On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with EBB Childbirth Class parents, Kaya and Jess Tuchscherer, about their double rainbow baby in giving birth after two prior losses.
Kaya Tuchscherer (she/her) is a physical therapist, and Jess Tuchscherer (he/him) is a high school English teacher and river guide. They love good food, family, and outdoor adventures. Kaya and Jess live in Jackson, Wyoming with their son, Henry, and two chocolate Labradors, Eddie and Porter.
We talk about Kaya and Jess’ inspiring story of their challenges of trying to conceive, along with giving birth after experiencing infant loss twice. We also talk about how the EBB Childbirth Class facilitated by EBB instructor, Chanté Perryman, taught them how to communicate on how to achieve the birth experience they wanted with their double rainbow baby, Henry.
Content Warning: We mention challenges to pre-term birth, miscarriage, attempts to conceive, placental abruption, COVID, cesarean, newborn loss, grief and loss of family members, and trauma.
Rebecca Dekker: Hi, everyone. On today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with EBB Childbirth Class parents, Kaya and Jess Tuchscherer, about their double rainbow baby in giving birth after two prior losses.
Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker and I’m a nurse with my PhD and the founder of Evidence Based Birth®. Join me each week as we work together to get evidence-based information into the hands of families and professionals around the world. As a reminder, this information is not medical advice. See EBBirth.com/disclaimer for more details.
Hi everyone. My name is Rebecca Decker, pronouns she/her, and I’ll be your host for today’s episode of the Evidence Based Birth® podcast. Today, we are so excited to welcome EBB Childbirth Class parents, Kaya and Jess. Before I interview them, I want to let you know that we will be discussing pre-term birth, newborn loss, and miscarriage. If there any detailed content or trigger warnings, we always post them in the description or show notes that go along with the episode.
Now, I would like to introduce our honored guests. Kaya Tuchscherer, pronouns she/her, is a physical therapist, and Jess Tuchscherer, pronouns he/him, is a high school English teacher and river guide. They love good food, family, and outdoor adventures. Kaya and Jess live in Jackson, Wyoming with their son, Henry, and two chocolate Labradors, Eddie and Porter. Kaya and Jess are here to share with you their inspiring story of the challenges of trying to conceive, getting pregnant, and giving birth following two losses, and how the Evidence Based Childbirth Class with EBB instructor, Chanté Perryman, helped them communicate to achieve the birth experience they wanted with their rainbow baby, Henry. We are so thrilled that Kaya and Jess are here. Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® podcast.
KayaTuchscherer: Thank you so much. It’s good to be here.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah, absolutely. It’s great to be here.
Rebecca Dekker: We love it when families come on to share their stories, and especially parents who have worked with our instructors, such as Chanté, who also is part of team EBB here. Can you tell us a little bit about the road that took you to your pregnancy with your baby Henry? Would you mind sharing with our listeners this journey to what you called your double rainbow baby? Maybe define what rainbow baby is for people who don’t know what that means.
KayaTuchscherer: Okay. A rainbow baby is a baby born after a loss. So we call Henry our double rainbow baby because he was born after two losses that we had. So let’s see. 20-
Jess Tuchscherer: 19.
KayaTuchscherer: 2019, we were pregnant with our first baby, who we named Jess after his dad. Everything was going pretty smoothly in the pregnancy. All the normal pregnancy kind of crummy feelings, but everything was progressing nicely. At our 20-week anatomy scan, they had picked up that the placenta was slightly thickened, but they thought that was just kind of an anomaly and we weren’t really advised that we needed any further monitoring or had anything to be concerned about based on that. I was actually in, we live in Wyoming and I was in New Mexico visiting my grandfather.
Jess Tuchscherer: At about 29 weeks.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah, 29 weeks. All of a sudden, I had some pretty severe back pain and started bleeding. Jess was home. I was in New Mexico, so I had my dad take me to the hospital and we found out that I was having a placental abruption. They tried to stop the labor, but weren’t able to, so baby Jess was born at 29 weeks via emergency C-section and I was under general anesthesia for that. He lived for about an hour after he was born, but they were not able to, I guess, keep him alive at that point.
So, yeah. That’s baby Jess’s story, and poor Jess. It was hard on both of us because we weren’t together for that, but Jess obviously came rushing down to New Mexico and my family was there to help us figure things out and pick up the pieces.
We were advised a C-section not to try to conceive for about a year afterwards. Pretty shortly after we started trying again, we had a pretty early miscarriage and it just brought back all the stuff from baby Jess.
