Warning: This post is my very raw, traumatic, and emotional birth experience.
It brought up some painful memories for me and I cried while writing…you might too.
It’s hard decide where to start with my story.
Do I start when I decided I wanted to have a baby, or when I started trying to get pregnant, or when I finally got pregnant, or when my munchkin came into the world?
Well, since we’re just getting to know one another, how about I start with my Little’s birth. After all, if his story had been different, I might be the momma to a term baby instead of a preemie, and then I may not have stared this blog.
On Friday, April 6th 2018 I was 29 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I am a sign language interpreter for a local agency, and I went to work like any other day. My hours vary day to day, and on the day in question I remember that I only had one assignment, which was guesstimated to last around 3 hours.
I went in that morning, feeling a little odd. I thought Kaden was maybe being more active than usual or maybe just using my internal organs as squeeze toys. Bottom line, I chalked up the slight discomfort I was feeling to regular pregnancy sensations. I made it through the assignment, but I had stared feeling intermittent cramps at some point during the job. Still, I assumed it was my uterus growing with my baby, since I had just entered the third trimester and I knew that’s when babies grow the fastest.
After work, I had some errands to run. I pulled in to the parking lot at Target and while the cramps were still few and far between, they were growing more intense. At one point while I was walking into the store, I was hit with a cramp strong enough to really get my attention.
I wouldn’t say I was really concerned at this point, but I was curious enough to call my OB/GYN just to check in. I was told that some cramping was normal, so long as it was not accompanied by bleeding and/or the cramping was mild and irregular (though if at any point I was concerned, I should absolutely come in to be checked out). I wasn’t bleeding, and the cramps were spaced out and irregular, so I figured I was fine and the cramping would subside. The rest of the day, the cramping continued in its sporadic, just strong enough to be annoying manner. I was fine.
I was wrong.
On Saturday, April 7th, 2018 I was 29 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I had woken a couple of times in the night because of cramping, but I shrugged it off. Pregnant women never sleep well, so that’s all it was, regular pregnancy pains. I was fine.
I was wrong.
At around 7 o’clock in the morning, I woke up and the pain was definitely worse. I went to the bathroom, having convinced myself that I just had an upset stomach, or I ate something that wasn’t settling well. After about an hour, I finally admitted to myself that something was wrong. I went back in to the bedroom, where my husband had been asleep still. Another cramp rippled in my gut and I must have made a noise because I woke my husband.
“Are you okay?”
I took an unsteady breath and shook my head. The cramps were seizing my insides every 5 minutes. This wasn’t normal. “I don’t think so.”
My husband sat up a little in bed to look at me as I stood at the foot of the bed, hand on my stomach.”Do we need to go to the hospital?”
Several seconds passed before I answered, “I think so, yes.”
I started to get dressed while my husband got out of bed. The cramping was worse still, starting to cause me to stop dead in my tracks. When a groan of pain rumbled out, I started to really worry.
This was not the best morning to wake up on a snowy, icy, April morning, but Mother Nature didn’t give two craps.
When we were ready to go, my husband helped me to the car and scraped a hole in the ice on his side of the windshield, just big enough so he could see. I threw the car door open to vomit, and panic began to seep in to my husband. Luckily, the hospital was only a 7 minute drive from out house, but it was the longest 7 minutes of my life. The pain was growing steadily worse with each cramp (because at this point, I was in denial that these were actually contractions).
By the time we pulled up to the emergency room, I was crying and punching the back of my husband’s seat or the roof of the car with each “cramp”. I was immediately wheeled to labor and delivery, where they started asking me admittance questions, such as how far along I was, who my OB/GYN was, how much I weighed, etc.
When I couldn’t answer their questions without being rudely interrupted by a “cramp”, they took me to a room to change into a gown and get checked out. I changed, barely made it back on the bed, and a nurse/doctor/tech/some kind of medical person checked me out.
“I don’t feel your cervix, just a descended water bag.”
I was still in denial. I wasn’t in labor, there was no way! I was just barely 29 weeks pregnant, I couldn’t possibly be in labor yet. My pregnancy had been so smooth. I only even had one or two days of morning sickness, all of my ultrasounds looked great, everything was fine!
