Happy May 3rd! Around our house, today is a holiday. Why? Because today, May 3rd, was Em’s original due date.
I didn’t even realize it at first. In fact, last night, I glanced at my Fitbit to get my day step count (it was abysmally low) before bed, and upon looking at the date, realized it was already May 2nd. I couldn’t believe that the next day was the day Em was scheduled to make his grand appearance into this world.
So, today I thought I would share his birth story. Buckle up, it is quite a ride.
Like most things I plan for in my life, his birth did not go as planned. I should have known, though, because in my 30 years on this planet, things never seemed to go as planned, whether it was something I had control over or not. This I could definitely not control, and he arrived on March 25th, 2017, almost 6 weeks before his due date.
I always knew Emmett was going to arrive early. Hell, I was surprised he almost made it to 34 weeks.
After my ultrasound revealed Em had a Multicystic Dysplastic Kidney, meaning that he had a group of cysts where his kidney should be. It immediately became a high-risk pregnancy. Besides my regular OB (who I couldn’t stand), I now had a perinatologist (maternal-fetal medicine specialist) who was amazing. After the initial ultrasound, I had to go in for a vaginal ultrasound so my new MFM OB could get better imagery of my unborn son’s kidney.
During that ultrasound, he discovered my cervix, at just 20-some weeks, was already beginning to ripen (TMI, sorry!). Basically, it could just open anytime and I would give birth, regardless of whether he was ready to come out or not.
“We’re going to aim to get him to 28 weeks,” he said. “That way he’ll have a better chance of survival. I was put on bed rest immediately.
The good news, however, was that his one kidney was doing great, and in further ultrasounds, showed normal growth to make up for the lack of a second kidney.
As my pregnancy continued, I was diagnosed with not only gestational diabetes, but with preeclampsia (high blood pressure), as well.
(At some point I’ll dedicate an entire post to just my pregnancy, because it was incredibly difficult and wrought with problems.)
As my pregnancy continued, and I made it past 28 weeks, I began to breathe. Bed rest and a healthy, low-sodium diet were working.
That is, until I went in for my weekly MFM appointment on March 22nd, the day after my 30th birthday. My blood pressure was higher than it normally was, which worried the nurses and my doctor. I had in an exam room for hours while nurses continuously waited for my blood pressure to go down. But it didn’t.
I was admitted around 7 pm that evening, and was given an intravenous dosage Labetalol, a beta blocker to lower my blood pressure. My regular OB came in. At the time, I couldn’t stand her; she a was straight-to-the-point, no BS doctor who never laughed at my jokes. My MFM, however, was the total opposite: funny and threw jokes back to me just as soon as I made them. Where was he? I thought.
I remember feeling as if a cold rush of air came into the room as she did. I gripped my husband’s hand.
“Since we had to give you such a high dose of medicine, we can’t take any more risks, for you or the baby. We’re scheduling a C-section for Monday.”
I looked at my phone. OK, it’s Wednesday, I have time to prepare, I thought. Except I couldn’t go home. I was stuck in the hospital now, and I wouldn’t be able to leave until I was a mother. I was terrified.
The next two days were fine. Besides being awfully bored, my blood pressure was actually normal. I thought for sure I’d be able to go home, they’d cancel the scheduled cesarean, and I’d have a few more weeks to prepare.
On Friday afternoon, I took a guided tour of the NICU ward. My doctor warned me that since my son was so early, he’d probably have to spend a few days in there.
When I returned to my room, I immediately started bawling my eyes out. “Those poor babies,” I told my husband. That’s all I could think of to say.
And then on Saturday night, at 7 pm, my nurse came in to check my blood pressure. I had just eaten dinner, and was talking to my husband and my mom.
It was high. Really high. Before I could even blink, the room was infiltrated by doctors and nurses, buzzing around me and talking to themselves.
I was going to have my son now.
Panic immediately filled me. No no no no no. This can’t be. Not yet! It’s too early! I’m not ready for this! My son isn’t ready for this! I went to the bathroom and when I came out, my husband was fully dressed in scrubs.
Holy shit, I thought. This is happening. This is happening right now.