Jess Tuchscherer: It created some doubt. Are we meant to do this? Should we do this? Are we putting a potential child at danger, putting Kaya at danger, in doing this? So, led to some heart-to-heart discussions.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. But luckily we were… Actually, the cycle right after our miscarriage, we conceived Henry. So, yeah. That’s I guess our journey to Henry.
Rebecca Dekker: So you were pregnant with Henry. How did you find out about the Evidence Based Childbirth Class, and what inspired you to take a class in the first place?
KayaTuchscherer: I don’t remember exactly what led me to Evidence Based Birth® initially. I definitely was familiar with the podcast before the class and I was familiar with it from when I was pregnant with baby Jess. I listened to a lot of the podcasts during that pregnancy. So definitely heard about the Evidence Based Childbirth Class. Actually, oh, so we live in a fairly rural area and at that time there weren’t any Evidence Based Birth® instructors in our area. I had looked on the website to try to take it initially, and there weren’t any instructors in our area, and there wasn’t a virtual track available at that time.
So we didn’t take it our first time around, but then it was definitely something that I was interested in doing when we were pregnant with Henry. COVID has changed so many things, but I guess one of the silver linings is better access to these kinds of things in rural settings.
Jess Tuchscherer: Exactly.
KayaTuchscherer: There were lots of options available through Evidence Based Birth® virtually, which was really nice for us.
Rebecca Dekker: Do you remember how you picked Chanté, since she’s in Kentucky and you’re out west?
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. Jess also coaches soccer, and we were trying to take the class in the spring and his soccer schedule is totally insane.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah. It’s very, very busy to balance two full-time jobs simultaneously.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. Well, and…they travel like eight hours to a lot of their games back and forth.
Jess Tuchscherer: One-way eight hours.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah, exactly. So anyways, we looked at some of the virtual class schedules and decided that his schedule was too inconsistent to be able to take a group class. So I believe I emailed Evidence Based Birth®, asking about a private class, and Chanté responded to our email through Evidence Based Birth®. That was how we got coordinated with her.
Rebecca Dekker: Okay, perfect. Yeah, so for those of you who don’t know, Chanté coordinates our professional membership, but she’s also in charge of what we call the mailroom at EBB. So any email that comes in is usually screened first by Chanté. That’s cool that she got connected with you that way. What was your experience like taking the class with her? It was a private class?
KayaTuchscherer: It was a private class.
Jess Tuchscherer: It was.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah, which was really, really nice. She was very, very kind to work around Jess’s schedule.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yes.
KayaTuchscherer: We ended up meeting on Sundays, which I would have never expect from anybody, but she was willing to accommodate, I guess, the easiest day of the week for us.
Jess Tuchscherer: You could tell that she was taking away from family breakfast time and family time on a weekend to meet our needs.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. That was really nice.
Jess Tuchscherer: That was great. Some of her kids would pop in, or she’d be holding the little one. It was a very intimate experience. One-on-one was very educational for me.
Rebecca Dekker: What are some of the things you learned, Jess?
Jess Tuchscherer: I think one of the best experiences that I had was probably our third or fourth session. Chanté’s husband, JaMichael, actually came and spoke with me. He had a very similar experience to our first birth with Jess. His wife at the time had gone into pre-term labor. I asked him. I said I was full of anxiety, and “Given your experience, JaMichael, and then subsequent pregnancies.” I, myself, am nervous every time Kaya has a back pain or has some sort of bodily discomfort that mimics the first pregnancy that we lost, instantly I’m thinking let’s go to the emergency room. Or I’m thinking miscarriage, or I’m thinking pre-term labor.
I asked JaMichael what he did to try and help alleviate some of that anxiety. He just emphasized education. Know everything you can. Educate yourself, empower yourself, and be involved. Go to the appointments and ask questions and do the research. He was right. After that, I tried to go to every ultrasound, every appointment with Kaya, and ask questions and really advocate for Kaya, advocate for myself, educate myself, and find out as much as possible about the process. That really helped me not only become knowledgeable about childbirth and what role a father can play to help, but it also helped alleviate my stress and my anxiety, being this is our third pregnancy and we had lost our first two. JaMichael was incredible.
Then with Chanté, she really emphasized that this is your day. Make sure that you’re doing what you want, not what’s being told to you by the doctors, delivering nurses, et cetera. It’s again, that advocacy piece. Make sure you’re communicating your needs to those that are going to be present at the delivery. Make sure if it’s something as simple as music or lighting or different processes, that you make it about you, not about them. She really emphasized that point, and I feel helped us as well.
Rebecca Dekker: Yeah, and I want to let our listeners know that JaMichael came on the EBB podcast episode 145 to talk about advocacy and fatherhood. So I encourage you to listen to that. Chanté’s going to be back on the podcast again for a repeat experience in a couple weeks. Excited for everybody to listen more about her passion and how she became excited about advocacy.
