I couldn’t help but wonder if Carrie Bradshaw was responsible for my son’s birth. It was an otherwise normal day, and my husband and I sat down to have a steak dinner and watch Sex and the City. But, before the theme song was even over I headed back to the bedroom to lie down. Something was going on and I didn’t feel right. I was a little nauseous and…well, to come right out and say it, I felt like I needed to go number 2! I was laying in bed debating on whether or not to call my doctor, when my mom phoned. I found out later she was calling to tell me my grandmother had passed away, but when she heard my voice she told me to call the doctor NOW. I had just seen him hours earlier for my 32-week check-up, so when we spoke he didn’t seem too concerned but said, “Well I’m here at the hospital tonight anyways so why don’t you come in and we’ll check you out.”
When I got off the phone I cried. This pregnancy hadn’t been easy so far; I had my gall bladder removed when I was 15 weeks along and then went into early labor at 26 weeks. Not only had my pregnancy been full of fear and stress, it had also racked up some unhealthy bills. Thinking of another hospital bill sent me almost into hysterics.
“I swear if I have to pay another hospital bill just to find out all I had to do was poo, I’m gonna be SO pissed!!!” I wailed to my husband.
I wobbled to the bathroom for one last attempt at it before we headed across town. I was only sitting for a minute when I suddenly felt liquid rushing from my body. I screamed for my husband who was in the next room, “I think my water just broke! Why would my water break? It’s too early! It’s too early!”
He was already on the phone with 9-1-1. I stayed seated while he spoke with the operator, but was slowly getting dizzy. My head felt like it weighed a ton and I started slumping over. Steven had one hand on the phone and the other hand holding my forehead up so I wouldn’t fall over. Then I vomited on his shoe. But my husband, ever cool and calm and collected just held me up and continued speaking with the 9-1-1 operator. It must be his Eagle Scout training.
“We need to get you laying on your left side.” he said when I was finally able enough to help him help me out of the bathroom. When I stood up I looked back into the toilet to find that it wasn’t my water that broke. I didn’t know what had happened but the toilet was filled with dark red blood. I looked at Steven, probably looking more freaked out than he’d ever seen me before, and he said, “It’s okay. Let’s go lay down. It’s okay.”
I don’t know how long I was laying on the couch…not long, I’m sure…before the squad showed up. They wheeled me out the door and I had to let go of my husband’s hand. He looked at me and tried to give me an encouraging smile. I wished he could have taken the ride with us.
In the ambulance I was hooked up to what seemed like a million things. The EMT asked, “Are you having contractions?” and I cried, “I don’t know. I don’t know what contractions feel like. I’m suppose to take my birthing class this weekend!” He held my hand and told me to squeeze whenever it hurt. At one point he yelled to another EMT, “Yep, she’s contracting every 3 minutes almost on the dot.” I never got his name, but I have to say that EMT was great at trying to keep me calm. He reassured me, “Everything’s going to be okay. We’re going to take good care of you.” And then he was gone just as soon as I was in the hospital room.
The bright white lights of the hospital room was quite a shock after being in the calm dark ambulance. Instead of having someone by my side comforting me I was surrounded by, what seemed like, a hundred nurses hooking me up to new machines, checking all my and the babies vitals, ripping open plastic bags of supplies. My doctor, who I loved very much, sauntered in without much care.
When I tell most people that they ask, “Didn’t that piss you off??” and I say no. Like I said, he’d already seen me that day and he hadn’t received much information on my situation at that point. Dr. L had probably the best bed-side manner of any doctor I’d ever met. He was patient and kind, but also had a sense of humor that I could really appreciate. He lazily sat down next to me, “Wow, you know how to make an entrance, don’t you?” I explained to him everything that was happening and he took my hand and said, “What happened? You were doing so great this afternoon. ” I told him, “I don’t know. We were just getting ready to watch Sex and the City and I started feeling bad. ” “Sex and the City…yep, that’ll do it!” He joked. I managed a smile.
Thankfully, my husband showed up shortly after that because suddenly Dr. L jumped up and yelled, “We have to get this baby out NOW!” He was looking at the heart monitor. My sons heart rate was dropping FAST. I squeezed my husband’s hand even harder and we prayed aloud for our son to be okay and come out of this stronger than ever and for God to be with the doctors and nurses who would take care of our baby. Then, once again, I had to let go of his hand as they rushed me away.
I have to mention here another reason why I loved Dr. L. As they were running to the operating room a person from the admissions department was chasing after us trying to throw paperwork in my face and asking about insurance. I know this person was just doing their job,but really. I was about to lose my son. The last thing I needed to worry about was if they had an updated insurance card. Dr. L must have been thinking the same thing cause he yelled, “Get out of here! She’s been here before you should have it all on file!” and then he stood in between me and the crazy admissions lady. You Go Dr. L!
