Rachel’s Journey

The Rise Up program at Our Lady of the Angels Hospital gave me and my daughter a second chance and a fresh start. I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t have that program.

I’m 27 now, and my daughter Raedynn was born at Our Lady of the Angels Hospital on December 11, 2020.

When I found out I was pregnant in April 2020 I was heavily addicted to heroin. In August I was arrested and pretty quickly was brought to the hospital to begin the program. I definitely didn’t envision my first pregnancy to be in black and white stripes, orange flip flops and handcuffs walking through a hospital to go see an OB-GYN.

The Rise Up program provided medically assisted treatment while monitoring my baby. The entire staff was really supportive, and they didn’t make me feel judged at all. I felt like any other patient and was treated like any other mother.

I absolutely love them, all the doctors, nurses and the director of Labor & Delivery Ms. Patsy Welch. We stay in touch even now, and I live about 50 minutes away in Mandeville.

Overall An Easy Pregnancy

Despite my challenges overcoming addiction, my pregnancy was very healthy. I didn’t have morning sickness or cramping. I was really tired all the time and super fatigued during the first trimester, but otherwise it was a very smooth pregnancy.

I was able to find out that Raedynn is a girl at my first hospital visit, when I was about four months pregnant. Because her dad, Ramon, and I both have the “ray” sound in our first names we wanted to incorporate that in her name too, which is how we came up with Raedynn. Now it’s a challenge because I’ll want all my future children to have cool, creative names too!

Birth Planning

Going in to Raedynn’s birth I knew we were going to have to stay in the hospital longer because she had to detox. But I didn’t expect delivery to go as smoothly as it did.

Everything looks so dramatic on TV, but once I got the epidural everything was fine. When I got there I was pretty dilated already and was able to get the epidural quickly. Even my mom was jealous of how the birth went and all the care we experienced at Angels.

Only my mom and Raedynn’s dad were in the delivery room with me, due to COVID-19 restrictions at the time. When she was born my mom and I were both serious because we didn’t know how healthy she would be. We knew from ultrasounds that she didn’t have cranial deformities, but it was a relief when she was born with all 10 fingers, all 10 toes. Raedynn was good. She was healthy.

The Hardest Part

Luckily I didn’t experience postpartum depression or baby blues, but it was really hard to watch Raedynn go through detox. I can’t forget that either, because it’s just one reason I can never go back to my addiction.

We had to stay in the hospital for an extra week for the detox process, but bringing her home was very exciting. We had everything ready, including the car seat installed well before she was born.

Breastfeeding Success

I always planned on breastfeeding and had no intention of doing formula. Raedynn is my first child, so I didn’t have the first clue of what to do or how to do it, but the hospital staff were super helpful.

My doctor, Ronak Shah, MD, had told me we’d stay for at least a week and up to a month while Raedynn detoxed. The nurses told me breastfeeding helped her detox faster and is part of what was able to get us out of the hospital so quickly.

I was able to breastfeed for two or three months, but as soon as we introduced Raedynn to the bottle she preferred that.

Family Healing

I like to say Raedynn is healing me from the inside out, and I picked her middle name, Jade, when I learned it is a healing stone. I learned about jade from a cell mate who was one of those girls super into stones and crystals.

Right before I went to jail I had been evicted, but I was able to come home to my mom after I was released. Having my mom here to help with Raedynn has been huge, because she’s been there and done that. She had all kinds of advice and little tricks you wouldn’t know your first time around.

Bringing Raedynn home has brought our family back together, and we’ve readjusted and are rebuilding our relationship. I’m working on them to forgive me and trust me. I’ve stayed clean and continue to share my story to inspire and encourage others.

Kissed by an Angel

Raedynn was born with a stork bite, a type of birth mark, on the back of her neck. My sister googled it and told me it means you’ve been “kissed by an angel.” I love that because she was born at Our Lady of the Angels.

I think nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Today everything is just going really great. I’m so happy and Raedynn is doing great.

Rachel’s Favorite Posts

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Through All Maternity celebrates moms and babies who experienced birth at one of our hospitals across our Louisiana health system. We are grateful for the families who shared their lives with us, and our OB-GYNs and other team members who provide such exceptional care.

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