A labor of love: how Essentia helped a Northland woman navigate two complex births
Having children was always a dream for 33-year-old Nicole Everson of Eveleth and her husband, Preston — a dream that came true shortly after they married.
Nicole wanted the birth of their first child to be very holistic.
“I’ve always had so much respect for people that give birth with no medication,” she said. “My mother gave birth that way and I admired her very much. I didn’t want to be medicated so I could be totally present during the first hours of Emily’s life.”
At 39 weeks pregnant, Everson’s blood pressure had risen to concerning levels. Her birth plans started unraveling.
On May 9, 2019, the day before Everson’s late mother’s birthday, doctors decided an induction was necessary. Despite the change, she was excited about Emily sharing a birthday with her grandmother.
“Everyone knew my dream birth wasn’t going as planned, but Dr. (Kelly) Greenleaf and my midwife, Amity (Heinbuch), were so respectful and compassionate,” Everson said of her Essentia Health care team. “I was still in control of my labor, even though it wasn’t what I had envisioned.”
The labor lasted nearly 32 hours. Everson would have to dilate with the help of doctors, have her water broken, receive doses of Pitocin to induce contractions, push for three hours and eventually need a Caesarean section.
“Dr. Greenleaf sat on my bed and spoke to me with such kindness. Her calm demeanor and knowledge reassured me that even though this isn’t what I wanted, I have complete trust in her.”
At 1:41 a.m. on May 11, Emily was born — just missing her grandmother’s birthday. Everything went well, but problems arose while closing the incision. There were several indicators that Everson likely had developed gestational diabetes later in pregnancy — one causing an unexpected complication.
“I had developed polyhydramnios, something that is seen with gestational diabetics,” she said. “It causes high levels of amniotic fluid.”
This enlarged Everson’s uterus. During C-sections, the uterus is often removed, stitched back together and returned. Everson’s uterus was so large that it was challenging to return. Doctors think this caused incredibly rare breakthrough pain during surgery.
“It was so painful and traumatic; I blacked out,” said Everson. “Amity and my nurse reassured me that everything was going to be OK. That’s the last thing I remember.”
Dr. Greenleaf explained that because of the traumatic labor, delivery and immediate postpartum stage, Everson likely would experience postpartum depression and PTSD. As that became reality, Everson worked closely with her providers to overcome those obstacles.
Leaving the hospital, the Eversons were excited to begin life as a family. But more problems occured.
“Giving birth usually cures pre-eclampsia,” she said. “In my case it initially did, but the first day home with my new family I had to rush to the ER for treatment of rare severe postpartum pre-eclampsia.”
Everson was admitted to Essentia Health-Virginia for 10 days as doctors and nurses stabilized her blood pressure. She was mostly separated from her new family until being discharged.
“The care I received from Essentia providers in both Duluth and Virginia is indescribable and unmatched,” said Everson. “The doctors and nurses in Duluth brought my daughter into this world safely and those in Virginia saved my life. The one-to-one mental health care was outstanding.”
Everson was advised to wait one year to have another baby.
“One year and three days later, I found out I was pregnant with Mason,” she said.
Due to her previous complications, this pregnancy was considered high-risk which usually negates the option of working with a midwife. However, Everson’s care team again included Dr. Greenleaf and Heinbuch.
Everson did develop gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia again and had an elective C-section at nearly 38 weeks. Leaning on what they learned from Emily’s birth, Everson and her care team avoided any significant complications.
Unfortunately, in his first moments, Mason developed respiratory distress syndrome. He spent nine days in the neonatal intensive care unit at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center. In the end, both Mason and Everson made it home safely.
“The doctors and nurses showed my family they were our friends and our care providers,” said Everson. “They just did things they didn’t have to do to make sure we were cared for.”
Now, Emily is a little older than 2 and Mason is 8 months. Everson said while her deliveries were traumatic, she never worried because the level of care provided at Essentia was exceptional. She wants to remind expectant mothers that birth can go differently than planned, but there are teams of highly trained professionals to ensure they are heard and cared for every step of the way.