Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Memory Lane: April 14, 2006

The mind has an amazing ability to distinctly remember moments. Moments of intense pain, joy or sorrow are etched into our memories. Smells, emotions, physical reactions all come back to us when we think about these memories.

April 14, 2006 is one of those days for me.

I was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was one of the first spring days after a LONG winter. The sun was out. The trees were blooming. It was WARM! And I was very pregnant with my first baby. Completely unaware of all of the changes that were to come before me. And completely unprepared for the hugeness of the responsibility that was to fall to Sam and I.

I had spent the day in class. It was a long week of papers, studying and reading. I had a seminar early in the day which required me to do a lot of group work. I felt beautiful because a colleague of mine had complimented me on my large, swollen size. And I was wearing a new light blue tshirt that my mom had purchased for me. I had a slight, slight, tinge of blood earlier in the day which I initially brushed off. I went home after class and started studying. Sam was doing the taxes- due the next day- and I was puttering. When I used the restroom again, again that slight bit of blood.

Sam and I had decided to use one of our coupons and go out for dinner. When I told him about the blood, we called the doctor and headed over to the hospital just to be sure everything was fine. I had a 100% normal pregnancy so far. I chalked it up to the warm weather, dehydration and...?

We checked in to the labor and delivery ward which we had visited just 5 days before. I was just shy of 32 weeks pregnant. My baby girl wasn't due until June 10th. It was April.

So we were not too worried.

Neither were the doctors. They said that all day they had seen many dehydrated pregnant moms due to the warm weather. They said, "We'll just hook you up, do an internal exam and then you guys can go get your Chinese food."

Yeah! But we forgot the coupon. So we started to think about how long it might take to get the coupon back at our house. I was only worried about when I would eat next as I was getting really hungry. No worries.

But then we got worried. Very worried.

The ob in training kept running back and forth from me to her computer. "You don't feel any of these contractions? Really!?"

And she would run off. I didn't feel a thing.

Then another intern said that she would do a quick internal. It was my first of those 'fun' exams and I thought the woman was trying to reach my tonsils. It was very painful.

And her face said a lot. "Hmm. I think she is at 3."

3?? As in dilated!?

At that point, it all moved really quickly. The head doc did another exam, looked me straight in the eye and said, "You aren't moving anywhere."


My mind filled with about 1001 questions at once. Would we loose the baby? I can't have the baby tonight! I only have been to one class! And I didn't read the labor chapter yet! And more seriously, my god, why is this happening? What did I do wrong? Would she be ok?? I could taste the fear in my mouth.

It has been the only time in my life where I saw my husband pray and cry at the same time. I am the praying one. I'm always asking God for things. Sam doesn't. That is my role. But at that moment, on the edge of feeling very scared about bringing a not ready baby into the world, we called on all of the Higher Powers. And it worked!

That night was a LONG night of contractions and interventions. I was placed on magnesium sulfate which makes you super hot but slows everything else down. I was given a catheter and was monitored through the night. I don't think I'll ever forget Sam leaning on the bedrails of my bed in the labor and delivery ward. His face illuminated by the monitors and he stared at the screen- willing our little girl to stay in. I was in and out of sleep as exhaustion and the medication took over. But he was right there.

At one point, we were told that things looked stable. We were too nervous to do much else but worry. So Sam and I decided that he should go home to pick up a few things. We lived about 8 minutes away from the hospital. So he kissed me and drove home quickly.

The OB returned to my bedside and freaked out that my husband wasn't there. He handed me his personal cell phone, "Call him. Get him back. Now."

I think that the nursing staff did such a good job of reassuring us that we felt ok to let down our guard for a few minutes. That doctor's instructions snapped me back to reality.

We had called both sets of parents that Friday night. And by Sunday, Easter Sunday, we all were together. My parents flew immediately to us and Sam's parents drove in from Michigan at the same time. I had worried that Sam and I didn't have any Easter plans- but we ended up having the whole family together for Easter dinner! In the hospital!

The two plus weeks that followed in the hospital were FULL of back and forths. Back and forth from the antepartum floor (full of stressed our pregnant women with high risk pregnancies) and the labor and delivery floor. Every time the contractions would start, I'd be monitored and additionally medicated. And if they broke through the medication, I'd go back to L and D. I was allowed one 30 minute wheelchair ride a day. And after a few days was allowed to shower sitting down. It was a really stressful 17 nights in the hospital. Full of tears and anxieties. Visits from concerned friends. Flowers. Conversations with NICU doctors that I never dreamed about having. "Stressful" is an understatement and those days are full of thier own crystal clear memories. But those are fodder for another post.

Here we are celebrating week 33!

Let's just say that every year on April 14th I think about how it could have been Seren's birthday and every year I'm grateful that she decided to join us in May. It wasn't as close to June 10th as we would have liked but she came when she was meant to come: May 4th, 2006.

And one of the key lessons that I learned in the hospital is this: Every day matters. For a women pregnant with a baby who is coming too soon, every single day that the baby is inside matters. Every day.

How are you going to make today 'matter'?


LauraC said...

This post made me cry! For both me and you and all preemie moms out there who've been down that terrible path of worry.

It is why I will ALWAYS have a tough time with women complaining at 36 weeks that they want the baby out,because at 36 weeks I was just thinking - one more day. one more day. And when I finally gave birth at 36w3d, I would have given anything for one more day. I still would give anything for one more day to avoid any NICU time.

Hey did you know my original due date was June 10 too?!?!

OWL MOMMA said...

Megan, what an amazing heartfelt post. I never knew you went through all of this... I remember finding out you were pregnant, then finding out you had the baby... but I didn't know til much later that she was so early and you had been in the hospital.

I have been having a grumpy day, feeling frustrated with the realities of life with three young kids, and homeschooling, and housekeeping, and blah blah blah. Thank you for the reminder to make today matter... I'm off to kiss my kiddoes, smile more, and make sure to enjoy them!

Big hugs to you and your family!

Beth said...

Thanks for sharing the whole story, Megan. I can't imagine how scared you guys must have been. And I'm so glad and thankful that the story has a happy ending. I've added "Every day matters" to my "Don't wish your days away" mantra. Thanks for the very important reminder.

Julie said...

Wow, this is so beautifully written, it made me cry too. Its amazing how the day can start out so "normal" and then take such a turn. I'm so glad things turned out the way they did, I cannot imagine how terrified you must have been. Every day DOES matter!