It started on Monday as I began to lose my plug. I didn’t get that excited at the time, though – I was already past 36 weeks and I knew that labor could take weeks to start after the plug comes out. No big, right? It was a very different experience from losing my plug with my first son, but the entire pregnancy had been so different that I almost expected that by this point. I wasn’t having any contractions – the occasional Braxton-Hicks contraction, sure, but maybe only a handful of those in a 24 hour period – so I just bought some pads and waited the mess out.
Tuesday morning, when I was still wearing the pads, I started to wonder if something else wasn’t up. Overnight, I’d had a bit of pink and red streaking, which is something else completely common with the plug passing but freaked me out a bit considering Nat’s experience just a few days earlier. With no pain and some baby movement, I tried not to worry too much. I had an appointment scheduled in the afternoon for a full physical profile – level 2 ultrasound and non-stress test – so I went to work and kept busy until it was time to go in.
It didn’t take long for the nurse to do the anatomy scan. She got me a couple of good pictures of baby’s face, one head on and one profile shot, and I was excited to have those to take home and show off. His heartbeat was a strong 156, right where it’s been every time I go in. She did note a bit of dilation of ventricles in baby’s brain again, but this was something we knew about and something that was marginal, quite possibly meant nothing at all. He was also breech again; he had been flipping often on us, going from breech to head down and back. A few more measurements and she pulled up the review screen to see what all of the measurements added up to.
“Hm. I don’t think that’s right – let me get it again.” She’s a very nice, honest, and casual lady, so I shrugged and figured she’d tell me if there was actually a problem. She pulled up … either the stomach or the head? Something round. Measured it again, gave a little frown, and popped over to a couple other segments. “Oh my – that’s not fluid, that’s all cord. I’ll have to take that out…” Back to the review screen we went, and she nodded, then pointed out my fluid levels. She zeroed out the one quantity and said, “Have you noticed any leaking or wetness lately?”
I explained what I’d been noticing for the past day and she nodded. “I think you’ve got a leak, hon. Your fluid’s almost down to 4cm.” Eek. It had been 11cm on Friday – that definitely wasn’t good. She asked how he had been moving lately, and I told her I’d noticed him, though it hadn’t been as strong as before; that, she told me, was probably because he had so little room to move now. “You’re scheduled to go back on the monitors, but let me call the doctor first and see what he thinks. He’s not in the office this afternoon, but he might want you to go down to women’s evaluation and I don’t want to waste your time on a monitor here if you’re just going to go there on a monitor. Baby’s breech, and he’s measuring just a little behind, but his heart’s real strong so don’t worry.” (I’d noticed on the monitor that the overall gestational age was coming up at 35 weeks 4 days, plus or minus 19. I was 36 weeks 4 days, so well within the 19 days, so I hadn’t took it to mean anything yet.)
At this point, I was starting to get nervous. I picked my book back up and read a couple of pages just to pass the time without letting my mind wander, and the nurse came back holding an envelope. “All right, dear. He says you should go straight in to the hospital. You’re delivering at St. John’s, right? And you know how to get there from here?” I nodded, kind of numb. “Give them this envelope when you get there and explain that you’re Dr. Cartwright’s patient. They should be expecting you.”
I broke down. I had no idea what was going on, and Nat was fresh on my mind, and everything had gone from totally normal to I’m going to the hospital in two seconds. She just sort of stared at me in shock for a moment, and I explained it all. I barely knew the lady, but she’d been seeing me once a week for a few weeks now and was so nice and I just needed to get it out. She assured me that there was no immediate emergency; baby’s heartbeat was strong and he was showing no signs of distress, but it needed to be looked at to make sure nothing WENT wrong. She gave me a big hug, as did the receptionist, and told me to sit down and make any calls I needed to before I went. They wished me luck and shooed me out the door.
I called John from the car, then Eric’s daycare to let them know that Eric was going to be picked up and potentially by our friend who is on the list of authorized people, then Nat. I was operating under the assumption that it was going to be a few hours, some monitoring, a check to see if my water had ruptured, and some IV fluids. I got to the hospital and went up to Women’s Evaluation, where I was ushered over to Labor & Delivery. Blink blink. They admitted me, got me into an observation room, and a pair of nurses came in. They hooked me up to the monitors and the baby started moving all over the place; for the next hours, he proceeded to be the most active he’d been in days. He kept moving away from the monitors, kicking or punching them, and generally misbehaving. One nurse sat down at the computer and started confirming my health history while the other took some blood and started my IV. At one point, the nurse working on my IV said, “Is this blown?” She asked the other nurse’s opinion, and they decided it was just a little puffy, not really blown. Great, that’s nice. The nurse getting my info then starts passing me some papers, just some authorizations that needed to be signed, and gave me a pen. “This one’s for a blood transfusion just in case, this one’s so we can run the blood tests on you, and this one’s for your c-section.”
