This post is part of an editorial series, “The Stork Stories,” brought to you by the Fort Worth Moms Blog. We hope these pieces provide you with helpful information, encouragement, and answers as you prepare for baby’s arrival.
“Mom, when I was born at the hospital did everyone get to hold me too?” This sweet question caught me by surprise when it flew out of the mouth of my tiny kindergartener as we left the home of a close friend after meeting her new bundle of joy. I have known for six years that this moment would come, but that did not stop the rapid pounding of my heart, and the cold sweat that instantly soaked my palms. “Well, no, not exactly sweet pea, we had to wait quite a long time to hold you. You were born way before you were done growing.” With a perplexed look on her face, the string of questions began, and for the very first time, I told my 1 lb, 7.9 oz baby about the night she was born.
We knew for about a month that something was simply not right with the pregnancy, but no doctor or specialist had been able to put their finger on what the precise issue was. My sweet baby was measuring almost half the size that she should have been. I was being monitored closely, and days, and long nights were filled with life altering anxiety, and fear regarding what was to come.
At 28 weeks, I had earth shattering headaches and searing pain under my ribs over the course of two days. After about 20 minutes of teaching on the day I gave birth, I knew that something was terribly wrong. I headed straight to my doctor, who sent me to labor and delivery for monitoring. After several hours and sonograms, my soft spoken doctor came in, placed his hand gently on my arm and said, “Well, it looks like we are going to be having a birthday today.” He explained that my blood pressure (which had been normal my entire pregnancy) had reached critical levels and that blood tests showed that my liver and kidneys were shutting down. I had severe HELLP syndrome and preeclampsia. In his exact words “the baby needs to come out now for the sake of both of you.”
I remember having trouble processing that “we would be having a birthday” that day. My daughter’s due date was three months away. She was supposed to be born on a beautiful sunny day. I was supposed to wear flip flops to the hospital, and she was going to come home in a precious sun hat. Friends and family were supposed to be there smiling, waiting to see our beautiful baby. Instead, I was in a dark room, gazing out at the gray sky outside my window. I was sitting there, waiting to deliver what the sonogram said would be my 1 lb 10 oz baby. I could barely comprehend what was going on.
At this point, I shifted into autopilot. I tend to be a dramatic person, but I reached deep down inside and pulled out something I never knew that I had. I put my game face on, not knowing that it would be staying on for the next 2.5 months. I simply looked at the doctor and said, “Ok, I assume it will be a C-section.” I remember requesting to meet someone from the NICU before the delivery and the rest is a complete and total blur. At this point, they took my weight in the hospital bed. I had gained an additional 15 pounds of fluid since I arrived at the hospital due to the HELLP syndrome.
One hour after this conversation, I was wheeled into the delivery room alone, hooked up to the monitors, and strapped to the table. On the outside, I was strong and stoic; on the inside, I was dying.
All I can remember is looking at her father and saying, “We don’t even have a camera. This wasn’t supposed to happen today.” He held my hand, and the pressure on my abdomen started. As I felt the tugging and pulling, I kept praying silently, “Please let me hear her cry, please!” I knew it was unrealistic and that her lungs most likely weren’t developed, but all I wanted was to hear the sweet sound of my baby on the other side of the curtain. I wanted to know that she didn’t have a fatal infection, or a genetic disorder that had caused her small size. After several minutes, my stomach lurched when the doctor said, “The baby is out. I’m stitching you back up.”
For a split second, I almost lost it. Then, I heard several people (I now know that there were probably 15 doctors and nurses at the delivery) saying, “Look at her kicking. Oh my goodness she has her eyes open. Hi there!” My doctor told me that he handed her to the neonatologist and that she looked really good, was very pink, and kicking up a storm. A few minutes later, they rushed her down to the NICU. I tried to peek across the room and all I could see was a tiny kicking foot about 15 feet away. My only glimpse of her was cell phone pictures and that tiny foot that will be forever burned in my mind. Not many parents meet a baby who is 13 inches long, 1 lb 7.9 ounces, and being put on a ventilator in the delivery room. It wasn’t the delivery I had always imagined, but it was my birth story, and that micropreemie baby was all mine. I was officially a mama!
The Fort Worth Moms Blog is hosting its next event just for you! Bloom, happening May 20, 2017 from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Cook Children’s Medical Center, is an event for expectant moms and moms who are currently parenting children two years and under. (Foster and adoptive moms are welcome too!) The afternoon will focus on information, resources, products, and more that target the pregnancy and delivery stage of parenting through the first two years. This event, held in partnership with Cook Children’s Health Care System, will provide a few hours of pampering, light snacks, educational resources, giveaways and swag, shopping, and connecting moms and families with relevant local resources for this season of life. For information, tickets, and more click HERE!