Kaya, what about you? Is there anything that sticks out in your memory as something that you learned in the EEB Childbirth Class that maybe you didn’t know before?
KayaTuchscherer: A few things. I think the first thing that comes to mind is there’s an exercise right at the beginning of the class where you talk about, not how much you trust the medical system, but maybe how comfortable within the medical system you are. That was, I think, a really revealing exercise for me and Jess to do. I’m a physical therapist, and so generally I feel very comfortable in the medical system. I’ve interned in hospitals and I feel like I sort of know my way or around, and I know what I can say and what some more of my options were. Do you want to speak to your experience in the medical system?
Jess Tuchscherer: I’ve had bad experiences. Personal, but then also I don’t like being in hospitals. Prior to losing baby Jess, like a year earlier we lost my mom. We were there during the experience and there was really nothing that any professional could do to help her. She had a hemorrhagic stroke. It was hard for me to be comfortable in the medical setting. I don’t think it was trust issues, it was just I had just had such negative experiences.
Rebecca Dekker: So there’s some anxiety about even walking into a hospital just because of the past losses you’ve had.
Jess Tuchscherer: Absolutely. Yeah. Just the trauma that I experienced. We were all there when my mom passed. It was more end of life care than I was actually trying to save a life, because it was an injury that was not survivable is what the doctor said. So, yeah. So just being there makes me uncomfortable. I can feel my blood pressure come up, I’m warm, I feel like my clothes don’t fit well. All I want to do is leave.
KayaTuchscherer: He wants to go sprinting for the door.
Rebecca Dekker: You get the flight response. You’re like, get me out of here. Yeah.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah, yeah.
KayaTuchscherer: That was a cool exercise to help us, I guess, just understand that we’re on very different ends of the spectrum. I think I would say that I feel almost the safest in the hospital. The times where I had the most, I think, anxiety during the pregnancy would be times where… We really tried to actually limit how far from a hospital I was at any point in my pregnancy.
Jess Tuchscherer: And how far I was from you.
Jess Tuchscherer: If it wasn’t an official work-related travel.
KayaTuchscherer: Right. Right. So I think felt like, oh, the hospital is the safest place to be, and Jess feels like he needs to go sprinting out of it. It was a really great exercise to both establish where we both are, and also respect each other’s points of view and realize that they’re both very valid feelings about a hospital.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah.
KayaTuchscherer: And also figure out how we can support each other in that.
Rebecca Dekker: It sounds like it brought you closer together in a way by having those conversations about your experiences.
Jess Tuchscherer: Absolutely. Yeah.
Jess Tuchscherer: For sure.
Rebecca Dekker: What was your pregnancy like then? Did you have a lot of anxiety about experiencing another placental issue or pre-term birth?
KayaTuchscherer: We did quite a bit of, I guess, just medical exploration into whether there was a reason why I’d had the placental abruption in the first place. We saw three maternal field medicine practitioners. Basically, nobody could give us any answer as to why it would’ve happened, which is good news because it doesn’t mean that I had anything that would predispose me to having to begin. Although, and I guess they all said, well, because you’ve had it once there is a slightly higher risk of a subsequent placental abruption. But I guess at least that part of it helped me feel good that there wasn’t any real reason it should have happened. It was most likely a one-off.
I think early pregnancy, mostly I just felt bogged down in the nausea and the fatigue, and just trying to make it day to day. I think maybe my motto through the whole pregnancy was one day at a time. Especially at the beginning, it was just too much to be thinking about what the end of the pregnancy would look like what that might feel like at that time. So I just needed to focus on where I was at in the early stages.
Jess Tuchscherer: I think that worked its way down to even our approach of acquiring baby items. In the first trimester, even second trimester, instead of rushing out and creating a nursery, getting cribs and preparing ourselves, we slow-played everything. We waited until three or four weeks before the delivery date, due date, before we even started baby-ifying our house, if you will. I think that reflected our cautious nature, given our experience.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. Well, and one of the most painful things after baby Jess died was coming home and needing to clean out our house of the bassinet and the baby toys and the gifts and things like that.
Jess Tuchscherer: The onesies. Yeah, and the gifts that everybody sent us in preparation for the birth of Jess. Actually, Kaya had told me to call my friends, my co-workers, who actually went to our house as we were traveling home from Mexico, where Kaya was and I had made it to after the fact. They went and cleared out as much as they could. They took those baby items and put them in my office at work. But then I would walk into my office every day and there is, while I was at work, and there are those items. Visual confirmation of what we lost.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. It was hard to really prepare for the very end, for us.
