I had a very normal pregnancy. In the first trimester I had waves of nausea and the extremely strong urge to sleep constantly. In the second trimester I had a craving for tangerines and some sciatic nerve issues. And than at 34 weeks I went to the doctor for my normal checkup.
My husband was suppose to be on a business trip, but came home a day early. It had snowed the night before and since the roads were icy my husband decided to drive me to my doctors appointment and than we could go grab breakfast afterwards. I had only put on 19 pounds by that point and didn’t really have any swelling and I was feeling pretty good. My husband waited in the car to do phone calls for work while I ran in. Doctors appointments pretty much consisted of being weighed, a blood pressure check, and the doctor asking how you are feeling. The medical tech who took my blood pressure suddenly looked a little alarmed. She took it again and than told me to hold on a second and left the room. She came back with a cup and asked me to do a urine sample. So I went and did that and than waited in the room again. A nurse midwife than came in and took my blood pressure again and than tells me to lay on my left side. By this point I was a little freaked out. She asked if I could see ok and if I have a headache. I said no I felt fine until they just started to worry me. She told me that my blood pressure was 181 over 149. That is VERY high. She also told me I had proteins spilling into my urine. All this meant I had developed preeclampsia. I was asked if I drove myself or if I had anyone with me. I told them that my husband was in the car and they told me I needed to ask him to come in. My poor husband looked like the world had been ripped out from under him since he had no idea what was going on. They told me I needed to head straight to the hospital and they were expecting me in labor and delivery. WHAT?!?!?! Wait, I’m having the baby right now??? But we were suppose to go to breakfast?!?!?
We went to the hospital where they took my blood pressure every 7 min and it wasn’t going down. The next couple hours were all a blur. The doctors told me that the baby and I were at extreme risk and delivery was the best solution. I was only 34 weeks though, so I immediately started asking if that was ok and was worried about my baby. No one gave me a really good answer. They would just say that my baby is plenty big to survive. Plenty big to survive?!?!?!? What does that mean?!?!? They started to induce me and I immediately dialated to 7. My husband and I were sitting in the room listening to the babies heartbeat on the monitor. Than we noticed it wasn’t very fast or consistent. All of a sudden 2 doctors and a nurse come in and said that the baby needs to come out and they need to do a c-section. My husband now looks a little worried too. They throw him a scrub suit and tell him to put it on while they prep me. In the operating room they prep me and my husband comes in and than it all happened very fast. I remember when they said she was out and I was waiting and waiting for a cry and briefly heard a little cry. I kept asking if she was ok and how big she was and no one would say anything. My husband just kept saying she was beautiful. They brought her over so I could see her face and I remember saying “She has the tiniest nose I have ever seen.” They took her to check her and clean her up while I was still in surgery. My husband left to go with our baby girl.
Due to the extremely high blood pressure I was put on magnesium. When the nurse told me she was giving me magnesium she said “It is a very icky drug”. I didn’t really understand what that meant. Now I can say she is right. I don’t really know how to describe it because you basically just feel really icky. Part of being on it though is that I was not allowed to get out of bed until I was off of it, probably for fear of falling because you feel like you are swimming through oil. Once I was out of recovery I was taken to my room and they brought me my daughter. She was beautiful and tiny. She was 16.25 inches and weight 3lbs 15oz. They said everything seemed good though. Since she didn’t have very much fat on her the doctor said she needed to stay in an incubator to keep her heat. I wasn’t allowed out of bed and she wasn’t allowed out of her incubator. It was horrible. Those were the longest 36 hours of my life. Looking back I should’ve fought harder to make them bring her to me. My husband and I tried and tried, but it was “against hospital policy”. She spent one night in the normal nursery and the next day we were told that it is common with preemies to “lose their oxygen” every now and than and that this has happened to her twice. Since they wanted her to have more constant care they were moving her to the NICU. Keep in mind I STILL wasn’t allowed out of bed and I hadn’t seen her except for about 15 minutes. I tried to jump out of bed which was extremely painful. My husband found a wheelchair and an amazing nurse to help me and wheeled me into the nursery before they took her to the NICU. She was the most beautiful and tiny thing I had every seen. Liliahna Grace.
I remained in the hospital for a week before my blood pressure was low enough that they would discharge me. The nurses I had during that week were a saving grace. I was still on the floor in the hospital of mother baby and would see everyone and their babies…and mine was in the NICU. Nurses would bring me a wheelchair and take me to the NICU (which was a good 10 min walk from where I was) so I could feed her. Since she was in an incubator the only time I would get to hold her was every 3 hours when I would get to feed her. The NICU was a whole new experience in itself. You have to be checked and buzzed in by security and than scrub in every single time. When I would change her diaper I would have to give it to a nurse to be weighed every time. My daughter proved to be a feisty little girl though. She didn’t ever need oxygen or a feeding tube, all she ever needed was that incubator until she put a little fat on to stay warm. Going in and out of the NICU made me feel so blessed with how healthy she actually was. My heart would break seeing what some of those babies and parents had to go through.
My husband stayed in the hospital with me every night. He seemed so strong and brave. He later told me he was so scared that he would just go out to the car and cry because he was so afraid of losing us. After I was discharged I refused to go home without my baby. Our house was 30 minutes away and that means I wouldn’t get to feed her every 3 hours. My husband found out that the hospital where we were had a hotel in it too for families! We checked in to the hotel so we could still see our daughter every 3 hours. After my daughters midnight feeding my husband and I would go to the cafeteria and share a chicken quesadilla for a “date”. My daughter stayed in the NICU for 2 weeks. During that time was Easter so my husband and I made Easter baskets for the nurses which was a big hit. I learned so much during those 2 weeks. The nurses taught me so much about everything baby.
My daughter came home after those 2 weeks weighing 4lbs 6oz. I thought we would have such a long road ahead of us. She was tiny for a little while, but by 4 months was caught up. She was a great eater which was the best blessing. Today she is in the 95th percentile for height and 65th for weight and you would never know she was born weighing half of what her friends weighed. Going through this experience has made me appreciate my family and understand how quickly things can change. I never in my wildest dreams would’ve have imagined that is how my pregnancy would go. Regular doctors checkups and listening to your body is so important when pregnant.
The hardest time I had was the feeling of being alone. I didn’t know anyone that had a preemie and the experience they went through and advice. I feel that now being active and meeting all these amazing women and hearing their stories has been the best support system. I love the community that has been created with these women and hope I can be there for advice or just a support system for all the women in the future too. Even women that have a totally normal pregnancy need support and encouragement. Let us all remember that when we see the new mom struggling at the grocery store or trying to quiet a crying baby at a restaurant.