Hayden’s Premature Birth Story.
It is almost Valentine’s day! I know what you’re thinking. “Oh another crazy mom obsessed with Valentine’s day.” And you wouldn’t be wrong. However, my obsession with Valentine’s Day only began last year. When my youngest child was born. 9 weeks early. 183.6 miles from home. On Valentine’s day. She is a princess, so why not come out on the most “girly” holiday imaginable. Well since it is almost her first birthday, I figured, I would write her birth story. Complete and unfiltered. This will be my longest post yet…
This pregnancy was my third (well fourth if you count my miscarriage between my oldest two kids). Pregnancy with my first and second child were both rough. My second son was even born 4 weeks early. So when I found out I was pregnant with my third, I prepared myself to have an equally challenging time. At a twelve week ultrasound we were referred to a high risk specialists because my amniotic fluid was low. They checked my cervix to make sure there was no funneling or thinning out. (Due to my previous preterm birth). My cervix was fine and we were to come back every eight weeks to recheck my amniotic fluid.
At my next ultrasound, I was twenty weeks. My amniotic fluid had moved to a non threatening range(still on the low side, but nothing extremely concerning). We were having a GIRL. After a recheck on my cervix we were told we we only have one more follow up for my amniotic fluid, and if that came back in the clear, I would be back in the primary care of my OB. I still saw my initial OB and she was pretty sure I would make it to 34 weeks. (Our local hospital has a level two NICU, which meant if we were in labor before 34 weeks we would have to be air lifted to the closest big city. About three hours by car).
It was time for my 28 week ultrasound. My fluid levels and my cervical length were NORMAL! No more seeing a specialist. We were so happy. The next two weeks were rather uneventful. I still worked about twice a week as a substitute teacher. My next OB appointment was Friday, February 3rd, 2017. I was almost 30 weeks. She said everything looked well. Baby girl had a heart rate of 144. Then we reached the point of the appointment where my doctor would ask me if I had any concerns. I told her something felt off. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was worried. She looked at rather concerned and said “Miranda last time you said that to me we had a baby two weeks later. Please, if your bad feeling intensifies go to the hospital, and always trust your instincts”.
I tried to push away those feelings and continue on my day to day life. I was trying to think about what to get my fiance and my two little boys for Valentine’s day. I had braxton hicks contractions on and off for a few days and then on February 10th 2017 I went to the hospital. Straight to the fifth floor, Labor and Delivery. Something wasn’t right. Connected to the monitors my contractions were steady. About every five minutes. Not painful, but uncomfortable. The hospital monitored me and sent me home after a few hours. My contractions had slowed down and they were convinced it was just braxton hicks practice contractions.
We went home and took it pretty easy the next day. Something told me I needed to pack a diaper bag for little miss. Call it mothers intuition or luck. I was given a few preemie outfits because “even if my baby made it to full term, I have small babies”.
On Sunday we spent the morning relaxing and light cleaning. I was nesting. We cleaned out the car. (By we I mean I told my fiance, Tyler, what to do while I did some laundry). He took apart the car seat covers to all three car seats, to be washed. It was around 4:50 pm when something felt funny. I got a little light headed and I attributed it to cleaning up and moving around too fast. We were almost done with the car, so I told my fiance that I was going to go sit down for a minute.
I sat down on our bed when I realized, “Shit, I have to pee”. So I got up and walked to the restroom, did my business, and then stood up from the toilet. Water splashed down my leg. “Did I just pee myself?” I thought to myself, but I had just peed. I decided to stand up and see if there was any more fluid. At this point I determined I peed myself. “Please let it be pee.” I thought. “Honey”, I called out from the bathroom. He had just sat down and was rather frustrated with my demands from the day. “What?” He said from the living room. I sat back down on the toilet. When he walked in I said “I think my water just broke”. (I knew it was my water from my water breaking with my second child.). He laughed and thought I was joking. I stood up and water dripped onto the floor. I will never forget his face. He turned white! Ghost white. I was 31 weeks and 1 day. Tyler grabbed the diaper bag and we left immediately.
