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  • Writer's pictureMartina Huntington

Birth and Paralysis | Boston's Birth Story

Ready or Not...

As any first time expectant parent, I don't think you're ever really prepared for the big day. You do as best as you can to go to classes, read up on your changing body, talk to other moms, and even pack your hospital bag, but not everything always goes as planned. Such was our experience with our first child's birth.

On September 4th, my brother was leaving for a two-year mission for our church and so we decided to grab food at a California classic, In-N-Out, to satiate my pregnancy-induced carnivorous urges (I was never a burger fan before. I know, total weirdo right here). After lots of emotions and goodbyes, we dropped my brother off at the Missionary Training Center. As we were saying our good-byes he made it point to tell me, "Now don't have this baby today." I laugh every time I think about this comment. lol

Trying to process all the emotions and go about the rest of our day, I started feeling a little more off than “off” had been since the onset of many pregnancy-related offs. My stomach was feeling queezy, my head was spinning with vertigo, my body felt weak, and I had a fever of 101.9F. Since pregnancy brain set in, I wasn’t one to remember much, but one thing I did remember about pregnancy is that if your temperature is above 100F, you should go see a doctor.

Interracial Asian family including woman in wheelchair taking group photo in front of brick building | Clan Huntington | missionary training center Provo UT

A.J. drove me to our primary hospital to check on my fever, thinking we would be in and out in 2 hours tops. Little did we know, we were going to be there for the long haul as we found out I was in labor and had dilated from 2 cm to 3 cm within the hour I had been waiting. At 9pm, we checked in for the night. Suddenly, that anxiety got more real as the realization that this baby coming even sooner than we thought...and his crib wasn't set up yet. lol. But ready or not, he was coming!


The spinal cord injury is a package deal that comes with a slew of crazy experiences, and adventure is never complete without all the elements, right? For this adventure, the most salient element was nerve pain, aka neuropathic or neurogenic pain. Usually, normal, able body nerves send signals to the brain to warn us when we’re getting too close to a hot stove. With nerve damage, everything is out of whack, so your body sends mixed signals even when you’re not even close to getting hurt. I get electro-shock sensations that shoot from my injury through my back and around my stomach on a daily basis, sometimes to the point of debilitation where I have to stop what I’m doing (at work, in meetings, at school, etc.), take deep breaths, and try not to draw attention to myself until it passes. Over time, I’ve learned to just deal with it. But during labor, the shocks were raging inside of me. I noticed that as contractions on the monitor were spiking up, my nerve pain level was spiking as well—worse yet, the nerve pain went to a new level of excruciating and frequency. And there was nothing that could be done for it. No medication could tame this beast. Dang it! I just had roll with it. So, "yes," definite electro-shocks.


Since I have no sensation from the waist down, I couldn't really feel contractions in the common sense as other mamas have explained to me. But as I had my hand over my lower belly, I could trace extreme pressure and tightening surge through my upper abdomen. There was definitely discomfort from the contractions, but the stronger pain definitely came from my electro-shocks. So "no," there is no need for an epidural...that's a perk of Spinal Cord Injury, right?? (haha).


The nurses administered Pitocin to try to help with my progression. But by 2 a.m. my body had stopped progressing at 4 cm (my body has a mind of its own!). My nurses told me to prepare for a C-Section, and my thoughts ran into a wild field of anxiety. I know, it's crazy, we knew it was a possibility, but I hated thinking about it. Thinking about the whole surgery process for a C-Section and the recovery with a Spinal Cord Injury honestly made me SO SCARED (Power to my mamas including MIL who have gone through this!). But we knew that if we came to that point, we really had exhausted every option and we were doing what was best for the baby and that's what matters most. The results were so dependent on my body's cooperation. We had to go with the flow and be OK with it, because it that was the only thing we could do. AJ and I said a little prayer to feel peace and at ease about whatever would come our way. Miraculously, I progressed to 6 cm dilation within the hour—a ways off from 10 cm but progression nonetheless.

