One of MamaKat’s writing prompts this week was to write about one of the scariest moments of my life.
A few years ago I wrote about, and have referenced several times since, The Pud’s Birth. It is a really long, long entry detailing the the entire pregnancy and the days leading up to his arrival. If you want to read the whole thing in its entirety, click here.
The scariest moments were the minutes leading up to his birth. We didn’t know it at the time but I was experiencing a placental abruption – the placenta was detaching from my uterus. The lack of oxygen can cause brain damage or death to the baby and cause the mother to bleed out. All J. and I knew was that something was very wrong. At the time I was bewildered and frustrated that the doctors were not speaking TO us but OVER us to other medical personnel in the room. But in hindsight I realize there was no time for patient hand-holding. They had to move fast to save The Pud and, to a lesser extent, me.
It took me years to work through the fear, sadness and guilt surrounding The Pud’s birth. I have come to a point of peace about Puddy’s birth.
But one thing I have not forgotten is how fortunate we are to have him – here and unscathed from his delivery. I’m not a weepy person but sometimes when I’m watching him play, my eyes well up with tears. We are just so lucky and grateful for his life.
So the story of “The Pud’s Birth” picks up on the day he was born. The day before I had been released from hospital following a preterm labour scare but had been assured I would most likely go to term. I was not put on bedrest and was cleared to return to work Monday morning. My plan for the day was to watch Survivor and nap until J. got home.
Friday morning I sent J. off to work with the reassurance that we (our baby, me and my fat ass) would be fine. I called my Mom and told her that I felt fine and to not worry about making the one hour drive to my house to Nicsit. I called EyeGuy and assured him that I would be back in the office bright and early Monday morning.
The rest of the morning I spent munching BBQ chips and watching the previous night’s episode of “Survivor” in our bed. Shortly after lunch, the pains started to reappear. And they were bad. I rationalized I just needed to distract myself so I went into the basement and ordered “Schindler’s List” from our On-Demand system. I figured that the heaviest movie I had ever watched would be enough to keep my brain on world history and off my stomach pains.
It didn’t work. The pains got worse and I got scared. I called J. at work and told him to meet me at the hospital. I then called J.’s aunt (who is also a nurse), who lived close by, to drive me to the hospital.
By the time we got to the hospital the pain was so intense it rendered me almost speechless. My presentation at the nurses’ station went something like this:“My name is *pant,pant* Nic and I am *ouch*, f*ck, *pant pant*, 31 weeks and 4 days and….They took me back, no questions asked. I was contracting and was 4 cm dilated. The baby was for sure coming tonight. J. made his calls to all concerned parties and rejoined me and my epiduraled spine for the labour.J. kept telling me that the baby would be fine. He was confident that the course of steroid shots I had received earlier in the week to mature the baby’s lungs had done their job. He held my hand, breathed with me and kept me positive. His pretty blue eyes and wide smile hid any fear or uncertainty he may have had. He was one cool customer.
A few hours in, the head OB doc came in to talk to us. There was another woman who was 29 weeks in labour. The hospital we were in was a level III NICU – reserved for the earliest and sickest babies. Our baby’s gestational age, coupled with the fact he/she had received the steroid shots earlier in the week, made the docs feel comfortable with transferring us to another hospital in the city that had a level II NICU – a special care nursery. I asked she had the results from my second urine test I had given a few days ago. She looked at my chart. They were negative – I did not have a urinary tract infection.The paramedics came and loaded us into the ambulance. My nurse came along for the ride to monitor the baby and myself. They let J. come along for the ride but he had to sit in the front.
My epidural had begun to wore off and my back and enormous ass felt every bump in the road. Just as we were arriving at the hospital, I felt a warm gush of fluid.“My water just broke.”The nurse lifted the bedsheet. It wasn’t water, it was blood.
We were rushed through the hospital doors to be greeted by my parents and J.’s aunt. We were all ushered into an elevator and shot up to the maternity floor.The OB rushed into the room along with a posse of nurses, a tech and an orderly or two for good measure. J.’s aunt, bless her, stayed in the room and kept my parents in the loop about what the hell was going on. The doctor kept ordering this person to do that and this person to get this. I asked her in my friendly, Nic-like way to “Tell me some good news.” She briskly replied “When I have something reassuring to tell you, I will.”
An emergency c-section needed to be done. Now. Right now.I was rushed down the hall. I looked at my Dad. My Dad – who my whole life had told me “Don’t Worry Kid” was pale white. My unshakable Dad was scared. My Dad is never scared. He is unshakable Dad.Shit.
They wheeled me into the operating room and started going over all the risks of a c-section. They needed informed consent. As the curtain went up separating my head from my body, a clipboard was thrust in front of me. I made some kind of mark above the patient line and the c-section was set to go.
The doctor asked someone to call the blood bank to get “some type specific blood for Mom.”“Shit. Am I in trouble?”Some people in green scrubs rushed J., also clad in green scrubs, to the head of my bed.“Hey, you look pretty sexy in those green scrubs, we should take them home” I flirted.The anesthesiologist behind me chirped up. “You can’t do that – they are hospital property.”
In the scariest, shittiest, fastest moving 15 minutes of my entire life I managed to crack a joke. Work with me anesthesiologist guy. Cut a scared shitless, completely naked, fat assed girl a break.
I could feel the cold blade on my stomach.
“I CAN FEEL THAT!”
That is the last thing I remember about being pregnant. I had some crazy dream about being outside the Kwik-E Mart (of Simpson’s fame) and balancing between two blocks of ice.
I woke up and looked at J.
“Is the baby here?”
“What did we have?”
“A boy”. A boy. A boy? A boy! I was shocked. I would have bet my marriage, my house and my entire NKOTB collection on the idea that the baby was a girl.
J. assured me he was fine, he had heard him cry and that the doctors were assessing him.
We had a boy. We had a Pud.
Pud @ 2 days old
Three days later, the High Risk OB Doc at hospital #2 visited me before I was discharged. He explained I had experienced a placental abruption
– and that it happens in less than 1% of all births. The placenta had begun detaching itself from my uterus while Pud was still inside. Had it completely detached, Pud would have been deprived oxygen and would have suffered brain damage or died. I could have bled out.
We – Pud and I – were freakin’ lucky.I asked about the events leading up to the Pud’s birth: the preterm labour, the excruciating pains, the UTI, my suspicion that my first urine sample I had “mucked up” leading to a false positive UTI diagnosis. I wondered if a fall I had a few weeks previous had precipitated all of this. He was reluctant to hypothesize about what had taken place before the ambulance had pulled me up to his hospital.But High Risk OB Doc at hospital #2 did assure me of one thing. That from here on, I was his patient. If we chose to have another pregnancy, he would take good care of me. If I ever was to turn another pee stick blue, I was to call him and he would have my back. (Or in this case – my uterus).
J. and The Pud enjoy their first cuddle. The Pud was 4 days old.
Another pregnancy was the furthest thing from my mind. Down the hall we had a 4 pound, 9 ounce Pud. A Pud who had made it through the traditionally precarious first 48 hours with flying colours. A Pud who still had a long NICU stay ahead of him but kept surprising his doctors and nurses by how well healthy he was, especially for a 31 weeker. He was breathing on his own, had had no incidents of bradycardia and showed no signs of infection.
A Pud who, just had he had done at his 12 week ultrasound, reassured me that “It’s cool Mom, I’m here and I’m safe!” The Pud @ 12 days old with his Mom.