Our Preemie - A Birth Story

Wow.... it's been a whirlwind of a week. If you follow on Twitter or Instagram, you've probably already seen our big news. Last Friday's post published while I was on hospital bed rest, trying to prevent labor and the birth of a baby a 32 weeks gestation. I knew that I'd be delivering her soon, but I honestly didn't think that my little girl would be born within 24 hours of when I wrote that post. Bensen's birth was quick and easy but recovery was rough on me physically, emotionally and mentally for quite a few months, until I decided to stop breastfeeding. Our fiesty little girl's birth was a whirlwind! In some ways recovery has been easier than Bensen's and in others it's been harder.

A couple of weeks ago, I'd had a really long day and was really uncomfortable. Baby girl was pushing up against my abdomen in a way that was really painful and I was having a hard time sleeping. After an hour or so, she stopped moving as much and I realized that I was actually having painful contractions, and she was probably moving that way in response to them. I only had a couple more after that, so I ignored them. The next day, I had a few other signs of pre-term labor, things that I'd noticed with Bensen a couple of weeks before he was born, so I called my doctor. They told me that if I experienced any of those symptoms again or had any other contractions, to go straight to labor and delivery. I took it easy for the rest of the weekend and felt fine.

Last Monday, I was feeling really uncomfortable again at the end of the day, but I hadn't been very active and only had about 2,500 steps logged on my Fitbit. I didn't worry too much because I hadn't have any contractions and knew I had a doctor's appointment in a couple of days. I took things easy on Tuesday and brought up my recent discomfort to my doctor at my appointment first thing on Wednesday morning. We did a strep-b test just in case and when she checked me, I was dilated to a three and 90% effaced. I was put on modified bed rest and told to take it easy and limit my steps to 1,000-2,000 a day. I immediately made arrangements for Bensen to be with other people on my days off (the hardest thing I've done because I have those days off to spend with him) and started taking it really easy. I made lists of the things that I still needed to get done before the baby arrived and planned to have Joe complete one or two of them for me each night until they were done.

Thursday at work, I was feeling uncomfortable again and taking it really easy. Around 1:15pm, my water broke and I went into panic mode. I called Joe, who had conveniently just started his lunch break, and told him to meet me at the hospital. I made a few arrangements for things at work and took stuff with me so that I could continue to work while I was in the hospital (yes, I'm one of those people). My coworker drove me to the hospital and I just kept thinking how weird it was that I wasn't having contractions, because with Bensen, the intense, painful contractions started immediately after my water broke. When we got to the hospital, Joe was waiting out front with a wheelchair and took me up to labor and delivery. They checked us in, got us to a room, and then the waiting game began.

They determined that I wasn't in active labor and I hadn't progressed very much since my doctor checked me the day before. My doctor and a team of other doctors discussed my situation and came up with a plan. They would give me progesterone shots to help baby girl's lungs develop and hope that they could to keep me pregnant for at least 48 hours so that those steroids could do their job. If at that point, I still hadn't delivered and wasn't in active labor, they would move me to the maternity side of the hospital and I would hang out on bed rest until my baby came or I hit 34 weeks gestation. At 34 weeks, they would deliver my baby but if she decided to come sooner than that, they wouldn't do anything to stop it. Basically, I could still be pregnant anywhere from a few more hours to two more weeks. 

I feel like I don't remember much of that first day. I know I got my shot around 3:30pm and was put on a clear liquid, gestational diabetes diet which consisted of sugar free jello and water. I did get one popsicle out of them, until they cut my sugars out. At one point, Joe went home to get stuff that we might want for our hospital stay and to eat some dinner, away from me since I couldn't have any. Around 10pm, my contractions became painful and more regular. Joe pulled out the bed they'd brought him and slept while I bothered the nurses, got IV pain medicine and tried to get comfortable. I did get an hour of good sleep part way through the night, but that didn't last long because they pain came back. By 4:30am, I hadn't progressed any since about 10pm and my doctor decided to give me an epidural and move me to a bigger room since I might be there for a while. After I got the epidural, I was really able to relax and finally went to sleep.