My OB/GYN was the one on call, and when she came in to the room, it was bittersweet. I was relieved to have a familiar face, but this was getting too real. I remember she told me that my son was breach, but I don’t remember her checking with the ultrasound machine (I just take my husband’s word for it).
“Krysta, Baby is breach and he’s coming now. We have to do an emergency c-section now.”
This wasn’t happening, this couldn’t be happening.
It’s too soon. He’s too little. It’s too early. I can’t.
The medical staff flipped in to high gear and they wheeled me to the OR for my c-section. I couldn’t process anything. It was happening too fast. I still had 11 weeks to go. It was too soon.
He’s too small. He won’t be okay. I can’t.
The contractions ripped at me, and I started feeling the urge to push.
“Krysta, you cannot have this baby yet. You cannot push. I need you to breathe through the contraction, you can do this.”
We bursted into the OR and somehow I managed to get onto the operating table. The room was buzzing with medical people getting everything ready to deliver my baby, getting ready to cut me open.
Pressure built in my gut, pain ripped my insides, tears streamed down my face.
My body was betraying me. My body was supposed to be the safest place for my son to grow, but instead it was forcefully evicting him too soon. I wanted to stop this. I wanted this to stop more than I wanted anything in my life, but it didn’t matter. My body was betraying me, and I was afraid that every time my body pushed against my will, I was hurting my baby. Every time my body seized, contracted, tried to push out my son, I was terrified that I was going to kill him. My body was supposed to be the safe place.
“Krysta, we’re going to have to put you under for the c-section, but the anesthesiologist isn’t here yet. He is on his way, just hold on a little longer.”
I can’t. Put me under. Make these contractions stop. I’m killing him.
People were poking and prodding. Iodine swabbed here, an IV there, a catheter over here. The contractions hurt worse than anything I’d ever felt in my life, and the dread in my heart was heavy in my chest, making it hard to breathe through the pain.
Finally, the anesthesiologist showed up, and everything went black.
I woke to a woman cleaning off my face as my husband asked if I’d had a nose bleed.
“No, she pulled out her IV.”
Is he okay? Where is he? Did I hurt him?
I don’t remember much after being taken to recover. All I know if that I went to sleep pregnant, and woke up no longer pregnant and without my baby.
I was taken to a recovery room, and told that my son had been born at 9:58am. He had to be transferred to a larger hospital, better equipped with a NICU to care for him while I stayed at my local hospital to recover from surgery. Normally, he would have been taken via helicopter, but the rotor blades on the helicopter were frozen and he was going to have to be ambulance instead. The transportation team promised I would get to see my son before they took him, but not until then.
I swore I waited for hours before they finally brought my tiny, 2 pound 14 ounce baby boy into my room. He was in an isolate bed, he was bruised, he was bone thin, he had a tube down his throat, he had wires attached to him everywhere.
They let me reach in one of the portholes and touch his chest. His skin was sticky and so terribly thin. I was afraid to hurt him, but I wanted so badly to hold him and apologize for not keeping him inside longer.
We were able to snap a couple of pictures, and then my baby boy was gone.
I had to stay and recover, while my son was taken to a different hospital to be checked by specialists and admitted into the NICU.
I felt empty, I felt guilty, I felt broken.
What should have been the happiest day of my life had turned into a nightmare. I didn’t know if my son was going to survive. I didn’t know when I’d be able to see him.
Despite everything, this experience made me a parent, and started be on my journey as a preemie mommy.
I don’t share my story in hopes of making everyone feel bad for me, I do it for two reasons.
First, I want other preemie mommies to know that I know your pain. I know the terror, I know the devastation, I know the toll your traumatic birth experience has taken on you. I understand. You’re not alone.
Second, I want parents who were fortunate enough to hold their precious babies to term to maybe have a peek inside my head, and to be able to understand why I may do the things that I do when it comes to my son. I want you to see that I have been shaped as a parent by this experience, and it forever changed the way I will mother my baby boy.
Sometimes, I will be more cautious that you think I should. Sometimes, I will struggle to make a decision that you think should be easy. Sometimes, I will panic over a sniffle or a cough when you don’t bat an eye.
Being the parent to a baby born well before his time changes you. It changed me.