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

Jenny’s Story

This story was thoughtfully submitted by one of our readers.

The week after my husband and I were married, we decided we wanted children and I was overjoyed.  We had my son 11 months after we were married and besides having preeclampsia, I was called a “constant contractor”.  I went up to the hospital many times due to contractions however these contractions weren’t causing me to dilate so I was given medicine and sent home.  Eventually I was given my own medicine to stop them at home and had no further problems.

When we found out we were pregnant again, we were ready for the same issues.  I spoke to my doctor about it and after a plan of waiting it out, I was ready for the next 9 months to fly by.  My appointment to find baby’s heartbeat ended up in an ultrasound, where they eventually found it and moved our due date back a week to July 5, 2010.  Between the heartbeat and the gender ultrasound, we were coming up with names and making our own guesses if there was a Brady or an Ava growing in my stomach.  Our ultrasound revealed it was a girl and I was over the moon.  I would have my son and daughter, I would have a house full of blues and pinks, trucks and dolls, train shirts and flowered dresses.   I couldn’t have felt more blessed.  I spent the next two weeks buying outfits and bedding, letters to go over her bed and talking to my sister about how our little girls were going to be best friends.

March 2nd at only 22 weeks, our world came to a screeching halt.  My husband was working late and I was having dinner with my parents when I got a stomachache.  I honestly didn’t think much of it, I wasn’t sure if it was something I ate or if it was contractions similar to the ones I had with my son so I called my doctor’s office.  The doctor on call explained since she couldn’t examine me over the phone, I could decide if I wanted to go in or not.  It was completely up to me and to trust my instincts.  I left my son with my parents and went home waiting for my husband.  We headed up shortly after he got home, got hooked up to machines and waited for the doctor to come in.

During this time, we were joking and watching television, thinking that this was similar to what we went through before, nothing to worry about.  I was just ready for my medicine and to head home.  A doctor and a nurse came in to give me my examine and after just a minute she announced that she was going to get another doctor who “knew more about this”.  Immediately I thought she was new, a very naïve conclusion but I thought she knew that I was having contractions but wasn’t sure why I wasn’t dilating and didn’t know what to do.  The next time I looked up there were two doctors and two nurses who were whispering back and forth.  They informed me that I was dilating, that they could see my daughter and that they would do everything they could to stop labor but if I had her, they wouldn’t save her.  The doctors went to speak to a specialist and the rest seems like a blur.  I remember crying and feeling helpless and hopeless and so guilty, like I did something wrong.

The next morning I had a cerclage surgery to close my cervix in hopes of keeping Ava in.  The surgery took 3 times longer than estimated because she was so close to the edge and I was ordered to stay at the hospital for a few more days before I was sent home on strict bed rest.  I began steroid shots to help develop her lungs and ultrasounds and examines to make sure that things were still looking alright.  I was at the hospital a few times a week at first and then admitted again at 24 and 26 weeks, kept for a few days of monitoring for them to decide if I really was dilating or not.  Eventually they would say that I wasn’t and send me back home.  My father in-law came in the morning, my Dad in the afternoon and then my husband would take over after he got out of work.  They not only watched my son, but they watched me.  They had to make me meals, drive me to appointments and be my support.  More often then not, I felt alone, not because I didn’t have an amazing support system but because of the situation.  I started getting anxiety to the point that I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t want to eat and I would call my Mom crying just wanting it all to be over.  My doctor eventually gave me anxiety medicine which helped immensely and I started online shopping and looking for baby sites in hopes of finding other moms who could relate.

Three weeks had passed since I had stepped foot in the hospital but once I turned 29 weeks, I started bleeding and my Mom took me right up.  They determined I was in labor and they gave me Magnesium Sulfate to stop it.  The nurse told me I would feel very hot for the first 15 to 20 minutes and then it would ease up.  I got sick immediately and then felt like she lit my body on fire.  I had ice bags all over me when my husband arrived and I don’t remember the rest of the day.  The next morning the neonatal intensive care unit came in to speak to us and I could barely keep my eyes open.  My husband asked questions and told me how much better he felt about if we had her during this stay.  When the afternoon came, my labor had stopped and I was taken back OB Special Care to be monitored.  The next morning they performed amniocentesis and sent me home the following day.  All my labs came back normal and I was back on bed rest.

My son turned one on May 4 and after he opened presents, we all ate pizza and cake and my son had all of the frosting washed off of him, everyone went home and we headed for bed.  I woke up at midnight with intense contractions, so bad that my husband had to get my medicine and after longer than usual, they stopped.  Instead of going into the hospital and risking me not really being in labor but being away from my son for a few more days, I waited to call my doctor in the morning to make an appointment.  My sister took me to the office where my doctor told me I needed to go to the hospital, my cerclage was ripping and I was in labor.  When I got up to the Triage, they were waiting for me, they got me in a room and I had two doctors from my office with me.  The cut out the cerclage, tested to see if my membranes had ruptured, which they had, and told me that we’d let nature take it’s course.  They weren’t sure if I was going to continue in labor and they’d need to do amniocentesis again to see if they had to speed up my labor.

