When you reflect back on the day your child was born it should stir happy and excited emotions of warmly welcome your little one. For me, the day I met my son was not filled with these typical emotions, amidst the excitement of meeting him there was a lot of fear underneath it all. The day was terrifying but we can't go back and change it, it is forever our story.
The week of August 23rd....
The week was starting out normal per usual. I was excited that my third trimester was in the works and we were in the home stretch to meet our little boy. I was looking forward to Fall and welcoming the much needed cooler weather. This was an exciting week for me, I had a three day work week and then we were off to Michigan for our babymoon trip.
I was one of those women that experienced Braxton Hicks contractions from about 23 weeks on. A completely normal part of pregnancy. This week I noticed that they were slightly stronger than normal. They were not coming at any regular intervals so I brushed them off. I noticed I was getting more back pain and I would ask Derek to rub my lower back each night before bed. I thought that the third trimester had really kicked in and I was starting my 'uncomfortable' stage.
I had my 7 month check up with my midwife that Tuesday and everything checked out perfect. I had passed my glucose test, my iron levels were perfect, and my weight gain was right on track. I was the gold star mom to be!! I asked her about my stronger BH contractions and she assured me that as long as they weren't regular or I was having more than 4 an hour that it was nothing to be alarmed about. The back pain is common in late pregnancy and neither of us were too concerned. I left the appointment with a big smile and happy about my healthy progress!
Thursday had finally come and we were all set to drive to Michigan for our special trip. I wasn't looking forward to 4 hours in the car but I couldn't wait to 'get away' for the weekend. The weather was shaping up to be a perfect weekend. We arrived in MI around 4 and quickly settled into our room and headed to the town to shop before dinner. We found the cutest little shops; baby stores, a dog boutique, and a gelato store. After an early dinner we both got a large gelato and then headed back to the hotel to watch the sunset on the patio. It was so beautiful over the lake.
I headed to bed early (per usual). I remember asking D to rub my back, the bed was pretty hard and I knew I would be uncomfortable all night. I woke up a few times to pee and because the bed was so hard, making the back pain worse. I was dreading sleeping on this bed for another 2 nights but I thought that the lake view was worth the crappy bed!
Friday, August 27th.....Braydens Birth Day!
We both woke up to the sunrise and the rays pouring into the room. Our natural alarm clock! I sat up in bed to wake up more then I rolled over to baby pose, for the yoga buffs, on the bed to relieve my back pain some. When I finally got out of bed my usual routine began...bathroom was always first. I remember looking down and there was a small amount of blood. My mind was immediately filled with panic. I knew this wasn't a good sign. I showed D, maybe hoping that I had imagined it and asked him what to do. I already knew that calling our midwife was game plan 1 but some part of me just needed some reassurance and help!
Derek called Debbie to explain and she instructed us to wait while she called her practicing physician. (Midwives in IL must have a physician they partner with in case there patients should need to go to a hospital, the physician would be there Dr). I had scheduled my mandatory meet up with him for the following month just to get the all clear for paper records. Little did I know I would be meeting him in a few hours.
While I was waiting for the call back I told D to pack and that I was sure we were going to head home. The 30 minute wait seemed like 10 hours. The phone finally rang and she presented options. I didn't want options, I needed to be told what to do!!! We could either go to a hospital in Michigan to get checked out or risk a drive home, if something were wrong the drive could present problems like not knowing where a hospital was. I put her on hold, checked the bleeding which had stopped, and told her I was heading back. Something in my head just told me to leave and so we did. Within 5 minutes we were off.
My midwife made an appointment for me at her physicians office, 3 hours away, and said she would meet us there to get checked out!
I was so scared the whole ride. My mind was going over every scenario of what this could mean. D and I were pretty silent the whole ride. I asked him to stop once so I could check the bleeding and it hadn't come back. This gave me a small amount of relief. I was having 1-2 BH an hour, I timed them out of fear, and nothing was regular or stronger so this brought me some relief. I tried to remain as calm and relaxed as possible while in the car. We didn't tell anyone we were headed back, we didn't want to scare anyone if it was nothing so we decided to wait on the phone calls. My parents has just arrived in Europe for there anniversary trip and I was definitely feeling scared having my mom was so far away.
We finally arrived at the Dr's office and they asked me to have a seat and wait for the Dr. I was furious!! They seriously want me to wait?? I asked to use the bathroom before my exam and my fear again returned, more bleeding. I was silently freaking out inside. When I returned to the waiting room Debbie had arrived and D could see the terror on my face. I explained to Debbie all the events in more detail and asked what this could be?? As soon as I asked my question I wanted to take it back, I didn't really want to hear what this meant, secretly I knew it was bad and I didn't want anyone to say it out loud.
