My husband’s emotion in this situation says everything.
My baby was born on October 25th, 2014 at 7:53 pm 6 weeks premature, and weighed 5 pounds 7 ounces and was 18.75 inches long.
Our birth story actually starts on October 15th, 2014. At nearly midnight exactly on that Wednesday morning I woke up with the very sudden urge to pee. I remember as I was scooting myself out of bed that I felt like I was going to pee the bed, but luckily I got out of bed before that happened. I rushed to the bathroom and was mortified to learn that I needed to change my pants. I changed my pants and was making my way back to bed when the sensation hit again! I knew this couldn’t just be pee.
I took a few seconds to let that realization sink in, and then I woke C to the news my water had broken at 32 weeks and 4 days. He jumped straight out of bed and started getting ready—I was not as composed. I wanted to talk to whoever was on call that night to let them know I was coming in, but after not being able to find that information I called labor and delivery and informed them we were on our way. Then I panicked about not having a hospital bag, the fact that I was losing so much fluid and getting it all over my pants, and the fact that my baby was just too small to come into this world. C was my rock, and he managed to talk me down. We were on our way!
The fog was so thick outside that we couldn’t see more than a few feet ahead of ourselves, so despite his desire to rush C couldn’t. While I wasn’t having contractions just yet, I called and started updating our parents, and both of our moms planned on meeting us at the hospital. Then I started having very mild contractions every 2-5 minutes, which made the fact that C had to stop for gas that much more ‘exciting’. Luckily they remained very mild, and we made it to the hospital around 2am.
I was embarrassed that my pants were soaked, because it’s not like everyone else knew my water broke. C said, “You could be missing an arm, and be worried about a paper cut!”. I wrapped the towel that I had sat on during the ride (that was practically saturated with fluid) around my waist and we made our way into the hospital. The security guard asked us if we knew where we were going, and C started to tell him my water broke, and he responded, “Oh I know where you’re going, but do you know where your going?” He told us how to get to labor and delivery and up we went.
Upstairs I was immediately put into a room and suddenly it got very hectic. The hospital staff did a myriad of things to me: started an IV, double checked that my fluid was in fact amniotic and not urine, and hooked baby boy up to a heart rate monitor and a contraction monitor. Then Dr. H came into the room and checked my dilation, which was just 0-1cm, and he told us the plan: Short term goal was to give me steroid shots to mature baby’s lungs and make it 48 more hours before he came, and long term was he wanted to get us to 34 weeks. He ordered an ultrasound to see baby’s growth and we learned that baby was already measuring 4 pounds 10 ounces— 10 ounces over the 4 pounds the doctors wanted babies to be before they were were born.
Over the next 10 days I was given two steroid shots, started and weaned off of magnesium (to stop any contractions), given IV antibiotics to prevent infection, and baby boy was monitored with hour long NST 3 times a day. I was on bed rest, but I was allowed to get up to the bathroom and shower. C stayed by my side all 10 days and we had friends and family coming and going constantly. I had a very emotional time acknowledging that our son was going to the NICU after he was born. It was knowing that I wouldn’t get to hold him skin to skin, breast feed, or do any of the other things I hoped to do, but the staff at Baptist Health were wonderful at making us feel better and once I came to the realization that he was going to be okay my emotions got a lot easier to handle.
Then on Friday October 24th during our last NST baby C decided to give the nurses a scare by dropping his heart rate down into the 90’s for a minute or two, before coming back up. Up until this point his NST had always been beautiful and even compared to that of a full term baby. At that point the doctor on call said we should go ahead and move from antepartum to labor and delivery just so we could be monitored more closely and if anything was going to happen then that was were we needed to be. I was given a low dose of pitocin (a drug that starts contractions) because the next day we planned on inducing and he hoped that by giving me this low dose over night that it would make my body respond better to the pitocin in the morning.
That night I tried to rest as best I could, but knowing I was going to meet my baby the next day made sleep nearly impossible. Finally at 7am the next morning I was informed we were going on pitocin protocol which says that they will up my dose of pitocin every 30 minutes until my contractions were at a stable pattern.
By 9:30 am I was up to 12 on the pit, and was having regular (but not painful) contractions. Both of our mom’s were on their way. 11am I was up to a 16 and I was starting to feeling pain in my back and some mild discomfort with contractions. Around 11:30am we learned that the contractions are now at a stable pattern of every 2-3 minutes, but they needed to be stronger.
At 1 o’clock the contractions were more intense and I needed to breathe through them. My nurse advised me not to wait until my contractions were ‘white knuckling’ before I asked for the epidural. I was embarrassed asking for it so early because I thought I should be able to handle them better, but I did ask for the epidural. Unfortunately after learning I was only 1-2cm dilated the doctor said I could not have it until I dilated more because he didn’t want me to increase my risk for c-section. Within the hour the pitocin caught up with me and the contractions went from being painful to very, very intense.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to take a birthing class so I had no idea how to breathe through the contractions, and I wasn’t managing them very well. On top of that baby boy was moving around a lot and they kept having to find his heart rate, which meant that the nurse was pushing on my stomach during contractions to find it. I was put on my side, and was half leaning out of the bed, squeezing C’s hand and trying to breathe through them. He was such a champ and offered all the support he could to get me through them.