Jess Tuchscherer: It was.
KayaTuchscherer: Really at any point in the pregnancy.
Jess Tuchscherer: It was. Yeah.
KayaTuchscherer: We had excellent, or I felt, really excellent OB group that-
Jess Tuchscherer: Absolutely.
KayaTuchscherer: That we went through for both of our pregnancies, and they were helpful in unpacking everything that went on with baby Jess, even though they weren’t the ones who performed the C-sections themselves since I was out of town. Then helping us try to get any answers that we could and prepare for another pregnancy.
Fairly early on, given that I’d had a prior C-section, that we started the discussion about what we wanted delivery to look like. Again, we’re in a pretty rural area. I believe until just last year, they weren’t even doing VBACs in our hospital because we didn’t have an anesthesiologist who was in the hospital building at all times. So they had just started doing VBACs in our hospital, and I had a conversation with one of the OBs in our group about it, probably even maybe 14 weeks or 16 weeks or something like that. They were not super enthusiastic about having us do a VBAC.
I think at first I felt a little bit upset about that. They were willing to try, but basically they said we won’t induce for a VBAC and we don’t want you to go past 39 weeks. So I would have had to spontaneously go into labor before 39 weeks in order to have a VBAC. That was basically what they said. “You can do it, but it’s under these criteria.” Really, their opinion was a repeat C-section was the safest. The reason they wanted 39 weeks was because I guess the risk of placental abruption starts to rise again at the very tail end of pregnancy.
We went through all these conversations before we brought Chanté into our group. I guess I felt most comfortable. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to prepare for a VBAC and then switch my mind into, okay, we’re having a scheduled C-section mode. So for me, it was just mentally much healthier to just say, “All right, I know exactly what I’m going to have. It’s going to be a scheduled C-section. That’s something that I can count on.” I think that came to be the right choice for us, given the options that we have available in our area.
Rebecca Dekker: Yeah, and the history of the prior losses and all the uncertainty. It makes sense that it would give you a sense of peace to know this is when our baby’s going to be born and we don’t have to worry about changing plans at the last minute or anything.
KayaTuchscherer: Exactly. Exactly.
Rebecca Dekker: Yeah.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah, and Chanté was very supportive of our decision. She did a nice job. Since we had already sort of made up our minds, she did go through the evidence for VBAC and that it is very safe in most cases and that kind of thing. But also was very, very welcoming of our decision that we had made. I guess perhaps one of the perks of taking a private class like we did was that she was able to tailor the Evidence Based Birth® material to fit our situation more. Because there is a lot of information in there about the stages of labor and that kind of thing, which most likely wasn’t going to be applying to us.
Jess Tuchscherer: Right.
Rebecca Dekker: Right.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah. She absolutely streamlined it for our needs, our individual needs.
KayaTuchscherer: She was also able to include some of the comfort measures, teaching us about them for things that Jess could do to help me as I got more uncomfortable towards the end of the pregnancy. Then a lot of the, I guess, the mindfulness and that kind of thing still applied to our situation. Yeah. So she did a great job of tailoring the material to meet our needs.
Rebecca Dekker: What were some of the things you planned with your scheduled cesarean? In taking the class, I know we talk a lot about the different options for cesarean. What did you have on your birth plan for that day?
KayaTuchscherer: Well, it was really important to us that Jess was obviously in the room and able to be there. Luckily, even with COVID, there was never a question of whether he would be allowed to be in the OR with us. My emergency C-section, I was under general anesthesia, so I wasn’t present for that. So I was very excited about getting to be under spinal anesthesia and being able to be awake and alert for the birth as well.
Jess Tuchscherer: We did, and we made a playlist. We asked for that communication piece and the OB was really good about this is what’s happening now. This is what’s going on here. We’re at this step in the process. Instead of just sitting there as blind participants, we were active. The OB did a great job communicating, both of them, throughout the process.
Rebecca Dekker: So you asked for the OB to walk you through each step of the process and talk with you throughout the surgery so that you knew what was going on?
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah, yeah. Like, “We’re almost there. Doing great. Looking good. Now we’re doing this.”Because I’m sitting there at Kaya, like right at her head, and I’m feeling her body being pulled and manipulated. I can feel this, and at first I was thinking why are you moving? Then what I realized through that communication is that she can’t move under the anesthesia. That these are the doctors manipulating and working.
Rebecca Dekker: Cutting the baby out? Yeah.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yes, exactly. They did a great job of, I think, alleviating my stress, and I think you were much calmer than I was.
KayaTuchscherer: Maybe I faked it.