Eventually I was moved into a labor and delivery room and without anyone telling me, I was having my daughter.  I called my husband and he arrived about ten minutes before I started pushing.  I had a room full of doctors and nurses, a few for me and a lot for Ava.  I was told that when I had her, they were take her away immediately and I would eventually get to see her in the NICU.  I pushed for a very short time and out came a very red, tiny, screaming baby.  They brought my 3 pound 5 ounce baby over to my side and while I couldn’t hold her, I got to see her before she was swept away.

Hours passed before I was taken to see her and there are no emotions to explain how I was feeling.  I was anxious and a mess heading up to the NICU.  The floor was decorated in bright colors, kid’s drawings and toys and it was hard to imagine a place that looked so fun was actually a place so grim for so many families.  We were buzzed through huge steel doors and there in a tiny clear box was my baby.  She was covered in cords, her face was hardly visible because of her mask and monitors were beeping all around her.  She was tiny, smaller than I realized and I have never felt more helpless in my whole life.  I didn’t want to ever leave her but after a while, they wheeled me back down to my room and I spent the night crying.  I saw parents pushing their babies up and down the halls and heard them crying all throughout the night and knew that mine was so close but so far away from me.

The next day I was in the NICU nonstop and I was flooded with information, told that I should plan on her being there for two months, it might be longer, it might be shorter but it was the best estimate they could give me at the time.  I was able to hold her once, just for a few minutes, but most of the time I just watched her.  There were times that her heart would slow down or she’d stop breathing and I felt like we were losing her, then a nurse would come over, stimulate her a little and her monitors would read normal again.

On Friday, two days after I had her, it was my time to leave.  I cannot tell you how it feels to leave your baby at the hospital.  We walked out the door with the baby clothes we had packed still in our bag, a number with the NICU and my heart still on floor 5.  I cried constantly for the first week and my life was more stressful than ever.  I would spend time with my son in the morning, then I would head up to the hospital, spend a few hours with my daughter and go back home to get my son.  It was a constant battle of my time, my energy and my emotions.  I would call twice a day and sometimes I would get good news and sometimes it wasn’t so good.  We watched her go from an incubator to a crib, a bilirubin light to not having it (several times) and having her c-pap removed, getting it back and then removing it again. She also had trouble digesting breast milk which caused her to have a lot of events.  These events were mostly her breathing stopping and her heart rate slowing but they were happening more often the longer she was on breast milk.  Eventually she was switched to formula and she stopped having events and we counted down the days until she came home.

Just over 5 weeks after Ava entered the world, we were able to bring her home at just over 5 pounds.  The morning was so surreal.  We had CPR class and I got to the hospital a little early to spend time with Ava.  When I got up to her room, the doctor was standing at her bedside and a nurse was looking at me nodding her head.  He asked me what I would give him if he’d let my daughter come home and I rattled off a list that included pretty much anything I could think of.  I couldn’t believe it was actually happening.  I called my family basically screaming into the phone that she was coming home!  Somehow sat through CPR and ran back to Ava ready to wrap her up and put her in my car.  We signed our paperwork, loaded everything up and finally walked out the doors with the baby that we fought so long and so hard for.  She proved she was a fighter from day one, she was stronger than I ever could be and I drove away from the hospital, knowing I didn’t have to come back again, she would be with me from now on.

My daughter is now 16 months.  She is thriving, she is happy, she is healthy and she is perfect.  There are still times that I feel guilty, like I could have done something differently and that she went through all of this because of me, although I know it‘s not true, it still hurt sometimes.  I  do thank God for her every day, knowing that we had some amazing people watching over us.  Jean de la Bruyere once said, “Out of difficulties grow miracles” and she is truly a miracle. We named her Ava which we later found out meant “life”, we don’t think it could be more perfect.

Afton Mower About Afton Mower

After Mower (UT) lost her firstborn son at 21 weeks.  Her daughter was born a year and a half later at 27 weeks.  The NICU was overwhelming and isolating and it was through those two experiences she was led to found this social hub for parents to find the support they needed. Afton also gave birth to another daughter, born two days overdue after four months of strict bedrest. She believes it is a tender experience to hold a special baby in your arms when his spirit returns to his heavenly home, a miracle to watch tiny babies survive the risks of prematurity and a blessing to hold a healthy full-term baby after months of difficulty and sacrifices.

Comments

  1. Jenny- I didnt know the whole story. I was crying at work. You and Ava are both miracles!! We are all so very blessed for our lives. Love you and hope to see you soon.

  2. This is actually your Aunt Kristy…and I remember doing a lot of praying for Ava. And how glad I was when you finally got to bring her home.

    Your story brings back a lot of memories for me. Christopher was in NICU for a little over two months so I know how difficult it was for you to see your baby there. One thing you didn’t mention, though, concerns the day you were discharged. I remember being so furious the day I left the hospital…because the woman at the desk downstairs asked if I was keeping my baby. I wanted to slug her. 🙂

  3. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing…I was released today without my baby-I had preeclampsia and they had to take her at 31 weeks a few days ago and I am a mess…I look forward to the day I can take her home and share a similiar story. Leaving today was exactly like leaving your heart there…thank you for sharing your joy and pain.

  4. Thank you for sharing. I left my 30 week twin girls today at the hospital. They are doing well but it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I look forward to their homecoming.

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