For the past few months I have had no energy to write, and with good reason. November 14, 2011 (on my birthday) Mike and I found out we were expecting again. I spent the next six months visiting doctors, hanging out in ERs, conversing with on-call doctors at night, and being in a lot of pain (on top of being tired, of course). We were excited but more than a little apprehensive about my medical issues.
After Silas was born my OB told me that while she would help me have another baby, she didn’t suggest it, so none of my medical professionals were especially excited about me having another baby. I started my shots (anti-coagulants due to having a stroke in 2008) and they actually increased the dosage because apparently I had a lot of clotting issues during my last pregnancy that were revealed after Si was born. Over the next few months I experienced a bladder/cervix prolapse (Google it if you don’t know what it is, I don’t need to describe it here) at 15 weeks, bleeding at 23 weeks, and contractions from 25 weeks onward. It was as if every time I turned around something was going on, I had to explain my medical issues to another medical professional, and I was in a lot of pain. I tried not to complain as I’m sure that Mike got tired of it really quickly, but it was difficult. And not wanting to be a crankypants prego person, I didn’t call my doctor about all these things when I should have because, well, I was pregnant, and pain is just part of the package right?
Then at 34 weeks things got kind of crazy – Wednesday night I started feeling massive pain on my left side by my pelvis. My brain said, “Contractions start at the top and roll down so it’s not a contraction. Lovely, a new pain to deal with.” It came and went though, but when it came, I was on the couch breathing and whistling the pain away. And then it went away and I went to bed. Thursday the same crap started around 1 p.m. I took a nap. It stopped and then started again after Si’s bedtime. Mike offered to take me to the hospital and a friend was waiting to take care of Si for us if we needed to go, but I still wasn’t convinced “it” was bad. Plus we had doctors’ appointments on Friday morning and afternoon. Friday we saw the perinatologist and they put me on the NST (non-stress test looking for contractions) and sent me home, even though my pain had started at 9 a.m. that day. I do have to say that my pain was pretty low when we were in their office though. Mike and I had lunch, and then we went to the OB’s office. My pain was back and so bad by then that I was crying uncontrollably every few minutes. They took me into the office 45 minutes before my appointment and put me on their NST. I swear they took me out of the waiting room so the other pregos didn’t see me crying and in pain.The OB came in from the hospital, looked at my NST, and decided to check my cervix. Five minutes later I was in a wheelchair being wheeled to Labor and Delivery – at 35 weeks exactly I was dilated to 5 centimeters and 80% effaced. Those pains WERE contractions apparently.
I checked myself in to L&D while Mike went back to the doctor’s office to get the car (and my bags which I had packed just in case). They got me settled into a delivery room, and Mike left to pick up Silas from school and to get him situated at home with a friend. A nurse did all my paperwork on the computer while she monitored my contractions. The anesthesiologist came in to do my epidural. A seemingly unflappable man, he had done my epi with Silas as well, and he hadn’t changed. Still he had no sense of humor. “If you got to 5 cm without meds why are you getting an epidural?” he asked. “If you can promise me that the next 5 cm will only be, oh, twice as bad as the pain was to get to 5 cm, then I won’t take one,” I responded. He looked perplexed. “I’m joking. I avoid pain at all costs,” I told him. What the heck dude. Lighten up. Just a little.
The nurses checked in on me and over the next five hours my contractions remained constant but my body stalled out at 7 cm. Bring on the pitocin. Now mind you I was still sitting in L&D, you know, in active labor, by myself. My BFF showed up around 6 and Mike came back around 7, but I have to say it’s a little weird to sit in a room, by yourself, and think, “And I’m having a baby?” So I texted and posted on Facebook and called people. I’m sorry if I offended anyone – there were pain meds involved. At 11:45 or so the nurse checked and I was still only 7.5 cm even on pitocin. My epi was wearing down so I asked her to ask Mr. Happy to come back and give me a little more. He came back, pushed a little more epi, and reminded me that it could take 15-20 minutes to kick in. Everyone walked out again. Mike and Missy were trying to sleep since we didn’t know what time The Boi would arrive. And then there was this weird…sensation and I literally felt like the baby was crowning. “Mike. Go get the nurse and have her come check me.” “She just checked you like 5 minutes ago.” I gave him The Look. He went to get the nurse. She didn’t believe me either, but she did as she was asked. “Seriously?” She asked. “How did you go from being 7.5 to 10 cm in just a couple of minutes?” And then it was on – everyone ran for everyone else and I tried not to dwell on the fact that nobody believed me. And my epi hadn’t kicked back in yet. Rockin.
Having a baby early is pretty scary, but honestly it didn’t really kick in that he was early until he was born. I felt this amazing release of pain (because, you know, the epi hadn’t kicked in) but there was no sound – no screaming child. I held my breath waiting for him to breathe. And he did. And then he screamed. And then I could breathe. The whole night I had been the picture of “I’m fine, no problems!” but as soon as he screamed, I cried and the random thoughts started. Pregnancy was all over. My last pregnancy was all over. And my son was a preemie. Nobody ever prepares for that (ok maybe some parents who have had preemies before do because they worry their other kids will be early). And he was going to the NICU. While I have lots of experience and knowledge about babies, infants, toddlers, children, parenting…hell, I teach child psychology…I had nothing on preemies. Except I knew that a lot of them stayed in the NICU until they were supposed to be born (37-38 weeks). The NICU freaked me out. My son wouldn’t room in with me at the hospital. I would probably go home without him. The cloth diapers I had prepared for him (the few they were – because, you know, I thought I had 3 more weeks) definitely wouldn’t fit his tiny tush. The random things you think about after having a baby.
But he was here. Sage Orion was born Saturday, June 16 at 12:32 a.m. 6 lbs and 3 ounces, somewhere between 20 and 21.5 inches long (nobody ever got the same measurement). And then we became NICU parents. Stay tuned for the next installment as we learned about NICU life and preemie babies (who rock).
Thanks for reading. I’m going to go get some sleep while Sage sleeps. Send wishes for a 4-hour sleep span. Please.