Jess Tuchscherer: Probably your poker face was better than mine. But yeah. They communicated very, very well throughout the entire procedure. Even including, “Do you want to call out the gender?” Because we didn’t know. We didn’t know the gender of. We just called Henry Little Bear, while he was in the oven, so to speak. They asked if I wanted to call out the gender and I was like, “You know, I don’t care. It doesn’t…” and they made me do it.
Rebecca Dekker: So you announced to the room?
Jess Tuchscherer: I did, yeah. They’re like, “Okay, stand up,” and literally I watched as they pulled Henry out of Kaya and held him up. The doctor was like, It’s a…” And I was like, “It’s a boy.” They made sure that we knew exactly what was going on in any given moment and included us in the experience in the best possible way. I think that was another big thing that we advocated for. It’s just, please let us know. Communicate with us throughout the process, and they honored that request.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. Perhaps another perk of the scheduled C-section was that the OB, who had taken really, really excellent care of us through everything, was the one who… She rearranged her schedule because it was in February that we decided that July 20th was going to be the day. So she rearranged her schedule so that she was actually able to be our, I guess, leading surgeon. It just felt really comfortable having somebody who knew us, knew our story, and had been advocating on our behalf continually be the one who did the surgery.
I don’t know how much we contributed to this, but just the room, the atmosphere in the room was really joyful the entire time. I think that’s something that I guess I didn’t even know that that was part of a C-section birth. I don’t know if that is maybe typically how it is, but certainly in our experience it was the nurses were excited, and the anesthesiologist was excited, and everybody. I guess it helped me feel calm because everybody was just brimming with confidence and excitement going into the surgery. Nobody was like straight-faced or nervous or anything like that. I think that really helped us feel all of the joy of the experience as well, just to be surrounded by people who were so, so excited for us and caring for us.
Jess Tuchscherer: Right. Even the set of the room. They created it such that Henry was never out of our line of sight, from the OB, being handed off to the nurses, to the warming station where they cleaned him up, and then being brought right back to us to go immediately to skin to skin. That’s actually another request that we made.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah, that’s right.
Jess Tuchscherer: The moment we can do skin to skin, please let us do it. They absolutely honored that request. They cleaned Henry up, suctioned him, took some vitals, which all took two, three minutes.
Jess Tuchscherer: Maybe. Then it was boom, skin to skin on Kaya’s chest with me right there.
Rebecca Dekker: Oh wow, while they were finishing up the surgery, you got to hold him?
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah, they were still working on Kaya and we were skin to skin.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah, yeah. He was probably only out for one or two minutes before he was skin to skin. Then he was able to be continuously like that through the rest of the procedure and into recovery. Yeah, so that was really special.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah, and they kept him there even when you were being wheeled to the next stage, the next staff frequenting the room. But yeah. Recovery room.
Rebecca Dekker: I love it. Yeah. All these things are things you can totally ask for and advocate for. Even the atmosphere in the room. I think by telling them you want to be involved in the process, it kind of makes them realize they need to center the focus on you and they’re not going to have conversations about sports games or plans for their evenings while your baby’s being born. That’s something that you can actually put in your C-section birth plan, most people don’t know that, is please no off-topic conversations while our baby is being born.
Rebecca Dekker: What were the, any feelings or thoughts going through your head once your baby was safely in your arms after everything you’d gone through?
Jess Tuchscherer: Whew.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah, it felt really good. I think for us, a lot of the stress and anxiety was really specifically related to making it past 29 weeks and then birth.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah, get to the due date.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. So I felt very, very relieved once he was born. A lot of that stress that felt like it was weighing me down throughout the whole pregnancy was almost immediately gone after he had arrived safely. He came out pink and yelling. You could just tell, or I guess I felt like I could tell, that he was healthy and thriving, I guess, right off the bat. So that was really helpful, I think.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah. I felt exactly as, not to be redundant, but getting over that 29 week hurdle was big. Then getting to 39, that full-term and being there and being a part of it, and just holding my son in my arms. It was just a tremendous amount of relief. I was just grateful for everybody to helped us get there. Family, Chanté, JaMichael, Kaya, and everybody in the room. I just felt an immense amount of gratitude. That’s what I felt. I was grateful and thankful that we made it. We got to the finish line.
Rebecca Dekker: And then you get to recover, go home, and care for your baby. What was your recovery and then your postpartum experience like?
