All images shared from Michele Baillie
1. How far along were you when your baby came early?
My water broke spontaneously at 34 weeks and 6 days, at night. So she came exactly at 35 weeks.
2 What were the first thoughts or feelings you had when you realized the baby was coming?
Once the denial passed, my first thought was "OMG... How are we going to leave the hospital! We have no carseat, no clothes for her, no where for her to sleep!" We were out of town, 1500 miles away for Christmas visiting my family. Our carseat had been delivered in FL 2 days after we left and was sitting on our front porch. My immediate second thought was "I hope this NICU and their staff are good". I'm an RN so medically I knew it was going to be necessary.
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.?
So it was Christmas night. My husband, sisters, and brother-in-law, and I were relaxing watching Fast and Furious 6. I started having a lot of back pain, but chalked it up to just being pregnant. As I tried to get comfortable I felt a "pop" down below. With this being my first pregnancy I had no idea what that pop was. But I did notice my back pain went away. So I snuggled into my husband to continue watching the movie.
Suddenly noticing my pants were getting very wet, and I was sitting on my mom's couch, I jumped up quickly. My husband asked if everything was okay and then said "did your water break?" I answered quickly "I don't know I've never had my water break before, plus I'm too early!" As I contemplated every scenario in my head, I went upstairs and sat on the toilet. I was mentally trying to convince myself that I had just peed my pants. It was an ongoing joke while I had been there visiting that any time I sneezed or coughed I had to go change my pants. But... This time the trickle didn't stop. My little sister who is also an RN preceded to check my "wet spot" on the couch to see if it smelled of urine or not, to figure out if it was my water. Which led my middle sister yelling upstairs in disgust and waking my Mom.
After calling my OB, on his personal cell on Christmas night, he convinced me to go get checked at the closest hospital. Which then put us on a hunt for the closest HCA facility (I work for one, so for insurance reasons I have to go to the nearest one). Well... Closest one was 6 hours away in Indiana. Ha not happening! So then came the search of "hospital with best NICU". So, I got cleaned up, and my husband, mother and I made the travel, in a huge snow storm to make it to the hospital. Good thing was, I didn't have any contractions, no pain, no bleeding... Just leaking fluids. Once we were there and signed in I was still in denial and trying to convince my husband and mother that there was no way I was in labor and they were just going to send me back home. Nope!! Got my first check... Water was broken and I was already a cm dilated!
I had not completed all my prenatal testing (i.e. GBS swab) so I had to get started on IV antibiotics right away. An hour later, still no contractions, so then they were going to start Pitocin. That's when I decided they should just call the anesthesiologist for an epidural. I was already so exhausted from being awake all day for Christmas, there was no way my low pain tolerance, no sleep and getting Pitocin that I was going to make it through a delivery at this point. While waiting, my contractions finally started. By the time my epidural was completed, 40 minutes later, they were coming so fast that they did not start the Pitocin. The baby's heart rate kept dropping so they had to do internal monitoring on her. Once that was started I kept telling my mom something didn't feel right. Even with the epidural I felt like she was sliding out of me. My husband was pacing back and forth trying to contact his mom in FL to tell her that her granddaughter was being born in MI. My mom went and grabbed the resident OB who checked me.
I was told that in 45 minutes I had gone from 4 to 9 cm and this baby was coming. I internally started to freak out! What do you mean she's coming? I've only been in labor for 4 hours total! This isn't what I learned about labor on nursing school. First labors take longer! The OB asked me to bear down 1 time so they could check her position, half way through she starts saying "stop, stop". I remember looking at my husband and yelling "what does she mean stop?!? I'm barely even pushing!" They ran and grabbed the team, I pushed one more time, and our little girl entered the world.
4. What were your fears as you heard the baby would be premature?
My fears were her health! First and foremost. Will she be developed correctly? Will she have respiratory distress? Will she be strong enough? How long will she be in NICU? When can I hold her?
5. What helped you through those initial scary moments?
My husband was SO strong!! If it wasn't for him by my side I never would have held it together. I was very lethargic after the delivery. They had a hard time delivering my placenta, so I lost a lot of blood. I was so weak and scared at first. Being in the medical field was making a lot of it harder for me too.
6. How would you describe a premature baby's birth and labor process? Give us a few words.
It was SO fast!! Not a "normal" delivery at all.
7. Does anyone know why this premature situation happened?
Not a single doctor has any idea why she came early! I've asked many!!
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?
We got very lucky, in so many ways!! My hospital stay could have only been a day and a half, but they kept me 2 cause the baby had to stay 2 and we were from out of state so they wanted to double check everything. Her NICU stay was only 12 hours. She got to sleep in our room the first night! We stayed in MI an extra week with my parents to be able to do an initial follow up with a pediatrician. Her bilirubin had tripled after birth, so on New Years Eve we ended up back at the hospital for an overnight stay so she could bake under the bili-light to reduce her jaundice. And after that it was smooth sailing. We packed my SUV back up when she was 8 days old, with my mom, and drove back to FL.
9. Are there any complications now or health concerns your child faces from being premature?
At first she failed her hearing test, which is common in preemies. But a repeat test showed her hearing is perfect! She didn't gain weight very well in the beginning months, at 4 months she was still in the 2% for her weight and wearing 0-3 month clothes that were big. We ended up opting for formula as my body was not producing enough milk, and she finally started gaining weight. You would never know she was a preemie now!
10. What helped you get through this time? What did others say, do, give you, etc. to help you through it?
Getting through this time was because of my husband, mom, and co-worker/friends. Knowing I had good people to help me helped ease my mind. My husband was just a supporter! He really stepped up and took on an amazing daddy role!!
11. What do you wish you had known about premature births before it happened to you?
That it can happen to anyone at any time!! My denial had me stressed in the beginning.
12. What is your advice to other moms who go through this?
My advice is communication! Talk to your loved ones. Talk to your doctor. Be educated as much as possible. Talking helps take some stress off of you, as well as shows that you are doing okay. It's so hard to deal with. Have a good support team!! My husband and mom were my rocks through this!
13. Anything else you'd like to share?
I'm so thankful and blessed to have a healthy child. I was so lucky to have an older preemie! My heart extends each and every time I see a micro premie! That's something I'll never understand, but can only partially relate to. God Bless those mommies!!
14. How does your story have a happy ending? Describe your child, how things are for you all now.
My crazy 22 month toddler girl is full of life!! She has the chubbiest cheeks, and squishiest thighs... I love it!! She is so smart! Even her doctor is blown away by her vocabulary. She is such a caring little girl. She loves her daddy and I and is just now starting to understand that she has a baby brother coming in 7 weeks, or less, depending on what God has planned this time around. She's amazing!!
15. What did you learn about yourself as a strong mother through this experience?
I learned that I am much stronger than I ever thought. I thought I would have been an emotional mess through it all, but I actually stayed very positive. I also learned that I have the ability to adapt to situations, where in my head I knew my birth plan and when it ALL changed I adjusted better than I thought.
Here I thought I was going to deliver at the hospital where I worked, where I knew everyone, every doctor. I thought I was going to exclusively breast feed (never thought I'd have problems). Thought I'd have a bag packed, let my labor naturally progress, and never thought in a million years my Mom would be able to be there for me. EVERY. SINGLE. THING. Was not as planned.
And what I learned about myself was that I had to have faith and let go a little. Something I have continued to do through raising my extremely strong-willed, independent little girl.