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Sunday, November 15, 2015

tiny blessings : a preemie story by Megan Otash

I am in awe of this strong mother, who had so much determination and courage to deliver her baby at 28 weeks and 5 days along. A traumatic experience, this momma Megan Otash survived it and has a BEAUTIFUL 6 year old daughter who is healthy and happy to show for it! In our last post in the preemie series this month, as part of Premature Awareness Month, I hope all of you have learned a little more about what it's like to be in these scary situations, and even more so how BRAVE these moms are. I think it's always important to realize how strong we are as mothers. 

Thank you to each mom who has shared, I've learned a lot myself, and thank you, Megan, you have an incredible spirit and I am praying that this new pregnancy goes as long as possible! 

Images shared from Megan Otash

1. How far along were you when your baby came early?
I was 28 weeks 5 days when I delivered Zoey.

2 What were the first thoughts or feelings you had when you realized the baby was coming?

My first thoughts were NO! WHY?! This can’t be happening to me. This is something you watch on tv. Not something that happens to a small town girl!  I do not want to deliver this baby right now!! There must be something else they can do. She is not ready to enter this world! I was a tad bit freaked out to say the least.

3. Can you share that part of the story - what happened? where were you? what did doctors say? procedures, things they tried to prevent the baby from coming, etc.?
I started having contractions around 21/22 weeks and my doctors thought they were Braxton hicks. Telling me oh it’s normal. This is your 3rd baby, its normal to have Braxton hicks contractions. I believed them. I went on the next several weeks in complete discomfort. When I was 28 weeks exactly it all went downhill from there. I ended up in the hospital. My contractions were very regular, the most painful contractions I had ever had, and this was my third, so I knew what to expect. 

They checked me and I was dilated. They decided to send me home on bed rest and on medication I was to take over the weekend to stop my contractions, it was a Friday. I’m a busy momma. I tried my best to stay in bed. If I HAD to go downstairs I would slide down the stairs softly and slowly on my bum, although I had plenty of help and rarely had to get up. I did have a 20 month old at the time that wanted mommy so badly to get up and play with him, it was really tough. 

Sunday night came around and I was back in the hospital. Worse contractions, bleeding, it was not good. They checked me again and sure enough I was a few more centimeters dilated. They hooked me up to magnesium sulfate, the WORSE drug I’ve ever been exposed to. I felt like I was dying. Literally. It made me feel sooo sick. It was awful. They gave me the option of ambulance ride or helicopter ride to Maine Med. I chose the ambulance, but after the misery I dealt with during that ride, if I had to choose again, I would chose the helicopter! The contractions were so bad and the bumps were so awful, not to mention I had had steroid shots in both bum cheeks and was completely uncomfortable! 

We finally arrived to Maine Med Monday at 2am. They put me in a room. Checked me. Did an ultrasound and saw that baby was doing great. They continued with the magnesium sulfate and said, “We are not sure how much longer it will be, but you’re having this baby.” I was so upset. Knowing it was just too soon to deliver, but I had been reassured by many of the staff at Maine Med that I was at the right place and they would take great care of my little girl, (they did!). 

I labored all night, sleeping when I could. Then abruptly at 6am the nurses came flying into my room, and started rolling me from side to side, out of a sound sleep. I cried for them to stop. The contractions were so bad and I felt so ill from the magnesium sulfate. One nurse said, “Her heart rate is down to 60, you are going upstairs for an emergency c-section.” And away we went. 

Before leaving my room I had to scream to wake up my sleeping husband to get up! Men!!! We got upstairs and I was pushed into a large empty room. The nurses left and it was me and my husband. I said, “Where is everybody?” He said, “I have no idea!” I called my mom and was telling her how I had to have an emergency c-section when all of a sudden it felt like I was punched in the vagina. I threw the phone and screamed bloody buckets, when all the nurses came running back in. They unlocked my bed while muttering, her water broke, and started pushing me down the hall. I was still screaming, contractions were really bad and I was in a lot of pain. A nurse, that looked very young,  jumped up on the bed and yelled, “Stop screaming and push that baby out or we have to cut your stomach open.” I was in shock. Like listen bitch. But I did not have it in me to say a word. 

So I pushed down as hard as I could, we rounded the corner to head into the OR, and Zoey came flying out like a slippery, flapping fish. I barely felt her come out. She was unresponsive. They rushed her to the incubator and hooked her up to a ventilator. After 10 minutes my strong girl was breathing on her own! She was taken off the ventilator and put on a CPAP machine. During the time they worked on her, I had maybe four people in white lab coats trying to deliver my placenta, which took over 45 minutes. So painful, I cried the entire time. When I looked around the enormous room, all I saw was people in white lab coats, everywhere. It was pretty crazy. 

After all the trauma, I was taken to the room I would stay at during my time in the hospital. A room the size of a closet right outside of the nursery. I couldn’t believe it. Where no momma wants to be after delivering a baby she cannot hold, or even take home. Every time I left my room I saw all the babies in the nursery and just wanted to sob, again. 

