We are kicking off this year’s set of stories for our annual Marching for our Preemies feature with a story of a friend of mine. Angela and I went to school together, and she graduated a year ahead of me, with Mike, so this year at their 10 year high school reunion, we were able to catch up with Angela & her then baby bump. Not too long after this part of their story began…
The day that Jackson arrived in this world was unexpected. Steven and I should have known from the beginning that this pregnancy would bring all kinds of twists and turns, since I was constantly sick from the start and it was such a surprise that we were pregnant to begin with.
The first piece of news that was not expected was getting a call from my doctor on a Friday saying that one of my levels from the second trimester screening came back “abnormally low” and they wanted to send us to a high risk pregnancy specialist. I remember that weekend vividly! I cried and worried myself sick from the possibilities that were explained to me. I also remember having commitments to help a close friend with a baby expo that weekend and I couldn’t possibly back out of. Standing there among hundreds of happy women expecting and thrilled with excitement and all I wanted to do was burst into tears! Fast forward two weeks later to our specialist appointment and all of our fears were diminished. Dr. Humphrey and her team were so kind and took the time to reassure us that this must have been a fluke with my screening.
For the coming weeks, Steve and I began preparing for little man to be with us oh so soon. Every checkup was going well and seemed to be right on track. The Thursday after the baby shower, at 30 weeks, I went to work like every other day. I began spotting, so I called my doctor and he wanted me in immediately. Steve and I went in right away where they told me that I was 1 cm dilated. My doctor sent me straight to Winnie and they began monitoring me. Still everything seemed to be going ok until the monitor that was tracking Jackson’s heart rate began beeping like crazy and nurses ran in to have me flip back and forth and take oxygen to get his HR back up. I was immediately admitted.
Little did I know, that I was admitted to the “long-term stay” floor. My nurses and doctors were very accommodating in trying to make us feel at ease as much as possible but informed us that I may be staying until Jackson was delivered. They informed us of different scenarios and gave me betamethasone to help his lungs develop a bit more quickly if he did indeed come early. Over the next five days, we had many scares of his HR dropping very low and increased contractions. I was even rushed down at 4am to an emergency C-section because he was not responding quickly like he had previously. I have to say that was possibly one of the scariest moments in my life! I went from a sound sleep to having four nurses and two MD’s flash all lights on, strapping oxygen to me, rushing me out of my room on floor nine to an operating room on floor 2 in a matter of what seemed like seconds to perform an emergency C-section. Luckily my doctor was there that night, came in the room, and stopped proceedings. Jackson’s HR had come back up and they kept us on that floor for the next eight hours. After two more days of being monitored, they allowed me to go home and actually back to work. I was amazed and so were my nurses! They said in all of their years of working with pre-term labor and other complications, they had never had a patient that went from lying on an operating table to being discharged three days later.
Again, we tried to return to normal and get back to preparing for Jackson and our everyday lives. That was short lived when a mere two and half weeks later, we were on our way back to the hospital. On Thanksgiving day around 2 am I began having contractions that continued to get worse and worse. I couldn’t take it anymore and Steve and I were at Winnie at 7am. This time, I was 3 cm and having contractions. They gave me fluids and monitored me for about six hours and then sent us on our way home because everything seemed fine. We napped and went about Thanksgiving resting and eating of course. That night I tried sleeping but discomfort kept me awake. The contractions came back with a vengeance! I took the medicine to help hold them off that the doctors gave me but it wasn’t working. I again woke Steve up and we made our way to Winnie. We arrived at 6 am and I was now 7 cm. Within ten minutes I was being wheeled up to L&D. I was just in time for an epidural and they began administering it shortly after. Jackson arrived at 8:37 am at 33 weeks and 5 days. NICU nurses were ready in the delivery room to whisk him away but not before we got a small peak at our little man. Jackson weighed in at 5lbs 1 oz. and 17in. We know that is quite big for a preemie and are very thankful that he had no problem gaining weight.
The hardest day we had was being discharged from the hospital while Jackson lay in his incubator. I remember waiting in the glass enclosed foyer with other moms and their families so happy to get to go home and begin their lives together, while I with my things had no baby. I didn’t feel complete and I remember the anger I felt. After going back and sitting with Jackson all day and most of the night, the nurses told us to go home and get rest. I remember walking out to the car and bursting into tears and that followed for the next week. Jackson remained in the NICU for 20 days growing a little and learning to feed. Those twenty days were grueling with little sleep, worry, and simply wondering when we were going to get to take him home. On December 13, we were finally able to have Jackson home with us. It was the greatest day ever! I am so thankful for nurses and doctors who kept our spirits up and those who have been in similar or far worse situations that reached out to us.
A big Thank You to Heather for sharing our story and all that her family does on behalf of March of Dimes.
Thank you, Angela, for sharing your & Jackson’s story. Supporting the March of Dimes through sharing stories like this, or donating towards March for Babies is a great way to keep this cause alive and provide help towards little babies just like Jackson! Please consider donating, clicking below is one easy way to do so!