KayaTuchscherer: We had my parents. Well, actually Jess’s dad and sister were able to be in our area for when Henry was born, and my parents and one of my sisters were also around. We had originally thought with COVID restrictions that we would be able to have, I think, as many visitors as we wanted or something like that in the room, but it changed-
Jess Tuchscherer: Right. Yeah, that’s when it starting picking back up, COVID cases, in our area.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. It changed the day before or something, so we ended up being able to have one visitor in the hospital per day. So we had, I guess, my mom and then they allowed Jess’s dad and sister to come together the second day. The third day, we left the hospital and my dad was able to come. It was so special to have people come and visit us in the hospital. I think we were never going to have a ton of people in the room, but in some ways it actually ended up being extra special to just have one person at a time to really go through the emotions and the experience with one or two people at a time.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah. It was kind of a blessing and a curse because you want to celebrate it with everybody, but it was special because it’s a really intimate experience with that.
Rebecca Dekker: I’ve heard that is one silver lining is that the postpartum units are a lot quieter.
Jess Tuchscherer: Oh my goodness.
Rebecca Dekker: Yeah, and more peaceful and you have more time to just bond and take care of your baby and recover.
Jess Tuchscherer: As soon as we could get Kaya on her feet, we’d go for small walks with Henry around the unit and there was nobody in there. It was a ghost town. There was maybe three or four other couples that we’re delivering. But without the support from friends and family that would normally be there, we would just unobstructed go for walks around the unit.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. I do think it was really nice to have a lot of quality time, just the three of us. Maybe just some quiet time to reflect on what we’ve been through collectively and where we were now. That definitely was a silver lining, I think, of COVID.
Jess Tuchscherer: And realized like-
Rebecca Dekker: What about going home and experiencing the fourth trimester with the first three months of your baby’s life? What was that like?
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah, so I was very fortunate to, I guess, recover fairly easily from my C-section. Chanté had prepared us very well for the variety in experiences that you can have following a C-section. I had recovered from a C-section before, I guess, as well. I think by two weeks postpartum I felt better than I did at any point during my pregnancy. So, that was really nice to be done with some of the nausea and the fatigue and heartburn and all of those really fun things that go along with that.
Jess Tuchscherer: Your first experience after your first C-section was difficult. This one seemed to be way, way different.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. I do feel like I recovered more quickly. Anyways, we were able to do gentle walks in the neighborhood and I was able to be up and moving around and able to really participate in Henry’s care. For the first couple weeks, my parents were still around, so we had lots and lots of hands, which was also very helpful. My parents did a great job of supporting, running the household so that Jess and I could just be with baby Henry. We basically didn’t do laundry, dishes, or cook for about 10 days.
Jess Tuchscherer: Again, very grateful.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. Anyways, they were excellent support people in that they, I guess they, yeah, just took over everything else so that we could spend our time with him. Then Jess went back to work pretty quickly as a river guide, so I had some kind of long days with Henry by myself, which went fine. I think it’s very full on being home with a baby and you just could be called upon at any time to do just about anything, whether it’s changing a diaper or responding to crying, or whatever it is.
Rebecca Dekker: Yeah, it’s really amazing how the day fills up with newborn care. Right?
KayaTuchscherer: Yes, it does. Yeah.
Rebecca Dekker: Yeah.
KayaTuchscherer: Jess would come home and he’d be like, “What’d you guys do?” I’m like, “I don’t know, but I’m exhausted.”
Jess Tuchscherer: Your turn.
KayaTuchscherer: I feel like I did a bunch of things, but I can’t actually account for most of them, what I did.
Jess Tuchscherer: Which I can completely empathize with because we’ve been fortunate to stagger our leaves. Kaya was on maternity leave and not working for the first three months, and I continued to guide. Then I transitioned into the fall teaching, went back to school and began the school year. Then I took paternity leave, which I’m still on. So Kaya was from July 15th all the way through October 12th, and I’ve been on leave from October 12th all the way through January 3rd. For the last few months, I’ve been home with Henry. So I can completely 100% empathize with, “What’d you do today?” We laid on the floor, read a couple of books, held a rattle for an hour, changed six diapers. I don’t know.”
Rebecca Dekker: There’s a great video on YouTube. There’s another podcast called Birth Full, and the host, Adriana Lozada, has a video on YouTube called Life With A Newborn, Why It’s So Hard To Take A Shower video. It’s a really good video. We’ll put it in the show notes because it’s hilarious. It kind of shows everything that fills up your day. All the little things.
Jess Tuchscherer: We had a baby chair, and in order to shower, I put him in the chair, bring Henry into the restroom with me, step in the shower, sing to him for five minutes so he’s happy in the chair. But yeah, it’s-
Rebecca Dekker: Yeah. I have very vivid memories of that as well, using the little bouncy seat for my kids so I could take a shower. Yeah.
Jess Tuchscherer: Exactly. That’s exactly what it is.
