Thursday, July 3, 2014

Jonathan's Birth Story

On this day 4 years ago, I had been on bed rest in in the High Risk Pregnancy Unit of Florida Hospital for 1 week due to preterm labor. I had just slept through the night for the first time since being admitted there without a single contraction. I had been moved from Labor & Delivery to High Risk, back to L&D, back to High Risk, and this morning I was finally being moved to the Ritz of the High Risk rooms. I had a shower, a mini fridge, a big room where my mom and Jeff could visit with me and relax while I spent the remaining 16 weeks of my pregnancy on bed rest. My mom went to a nearby grocery store to get me some snacks and drinks to enjoy during my hospital stay. Jeff was packing up to head home to go to work, finally not concerned since it seems like my body was resting from a week of preterm contractions.

As he was preparing to leave, the nurse came in to give me the all-clear to take a shower: only my second one since being admitted. I was thrilled. I stood up to take a shower, and felt pressure in my pelvis that I hadn't felt before. I ignored it thinking it was due to me being bedridden for so long. Once I returned to bed the nurse came to check on me and I asked her if she would please check my cervix due to the pressure sensation I was feeling. She was in no hurry to do so since I was no longer contracting; "It's probably a UTI from being on bed rest," she assured me. We asked Jeff to wait to return to work for a minute while she got the on-call doctor to come check me out.

The doctor, nurse, and another medical resident came in and checked my cervix. "You haven't had any contractions?" she asked. "Nope!" I said confidently. Looking alarmed and concerned she informed the nurse that she could feel what she thought was either my baby's head, or the bag of amniotic fluid that he was  swimming in bulging through my cervix. I was dilated 4 centimeters, and my 24 week baby was coming.

"I HAVE A 24 WEEKER HERE!" the nurse was yelling as she rolled my bed, with me in it, into the hallway - back to the Labor and Delivery unit. "24 WEEKER!!" she would alarm everyone as she was rolling me down the hall. I was calm, I was embarrassed as stunned nurses and patients watched me roll by. This was the 3rd time I had been rushed to the labor unit in preparation for our baby to be born and I wasn't so sure he was coming today because I wasn't in labor.

She left me in my 5th new hospital room, and the labor and delivery nurse started asking all her questions. I began to feel some back pain and pressure that was new to me. After about 20 or 30 minutes I was writhing in pain. I felt like I was either going to puke, or poop, or both. I told my mom, "I don't know what's going on but I feel horrible!" "You're in labor, honey," my mom informed me.  "Oh," I thought, "this is what it's like. But I'm not supposed to be! I'm only 24 weeks pregnant! My baby isn't supposed to be born yet! The doctor said 30% chance of survival if I can't keep him inside me until 28 weeks!" I began to panic. "Don't push," the nurse said. That was like telling a drowning person not to try to breathe. I couldn't help it. My body began pushing my baby out, rejecting the life it was supposed to be protecting and nourishing.

A gush of fluid came out and Jeff ran out into the hallway to tell the nurses what had happened. I was taken across the hall into the operating room in case a c-section was needed. The doctor did an ultrasound and saw my baby's head was only 6 cm, and I was dilated 4. I had some sort of infection indicated by the color of my amniotic fluid. The baby had to come. I pushed, and delivered the top of his head. I pushed again and delivered his shoulders. Once more, I pushed and his hips, legs and feet were delivered. I am assuming this is how it happened, although I can't be sure because my eyes were closed most of the time, and all I could think was "This can't be happening...this can't be happening..." I opened them after he was born in just enough time to hear the tiny creature in the nurse's hands attempt to squeak before he was passed through what looked like a drive-through window. I heard Jeff exclaim, "Praise God!" and I thought how inappropriate it was to praise God at a time like this. What, exactly are we praising him for, because there is nothing here to be thankful for. I laid on the operating table as the nurses, medical students and doctor finished the delivery process. Mind blank, but also racing. Failure, embarrassment, and relief all coursed through my head and heart. I heard Jeff on the phone with his mom telling her the news and her hollering and crying.

 I can hardly remember what happened to me after that, except for being wheeled into the NICU in my wheelchair to see my newborn. He was laying on a warmer, like all babies, and he had 10 fingers and toes, perfectly formed. Everything was where it should be. But his eyes were sealed shut; his skin was almost transparent; he had no hair and reddish skin; his leg was as big around as my pinky. I was numb. I did not feel like this was my baby. No feelings of love washed over me. I just examined him and went to my hospital room.

Jonathan the day he was born.

A nurse came in and explained the process of pumping milk to me, and how important it was for my baby to have that once he was able to take milk instead of the concoction currently going through his IV. Then a doctor came in and explained he had a severe bacterial infection, and that in combination with the prematurity made him doubtful our baby would live to see the end of 72 hours. More numbness.

I didn't actually cry about any of this until the next day. My head and heart couldn't reconcile it with my faith or my expectations.

At that hospital, they would play a little lullaby tune every time a baby was born. You could hear it in the room, in the hall, even going to the cafeteria. Every time it played was like a dagger in my heart reminding me another bundle of joy was being brought into the world. I wondered if they played it when my baby was born? Probably not. He wasn't to be celebrated - he was an emergency to be put on life support.

The first time his daddy got to hold him.

I had no idea God had planned this for me since before I was born. I didn't know he used things like this to reveal himself to his sons and daughters. I didn't know in things like this, even this, that he was good and to be praised. Thank God for my experience!

Obviously our little emergency survived, and today is his 4th birthday. Our little miracle. He wasn't supposed to live; if he lived he wasn't supposed to walk or talk, and if he did those things it would be very poorly. But he was supposed to be born. My Father saw to it. All his ways are good. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, each one of us.

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