Four long hours after delivering my girl, they came and got me and brought me up to the NICU to see her! I wasn’t sure it was an appropriate question, but I asked when I would be able to hold her. Thinking they may tell me in a week or two, I was pleasantly surprised when she told me the baby was stable enough for me to hold her! I was only allowed to hold her for maybe a minute, as she was hooked up to all sorts of machines, and they didn’t want her body temp to drop, but it was amazing. I was so happy!

4. What were your fears as you heard the baby would be premature? 
My biggest fear about having a premature baby was that she may not make it. I knew technology had come a long way and that we were being sent to a highly reputable hospital with a phenomenal NICU, but I was still petrified. We still had no idea why I went into labor so early.
5. What helped you through those initial scary moments? 
 My husband was great during the entire process. He was my positivity as I stated “what if” the entire time. My mom was also very supportive during the entire process. I also had ‘prayer warriors’ all over praying for Zoey.
6. How would you describe a premature baby's birth and labor process? Give us a few words.
 Exhausting, painful, traumatic.
7. Does anyone know why this premature situation happened? 
We initially thought I had gone into labor because we had bought a new house and I packed every single box and moved every single box over to the new house, trips upon trips upon trips. Then I spent days painting every room in the new house! However; when I found out I was pregnant with my 4th, I went in for my first ob check and was told there had been an autopsy done on my placenta to see why I went into early labor. I can not remember the medical term, but my umbilical cord had attached to the edge of my placenta, oppose to the  middle of my placenta, where it is supposed to attach, as baby grew the umbilical cord slid off the placenta, causing me to go into labor. I’m thankful no medication stopped my labor, if it had Zoey would not be with us today.
8. How did those few weeks after baby was born go? How long did you and then your child stay in the hospital? What was that process like? 
The few weeks after Zoey was born sucked. There’s no nicer way to say it! I was discharged after 7 days, which was brutal. Having to leave my baby in the NICU and leave empty handed. Zoey was expected to stay in the hospital for 12 weeks, but she did so well I was able to bring her home after 8 weeks. The longest 8 weeks of my life. Hauling to Portland every day, 1 hour and 15 min each way sucked. Leaving my kids and my business sucked. Only being able to spend 2 hours a day during the week with my baby girl sucked. But she came home.

9. Are there any complications now or health concerns your child faces from being premature?
Zoey is a very healthy little girl! Shes never been on the height/weight chart, but that’s OK!! She did have reflux (I had to convince the neonatologist to give her zantac so she would stop desatting in order to bring her home, Mom was right!! As soon as she was medicated she stopped desatting!) She gets croup several times a year still, but hoping someday she’ll grow out of it. She had a lot of ear infections, tubes, etc., but otherwise a happy, healthy, girl.

10. What helped you get through this time? What did others say, do, give you, etc. to help you through it?
I had a great support system. Family & friends that offered to help watch my other kiddos, we had cards and gifts sent to us, Zoey had many visitors which was great to see how many people wanted to hike up to ME and see her J
11. What do you wish you had known about premature births before it happened to you?
I wish I had known it's OK to trust my body and not every doctor that doubts you. 

I wish I had known that yes this may have been a rare occurrence, but that this can happen to anybody, even the small town girl that wasn’t expecting it. 

I wish I had known that medical personnel take emergencies very seriously and may choose to get in your face and yell at you for your own good, not because they want to, but because they’re seeing the bigger picture that you physically cannot see in that moment.
12. What is your advice to other moms who go through this? 
As devastating as it is to have a premature baby, the technology today is amazing, and in most healthy cases, these babies can survive. 

Don’t beat yourself up for having a premature baby. It is not your fault. There is a reason our bodies “abort”, whether we want it to happen or not. In my case it was the umbilical cord placement, not lifting boxes or painting.
13. What are your fears with this second pregnancy? How are you managing through that stress? 
We are unexpectedly expecting our 5th :0)  Started having contractions at 15 weeks. We’ve checked the umbilical cord placement, which is normal, and I’ve started progesterone shots. This is the 2nd baby I’ve had progesterone with, praying he stays in to term. The contractions continue to come, and they hurt so bad. They come on whether I’ve been in bed all night or have done chores all morning, no rhyme or reason, and they are more painful than the contractions I get when I’m laboring at 38 weeks. I just pray they dissipate.

14. How does your story have a happy ending? Describe your child, how things are for you all now. 
Zoey came home at 37 weeks gestation and has done amazing! She is now 6 years old! She is a first grader (I homeschool) and she loves ballet, gymnastics and swimming! We love our sassy little princess J

15. What have you learned about yourself as a strong mother through this process?

I learned about myself as a strong mother through this experience that I would do anything for any one of my children. 

After giving birth I had lost a lot of blood. My blood pressure was 70/30, but I still had it in me to be wheeled up to the NICU to see my baby. I still had it in me to ask the nurse if I could hold her. After having Zoey, I had to pump every 3 hours around the clock to provide breast milk for her for her feeding tube. As exhausted as I was, I rarely slept through my alarm, knowing it was my job to provide for my baby. Once home, and being pulled in so many different directions, I still put my baby first. I did not miss one day of visiting her. We went up on the weekends as a family and stayed in the Ronald McDonald House. If my husband couldn’t make it, I still trekked up north, every single day. 

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