I have never had perfect health, so when I was ill for weeks on end I attributed my constant vomiting and weight loss to my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Finally I went to the doctor fearing that my condition had progressed to something far more sinister, if someone so much as looked at me wrong I would vomit. Imagine my surprise when the doctor told me he had good news and great news. My IBS had not gotten worse (the good news); instead, I was 9 weeks pregnant (the great news).
I continued on my daily life, with the exception of always getting sick. The prospect of having a baby was not really sinking in. I was excited but not like I had imagined that I would be. I didn’t have the “glow” or even a belly to show. So I waited patiently for that excited, jump up and down feeling I had heard women experience.
The weeks turned into months and finally at 23 weeks my husband and decided to find out the gender of our baby. The ultrasound was the boost I needed. I could clearly see the shape of a tiny human, a boy! The excitement hit me in a rush. I pointed at the screen excitedly telling my mom and husband to look at the baby. Just look at how gorgeous he was, he was moving, and it was finally real for me. I was going to be a mommy!
Up until this point my husband and I had not done much planning except browsing a few pages in my pregnancy book. But now we were ready to push full steam ahead with baby preparations.
It was only two weeks after we learned we were having boy when suddenly things started going wrong. As a first time pregnant woman I was oblivious to the first warning sign, something that could have stopped the hell I and my son were about to endure. My mucus plug had fallen out, but I thought it had been discharge as the plug contained no blood as it typically does. A few days after my “discharge” I began to feel some pain in my belly but it was high up into my diaphragm, and with IBS this was a common occurrence. Except this time it was exceptionally painful. I tried to go to bed, but finally by 2am I was begging my husband to take me to the hospital.
When we arrived I was hooked up to a monitor that showed short and irregular contractions. The nurse gave me a shot of Terbutaline and told me I was experiencing Braxton Hicks, but that I should call my OB in the morning for a check up. The shot worked and the pain ceased leaving me to a long restful sleep.
The next morning the OB explained that Braxton Hicks were normal, but stop in by for a quick check up. I had no idea my life was about to be flipped upside down. I will never forget the words uttered by my OB as she examined me: “Oh no… Amber, I need to get you to the ER immediately, you’re dilated”. What?! I panicked. How could I be dilating?! I was only 25 weeks!
The trip across the street was surreal. And as panic ensued around me in a small triage room, I started sinking. I was being stabbed and assaulted by needles and fingers. After 5 attempts they finally got an IV in my arm, and slammed me with a super painful steroid shot to my butt cheek. My husband arrived just in time for us to learn that I was being rushed from our local hospital in Loveland to Denver, almost an hour away. By this time I was feeling some pain in my diaphragm again and the ambulance ride was gruelling.
When I reached Denver the chaos suddenly disappeared and I sat in quiet room waiting for my husband, and an answer to what was going to happen. At first I was treated somewhat coldly, until they ruled out that my early labor was not a result of drug use – I don’t do drugs and never had. Then I was subjected to an amniocentesis, a long needle jammed into my uterus to check for an infection in the amniotic fluid. That was also clear, and not the cause of my labor. Since there were no answers on why I was in labor they focused on how to stop my labor. A cerclage stitch was a possibility until it was discovered that I was now 2cm and my water bag was bulging. So now what?
Finally the doctor came and said the only option was inverted bed rest and prayers. In 2008, resuscitation for premature babies was 26 weeks. I was at 25 weeks and 3 days. I was terrified and the medicine was not stopping my contractions. By the end of that first day, the contractions were strong and painful.
The next four days became a living hell. I couldn’t have an epidural, because it couldn’t just sit for the length of time the doctors were going to try to keep me pregnant. And I couldn’t have regular doses of pain meds either because of the fragile state of my baby. I suffered thru each contraction with little grace and at one point asked a nurse to slip me something to kill me – I couldn’t take the pain or the thought that I would lose my son. By the fourth day of continued labor I was a zombie. Beyond exhausted and my body was shutting down. My kidneys were starting to fail, and I had begun to have seizures. Despite a drip, I was severely dehydrated. I was dying and so was my son. His heart rate stayed dangerously low and he had ceased all movement, not that I had ever got to feel him move. The doctor called a family meeting and told us that they couldn’t allow me to continue my pregnancy and that my best chance was a carefully scheduled C -section. This was also the baby’s best chance, as now I was at 26 weeks they could try to save him. My family agreed as we were told of the danger an emergency C section would pose in my current condition. Tomorrow at noon I was going to have my son.
Since being admitted my family had been by my side. Now that we knew the direction we were going I told them all to go home, get some sleep. I would need them tomorrow, because I feared my baby would die. My mom was the last reluctant person to leave as I screamed and arched with each ripping contraction. A nurse gave me some pain and sleeping medication to help me rest before my surgery. But only after a few short hours I was woken by the worst and hardest contractions. Then my water broke, I felt it gush out of me and I started screaming uncontrollably. I knew this meant an emergency C section, a risky and dangerous operation of which I may not live thru. I was alone, frightened, and wondered if I would ever see my family again. I didn’t even get the chance to call my mom to tell her I loved her.
My water broke at 1:15am and Jaydon was born viaC section at 1:35am. I was under for the operation and I thank god for that. By the time I woke up again my family was there. I was so happy that I was alive but I didn’t ask about my son. I didn’t want hear that he might be gone.
Finally the doctor came in and check my vitals. I was not out of the woods yet but doing much better and I will never forget what he said to me, “your vitals are looking better, enough that I’m comfortable letting you be transported to the NICU, would you like to meet your son?”
I was ecstatic! He was alive! I was going to get to meet him! I remember shouting, we did it, we did it, we’re alive. I learned that in the hours I was under Jaydon had begun breathing on his own and had no isolated problems outside of what’s expected for being born at 26 weeks. I barely listened to the doctors as they told me of the possibility of handicaps. I didn’t care, I loved him and I would love him no matter what. We couldn’t hold him until he was almost a month old but the wait was worth it and the good news kept coming. He was coming along nicely and would be likely to recover with little to no problems relating to his premature birth.
It took nearly three months before he could come home. That was almost five years ago. My one pound, nine ounce baby is now a happy healthy preschooler and my daily reminder that miracles are real.
We have also been blessed with a daughter with whom we finally learned that I have a weak cervix which fails causing me to go into preterm labor. My daughter was helped to full term with a cerclage stitch and 21 weeks of bed rest. She will be two this year. My cervix was not made to carry children, but I’m blessed with two beautiful, happy, healthy children: Jaydon and Morgan.