I'm late in posting today, but this week's memory happened exactly 6 years ago today. I was pregnant with my second child, gender unknown by choice, and a healthy baby and pregnancy. I was 23 weeks, 4 days pregnant, and an ultrasound just two weeks earlier showed no problems at all.
The night before, I was teaching a childbirth class and just didn't feel well. Couldn't put my finger on anything specific, just not feeling 'right'. I didn't call the doctor, nor do I regret that decision now, because I knew they would just tell me to increase my fluids and get off my feet. I promptly went home and did just that after the class.
I slept well until 5:30 the next morning. It was a Tuesday, and my then three year old, Jessica, woke up. Groggily, I stumble out of bed and go to her. She tells me she can't sleep and that she's hungry. Begrudgingly, I trek down the stairs to get some milk and a banana and proceed to rock her (yes, the rocker was still in her room and we used it happily every night before bed!). It was such a sweet time that I later realized was a gift from God. I had been away from home the night before and didn't get to spend much time with her. I also had never spent the night away from her. Little did I know how much I would treasure those moments with her in the days to come....
After she finished with her early morning snack, we snuggled and rocked some more, and I decided it was time to go back to sleep, or at least try. When we laid down in her bed, I noticed a slight wetness, but thought, "I didn't cough or sneeze" (as sometimes happens to pregnant women).
Took care of that issue and decided that maybe if we got in my bed she would go to sleep faster. So, we get all snuggled in Mommy's bed and off to sleep she goes. I turn over and another 'wetness' episode.
Not so good.
When I got up to go to the bathroom, the flood gates opened. I knew immediately what it was.
My water had broken.
I remember saying, begging, pleading,
"No Lord. No. It's not time for this. It's too early".
I called the doctor. (Not Dr. P - who by the way wants to be called Dr. Joe - I was with a different doctor) The midwife was trying to be hopeful and tell me that maybe it was urine I was leaking. I am a nurse, and I knew, in fact, it most certainly was NOT urine, it was amniotic fluid. Once I strongly stated my point, I was told to come straight to the hospital.
I now have a precious, sleeping three year old to wake up again and get dressed. But I was told to stay off my feet until I got to the hospital.
Sounds great in theory. But it's just not realistic with what had to be done.
So, I trek back up the stairs and get my make-up. Might as well look good, right?
Inside I'm freaking out, but trying to remain calm. For who? Who knows! I was the only one home besides my sleeping Jessica.
I settle in on the sofa to make some phone calls. I tried calling my husband who I couldn't get in touch with. He was going to school/work very early and lifting weights and running on the track. It was too early for the front office to be open, and he didn't have his cell phone with him. This happened between 6:30-7am, and I didn't get in touch with him until almost 9:00. Talk about frustrated!!! That was an understatement!
So, I called my aunt to ask her to pray. I called Gib's sweet Aunt Barbara who lived fairly close by. Keep in mind, it's only 7am, so I'm feeling TERRIBLE about waking people up. But, without one bit of hesitation, Aunt Barbara is getting dressed and on her way. I keep trying my husband, to no avail.
In between phone calls, I'm most certainly trying to get my face put on the best I can - using a powder mirror in a supine position, and don't forget the towel between my legs...... (only women will appreciate this!)
I stayed there as long as I thought I could before waking Jessica up. She was even more of a precious angel in the way she got up and listened so well. I think kids just know when they need to be good and cooperate. This was definitely one of those times, and I was so thankful that she 'got it'.
I grab a bagel and force myself to eat it on the way to the hospital because I have no idea what my day will bring and when I might see real food again. The hospital was only about 20 minutes away. The whole way there I was sad beyond belief, scared to the core because everything I taught in my classes and everything I had read said that once your water breaks, the baby must to be delivered because of the risk of infection. I was terrified, and all I could think was, "I'm going to have a dead baby".
BUT, God was GOOD!
After confirming that my water had definitely broken, the midwife said, "Well, you will be on bed rest until you go into labor or until an infection begins".
What? Excuse me?
It was explained to me that being how early I was in the pregnancy, it was the lesser of the two evils. If she had been born that day, her chances of survival were slim to none. And if she did survive, she would be faced with huge health hurdles. So it was better to be aware and monitor for signs of infection and try to hold off labor as long as possible. (We didn't know the gender and preemie white boys DO NOT do so well. They're actually termed, 'wimpy white boys')
Interesting thing - I was having no contractions and my cervix was long and closed when I got there. The only speculation as to why my water broke so early is that I tested positive for Group B Strep when I was admitted. That infection is very common in pregnant women. It usually doesn't cause a problem because moms who test positive are treated with prophylactic antibiotics to protect the baby.
I was given steroid shots to help mature her lungs, pumped full of several IV antibiotics and put on strict bed rest. FLAT! (except at meal times I could elevate my head a little). Couldn't even get up to the bathroom or to shower. I got a stomach bug while in the hospital (remember, I can't get up!). Had my hair washed twice in the bed and wonderful bed baths every day.
I was willing to do whatever I needed to do to keep her inside of me as long as possible!
They were really hoping, and we were really praying, that I would make it 5 weeks to reach the 28-week mark.
That didn't happen.
God gave me and her 12 days.
Every time they came in to do an ultrasound, there was no fluid around her. The fact that she survived that is a miracle. I always worried about infection and her lung development with no fluid, but God put blinders on me. Never once did I think about her having a cord accident, ie. laying on her cord, since there was nothing to help her 'float'.
The neonatologist, Dr. Leigh, who we LOVE, came in to tell us everything that could possibly be wrong with our premature baby, short and long-term. The list was long and scary, including, but not limited to, cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding on the brain), infection, necrotizing enterocolitis, retinopathy of prematurity, PDA (hole in the heart that many times requires surgery), pneumonia, long-lasting lung problems/damage, etc.
You get the picture.
They have to prepare you for the worst, but as a parent, you hope for the best.
Keep in mind, again, that we did not know the sex of the baby at that time. We had already picked a name. Grady Thomas if it was a boy, and Emma Grace if it was a girl.
One night as Gib was leaving the hospital with Jessica, I remember him saying, with tears in his eyes, "I kind of hope it's a girl. If she lives and does okay, we can call her our Emmazing Grace".
She IS our Emmazing Grace!
We hoped for more time, but I'm so very thankful for the 12 days we were given. I truly believe that little bit of extra time helped make a huge difference in her outcome, even between life and death. God is still in the business of doing miracles, and we have one that we are proud to call our little girl.
That was my day, six years ago today.
To know how and why she was delivered so emergently on March 16th, you'll have to wait and check back this March 16th. She will be six, and I'll share the rest of her story then......