Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Gena’s Birth Story

On September 4, 2009, I married my best friend, Joel. We both knew we wanted to have kids at some point so we decided to throw caution to the wind. Lo and behold…on October 25, 2009, we found out I was pregnant! It was a very long 4 weeks until we had our first official visit with my OB. Joel’s dad was in the hospital at the time dealing with his second bought of Multiple Myeloma cancer. We were eager to share some good news with the family under difficult circumstances. Everyone was beyond excited!

At our first appointment we got to hear the heart beat…talk about surreal. It was the most amazing sound I’ve ever heard! Everything looked great. With being overweight, my OB wanted me to be careful with the added weight gain of pregnancy. As the days and weeks passed on, everything was going as planned. No morning sickness…just lots of heartburn. I was losing weight but my doctor did not seem too concerned about that. I failed my 1-hour glucose test which checks for gestational diabetes so I had to take the 3-hour test. Thankfully, I passed! They found elevated protein in my urine so I had to do the 24-hour urine test…not fun. The protein level along with my blood pressure seemed to stay higher then the doctor wanted them to be. My doctor wasn’t sure if my high blood pressure was a chronic issue or the onset to preeclampsia. With more testing, it was evident the likelihood of delivering early was pretty much unavoidable.

I was told to monitor my blood pressure at home and if it reached 140/90 or higher to head straight to see my doctor. The weekend of April 23, 2010, my BP readings at home were pretty elevated. I took it easy and called my doctor first thing Monday morning. Of course they told me to head in to the office to do a NST (fetal monitoring). When I got to the doctor, my BP was sky high so I was wheeled off to Labor & Delivery for further testing and monitoring. Joel was at work so I called my mom and she was there within an hour. This episode landed me a 4-day stay in the hospital. While in the hospital, I was given 2 doses of steroid shots to help with the baby’s lung development knowing he would come early. I was admitted on April 26, 2010 and discharged on April 29, 2010. When sent home, I was to be on strict bed rest the remainder of the pregnancy. In addition, I had to go see my doctor two times a week for NSTs and once a week to visit the high-risk doctor for ultrasounds. The first ultrasound I had with high-risk showed restriction of blood flow in the umbilical cord. Just what we needed….another issue to worry about.

The next few weeks my ultrasounds were showing more and more restriction. On Monday, May 10, 2010, I went for my routine ultrasound with high risk to find out the blood flow had become diastolic…off to Labor & Delivery once again. Joel was at work and couldn’t leave yet so I called my mom and she was there before I could even blink. I think she broke every speed limit along the way. Since the reduced blood flow in the umbilical cord was a health risk to the baby, the plan was to give me another dose of steroid shots on Monday, another dose on Tuesday, and then induce me on Wednesday. My NST on Monday afternoon/evening was the best it had been during the entire pregnancy. The visit from my doctor on Monday night was positive and the plan was right on target. Joel went home to get rested up to work on Tuesday (since we weren’t supposed to have a baby until Wednesday) and my mom headed home to get clothes so she could be here for several days to help out.

Our so called “plan” was thrown off at 6am on Tuesday morning, May 11th, when the nurse came in and asked me if I had become unhooked from one of the monitor wires. When I told her “no” she immediately left the room and came back in with my doctor. My doctor told me the baby’s heart rate had dropped to 60 bpm for 3-4 minutes on a couple different occasions. Hearing the doctor say “We have to take the baby now!” and knowing I was all alone terrified me. It was definitely not how I pictured my birth story. I immediately called Joel who had just gotten to work which set him into panic mode. As he was working on getting someone to cover him at work so he could leave, the nurses were hauling me off to the operating room for an emergency c-section. Being a first time mom, not knowing what to expect, being scared to death of having a c-section and being all alone were all coming to mind at once and I began crying and couldn’t stop. The nurses were wonderful by assuring me they would be with me through it all and they were sorry they couldn’t wait for Joel. As much as I needed Joel there, I needed to make sure we did what was best for the baby’s health at this point.

Sitting on the operating table, they attempted to give me a spinal to prep for surgery. After the 4th attempt, they finally decided to give me general anesthesia. Again…not how I pictured my birth story. The last thing I remember saying was “You’re going to make sure I’m completely out before you cut me open, right?”. The next thing I remember was being rolled in to my room on the bed and having Joel, my parents and my mother-in-law follow him. My first question was “Is Jayden okay?” When they told me we had a beautiful baby boy who came out screaming, I knew I could breathe. Knowing Jayden was okay and I was no longer alone, things definitely were starting to look up. I was later informed that even if Joel had been at the hospital, he would not have been able to be with me during surgery since I had general anesthesia.

Jayden Jack Brens
Born May 11, 2010 at 8:11am
32 weeks, 6 days gestation
3 pounds, 6 ounces, 17.5 inches

Joel was able to follow Jayden and the nurses immediately to the NICU. Jayden was a rock star and scored 9 on both his Apgar tests. It was about 3 hours after Jayden was born that they moved me from Labor & Delivery down to my room in Mother Baby. Along the way, they rolled me into the NICU so I could see my baby boy for the very first time. They set him on my chest and I got to give him a good little squeeze before heading to my room. It was a moment I will never forget. Even with all the wires he was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my whole life. Even though I knew he needed the care the NICU provides, it was very hard leaving my baby behind as they rolled me to my room.

Although my birth story did not go as I had always dreamt it would, I had my beautiful healthy baby boy and that’s all that mattered….he just needed a little more time to grow and get strong before we could bring him home. The NICU story is a roller coaster that is to be continued….

Gena Brens About Gena Brens

Gena Brens (IL) is mom to Jayden, married to her best friend Joel, and a full-time office manager. Sometimes it is challenging balancing those roles, but she wouldn't change it for anything in the world. Jayden was born early due to preeclampsia, they just weren't anticipating a 32w6d delivery and a 25-day NICU stay. Even though his complications were few, it was still a trying time. Since having Jayden home and seeing him develop along the way, Gena knows the importance of having a support group, even after the NICU. Gena formerly moderated Life after NICU, an online parent support forum now moderated by Hand to Hold. Get in touch with Gena.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    this sounds like me except I wasn’t monitored well and turns out I have lupis antiquaglit that only effect s the plecenta when prrgent. did they say this was pre eclampsia or some other reason?

  2. Gena Brens says:

    I did have preeclampsia but the diastolic blood flow in the umbilical cord is ultimately what warranted the emergency c-section. The restricted blood flow was getting worse and worse. 🙁

  3. Anonymous says:

    My story is exactly the same! I delivered my son at 31 wks via emergency c- section. I also had pre eclampsia with blood flow restriction to the placenta. Although under general anthesia they did allow my husband to stay for the delivery. My doctor was awsome and if it wasn’t for him I honestly believe my little boy wouldn’t be here. I am so grateful for such a wonderful dr.

  4. My story is identical to yours as well except i was not able to get steroid shots!! I delivered my 27 week daughter, Mariella via a very unexpected emergency c section under general anesthesia due to restricted blood flow && low heart rates!! she was born 2lbs 4 oz 12 3/4 inches with no major problems.. …she was in the nicu until the day after her due date ..preemies are amazing 🙂

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  1. […] a birth story from the father’s perspective!  This story comes from Joel Brens, husband to Gena, and founder of Papas of […]

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