Why is His Heart Rate Dropping?

Through the process, the baby's heart rate started to dip with each contraction. At this point, the nurse was convinced that a C-Section was the only option. And the anxiety set in again. Between not knowing what my body was doing and whether it was going to cooperate for a "natural" birth, not knowing what was going on with the baby’s health, and a whole night of exhaustion and NO SLEEP—this was an emotional roller coaster ride I was NOT prepared for. I think I understand now why moms leverage child labor in a fight with their children because it's one hell of a ride to bring these babies into the world, amiright? We eventually figured out that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck so whenever contractions came on, the cord was cutting off his breathing. The doc went in and unwrapped him to fix that problem. Hallelujah.

And prayers. Lots and lots of prayers, and resting whenever I could. Although, hospital resting is never really resting, right?


By 7am, my doctor came in again for the 15th million time, checked my progression and suggested that we just try it. “Let’s push and see how baby does,” he said. Hoping for the best, we carried on the birthing process. I say “we” because it was a whole team effort. Nurses running around and getting things ready for the baby, doctor and AJ holding up my legs. It was a lot of commotion for one hospital room. Doctor checked the monitor for contractions and told me when to push. And I was in charge of the pushing. Pushes were relatively simple as I curled into a ball, took a deep breath, put my hand on my stomach to feel the tightness of the contractions descending from my upper ab, bore down, and pushed (the workouts paid off!).


45 minutes into it, the doc gave me an episiotomy, and a pair of forceps later, I felt a huge release of pressure from my body as our little baby boy entered the world. At 7:47 am, weighing in at 7 lbs 1 oz, 20.5 in. long, little Boston was born, healthy. I remember clearly how it felt after the nurses had cleaned him up and put him on my chest. As I laid there with this tiny little being on my chest, touching his baby soft skin, running my fingers through his little hairy head, tears of relief and joy streamed down both mine and A.J.'s faces. FINALLY, after hours of anxiety and uncertainty, he was here with us and he was healthy. 

Not everything went as smoothly as we hoped for, and there was plenty of uncertainty along the way. But through lots of prayer, we both felt moments of peace along the way. We truly believe that peace was from our Heavenly Father. In moments of unrest and uncertainty, leaning on His strength and His power has carried us through. The optimists in us hoped for the best, but we knew there were many elements in play on this adventure. We stepped into this journey together and promised we would both work to keep each other OK with whatever happened. We were both prepared to do everything we could together to fight for this baby, regardless of the discomfort and anxiety, just as any parent and partner would.

It's amazing to look back on this experience, to feel all the emotions again, and see all the help (miracles) along the way. We are so GRATEFUL for this little moment in time. We savored his sweet newborn-ness for as long as we could. We felt so blessed and we knew we were so, so lucky to have this little babe. And just like that, a little piece of JOY and HOPE straight from heaven was embraced in my arms. And just like that, we were parents. Marking the start of a new adventure as a family of three...

Newborn Asian baby being held by mother with father hugging her | Clan Huntington Utah
New parents, AJ and Martina holding brand new baby Boston in 2013.

And to answer the question I always get asked, yes, I did have a vaginal delivery ;)

And as a side note, we've done this three times now, each time a little better. And the third time was perfect. A.J. is really hoping for one more, but I tell him why mess with a perfect delivery? ;) This debate is to be continued...

If you haven't yet, check out my post on my pregnancy here.

Let me know your thoughts, experiences. I'd love to hear more from you! Shoot me your questions in the comment box below!

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Happy SEVENTH birthday, Boston Boy! We love you so!

Celebrating Harry Potter *I mean Boston's* 7th Birthday

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A.J. and Martina are college sweethearts who are the parents of three wild wee ones. Together, they share their experiences as parents, stories from their travels around the world, their search for new wheelchair accessible routes. They love spreading awareness about disability, and sharing positivity and kindness. They are believers of Jesus Christ and are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are based in Utah.

Read more here.

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