In the O.R., I had never felt so scared and alone, even with Dr. L by my side. My husband also had a moment of loneliness when we actually got to the O.R. and they slammed the door in his face. He stood out in the hallway staring at the closed-door not sure what to do. It was the first time he could remember ever feeling so helpless. Eventually a nurse showed him a private waiting area where he sat with our moms waiting for any news, but praying for good.
The last thing I remember before being knocked out is Dr. L taking my hand and saying, “Rachel, I love you like family and I’m going to do my best, okay?” I don’t remember answering him, but I do remember feeling a bit of calm for the first time since this had all begun.
Nearly an hour later Dr. L came into the waiting room to speak with my family. My mother told me later that he looked as though he’d been crying. He sat them down, and told my husband that I was in recovery and doing fine. My placenta had ruptured causing the baby to be in distress. He had been without oxygen and was not breathing when he was born. The pediatrician was still working on him, but it did not look very promising. “I’m going to be honest. I really don’t know if he’s going to make it through the night.”
Steven is unbelievably strong. He’s level-headed, a problem solver, and just…incredible. But, I can’t imagine what that must have been like for him; to sit next to me in the recovery room waiting for me to wake and wondering how he would tell me this horrible news once I did. It must have been the hardest moment of his life. Thankfully, though, God heard our prayers.
When I woke, Dr. W, the pediatrician was standing by my bed. I was still pretty loopy from the surgery and couldn’t form a sentence in my head and push it out my mouth so I just listened. Even that turned out to be a chore, but I heard him tell my husband our son was alive. He was breathing with the help of a machine and he’d have to spend some time at the Children’s hospital, but he was alive.
Several hours later they brought my boy into my room. He was in an incubator and I couldn’t hold him, but I was able to put my hand in and hold his hand. He was so tiny. 3lbs 7oz, and had tubes traveling all over his body and in his nose and mouth. Despite all that, I could tell he looked almost exactly like his father. Our visit only lasted minutes, as the nurses had to take him to the Children’s Hospital. Steven and I hadn’t even decided on a definite name yet, but when they asked I told them it was Tommy.
I didn’t get to see Tommy again for another 3 days. Well, I saw him on video. My husband took the camcorder to Children’s, as we call it, and recorded some of the most precious moments for me. It broke my heart to watch. Instead of having my baby in my arms, I was cradling a machine the first time I heard Tommy cry out. I watched him open his eyes for the first time via camcorder. I watched Steven change his first diaper via camcorder. Those first 3 days were horrible.
When I finally met Tommy though…oh, it was pure joy! I’ve never been so happy in all my life. I’d never been so scared, either. I watched the nurses taking care of him and realized I had no idea what to do with this little man. I was helpless. In the presence of this teeny tiny person, I was the helpless one. How was I to feed him? Bathe him? What if he should stop breathing once we got him home? I knew I would somehow break him.
But anyone who knows me personally or has read my blog before knows this story has a happy ending. The incredible nurses worked with Steven and I daily so we were practically pros by the time we brought Tommy home nearly a month later. All he needed was a little extra time to grow. And he continued to get stronger, grow bigger, act sillier! He’s 6 now and just amazing as far as I’m concerned. In the hospital everyone called him the miracle baby. When he curls up next to me and says, “Mom, let’s just snuggle on the couch.” or when he creates something brilliant with his Legos or even when he smarts off to me and gets in trouble, I think about how lucky we are to have a daily reminder of God’s love under our roof.
I’ve been thinking about Tommy’s story a lot lately. I’m 27 weeks into my 2nd pregnancy and am scared to death. They could never say why my placenta ruptured. I wasn’t drinking or smoking. My blood pressure was fine. I wasn’t stressed or over doing it or moving furniture or anything else that you’re not suppose to do when you’re pregnant. And since they can’t determine what caused it, they can’t really do anything this time to prevent it. Lots of monitoring and perhaps bed rest as I get closer to the 32 week mark. But that doesn’t help the fear. Almost daily I lean on my husband for his strong support. “What if it happens again?”, I ask.
“What if I’m alone with the kids?”
“What if it happens while I’m driving Tommy to school?”
“What if we’re not so lucky this time?”
“How many miracles is one family allowed in a lifetime?”
Obviously, Steven doesn’t have all the answers, but he tries. We confide in each other and make each other laugh and take it one day at a time. We also retell Tommy’s story to each other; one filling in the blanks where the other might forget, both of us getting teary eyed at the same time and laughing towards the end. It helps quite a bit. It reminds me that I DO believe in miracles.
So I hope you forgive me for taking a little time away from my usually funny blog to write something more serious. I just needed to get Tommy’s story out of me. It’s the inspiration that helps me through the rough days. And maybe one of you can find inspiration through it, too.
Thanks for reading!