“Don’t push!” the nurse screams at me as they race me down the hall to the delivery room. I can’t see where they are going but I feel the breeze as the two nurses navigate me to Labor and Delivery. My eyes are squeezed shut and I am panting as I lean to one side of the wheelchair, desperately trying to keep this baby inside of me. All I can hear in my own head is, “It’s too early…it’s too early.”
Contractions, or Not Contractions, that is the Question
The day started with me wiping myself and seeing what I thought was my mucous plug. As the day progressed I was having contractions and called my midwife. She had us come in and wrapped a belt-like contraption around my pregnant belly to check if I was having contractions. After monitoring me awhile, she declared that they were not real contractions. “Go home, lie on your side, and drink lots of water” she said reassuringly.
After 12 hours, however, the contractions were still happening. My midwife suggested one more thing – “take a warm bath, that generally stops contractions.” I don’t remember if I told her that baths actually set my labor into high gear, as I experienced with my first son.
I tried it, continuing to trust the midwife’s advice, hoping that she was right. I got a few minutes into the bath and….it set my contractions into high gear. Forty minutes later, two nurses were shouting at me not to push.
My son was born at 31 weeks. He was nine weeks early.
The midwife delivered him. He came out swiftly and easily when I was finally told to push. He was born ‘en caul’ – completely encased in his amniotic sac. I remember the midwife commenting on it because it was so rare. She said that babies born ‘en caul’ were special. They quickly took him to the NICU and the midwife and nurse took care of me.
I was again put in a wheelchair and the nurse pushed me to the NICU to finally see my second born. I burst into tears when I saw him. There were wires all over him and a breathing tube, and he was so small – 3 lbs 8 oz. Up until then, I had never seen a baby that small. Since then I’ve seen babies much smaller, but as a new mom twelve years ago, he was the smallest baby I had ever seen. I felt helpless and afraid.11/17 is #WorldPrematurityDay. Do you have a #preemie birth story? I'm sharing mine here. Click To Tweet
I remember the midwives taking shifts visiting me and with each one I asked why this had happened and would frequently break out into tears of guilt, somehow thinking I had done something to cause my baby to be born early. They reassured me that there was no particular reason and that I hadn’t done anything wrong. Yet, I scoured every detail in my pregnancy, wanting to pinpoint a time or place to lay the blame that rested heavily on my shoulders.
I remember waking up every 3 hours to pump. I could hear other newborn babies crying in the other rooms around me while my baby was on another floor, not able to take breast milk yet. When they asked me if I wanted to stay longer than the 3 days allowed in the maternity ward since my baby was premature, I quickly said no. I wanted to go home.
I remember an elderly gentleman volunteer coming to wheel me down to the lobby where my sister in law was meeting me to drive me home. He innocently said, “Well, you’re coming off the maternity ward, but where’s the baby?” I managed a polite, “He’s in the NICU,” while tears slowly dripped down my face.
- I remember driving away from the hospital, weeping as I realized that going home meant leaving my newborn baby behind.
- I remember the outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and strangers.
- I remember driving back and forth to the hospital an hour and half round trip every day, bringing breast milk in cooler bags.
- I remember feeling timid touching him at first.
- I remember the first time I was able to do kangaroo care with him.
- I remember growing in confidence and ability providing hands-on care.
- I remember the first time he breastfed.
- I remember the excitement and nervousness bringing him home after five weeks.
- I remember the joy of introducing his older brother to his younger brother at home.
- I remember the fear of germs and isolating ourselves for the winter.
I remember….I remember.
He’s now 12 years old – creative, funny, healthy, intelligent, and strong. He is indeed special. Today, I remember his birth and all the births around the world that were unexpected, yet unforgettable.5 simple ways premature babies' deaths can be prevented without intensive care. #worldprematurityday Click To Tweet
World Prematurity Day
November 17 is World Prematurity Day.
Do you have a story to share? Has your life been touched by prematurity?
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