The Birth Story


I had planned to post C’s birth story on Monday, but since FishMama is hosting a story swap today, it seemed like the right time to do it. And so, without further ado, here’s how my baby girl’s very early birth came to pass…

On December 22, 2005, I was at home with my ten-month old son. I felt a little tired and achy and I attributed that to pushing myself too hard the day before trying to get last minute Christmas tasks accomplished. Right around noon, I felt some liquid and a quick check revealed that I was bleeding. My husband was working two hours away, so he called one of his sisters to go with me to the doctor’s office. My biggest fear was that they would put me on bed-rest… how was I to take care of my son if I was laid up in bed? It never occurred to me that I would hear this-

“You’re in labor. Three centimeters dilated and your bag of waters is bulging. You need to get to IU Hospital. We can’t handle a baby so small here.”

I was shocked. I was also shocked when they gave my sister-in-law directions and told us we’d get there faster if she drove rather than wait for an ambulance. What?!?!?

I called my husband and he will tell you that I was amazingly calm. So calm that he thought I was joking for a second, but quickly realized that I would never joke about such a thing. His work was far closer to the hospital than I was, so he headed over there and got me pre-registered.

It was a Thursday evening when I arrived at the city hospital. At this point, I still really believed that they would give me something to stop my labor, maybe observe me for a day, and send me on home. I fully expected to be home for Christmas. Instead, they told me that I would not be leaving the hospital until I had the baby and they were hoping to get me to hang on until at least 28 weeks. The rest of the evening passed with a series of visits from OB’s, high-risk OB’s, neonatologists, and developmental pediatricians. They all seemed to arrive in pairs and they all shared scary statistics with us, e.g. “If your baby is born at 24 weeks, he’ll have a less than 50% chance of survival. If he does survive the birth, there’s only a 40% chance he’ll make it through the next 48 hours. Of the babies who DO survive, 40% will have a severe disability (e.g. blind, profoundly retarded, and unable to walk), 40% will have a moderate disability (e.g. blind, deaf, or cerebral palsy), and 20% will be considered “normal” (correctable hearing and visions problems fall in this category, as do minor developmental delays).” With every week of pregnancy that passed, the statistics got better and better. At this point, I was 23 weeks 5 days pregnant. It was a terrifying lot of information to take in.

They started me on magnesium. This is sometimes successful in halting labor. It also gives you vicious hot flashes and some nausea. Small price to pay. They also gave me antibiotics. That night, I received the first in a series of two steroid shots that can accelerate lung development in the fetus. These shots are only effective if both are administered and they have to be given 24 hours apart. I would not get the chance to have the second.

Neither my husband nor I slept much that night. It was a scary, scary time. The next day was Friday and things seemed to look up. I felt no contractions and the monitor did not pick up on any. They removed the fetal monitor because my baby (we did not know gender at this point) never showed any signs of distress. Late that afternoon, my husband headed out (with my blessing) to go give our older child his bath and put him to bed. While he was gone, a nurse helped me shower and helped me into a REAL bed. Up ’til this point, I’d been in a birthing bed.

I was so content and comfortable for the first time in days. I was also exhausted. My eyes drifted close just as my husband returned. He tiptoed inside, hoping I’d actually get some rest. Shortly after, a nurse came in and asked me to change positions. As I did, she left the room.

I felt a huge gush. I told my hubby, “I think I’m bleeding. A lot.”

He lifted the sheet and quite calmly said, “I’m just going to get the the nurse, hon.”

The nurse came in and within seconds, the high-risk OB was there too. They turned on a blinding light and he checked to see if my labor had progressed.

I was completely dilated. I had never felt a contraction.

Things got really wild at this point. Once again, we were swamped with teams of doctors telling us all the risks and concerns. They pointed out that the type of C-section I would need (classic- cut both ways) had many risks and a difficult recovery period. But this was my baby’s best shot. I was 23 weeks 6 days pregnant at that point. An infant so tiny would find a vaginal birth traumatic… also, she was footling breech because babies haven’t “turned” that early in pregnancy. The odds of our baby doing well were not good. But I signed the consent form and they whisked me off to the O.R.

You know that your surgery is really an emergency when this happens… the operating table was broken and would not lower to where the surgeons could reach me. They called for a replacement and were told it would take three minutes to get there. The head OB said, “There’s no time. We’ll stand on stools.”