Rebecca Dekker: You’re talking to them the whole time in the bathroom.
Jess Tuchscherer: Talking to him the whole time, singing to him the whole time. Yeah. Maybe I’m lucky if I can shower and brush my teeth, or shower and shave.
KayaTuchscherer: I think, generally, our postpartum experience has been pretty smooth. Henry, he’s a hungry little guy, and so early on he would wake up like clockwork every two hours in the middle of the night and he would eat. But then he would eat and we’d change his diaper, and he’d go right back to sleep. So I think we were pretty fortunate in regards to sleep. Probably his stomach got bigger and he was able to take in more in feedings, and he was gradually just able to sleep for longer and longer stretches. Which I think was probably the biggest thing for both of us is just being able to get the quality sleep at night so that you can function during the day.
It’s been a neat experience for the two of us as a couple, just to really collaborate and work together. I think we’ve each had times where we’ve felt just completely tapped out and at our wits end. It’s been really nice because, at least so far, I don’t think those times have ever happened at the same time for both of us. So we’ve been able to support each other. When one person can’t do it anymore, than the other person is there to step in and carry the load for a while. That’s been really amazing.
Like Jess said, having three months, essentially, a maternity leave has been a really special experience. I’ve seen Jess’s confidence grow with Henry in the time that he’s been home with him. Whereas before I think he would look to me on the weekends or in the evenings, like what does he need? Now, Jess knows what every little crime means and he’s telling me, “Oh, that’s his hungry cry.” “Oh, okay. All right.”
Jess Tuchscherer: Well, I mean, you spend so much time with him, you can learn to differentiate between I’m upset, I need a new environment cry versus I’m hungry cry, versus I might be uncomfortable because I need a diaper change cry. You learn the communication and you learn to communicate with a non-verbal, for the most part, individual.
Rebecca Dekker: Yeah, there’s actually research on that, that paid partner leave or any kind of partner leave when the partner’s able to be the caregiver for a while, that it increases all kinds of confidence in parenting and the bond and everything.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah. I remember coming into it, some of my colleagues are like, “That is a lot of time to spend with a newborn.” At first, I was kind of confused, but then I remember the first week or two, I was like, oh my gosh, this is a lot of time and I don’t have a lot of experience. Am I doing this right? Am I screwing this up? Should I be doing something differently? Giving a bottle? Feeding? Is he sleeping too much, too little? Throughout the last two and a half months, I feel as though I’ve become supremely confident. I feel very comfortable in my role as a father and as a caregiver while Kaya’s at work. I’m very, very confident that I’m meeting Henry’s needs. It’s great. It’s a boost to my confidence.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah, and it’s so special to see just how, I guess, how much he loves both of us. But I probably hadn’t really been around a lot of newborns before, I guess in like a really intimate way. So it was cool, too. It’s amazing to see how much they are able to communicate and how much they are able to show their love and affection, even though they can’t speak or even move or reach for you like a toddler would. So, it’s very fulfilling.
Jess Tuchscherer: Just…I mean, just their facial expression, their incontinence. They beam at you, coo at you. It is amazing how they do communicate with you.
Rebecca Dekker: It’s amazing how they make you fall in love with them and how they fall in love with you.
Jess Tuchscherer: Absolutely. Yeah.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah. That non-verbal communication is so endearing. It’s a wonderful experience.
KayaTuchscherer: A little oxytocin hit.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah.
Rebecca Dekker: Yeah. So Kaya and Jess, thank you so much for sharing your story. Do you have any final words, advice for people listening? Maybe for those who’ve experienced a loss and are thinking about trying again? Or for parents who are planning Cesarean, or anything along those lines?
Jess Tuchscherer: For us, perseverance and patience and education were kind of key. My advice would be to, if you want it, then don’t be discouraged by setbacks. But also learn from those setbacks and honor the setbacks. I think one of the, after experienced loss, one of the things that we have done or I have done is not try to bury the memory. People are so quick to not want to talk about our loss, but I think one of the things that’s helped me the most is honor the loss. I don’t mind talking about losing baby Jess, because I feel as though it helps us honor him but it also helps educate others.
I think that if you can establish a dialogue and a means of talking about that loss, because I don’t think people are very good about talking about loss, especially infant loss. It’s more prevalent than I think people realize. That if you can establish a dialogue and a narrative, can bring people together and people can learn from it and realize that there’s a network out there can help support you. Because I don’t think people, there’s even a language to begin talking about it. Don’t be afraid of talking about your loss, I think is my long-winded answer to that question.
Rebecca Dekker: And don’t be afraid to talk to your friends and family about their losses as well.
Jess Tuchscherer: Got it. Yeah.