Friday morning, I was still glued to my bed, and really hungry. I convinced my doctor that because I hadn't had much pain and the monitors weren't registering strong contractions, she should let me have breakfast. I was so excited to order room service and eat! I spent all day Friday in my bed, working and enjoying the food that they'd let me have (I was still on a very strict GD friendly diet). Joe left again for a few hours to go home and shower, take care of Howie, and get more things that we would need because none of us had thought that I'd still be pregnant by the end of the night and it was starting to look like I might make it closer to two weeks. A few friends dropped by to give me a pedicure, bring goodies and just say hi. We were so excited when I made it to 3:30pm that day and got my second shot, and we were really hopeful that we would make it at least another 24 hours, if not beyond that. At that point, they also put some really cute compression socks on because I'd been in bed for so long and it looked like I'd be there for a bit longer.

After I got my second shot of progesterone, the doctor wanted to have me checked, just to see where we were at. Because the monitors hadn't been registering any really significant contractions, we expected it to be a lot of the same from the night before. We were surprised to find that I was dilated to a six! Two hours later, I was at a seven and when I hit an 8 the hour after that, my doctor was on her way en route to the hospital. At about 8:00pm, I hit a 10 and was very ready to deliver. We had to wait for the O.R. to be ready because, even though I wasn't having surgery, I needed to deliver there so that the baby could be passed straight through the window and into the special care nursery after she was born.

At about 8:30, Joe was all suited up and they wheeled me into the delivery room. My parents had text me to say that they were on their way to the hospital and would hang out in the waiting room because they'd been on a date, but my mom couldn't sit through the musical anymore. The doctor estimated, based on the size of my baby and how Bensen's delivery went, that I would have the baby delivered in 30 minutes. I looked at my watch when I started pushing at 8:30 and then again when I stopped and she was born at 8:39pm. We were excited to see that she had good color and started screaming pretty quickly after she was born. They rushed her off to the special care nursery and I watched through the window as they started to care for her and determine her needs.

Joe went with the baby into the special care nursery and had the scariest five minutes of his life watching her turn blue and not breathe and then watching them work on her. I was cleaned up and sent back to my room to recover. The next two hours were a little brutal as the steroids wore off, I regained feeling in my legs and I waited to be moved out of recovery, but they flew by. Joe came back and took my parents to see the baby. I was still stuck in my bed, not able to move much, and really irritated as a result of the steroids that I'd just received a few hours before. Joe will tell you that I had "roid rage" and that I wasn't pleasant to be around. The nurses were great to get me whatever I needed! I was so grateful for our labor and delivery nurses, the way that the'd helped calm me down when we arrived at the hospital and how much they did to make sure that my time stuck on hospital bed rest was as enjoyable as possible.

After I'd recovered and been moved to my new room on the other side of the hospital, I got to see my baby. My legs were still fairly useless, although I could feel them, so they took me down in a wheelchair. The nurse in charge of our little one updated me on everything that they were doing for her and what the tentative plan was. We were excited to see that she didn't need to be on oxygen, although she was on a CPAP machine to help her lungs work a bit better. She opened her eyes and watched Joe for a bit, held onto his finger and even started sucking on her binky.

Little Miss Emmy is now a week old and has been moving forward in leaps and bounds! She has been breathing room air completely on her own since early Sunday morning, got off the lights for her bilirubin levels a couple of days ago and yesterday she got rid of her IV fluids. She's also shown interest in latching and eating, which was really exciting for all of us! Today Bensen got to come and meet his sister because she's progressed so much and is no longer attached to her IV! He loves to carry her picture around the house and give it kisses. He really wanted to touch her and kiss her in person, but because he's so young, he's not allowed in the Special Care Nursery so we had to stand on the outside of the door while she was on the inside. I'm sure he's going to love on her like crazy once she's home! Our estimated stay in the special care nursery is a few more weeks long, but we're secretly hoping that Emmy makes great strides and proves everyone wrong and gets to go home early! 

Having a baby in the NICU isn't fun and can be stressful, but I've found that the hardest part of the past week has been trying to balance the time that I spend in each of the roles that I have in my family. Spending time with Emmy in the hospital is important, and will be more important as she starts to rely on me for food. Bensen has a lot of people to love and take care of him, and even though Joe comes home at night to put him to bed, this past week has been really rough on him. Howie has been an anxious ball of nerves and follows me around as closely as possible any time I'm at home. And my time with Joe is limited and not always the best quality for working on our marriage. It will be so nice when we can bring Emmy home and not be torn between so many different places. Until then, I'm taking it day by day as I look for balance and strive to be the best wife and mother that I can in our current situation.

Thank you for all of your well wishes, congratulations, thoughts and prayers as we've posted on social media over the last week! I'll post more updates on Instagram as I have them and try to give you a glimpse into what my day to day balance currently looks like sometime next week.