The anesthesiologist had told me he would have to put me under and intubate me because they couldn’t risk having me sit up for the spinal. They feared the baby would just slide out with me being fully dilated. Once he really looked at me though, he said, “You’re awfully skinny for a pregnant lady, you might be able to curl up on your side and I’ll do the spinal. Then you’d be awake.” And that’s exactly what we did. I was so fortunate to be conscious for the birth.

There were sixteen medical personnel in the room for my C-section. They almost forgot to get my husband. Fortunately, the anesthesiologist remembered and a nurse went and retrieved him just as they were starting to cut.

My baby was born at 12:32 AM on Christmas Eve. When she was born, she cried. That might not seem remarkable, but it almost never happens with 24-weekers. The head of neonatology at the hospital later recalled, “When she was born, she actually cried, and everyone in the delivery room was silent and awed… because that just doesn’t ever happen with a tiny, tiny 24-week infant.” Tough cookie, my little girl.

She weighed in at 1 lb 5 oz and measured 11 3/4″ long. Her footprints are the same size as my thumbprints on her birth record. She spent 3 1/2 months in the NICU of an amazing children’s hospital. She’s beautiful, strong, determined, and precious.

And that’s how my journey of parenting one of the tiniest of miracles began…

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37 comments to The Birth Story

  • Debbie

    That was so touching! I love hearing happy preemie stories. Micropreemies are amazing. My son was born at 33 weeks, a whopping 2.086 kilos (about 4.5 pounds). HUGE, I know. People kept asking if we aren't scared to care for such a small baby, but he's our first, so we had nothing to compare to except other preemies. He was just normal, and the 7-pounders looked monstrous (there were a few in the NICU). My husband called them "tanks" but they were just regular sized babies :)

  • Hi ya! I’m a fellow Micropreemie mom! Your story sound simillar to mine (mag sucks doesn’t it!)
    27w1d, 4weeks IUGR, 1lb 4oz, 12″, 5.5months NICU. :). I have the first surviving micropreeme with a major heart condition in the state of MS :)
    It’s nice to see what I have to look forward too :D
    Froginstitches.blogspot.com.

  • Sarah

    What a wonderful story! She was such a tiny little peanut! Thanks for sharing. :D

  • I haven’t had a chance to read the rest of your blog yet. How is your daughter doing now? I gave birth at 24 weeks and 4 days on April 18, 2011. Veronica was 1 lb, 4 oz and 12 inches. She also cried when she was born – but her birth was a vaginal one. She is doing well right now but I am so anxious about what the future holds. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • I will be praying for you and your sweet daughter- what a beautiful name! It sounds like you have a little fighter on your hands. These tiny babies are simply incredible. Please keep me informed about how she’s doing and let me know if you have any specific questions. I’m happy to (try to) help! :)

  • marsha

    I love your story. I gave birth in April of 2004 to twin boys. They were 24 weeks when they were born. I remember their cry so well, they sounded like little kittens. I had 3 small children at home and when they told me I would have to stay at the hospital till the boys were born I cried because I didn’t know how or who would take care of my other babies. I gave birth naturally, they didn’t have time to give me any meds. My boys are 7 now, one has slight CP but they are just normal little boys. We are truely blessed.

  • niagra falls just poured out my eyes… this is remarkable… i dont even know you and im more than thrilled everything worked out for you… -Andrea

  • Dawn

    This story brings back so many emotions for me…some of which I’ve suppressed until unexpected moments like this when I’ve encountered a story so similar to mine. After a month of hospitalized bedrest, I gave birth to triplet boys at 26w1d. Each weighed less than 2 lbs, but were holding thier own in the NICU. Until day 30, when we suddenly lost one of our boys to the dreaded NEC. I had held him for the first time the day before, and only for a few precious seconds. The next time I held him, he died in my arms. My other two were in the NICU a total of 99 days. I am happy to say that 3.5 years later, other than some scar tissue on thier faces (beneath their noses from the cannulas), you’d never know they were micropreemies. My one son did have a PDA, and after heart surgery at 9 months, it is successfully closed. Despite losing a son in this ordeal, we feel blessed that we have 2 beautiful boys. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of our lost son, and I doubt that will get any easier.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful, emotional story, Dawn. I remember, vividly, the nurses monitoring our daughter for NEC, something I’d never even heard of before our NICU days, and I know how very devastating it can be. I am delighted to hear about your thriving sons– I bet they’re a busy pair! There is, without a doubt, a very special place in my heart for these tiny, miraculous little ones.

