I know this is just another story in a virtual ocean of people’s experiences, but I feel the need to tell it. I had little to no preparation for what we’ve faced. Before we were pregnant, even, I devoured birth stories. I had no clue what to expect! Clinical descriptions in pregnancy books helped, but I was looking for more. I went to the blogosphere and found some amazing stories. But still, I was unprepared.
Maybe this will help you in your preparations. Maybe not. Either way, I need to tell it. It’s our story.
Everything in my pregnancy seemed to be going well. It was like I was living a charmed life: little nausea and no vomiting in the first trimester (though I was a bit hormonally crazy!), minimal weight gain, all my levels/stats were great, minimal back pain, we could hear Sweet Pea’s heartbeat, strong and steady. . .all signs pointed toward a normal, healthy baby.
At 35 weeks, I was headed to my OB/GYN for my weekly appointment. I was running late, and my poor doctor was feeling awful (food poisoning). We were both a little off-kilter that afternoon. I told her that I hadn’t felt the baby kicking as much over the past couple of days, and my blood pressure was elevated. So, we did a sonogram. My amniotic fluid was low, and it looked like our girl was measuring small for her gestational age.
I can’t stress this enough, ladies – trust your instincts!!
My unflappable doctor sent me to a specialist – and asked them to stay late, no less – where we had two more sonograms. These were some crazy intense ones, though – those machines must be worth a million dollars or so! That’s when reality started to hit. They saw several things that concerned them, and started throwing out terms I’d never heard of before (though now they’re part of my every-day vocabulary).
“It’s the baby’s heart,” they said. “But we can’t be sure until after the birth. We need to do a sonogram without you in the way.” It didn’t hit me how serious it actually was until they, very kindly and with great compassion, told me that we needed to deliver that night. Like, immediately.
I had to call my husband and give him the news. . .but I was barely coherent by this point. The amazing nurse told him the specifics, and he dropped everything and started driving. He was almost an hour away. I drove the 2 minutes back to the hospital and checked myself into Labor & Delivery, praying the entire time. Hubs called my parents, texted his (they live overseas), and let the rest of our family and church know on the way. He made it to the hospital in record time!
Random side note: we’d just squeezed in a childbirth prep class the weekend before. Otherwise he’d not have even known which hospital to go to, never mind where L&D was! God has taken care of us in so many ways.
My parents and Hubs’s best friend came. So did most of Hubs’s extended family, and half of our church group. We were completely surrounded by prayer, love and support that night.
I’d been dragging my feet a little, finishing all the paperwork, to make sure that Hubs could make it before I went into surgery. Sweet Pea’s vitals were fine, so the nurses were fine with waiting for him. It wasn’t long after he arrived that they walked us to the surgery room. I laid down on the bed, and then got an epidural. I wanted to be awake the entire time. They put up a blue cloth at chest level so I couldn’t see anything, and got to work. It was very strange. I could feel pressure when they cut me open – a tugging sensation, but no pain. Really strange. Hubs kept me talking the whole time – making me laugh and keeping me from freaking out. He was texting family throughout, too – haha! We hadn’t even chosen names yet! We made our choices literally as delivery was happening. The doctor asked if Hubs wanted to watch as they pulled her out, and he did. . .though he said it was an awful thing to see his wife cut open like that.
Our first child. . .she was born at 9:05 pm. “It’s a girl!” My husband got to reveal that to me – he’d predicted it, even though I thought it was a boy.
I didn’t get to see her right away. Her team of nurses & doctors took her to an adjacent room and did a number of things. If we ever have to go through this again, I want to be in the same room. I’m not so easily unnerved, now. And I have stronger opinions, now.
Once she was stable, they brought her back into my surgery room. I’d been getting stitched up in the mean time – closing took way longer than the delivery part. She was in an isolette already. I couldn’t touch her – she was too far away. But I could hear her cry. I could see her face. Her tiny, tiny face.
Hubs went to see her; he took pictures for me. They sent her to NICU and me to recovery. Where friends and family came to see me, 3 at a time. I wasn’t alone for a single moment. They brought Hubs supper, and gave us quarters for the hospital vending machines. They talked with me, prayed over me, laughed with me.
And that was the beginning.