We all got called in and I met Dr Gomez who examined me along with Debbie. He decided on a vaginal exam first to see what was going on. It was only about 30 seconds and I knew by the look on his face it wasn't good. He said quietly and slightly panicked to Debbie 'I can feel the membrane sack, she is 100%, and 5'. I knew what this meant, I had been a good student in my birth classes. Membrane sack: amniotic sack, 100%: cervix was 100% open, 5: I was 5cm dilated! He looked at me and said what I already knew, 'you are in pre-term labor'. Debbie walked over to grab my hand and I went numb. I looked at D for reassurance and he looked just as scared. I was asked to carefully lay down for an u/s. I only saw B on the screen for a second. The Dr confirmed 'he was in position' and turned the screen off. Debbie and the Dr left to 'talk' and I immediately started crying. I was so confused. How the hell was I 5cm dilated? How the hell was I in labor and didn't know it?
After quickly returning the Dr said I need to be admitted to the hospital immediately and I would need to wait for a wheel chair to be escorted over. Luckily the OB office was connected to Gottlieb Hospital so I didn't need to go far. They placed me in the waiting room, again, and said the escort would be there soon. Seriously more waiting....I'm in labor here!!!! I was mad and confused. I said to D, 'it's time to call our families'.
I waited for an eternity it seemed before my wheel chair and Labor and Delivery nurse arrived. She did her best to calm me and tell me what was going to happen once I got to my room, I don't remember a word she said except that 'your husband will meet you in the room after he checks you in'. What? No, your not leaving me alone! Apparently I had no choice in the matter because next thing I knew D was gone, I was asked to put a gown on, 3 nurses were giving me IV's, I got a huge needle in the thigh, 'steroids for babies lung' they said, and a fetal monitor on my belly. And then just as quick everyone was gone! The room was still.
It was noon.
Debbie arrived about 3 minutes later to sit with me and shortly after D came back in. Debbie explained to me that I was being given Magnesium to try and postpone the labor and the steroid was to help Braydens lungs for the outside world. My head was spinning, I wasn't really sure what was going on. I felt so helpless and out of control. I was numb, scared, and confused.
The Magnesium makes you feel drunk basically, I hated this. Not only was I terrified, I was out of it too. It also gives you intense hot flashes. I was so grateful for D and Debbie, they stayed to comfort me when all the nurses left me alone.
In all this chaos I couldn't really wrap my head around the fact I was actually in labor. I had heard them say it but I was in denial. I wasn't ready, I hadn't taken my last birth class, would the baby be alive, my parents are in Europe, the nursery is not done, I don't want to deliver in a hospital!!! All these thoughts were running through my head.
When I look back now I didn't really process everything until about 3 days later. I am grateful for this because shortly after being admitted I was so calm and relaxed. I think my mind blocked a lot of what was happening out in order to get this job done and be strong.
Derek later said that I was pretty much meditating the whole time at the hospital. I couldn't feel the contractions, I was not in pain, and baby was doing well! I was examined again and this time the number I heard was 7cm. I realized before they told me that this baby will be coming sooner than later. I told the Dr I couldn't feel any contractions but they were showing up on the monitor. They were very surprised and told me I have a very high pain tolerance. The worst part about being there was the catheter they put in. In my 'magnesium induced' state I asked every person that walked in the room to take it out!! I begged, pleaded, and even offered to wear a diaper. Yeah, it was bad!! I hated that damn catheter.
There goal was to get me stable (meaning no change) and transfer me to Loyola, about 10 minutes away to deliver there where they have a level 3 NICU. If I had no change in 2 hours I could go. I think at this point I realized that this was big, Brayden is coming and may not make it. I wondered what a 28 week baby would even look like? Would he be alive? Breathing? Would I need a c-section? I asked and was assured I was pushing him out. I still couldn't grasp that I was having a baby, I was going to push him out, and no one could reassure me he would be OK. They told me he would be 2 lbs or under and that they weren't sure his chances but the Dr's would do all they could.
I was checked at my 2 hour point and low and behold...no change. The nurse left the room to call Loyola and get my ambulance ready to move! Almost as soon as she left the room I felt something funny. I turned to D and said, 'My water just broke, get the nurse'! In my head all I could think was SHIT!!!!
The nurse checked and it indeed had broken. She said that I was staying and Brayden would be born right here, I was not going anywhere. The Loyola team would need to come to me.
They told me that if I felt pressure or felt the urge to push to get the nurse immediately. This scared me. I think it finally hit me that this baby is coming SOON. Like really soon!! I started to feel contractions more but they were still pretty mild. I noticed them every 1 minute or so. I was scared, I knew that they were quicker and stronger and that meant any moment now. I hadn't had time to mentally prepare for delivery. I wasn't sure what to do. I was just dreading that 'pressure' feeling they mentioned. I hope and prayed that it would just never come, that he would somehow stay in!
