Where to begin? Let’s start with this was every pregnant woman’s nightmare in reality. Woke up in the middle of the night bleeding. Doc says go to triage; husband is confident we will be spending the afternoon vegging out on the couch once they confirm everything is all right. One ultrasound and speculum later and we’re told water broken, placental abruption, baby coming, options, options, options. Shock, disbelief, questions, no time for despair. I ask if it’s imminent and am told no, but am given a barrage of information regarding what will happen to us over the next twenty-four hours. I am given a warm blanket and a wheelchair while being carted off to labor and delivery. Labor and delivery at twenty-three weeks!!!
Ironically, the room they gave us had a splendid view of the lake as we were briefed by one very callous obstetrician from my practice, a pair of NICU doctors and a high-risk specialist who advised us to stay the course. We chose bed rest with a course of steroids, magnesium and antibiotics in the hopes that Olivia would hold out three more days and hit her viability date Tuesday when she would be twenty-four weeks inutero. I was pumped with so many meds I wondered if at some point I would rise from the bed ready to join the Avengers or X-men. There was no evidence of amniotic fluid leaking and I had stopped bleeding. It looked as though I could possibly hold out for a few weeks and let our little girl bake. Meanwhile, I continued to have what I thought were round ligament pains. No contractions were showing on the monitor and Olivia’s heart rate continued along pounding like Paul Revere’s horse.
Monday into Tuesday, those pesky round ligament pains got worse. They woke me in the night and I began to spot again. I let my nurse know and at 5AM, the resident came in to check on me. She observed the pains and stated, “that looked more like you were having a contraction, have you had a speculum?” A few minutes later, she informed me that my cervix was open and Olivia’s feet were poking through. From there it began to feel like an episode of ER. A millions faces, a million conversations going on at once, scary medical equipment and the hopes that my husband would make it to the hospital in time for the birth. When he arrived and I looked into his brown eyes, I could barely distinguish him from any of the medical staff in the room. When I realized it was him, I was flooded with relief. I listened intently as I heard them say, “she’s so delicate; I don’t know how we’re going to get her out.”
I was so loopy I could barely focus as they whisked her to another room full of NICU staff. They began to sew me up and I wondered if she was alive, would I get to see her and would she be intact. Seemingly minutes later, they wheeled her right up to my face still poking out from that gigantic blue sheet and said, “congratulations, she breathed on her own.” She was pink and perfect. My husband and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Since that time, the staff at Prentice have not only allowed our presence at Olivia’s bedside, but have encouraged our involvement in every way. While we know we are in for many ups and downs within the coming months, we have been heartened by Olivia’s perseverance against the obstacles that have been presented to her thus far. It is clear that she is a fighter and has a will to live. She already knows the voices of her Mommy and Daddy and has shown a clear preference for us when we speak to her. She is also comforted by her Mommy’s hand hugs–her vitals hit near perfect when Mommy holds her! Her brother, who originally recoiled at the thought of another sister, is ever doting and proud. We are overcome with gratitude for the love and support we have received from family and friends. The circumstances are not ideal, but we can’t help but feel that this family life is a gift, even if the packaging is unorthodox. We have been told that discharge is generally not until the due date, so let the Olivia countdown begin. 104 days until Olivia comes home!!!