I was wheeled, in my bed, into the operating room. I couldn’t believe how bright and sterile-looking it was in there. Nothing like on TV.
Since I was going in for emergency surgery, I expected the nurses and doctors to be like they are on medical dramas, too: rushed, stoic, serious. Instead, the doctors were calm, relaxed, and surprisingly nice.
The nurse informed me what was going to happen: they were going to give me an epidural, which would put my body, up to my diaphragm, asleep. She told me I would feel pressure on my chest, like I couldn’t breathe, but that I could, in fact, breathe. I told her that if I freaked out, to put me out. She agreed.
I looked at my husband. He just sat there, holding my hand tightly, smiling at me.
“Everything is going to be okay, I promise,” he said over and over. I could feel the epidural slowly creeping through my body. I had an immense pressure on my chest.
“I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” I said. The nurse looked at my sweetly.
“You can breathe, honey, you’re doing great.” Then they began.
From what I could feel of my body, it was tense. Suddenly, the doctors began violently shaking the lower half of my body. It was so intense and at the same time so intensely numb. I couldn’t help but to laugh. What the hell is going on to my body right now? I thought.
I still held my husbands hand tightly. He still kept saying, “you’re doing great, I love you” over and over again. Every time I looked at him with worried eyes, he calmly smiled. How did a nutcase like me end up with such an amazing guy? I ask myself regularly and still have no answer.
Suddenly, the shaking stopped. The doctors began counting loudly. He must be out! I thought. But the doctors sounded worried.
They laid him on a table to my right, behind my husband, and saw a baby. My baby. My husband turned around to me and smiled.
“Time of birth: 8:01 pm” a doctor said.
“He’s beautiful,” I remember saying, with tears in my eyes. Then, hearing confusion in the room around me, I asked, “is he okay?”
Then, I was out.
I woke up in a daze, in pain, the room spinning, panic began to set in.
“Where am I? Where’s my son?? Where’s my husband?!” I asked the nurse, frantically.
“Your husband is with your son in his room in the NICU. As soon as you are stable, you can join them. Would you like some pain medication?”
“Uh, yeah, sure, I guess,” I replied. In all honesty, I was more anxious than in pain, and I hoped whatever they gave me would calm me down rather than quell the pain. Instead, they gave me fetanyl. That just made the anxiety worse. I just wanted to meet my son, but not with the world spinning. How do people actually like this stuff?
After what felt like forever, I was stable enough to go meet my son. I thought I could walk. Nope. They took me by wheelchair.
I’ll never forget seeing him. He was fast asleep on my sleeping husbands chest, wrapped in wires and face almost fully covered by a ventilator. He was teeny tiny, and his skin seemed almost too big for his body.
The first time I got to hold him was surreal. The journey getting him here was over. I was actually holding my newborn son for the first time. Despite everything we went through during my pregnancy and his delivery, he was finally here.
The next few days were a blur. We were learning how to be parents to a preemie as I was trying to heal from major surgery. Because of my bad experience with fentanyl after his birth, I was weary of taking pain medication. I only took Tylenol. As long as I didn’t move much, I was fine. I had my son, so I knew I was fine.
My original OB came in, and for the first time, she smiled and laughed at my jokes. Not that it mattered, anyway, she ensured my baby made it safely into the world. Whether she liked my stupid jokes or not, I was forever indebted to her.
Two days after Em’s birth, I was walking into our NICU room. A group of doctors and nurses chatted quietly at one of the stations, and suddenly, an alarm bell went off.
“Alright, someone needs us. Let’s go delivery a baby!” One of the doctors exclaimed, they all smiled and excitedly high-fived.
I began to cry. Could they have had the same reaction when an alarm bell went off when I needed an emergency c-section two days ago? While I was so terrified of what I was about to go through, is it possible these same doctors were just as excited to deliver my baby? It completely made me realize that while it is scary, childbirth, in whatever form it ultimately comes in, is just so exciting for everyone involved. .
Spending 8 days in the NICU ended up being a blessing. We had a staff of amazing nurses and doctors teaching us how to be parents, and they were available for help at the push of a button. No matter what we needed, no matter what time, they were always there, and for that, we are forever grateful.