  • Meagan

    I am relatively new to your blog (although I feel strangely that I’ve been here before…did you ever have a child in a spica cast??); wandered over from Wearethatfamily.com today, and read through the story of your journey with your son. Wow. What a testimony and an amazing story that little boy has!! What a blessing for him to have you as a Mommy — it seems that you were made for just such a thing.

    This birth story brought tears to my eyes – my cousin had a 25 weeker last spring (who was actually smaller and spent longer in the NICU than your C.) and it is heartbreaking to see the trials she still endures.

    I hope your C. has gone on to thrive (I’m sure i will find out as I enjoy your blog further :). You and your family are an inspiration!!

    • My little C. was in a spika cast! What a good memory you have! There is TONS about C’s story on here, but the short answer is that, yes, we have been so incredibly lucky and she’s doing very well. She’s in kindergarten now and, while she does receive some therapies, she does just fine and keeps up with her classmates. Thank you so much for your kind comment and for reading through my son’s story! It’s been quite a journey but, truly, one full of so much joy.

      I will be praying for your cousin and her baby. I know all too well that it can be a challenging, rough road.

  • molly

    this story is imprinted on my heart because it is my story too,,my son was born thanksgiving day 2001 2 months early, after 6 days of labor and all the medications it was a relief to give birth..all those docs and nurses make things so scary when they talk,,he has many problems but he has done and surpassed everything they said he would never be able to do…
    good luck and god bless your family

  • Cynthia Zamora

    I currently have a 24 weeker in the NICU she was born in september 8th i was also told when i was 19 week pregnant that my AFI was low and that the babies lungs would never develop therefore i was better with abortion. I refused to go through abortion and decided to continue and 24 weeks I had an emergency c-section due to placenta abruption. To this day my daughter has been doing great with no major problems. However today was told the has ROP Stage 2 not sure what exactly to expect. anoyone had a preemie with ROP?

    • Hi Cynthia! I am so happy to read of how well your daughter’s been doing– what a beautiful blessing! God bless you for standing up for your baby and refusing the abortion. Obviously, she is a strong little girl! My daughter born at 24 weeks was also diagnosed with ROP. Unfortunately, C’s progressed to the point that surgery was required to prevent the retinas from detaching. It was successful, praise the Lord, but she is very near-sighted. There’s a little of her story here: http://www.parentingmiracles.net/2008/12/my-story-monday-going-to-chicago/ Let me know if you have any specific questions, Cynthia, and I’ll do my best to answer them or try to find someone who can.

  • Amy

    I have three preemies.
    28 wks 6days 3.7 lbs I know he was HUGE for his age

    34 wks 7.8 lbs Another giant

    and

    34 wks 6.0 lbs.

    The oldest is now 18. He was on a ventilator for a long time. Now he is a swimmer and plays football 61 days in the NICU

    The middle son is 17. He was not breathing when he was born due to a complicated birth. His head delivered but his shoulders wouldn’t. Came home as soon as he was gaining weight. 21 days in the NICU He does have cateracts..

    My baby girl is 7. She had no sucking reflex when she was born and had to be tube fed. She had a hole in her heart. They told me she would be blind and deaf, have no use of her left arm because of a birthing accident and probably never walk. They were wrong. She has to wear glasses but sees fine with them. She hears fine has 90% use of her left arm and is at the top of her 2nd grade class.

    The power of prayer. I’m glad your daughter is doing well.

  • Melinda

    wow, we were contemplating adopting a baby born at 27 weeks and wondered how many survive when born this early. Although we were not selected to be her parents, I do hope that technology improves so more and more premies can live full lives!

    http://www.reviewsbymelindajoy.com

  • Jodi

    I too had a premie. My oldest son was born at 32 weeks. My water broke 28 hrs before I delivered. I delivered him vaginally but was given a complete episiotomy. He weighed 3lbs-15.5oz. He was in the NICU for 5 wks, 3 days.
    That was 26 yrs ago. He is now 6 ft, 230 lbs.
    I also had 3 other sons & each of their births were early too (at 36 wks) after being on bedrest for several weeks.

  • I’ve been following your blog for a while. I am 33 weeks along with my 3rd kiddo. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia yesterday and I’m waiting for some tests to come back. By Tuesday I’ll know if my peanut will be arriving next week or not. I want to thank you for sharing your story. It’s comforting and powerful to read about so many babies born so young and thriving.