We arrived to check into the hospital at 5:22 pm. They got me into a triage room and took their sweet time. I don’t think the nurse believed it was my water. To be fair I was only 31 weeks. By 6:00 pm the nurse came in, frantic. “Sweetheart it is your water and the doctor will be in here to tell you what will happen next.” She said in a calm manner, but her eyes told a different story. At this point, there were multiple people in a tiny room. The on-call doctor told me “Listen, we are going to airlift you. Your water is broken and we don’t have the technology to handle a baby born at 31 weeks.” I was in shock. Still hoping I had just peed myself and they made a mistake. The rational part of me knew better, but a girl can dream, right?
Air care came into the room and started hooking me up to their monitors. I was given a catheter, and they administered magnesium to “stop” my contractions. Magnesium is terrible by the way, it makes you feel like a noodle and very warm. Tyler asked, “can I fly with her?” And up until that point, I guess I assumed he could. I started to panic. The air care nurse said they would have to call the pilot to ask permission. He ran down to our car to grab the diaper bag just in case. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream, but nothing would come out. He was only gone at max five minutes, but it felt like an eternity. “How am I going to do this without him”, “what if the pilot says no”. My blood pressure began to climb.
At this point, there were about six different people doing various things in the room. The pilot cleared Tyler to go with us! Thank god. Tyler came into the room with tears and a puffy face. He was scared. We were both scared. One of the Air-Care nurses said there was a snow storm rolling in. We needed to go. I swear it was like everyone around me was moving a million miles a minute and I was just…stuck. We weren’t going to be able to take the helicopter due to the weather conditions. They made a decision to airlift us in the small Air-Care airplane.
They finished hooking me up to monitors, and I was given a steroid shot to help baby girls lungs. It was the first dose of a two-part series. Baby girl needed to stay put for at least 24 hours to get the second dose and the full effect of the steroids. I was then transferred to a stretcher and taken down through the ER to get onto the ambulance. Tyler sat up front and I was in the back with an EMT and one of the Air-Care nurses. One of the sweetest nurses I ever had, so calm and reassuring. It was snowing outside, and it felt fantastic. I was finally able to cool down from the magnesium.
The airplane ride was rather uneventful. I was still having contractions and the bumping and jerking didn’t help any. I felt like my water was leaking all over the airplane. (Shoot, it probably was). The nurse lost my contractions and baby’s heart rate for a few minutes. He tried desperately to find it and when he did, he kept his hand on the monitor the whole way. It was about 45 minutes by airplane. We arrived in Albuquerque, but there was an intense snow storm. We had to circle the airport a few times before we got cleared to land. Once we landed I was transported to another ambulance. My blood pressure was very concerning. 140/101. (Normal range is 120/40). My contractions were picking up and I just wanted to sleep.
We arrived at the hospital at 9:20 pm and I was immediately taken to the fifth floor. A high-risk OB came in and told me that we were going to try to keep baby girl inside until 34 weeks because that is the safest bet. My first concern was an infection. With my last two deliveries, I got infections rather quickly after my water was broken. The doctor ordered an ultrasound so we could see how baby girl was doing. She passed her NST(nonstress test) and I had an okay amount of amniotic fluid left. About 6cm. The normal range is 12-24cm. My contractions slowed down and I was able to get a little rest. The next day, February 13th, 2017, was hectic. We had a NICU nurse come in and explain what it may be like if baby girl did come sooner than they wanted. My contractions picked up and I was given more magnesium and another medication that was supposed to help the smooth muscles from contracting. By that afternoon Tyler’s best friend who lives in Albuquerque arrived and brought him some food. I was still unable to eat. After the second dose of steroids was administered, about 7:30 pm, they moved us up a floor to their mother and baby care unit. I had a private room with a T.V. and a refrigerator. In this room, I would only have to be hooked up to monitors twice a day. Tyler’s friend took him to Walmart to pick up some clothes, food, and other necessities we needed. He got back around 9:00 pm. I laid down to relax and the contractions began, again. I called my nurse and she hooked me up to the monitor. Sure enough contractions every four to five minutes.