About 30 minutes went by and they told me the Loyola team was on there way and to try and hold off until they get here. What?!? SHIT again is running through my head, how the hell am I suppose to hold off!!
It felt like 5 minutes and I had D get the nurse because I was indeed feeling pressure, it was faint but I wasn't taking any chances. Dr Gomez had arrived back at this time and said it was time to get ready. It was almost instant....the NICU team arrived and were setting up the baby area, the furniture was being moved out, the Dr's put on all the gear and masks, the room was chaotic and full of people (about 12). Everyone was introducing themselves and telling me there 'job' and it was all a blur. The only one I remember meeting was Dr Vega, the Loyola Neo Dr, I knew she was the important one, she was going to save our baby. She was the hope I needed in all this, once I met her I was reassured.
It was time, time to push. I was 9cm and they said I could start now and my pushing would open me up to 10cm. I told them I needed help. I didn't know what to do. I was coached to push down hard when I felt a contraction and hold it for 10 seconds. Only problem, I couldn't feel the contractions. The first one went by and the Dr's looked confused. 'Can you feel that? "No'. My reply seemed to surprise them and me too. I asked 'Is this normal' and got my own 'no' response. So new plan; they tell me when and I push. Every 30 seconds the monitor would show a contraction and I would push, hold, breath, and push again. I pushed for about 20 minutes and at the very end I remember being tired, out of breath, and in pain for the first time. His head was almost out and it hurt like hell!! I remember saying 'just get him out!' I just needed relief. Derek was so amazing, he coached me the whole time, telling me how great I was doing. The whole room seemed small now. I didn't notice anyone but D, my nurse, and my Dr. A few more pushes and they told me to open my eyes and look at my baby. I was scared, part of me didn't want to see this frail sick baby I thought was coming.
I opened my eyes and saw the most beautiful pink crying baby. He was tiny and skinny but he was mine. This miracle that had been living in me for 7 months was right in front of me. I had become a mom! I was happy and relieved and scared, and in an instant he was gone. Whisked off to the Neo team. There was so much commotion and I could see him for brief moments when the bodies surrounding him would break. Derek kissed me and I kept asking 'how is he?' 'is he OK?' My Dr was pushing on my stomach 'we're trying to get the placenta out' they told me but all I cared about was the commotion in the corner and my baby.
The few minutes he was in the room felt like seconds. Dr Vega came over and held him to my face and said 'kiss your son', I did! He was so small and perfect. With tears I told him I loved him. D and I told each other we love you and I said go be with him and just like that my husband and son were gone. It was just me now.
My nurse was there but I felt so alone. I had no brand new baby wrapped in my arms or the loving husband by my side. My parents were not down the hall waiting to come see there new grandson. I had just become a mom and my heart was broken.
When the nurse determined I was stable she left the room, the silence was deafening. I stared at my phone waiting for every text from D with an update on Brayden. The whole situation was surreal, like it never happened. 'Was it a dream?' I desperately hoped it was but reality kicked in. My dream had become a nightmare.
I was released 4 short hours later, unheard of for being discharged, but given the situation they let me go to be with my son. I was stable and OK to leave and after a very quick shower I left.
I was driven and escorted to Loyola by my SIL Stacy and her husband Matt. In a daze I was shown the NICU (lock down) door and let in. I was shown where to go and when I turned the corner I saw D sitting in front of a small open warmer. It was my son!
I don't remember this first night with him in the NICU. D and the nurses later told it to me in more detail. What I do remember is as soon as I sat down and looked at him I started crying. He was alive and I was scared. I had no idea what was in store for us next.
We sat with him for a few hours and then left, empty handed, only to return every day since, always leaving empty handed.
The emotions felt during the past few months have been intense. I have been up and down many times trying to process all this. It was necessary for me to be depressed and learn how to grieve in order to come out where I am now. When my son was sick I thought I would never come out of my sadness, the bottom is hard but we must fall down in order to fly back up. I did not get my ideal pregnancy, birth, or newborn. It has been hard to let go of these things and move on to accept what I have. My son may not be the 'normal' baby but he is perfect. The joy he brings me each day could never be replaced.
I have come to a place now where I am grateful for our situation and having been able to spend this time watching Brayden grow. I myself have also grown so much in the last 2 months. I can say I will not come out of this experience the same person, deep down I'm the same but I have developed a new outlook and appreciation for life and my family that I would have never gotten without going through this.
Our situation is not ideal and I hope no one I know has to go through it, but now that we have lived it, I wouldn't give it back. For with all the sickness and bad we have seen, we have also seen this little miracle fight and grow. Every smile and moment with him is worth it all. He continues to fight and we will be there every step of the way.
Someday the NICU will be a distant memory. It was(is) traumatic and extremely hard but somehow we survived. I guess as parents all you can do now is react and adapt. He is worth all of it.
Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself "How did I get through all of that?"