This is the story of my little man coming into this world, 11 weeks early. As always, I’m not holding back. You have been warned.
My due date was April 8th. I woke up around 12:40 am on Monday, January 25th to feeling wetness between my legs. By sheer coincidence, I had just spoken to a co-worker on Friday about what it felt like when your water breaks. I was 95% sure my water just broke. I grabbed a towel and woke up my husband, Luis. I said, “honey, I think my water just broke”. He was shocked. I think his reply, was “WHAT?!” I explained what was happening. I started to panic for so many reasons. What do I do first? Call the doctor, finish packing my hospital bag, call my parents, get directions to the hospital, call the hospital? I kept saying over and over, “This isn’t happening. It’s too early.” I called the emergency number at my doctor’s office which paged the doctor on call. No answer. I got a voicemail saying if I don’t hear back from the doctor in 15 mins to call again. Then if I still don’t hear back to go to the nearest hospital. This is not what I expected when I called the emergency line at the practice. I could not believe that no one was answering. What is the point of the emergency line if I can’t get a hold of someone? Luckily 10 minutes later the doctor (whose name I could not decipher) called, sounding very sleepy, and told me to go to the hospital where they would evaluate if my water broke and go from there.
I knew there was a good chance I would be having this baby in the next 24-48 hours since I did know once your water breaks you are prone to infections so they usually deliver you, or put you on hospital bedrest. I also knew there was a chance that they could delay or stop the labor, if in fact I was going into labor.
My husband and I scrambled to get all of our necessities that had not yet been packed. I told Luis to look up directions and feed Gorilla, our parrot, while I finished packing. So off we went to the hospital. I called the hospital in the car to ask where I was supposed to go because I had no idea. (We were supposed to have our shower that next weekend and our first childbirth class in 2 weeks!) The class was supposed to get us ready for everything of course, including labor. I began getting contractions on the way to the hospital. It did feel like menstrual cramps after all, at least initially. Reading up on this, there was much debate as to what contractions actually felt like.
We went to the ER at Northwest Community Healthcare Hospital. I told them I thought my water broke and they had me wait a few minutes until someone came and wheeled me in. I started getting very nervous at this point. Luis called the insurance company for pre-certification in case I was admitted.
They had me change into a hospital gown and I met my nurse, Dee. There was also a lady named Tessa who helped get things that the nurse and doctor needed. They took all my vitals, and a random OB that was at the hospital at the time came and checked me. I was already dilated 2 cm. She said my water did break and they were going to try to stop the labor if they could. I never heard anything else about stopping the labor. The next thing I knew they said I was going to have the baby today. We called my parents just in the knick of time because they arrived just before I was starting to deliver. And here we thought we had a ton of time.
They gave me a shot in the butt, either steroids or magnesium that hurt like hell as the fluids went in. The magnesium left me having the worst hot flashes of my life. I felt like my entire body was on fire which they did warn me about but it was BAD. Of course, the neonatal doctor took that opportunity to come talk to me and Luis about what we can expect, with the baby being so early. He also prepared us for worst case scenario, literally saying there is a chance our baby will not make it, but said a whole team would be taking him right after delivery and checking him/helping him.
I should mention that I was shocked I could do a vaginal birth. I thought with him being so early they had to do a c-section. I remember telling Dee that I hadn’t had the childbirth classes yet so she needed to walk me through everything and help me with breathing and such. She could not have been kinder or more reassuring. Luis saw at some point as she was doing her thing that she had a tattoo on her arm, and asked her if it was a Harry Potter tattoo. She smiled and said yes and I was thrilled. I told her “it was meant to be” and explained what a huge fan I was. She brought over another nurse who had a golden snitch pinned to her name tag. I believe in all kinds of signs that the universe shows us and I was genuinely so happy that these were the people taking care of me. This little sign put my mind at ease and I knew I was in good hands.
At some point I told the female OB that I wanted an epidural. She asked if I wanted it right then, and I said, “whenever you think is best, but I don’t want to wait too long and miss the opportunity”. She said that now was good, which surprised me because I thought it would be hours before I needed one. I assumed I’d be in labor for hours. Just as they called the anesthesiologist I got the worst contraction. It hurt like hell and I was like “I think now is perfect. I just got a bad one.” So he entered, had me sit on the side of the bed and lean over a pillow. Dee stood in front of me and they got a chair for my husband saying “some husbands pass out”. He looked at me and cringed. The doctor cleaned the area, explaining what he was doing as he was doing it. Dee told me “try not to jump” and held onto me. I braced myself for what I thought would be the worst pain of my life, or so I had heard. It was a large pinch as the needle went in, and in 3 seconds the pain was over. I still jumped a bit but I remember thinking ‘that was it?!’ I think I even said that to the nurse. It wasn’t bad at all. Once the epidural kicked in, I didn’t feel a thing which was pure bliss. They kept asking me if I felt the contractions and were surprised when I said “I do not feel a thing.” I guess there were some pretty strong ones coming at that point.