We were sent back downstairs to the delivery area. More medication was given to stop my contractions, but the contractions continued. Around 10:00 pm I noticed a yellow discharge on my pad. Infection was my first thought. The on-call doctor came in to look at it and said it was just amniotic fluid. I knew better. I knew I had an infection. I started to panic, but no one would listen to me. I tried to sleep, but that didn’t work well. The next morning, Valentine’s Day, around 8:30 am, a high-risk OB came in and said “You are going to have your baby today. There is an infection”. Thank god. Someone listened to me. Then shock hit me. I’m going to have a baby who is only 31 weeks and 3 days. I told Tyler how scared I was and he told me it would be okay. We received another ultrasound that told us baby girl still had fluid, but it was decreasing drastically. They estimated her weight at 3 pounds and 14 ounces. Pitocin was started around 11:00 am. I pushed through the pain, but I was tired. So tired. Around 5:00 pm I got the epidural.
I was able to sleep for about thirty minutes when I woke up because something felt off. I was talking to Tyler when all of a sudden I stopped talking. He looked confused, “Babe, what’s wrong?” He asked, but the words wouldn’t come out. I couldn’t breathe. It felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. I started to hyperventilate. My heart rate shot up higher than our baby’s heart rate. Upwards of 130. I was shaking and Tyler went to get a nurse. I was soon surrounded by at least seven people. Nurses, doctors, anesthesiologists, and respiratory therapist. My epidural was immediately cut off. (Damn it! It had just started working). I was given oxygen and an EKG. The EKG was normal. I was still hyperventilating and they didn’t know why. Plus, on top of that, my contractions hit me like a truck, every 45 seconds to a minute. I was miserable. My breathing began to slow down and my heart rate decreased. I was trying everything in my power to breathe normally. I was violently shaking, but I wasn’t cold. Things began to calm down and people started leaving my room. To me, it felt like a five-minute time frame, but Tyler says it happened over the course of about 45 minutes.
The room began to stop spinning. Doctors and nurses made their exit and before I knew it, it was just Tyler and I again. The pain was beyond intense. I just remember making silly faces and crying. I’m not sure exactly how long this phase lasted. Tyler says about an hour. Then I began shaking again. I felt pressure and extreme pain. Tyler told the nurse to check me. Her response was “we don’t want to check her that much due to her infection.” But Tyler knew. He knew before I did that we were about to have our baby. A nurse finally complied to checking me and her face turned white. “Okay,” she said looking at me, “do not push”. She left the room to get the doctor. She handed Tyler a gown and a hat and said, “put this on”, but Tyler is 6’4 and the gown was too small. They made him go with another nurse to put on a larger gown. I was then being wheeled to the operating room (where I had to deliver in case of an extreme emergency).
I arrived in the OR at 8:40. Tyler showed up in a gown that fit not shortly after. I began pushing at 8:45 pm and my beautiful, but extremely tiny daughter was born at 8:49 pm. The moment she was born the pain stopped. I was able to look at her for about 30 seconds before she was taken into another room. All I wanted was to go and meet my daughter. Tyler left with my phone to go take pictures and a video of her. I needed to hear her and see her moving. He was gone for what felt like a century. Baby girl’s doctor came into talk with me and tell me how her assessment went. He told me everything looked amazing for a 31 weeker. (Funny story about that doctor, he was my first son’s pediatrician before he moved). I was relieved.
They made sure everything was okay with me after her birth (I have a history of postpartum hemorrhage) and I waited, impatiently to meet my sweet little girl. Finally around 11:00 pm I was wheeled into the NICU to meet Hayden. Boy was she beautiful and I will never forget the fear I felt in my heart. There were tubes and an IV line. She was connected to a CPAP. But, she was beautiful and breathing and I didn’t want to leave her side.