  • tanya wilson

    Thanks for sharing your story. Fellow preemie mama (27/5 weeks, 2 lb 5.5 oz) here. He was my first (and only so far) Severe pre-e was my complication. Found on Wed he was born on Sunday. He was in the NICU 117 days, had severe GERD and ended up having the nissan surgery and g-tube but it was taken out after a year.He is a Happy, healthy and VERY active 3 year old now.The love of his parents lives and thinks he’s the boss.

  • Susan

    How old is your little preemie now? My one and a half pounder is 11.

  • Deborah Jennings

    I have cried happy and sad tears reading all of these miracles. There but for God’s mighty grace go I. I carried mine to term, but with my son, after he was born, the next day, they brought all the babies but mine. This was before the babies stayed in the rooms with Mom. The babies all stayed out their time, and the nurses came and took them back to the nursery. I was too scared to ask what had happened to my son. He weighed 7 lbs, 4 oz. When the pediatrician came in I burst out crying. He told me that Bubba was in an air lock that his lungs hadn’t inflated like they should have. Don’t cry. I still cried and cried. After a while, I got very angry! Why didn’t someone tell me something before they brought out the babies? I was 17 years old and this was my second child. My son is now 43 years old, married with 3 children. He is fairly healthy considering his life style when he was younger.

  • My daughter Sophie was born at 23 weeks, and unfortunately she did not survive. We have a son nearly born at the same time, a cerclage put in and his life saved, he’s our miracle born at 34 weeks. Beautiful story :) God bless you and yours. :)

  • I love your heart for the littlest of little ones…

  • I was born at 24 weeks, weighting only 1 pound, 3 ounces and I was 12 inches long and was in the hospital for 6 months, 5 days. I’m now 28 years old, married for 8 years and pregnant with my second baby. Our daughter is 3, I carried her to 40 weeks and 3 days. I served in the USAF and have no mental disabilities or any disabilities. I do wear glasses, but that’s it. Thank you for sharing your story. : ) God bless!

  • Audrea

    I just gave birth at 24 weeks on Oct.8, 2013. I went in to the doctor for a regular check up and I had dialated 4cms and my water was bulging. My son weigh 1lb 7oz. I know I have a long road ahead of me, but I’m nervous, scared, don’t know what to expect. Some days he is up n some days he is down. I would really like to hear some of your stories and see who did you cope with the stress and what to expect.

    • Dear Audrea, First of all, congratulations on the birth of your son! I know it was far, far sooner than you’d hoped or expected and I know these days are scary and confusing, but it is still exciting to welcome a precious new little one into the world. Your story sounds like it starts very similar to mine, as I had had a healthy, normal pregnancy and then was suddenly dilated with bulging water. It’s a very surprising, terrifying thing to learn, I well know.

      First of all, the ups and downs you describe are so common for the NICU experience. I imagine the nurses or doctors have already told about the “preemie roller coaster” and it is, indeed, a very real thing. There will likely be lots of ups and downs, lots of scares and triumphs, lots of bumps in the road. That’s really hard, because we all wish for smooth sailing, but the up and down experience is far more typical.

      My micropreemie is now 7 years old! She’s a happy, healthy second grader who’s really doing well. I can tell you all about the lasting effects of her prematurity, if you’re interested, but she’s in a normal class and fits right in. For stories and info more relevant to your journey right now, I think you’d do best to read some of my earlier writings on this site. This link will take you to the archived posts from August of ’08. They deal much more with the earlier days and hospitalization. http://www.parentingmiracles.net/2008/08/ You can also read the posts tagged “micropreemies” for things that all relate to my early, early little one: http://www.parentingmiracles.net/category/three-things-you-should-know-thursday/

      Please feel free to email me at parentingmiracles@gmail.com with any specific questions you have or if you just need someone to write to/vent to.

      Again, please accept my congratulations and best wishes as you begin this road with your new baby son!

      Take care of yourself,
      JessieLeigh

  • Jen D

    My son was born on April 21, 2013 at 33 weeks, 4 days. I had severe pre-e with HELLP syndrome. I had a normal doctor’s appointment on Thursday and was admitted on Saturday evening. My son was born seven hours after I was admitted.
    He spent 4 weeks, 5 days in the NICU in Indianapolis. He came home with an apnea monitor due to continued bradycardia. We later learned the bradycardia was due to significant reflux.
    I am happy to say that he’s outgrown the bradycardia and we’re now hoping he outgrows the reflux and corresponding sleep apnea.
    God bless.

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