The OB from my OB office finally arrived and checked me. I went from 4 cm to 6 cm in 30 minutes. For some reason they decided to give me Pitocin to speed up labor even though it was moving along pretty quickly. I’m still confused about that one. I had never heard of the doctor that showed up and at some point asked if he was part of the group just to make sure they contacted the correct practice. They assured me he was, just part of another group of doctors. This bummed me out immensely because here was a virtual stranger delivering my baby when I had met all 5 of the doctors I thought I would be getting. And he had zero bedside manner. He honestly seemed frustrated and completely impatient the entire time. I don’t know what his deal was but I didn’t like him. None of us liked him. Thank the heavens for my nurse.
At some point the nurse checked my dilation again and I was at 10 cm. She said “Ok, this is it.” and instructed someone to tell the doctor I was ready. A whole swarm of people came rushing in: nurses for me, the doctor, trays of equipment, the neonatal team of 4 or 5 people. It all happened SO fast. My mom and I looked at each other with a look that said “oh my god, this is happening now.” I started to panic a bit, but honestly had no time to process what was happening. They threw my legs up, turned on the spotlights (you really do lose all modesty) and said “Ok, we’re gonna start. When I tell you, you are going to take a deep breath in, hold it and push with your contraction.” She had told me earlier that if you feel like you are pushing to poop, you are pushing correctly. And off I went. Luis and my mom were to my right. I had kicked out dad…too weird having him there.
It took a few tries to get the hang of how to push properly, especially when I could not feel the contractions, but I got the hang of it. I had to push 3 times in a row which made it really hard to breathe. I told the nurse I couldn’t breathe and she checked my oxygen, told me I was a-ok, and on we went. In my head I was thinking, “you better hope I don’t pass out soon.” By the 3rd set of pushes I was getting further and I think by the 4th or 5th set, he emerged. And boy did it hurt like a motherf*cker as he came out. It is difficult to explain, but that epidural did nothing for the pain I felt with that last push. It was a huge relief however, once he was out. It was the 2nd push in that set and they said ‘he’s almost there’ and then he slid out. All in all, it was 15 minutes of pushing. The doctor asked Luis if he wanted to cut the cord, and he did. He let out a tiny little cry as they rushed him over to the heating area and checked him out. I only saw him for a split second as they lifted him up. When he was on the table I could only see his little chest area between all the doctors and nurses attending to him. I was dying to see his face which I never got to do until later. They called out his measurements. 3 pounds, 2 ounces, 15.5 inches. I remember thinking that was good. They were saying other things that I don’t really remember. Luis kissed me and said “good job baby, you were amazing.” He said that Nathan was so cute. My mom was in awe and watching them work on Nathan.
After maybe 5-10 minutes they whisked him off to the NICU. I still hadn’t seen his face. All I wanted was to see his face. The doctor was flopping the umbilical cord around as he was trying to get the placenta out. I remember that really grossing me out. He was pressing awfully hard on my stomach and “massaging” it to try to get it to detach. He explained that when it’s so early with delivery, the placenta isn’t supposed to come out/detach so often times it doesn’t want to come out. He had both hands in there digging away and tugging. It was super painful and honestly the worst part for me. I just wanted it to end and it seemed to last forever. The doctor was also getting irritated which didn’t help at all. He explained that he needed to get it out quickly so I didn’t lose any more blood, and if he couldn’t I would have to be put under to get a D&C to remove it. He finally got foreceps of some kind and was scraping it out of me. It finally came out in large pieces which they put in a large plastic tub. I would rather have not seen that. I was never so happy to have something end.
They let me relax for a bit while they cleaned up. Tessa came over and cleaned me up (there was a lot of blood). She was very kind, and reassured me that Nathan looked really good and that many babies are born that small and early and turn out just fine. It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.
Two excruciating hours went by with no word on Nathan. Dee tried calling a couple times but didn’t have any updates. It was absolutely brutal waiting to hear if our son was okay. Finally they were taking me to my recovery room in a wheelchair and I was going to get to see Nathan along the way. As they wheeled me down the hallway everyone said congrats and they played the little hospital music signifying a new baby born. I waved to my nurse and thanked her. I wish I could have hugged her goodbye and told her what a difference she made, but I was so out of it and exhausted and wanting to see my son. The new baby music made me cry.
I was prepared for bad news: his lungs would be under developed, heart problems, brain issues, my mind was racing. I remember they put me next to his incubator and I was taking it all in. I was shocked by my little man having a tube down his throat. That broke my heart. I still could barely see his face with all the stuff on it (wires, tubes, etc.) The doctor was telling us how he was doing which was honestly a blur. I never heard the words that he would be okay in all that was said. It killed me inside to ask this, but I had to know. I said “how long until we know he’s out of the woods?” And the doctor replied “oh, he’ll be just fine”. And I just let out a sob like no other. My mom saw me and was crying too, and came over and hugged me from behind. It was such a massive relief knowing my baby would survive and be relatively okay. Why the hell didn’t he begin with that?!
*Names have been changed of nurses.