you on. We are here to give you education, information, these empowering stories, tips, and all of the things. We love you and we are so grateful that you are here.

Closing

Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Meagan’s bio, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

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Player FM đang quét trang web để tìm các podcast chất lượng cao cho bạn thưởng thức ngay bây giờ. Đây là ứng dụng podcast tốt nhất và hoạt động trên Android, iPhone và web. Đăng ký để đồng bộ các theo dõi trên tất cả thiết bị.

 

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