I kept saying they were coming too close together, but my TOCO wasn’t registering the contractions. So around 2pm the doctor decided to put in an IUP, which is a catheter that is inserted into the uterus along baby’s back, and it registers contractions and their intensity. He waited for my contraction to stop and tried to insert it, but I had another contraction right on top of it and I went from moaning to screaming from the pain. He stopped trying to insert it and waited for it to end, and as soon as it did he quickly inserted the catheter. C tells me that I didn’t even flinch when he inserted it when I wasn’t having a contraction. The doctor then informed me that I was 3-4 cm dilated and could have my epidural.
The nurse had give me two full bags of fluids before I could get the epidural so C and I went back to trying to breathe through contractions coming every 30 seconds to 2 minutes and registered very, very intense thanks to the IUP. I look back and honestly don’t know how we managed to get through them. In between them I was so exhausted I couldn’t even open my eyes. Once I did try ice in-between contractions because my mouth was so dry, but when I didn’t get the ice chewed before one started and I couldn’t find my ‘zone’ before the peak— I didn’t get ice anymore. If I didn’t focus and try to breathe I had this feeling like I was literally not going to survive the contraction.
Finally around 3pm the doctor who was giving me the epidural came in. My nurse helped me sit on the side of the bed, and squeeze her scrubs during contractions. I didn’t have a hard time staying still, but during contractions my whole body would shake slightly but he didn’t seem to mind. I didn’t feel any pain during the insertion of the epidural, and I called the doctor a magic man! When they laid me back in bed we learned I had lost my bloody show, which meant progress was being made! C came back into the room at this time.
I only had one more extremely painful contraction after the epidural, and after that contraction all I felt was this super intense pressure: It felt like I had to both pee and have a bowel movement and I was terrified that I was going to pee the bed. When I told the nurse this she said that was normal, and that the epidural takes away the pain but not the pressure. I remember thinking that he must be crowning to be feeling so much pressure!
A nurse checked me around 3:15 pm and I was 5-6cm. So in roughly 2 hours I dilated from 1-2cm to 5-6cm. It was after this cervical check that things got scary! I went into tachysystole (which is where my contractions were coming on top of each other with no break in between— which is why I felt like he was crowning from the presssure), baby boy’s heart rate dropped, and my blood pressure plummeted— suddenly our room got very full. I put on my side, had an oxygen mask oxygen placed on my face, the pitocin was stopped, I was given an injection to stop my contractions, and I was given meds to raise my blood pressure. Despite how fast everything happened the nurses and the doctor were very calm in the room. In fact it didn’t register until a few minutes later that something very scary had happened.
They started us back on the pitocin at a half dose (I was on 18, so now I was 8, because they don’t do odd numbers with pit). At this point I was feeling no more pain whatsoever, and even the pressure was negligible, but I could still feel it. She did have to keep coming into the room every once in awhile to turn me side to side because she didn’t like his heart rate. At 6pm she told us that she couldn’t raise the pitocin every 30 minutes because baby boy wasn’t handling the contractions well, and my contractions were not ‘adequate’ on the monitor. They were regular, but not strong enough.
C and I started to prepare ourselves for a c-section. Then at 7:00pm my favorite nurse that we had in antepartum comes in to take over! She checks my cervix and we learn that I am fully dilated. The amazing thing is she was coming in to give us information on a c-section because until we learned I was fully dilated they were really beginning to think I was going to need it. My mom came back in at this point and we told her we were going to start pushing, and she went to grab C’s mom who was hanging out in the waiting room with C’s grandma, and his two aunts. She told us that when my mom came to get her they were joking that C’s grandma had the ‘mojo’ to send people into the labor and she had raised her hands and said, “Have that baby, A!”
My favorite nurse was ‘coaching’ my pushing, and I asked C to count for me. I was determined to push this baby out! Then Dr. H (the same doctor who I saw when I was first admitted, and who started me on low dose pit the night before) was the one who was taking over. He sat at the foot of the bed and examined me. He told me that this was going to be easy. He had my mom hold one leg, C hold the other, and he told me to push while he felt for the pressure. He used mineral oil to help my body stretch, and kept his finger under our son’s head so he could tell me when I was having a contraction— but he didn’t need to tell me. I could feel the pressure. I had the perfect epidural!
He told me my pushing was fantastic, and I needed to keep it up and push with ‘controlled rage’— I did just that. At some point he told C to look down and see his boy. C saw his head and his eyes watered with tears. I gave another push and my mom started crying and saying, “There he is!” He told me stop pushing, and he told me to reach down here and watch my son be born. One more push and he was out at 7:53pm. I only pushed for about 30 minutes.
He came out screaming (APGAR scores of 8/8), so the doctor placed him on my belly, and I held him there while C cut the cord. I was crying and thanking the doctor! The NICU team was waiting on the baby, but before they took him back to the unit and because he was doing so well they brought him over for me to hold. I cried and said thank you, because I didn’t think I would get a chance to hold him before they they took him to NICU. I only had a stage 2 laceration that needed two stitches, and everything seemed to be going perfectly. I was thinking we could actually take our baby home sooner than we thought.
Unfortunately we learned that night that he was going to need surgery to repair a tracheoesophageal fistula, and was being transferred to another hospital. No one could tell us how severe his was, or what the prognosis was. We were both so sick with worry, and it was a crazy crash from being so excited to have our son look so healthy to learn that he was a lot sicker than anyone had anticipated. The next few weeks would be the hardest weeks in our lives.
Read more about the first few days here.