Rebecca Dekker: If anyone is listening in 2021, we had an episode with Rose Rankin, who is a grief and loss healing doula. That’s episode 195. Rose gives some really good advice about what can you say when you don’t know what to say? I’d encourage people who want to be a better support person for someone who’s experienced a loss to listen to that episode. Kaya, do you have any words of advice?
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. I think I would echo what you guys said about talking about the losses, and if you’re a support person to someone who has had a loss, to not be afraid to bring it up. Usually, I’m honored whenever somebody asks me about baby Jess, or brings it up, or mentions that they were thinking about him or remembering him. I think it’s not something that should be taboo or unspoken.
As far as going into other pregnancies, I think for me, I’ve always felt like just the best thing you can do is learn as much as you can about the process, I guess. I’ve loved learning, and even discovering your podcast during my first pregnancy. I’d put in headphones and I’d watch Jess’s soccer team. I’d listen to the Evidence Base Birth podcast while I watched the girls play.
Jess Tuchscherer: I could always tell because the game would be going on here and I could see across the field, Kaya and her gaze would be over here. You can’t see the earbuds, or the AirPods in her ears. I’d be like, yeah, she’s completely engrossed in the podcast, not the soccer game.
KayaTuchscherer: I was doing both.
Jess Tuchscherer: Which I didn’t care. I thought that.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. I think just however it strikes your fancy to get into the knowledge and understand what options you have. So the podcast and the Evidence Based Birth® Class all do a great job of giving you a wide variety of what all is out there, and then helping. Then you can pick from your options. You don’t have to feel like one option is better than anything else just because one person chose it, your friend chose it, or the doctor chose it, or whatever it is. I think realizing what all is out there, and some things we have decisions in, and other things we don’t. But I guess at least taking advantage of the things that you do have agency in is really empowering.
For me, that was, I think, how I kind of made it through this pregnancy was just like knowing what I needed to know. If I was worried that something was going wrong, I could reassure myself with I knew exactly what the signs of placental abruption were, and I had talked to my doctor about if I feel this, then I need to come into the hospital, or I need to call, or this kind of thing. As long as I didn’t feel any of those things, even if I felt weird, I knew that I was okay. That I think helped reassure me. Knowledge is power.
Rebecca Dekker: Knowledge is power. Kaya, since you were an avid listener of the EBB podcast, and now you’re on the podcast being featured today, do you remember any of episodes that you recommend? Or topics from the podcast that stick out in your memory that other parents should listen to?
KayaTuchscherer: With baby Jess, we were planning a low intervention birth as possible. So I listened to a lot of the comfort measures ones. That’s like maybe the ones that I remember the best, along with all of the birth stories.
Jess Tuchscherer: Yeah. I’ve even listened to some of those.
Jess Tuchscherer: The story ones when we were driving around.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. I think it’s just cool to hear how everybody’s experiences can be so different. I think you guys have done a nice job in your selection of presenting lots of different points of view and lots of different types of experiences. I think before I was pregnant and really got into this world, I thought that all births went generally the same, and that is really not the case at all.
Rebecca Dekker: Each one is unique like a fingerprint unique.
KayaTuchscherer: Each one is unique, yeah. I think in all of them, you can find wisdom and power. I really felt like our birth was very cathartic. I think probably some people would look at our birth and say, “Wow, that was a really obviously high intervention birth and planned cesarean.” But in our case, it was exactly what we needed and I think if we could go back and rewind, it would be what we would choose again. Or at least I would, from my perspective.
Jess Tuchscherer: Absolutely.
Rebecca Dekker: It sounds like it was very peaceful and joyful.
KayaTuchscherer: It was.
Jess Tuchscherer: It was.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah. As low stress, I think, as you can probably possibly make a birth. Yeah, so anyways, it was a great experience.
Jess Tuchscherer: It was. Yeah. I think like the-
Rebecca Dekker: Well, we try to post about one birth story a month here on the podcast. But for listeners who really want tons of birth stories, I always recommend the Birth Hour podcast, which is all birth stories. There are hundreds and hundreds of stories there. That’s another good option.
KayaTuchscherer: Yeah, absolutely.
Rebecca Dekker: Well, Kaya and Jess, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, and congratulations on your baby Henry. Thank you for sharing the story of baby Jess, as well. We appreciate you taking the time.
KayaTuchscherer: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Rebecca. Thank you for the podcast and the class, and thanks to Chanté and JaMichael as well for being a really special part of our pregnancy and birth experience.
Jess Tuchscherer: And for this opportunity to share our story.
Rebecca Dekker: All right. Thanks everyone, and we’ll see you next week. Bye.
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