“Oh, you didn’t know??” Um, no, thanks. Begin total freak out in three, two, one. There were more admission things to go through, but I spent the next bit with my mind swirling and watching the clock, desperately waiting for John to arrive. I’d had an apple at 2, right before my appointment, so they said it was going to be a bit of a wait. I wanted to cry – really, to totally break down – but I managed not to. They left me be, and a few minutes later, another lady came in, moving the phone within my reach. She picked up a call and handed it to me; it was my doctor. She apologized all over the place; she had left instructions for someone to call her when I checked in so that she could talk to me first, but evidently the message hadn’t made it to the right people. She explained how between the dilated ventricles, sudden lack of fluid, and my being past 36 weeks, there was more risk than benefit to trying to keep baby in me. She told me she was waiting for them to give her a time for the c-section and she’d be in to see me, asked me if I had any questions, and told me she was totally surprised – she had not expected something like this at all from me!
Hours passed slowly. John arrived in the first hour and helped to pass the time. We discussed names, our days, just tried to keep calm and collected. My doctor showed up and checked to be absolutely sure baby was breech before explaining that with no fluid there was really no chance the baby would turn, even if they tried to help him. An anesthesiologist stopped by, told me my options, why they went with an epidural instead of a general anesthesia. Someone came by from the NICU, just in case that was needed, and she was very nice with a very positive outlook. They started my epidural and suddenly there were people everywhere in operating gowns and masks and I panicked. Total meltdown. I’m not proud, but I totally fell apart, I was so scared of the surgery. The anesthesiologist told me that was soon as baby was out, all I had to do was ask and she would slip something into my IV to put me asleep. John just held my hand, told me it would be OK, and they waited for me to calm down. Then … off we went to the OR for my 8pm c-section.
The surgery itself was strange. It just felt, to me, like they were pushing down on my belly button and moving around a bunch. After my initial freak out I’d found some kind of calm, just sort of lay back, closed my eyes, and waited for it to be bad. My doctor and the others were chatting about totally inconsequential things, very casual and laid back, and suddenly someone says, “oh, and there’s his butt! And some legs!” Say what? I’m still waiting for the cutting to start. 10 minutes, John told me later, between me being wheeled into the room and them finding a butt. After that, I wasn’t entirely happy, but I managed a few jokes whenever my doctor addressed something to me. I got her laughing at one point. The shakes were the worst part of it, the way the strong epidural made me shake uncontrollably, even got my teeth chattering.
Daniel Joseph was born at 8:12pm on March 11. He weighed 5lb 6oz and was 19 inches long. His cries were more high pitched than I remember his brother’s being, but they were just as loud and strong. They brought him over for me to see him and give him a kiss, then offered him to Daddy to hold. Of all the things from the whole experience, the sight of John holding our tiny little guy, rocking him as nurses and doctors in operating gear bustled around, and the look on his face are what I’ll never forget. It made my heart melt.
OK…. now I am sitting here crying and shaking. Poor you, I am so sorry that Daniel’s birth was so traumatic and scary for you. But I guess what is the important part is that he is here, and so loved. Right? It takes me back to when I was 21 and they told me I had a tubal pregnancy and something was going very very wrong, lots of pain and bleeding and just really not being well, so there I am in the same boat, went from the office to the hospital to have major surgery in what seemed to be minutes . I told them I was not pregnant,could not be pregnant, would never be pregant, but they didn’t listen. So I am sliced from …to put it bluntly,asshole to breakfast time, and it turned out to be my appendix. HUH!!!!!! What made it worse was when I was in recovery , some dumb nurse gets me confused with the lady beside me who had just had a cesarean, and she tells me I had a baby girl and she is beautiful and healthy. HUH…again. So not funny. , I cried for a very long time.
So, Daniel is here, will soon be home where he belongs, and someday when he is being a rotten little bugger(and he will) you can remind him of all the pain and suffering you went through just to get him here and make him feel guilty,Ha-ha ha. But seriously Kelly, I am sorry that it happened that way, that was very scary , but you did it, you are strong and like I have always said to you… you CAN do anything you put your mind to. I am proud of you. And I love you more if that is possible. Take care kiddo, and if you want to talk… anytime. Just holler. OK? Talk to you soon, love to all of you, mom.
I have a Daniel too – and he was born at 32 weeks gestation weighing only 3 lbs. 13 oz. But because he is a foster child, and one that we are adopting, we didn’t get to meet him until he was 3-1/2 weeks old and weighed 5 lbs. We did get to take him home from the hospital, so it is almost as if he was born to us. He is 2 now, and doing wonderful. You can see pictures of him on my blog. I will keep your little Daniel in my prayers. The first few months are the hardest, and they stay so little for such a long time, but your Daniel will be big and strong in no time!