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

My 24 Weeks of Pregnancy

Hello, my name is Marissa and I am new to Preemie Babies 101.

I am 25 years old, and before I got pregnant last year I was a 4th grade teacher, happily married to the Worship Leader at our church (we were high school sweethearts).

We only tried to get pregnant for a few months before deciding we didn’t care if it happened or not.  Then, it happened.  I was about 4 weeks along when we found out.  At around 8 weeks I started bleeding.  I was diagnosed with a subchorionic bleed and put on bedrest during Spring Break (in March) and released when I was 22 weeks along (by this time, school had let out).  The bleed, in and of itself wasn’t troubling to the doctor.  She said there was a chance it could be dangerous to the baby (thus the bedrest), but more than anything it was just a nuisance.  And boy, was it.  I was excited about not getting my period, but here I was bleeding more than any period I ever had, for weeks on end!  Some days were lighter than others, and each time the bleeding got heavy again I was SURE I was miscarrying.  We’d call the doctor and get an ultrasound right away, and everything would turn out fine.  Every visit came with the same recommendations:  “Go home, put your feet up and drink plenty of fluids.”  Yes, Doctor.

Once I finally quit bleeding I was in my second trimester, baby was kicking away and I was visibly pregnant (I was 115 lbs when I got pregnant, and only 130lbs by this time, so I wasn’t huge or anything).  We went on a beach vacation as a way to celebrate being off bed rest and finally getting to enjoy pregnancy (not to mention, pregnant sex!).

We were gone for a week and when we came home I was so excited to get back to life and show off my pregnant belly!  The next week was VBS at our church and I was signed up to be a leader.  On the second day, though, I started bleeding again, this time with stomach cramps, so I called and said I probably should stay home – no VBS for me.  I called the doc, went in for my normal ultrasound, and I was surprised to see the baby was head down in my uterus; so far down, in fact, that the ultrasound tech couldn’t even see the top of his head!  “Is that normal??”  I asked.  “Sometimes…” she said.  I saw the doctor after that and explained that this time I had back pain associated with the bleeding and she gave me the same recommendations as before: off feet, plenty of water.  OK.

I didn’t know why, but I just wasn’t feeling very good about things this time around.  My body just felt different, but I followed doctor’s orders.  Sure enough, the bleeding stopped and things were back to normal in a couple of days.  But a few days later, the bleeding came back, with the back pain, and what felt like menstrual cramps.  I should also note that for the past several weeks I was getting Braxton-Hicks contractions, and those came with all my new symptoms as well.  I was at a golf tournament, so I went home and went to bed with water and a heating pad.  By God’s grace, I got the idea to keep a record of how often I was having what I thought were contractions (I’ve never been pregnant before, how was I supposed to know that’s what they were?) and I Googled my symptoms.  The first result was the March of Dimes website.  After reading about the signs of Preterm Labor, I decided I should call the doctor.

Thank God the doctor on call wasn’t my OB, or else I think I would’ve been told (say it with me now) to stay off my feet and drink plenty of fluids.  Since it was a new doctor, my intuition told me not to mention anything about my history of bleeding.  So instead, I just told him what my symptoms were and without hesitation he told me to go to the Labor and Delivery Triage floor immediately.  “OK…” I thought.  I had NO idea what was in store for me.

Once I got to the room I was told to undress and I thought, “Geeze they are making a big deal about this!”  But I did as I was told, got into the hospital bed and turned on some World Cup soccer.  About that time my husband came to the room (I told him to stay at the golf tourney – no sense in making him leave just because I had to go home).  A nurse hooked me up to the belly monitors (if I’d only known I’d be seeing much more of those things) and gave me a shot of Indomethacin.  It stopped the contractions quickly and I expected to be sent home soon after.  That’s when our lives took a drastic turn.

The doctor came in and explained our situation:  I was 23 weeks and 3 days pregnant.  I was 70% effaced.  If the baby came today (which he very well could), he had a 70% chance of dying and a very high likelihood of being severely disabled .  The hospital where we lived couldn’t support a baby as premature as he was, so we had 3 options:  1.  Go home and take our chances of not having the baby; 2.  Stay at that hospital, deliver the baby and take as best care as we could (although he’d probably die); 3. Get on a helicopter and fly to the nearest hospital that could treat us (which was more than 30 miles away).  The doctor left my husband and I to discuss our decision, and I turned to my husband and said, “Am I crazy, or is there no option here?”  How could I NOT want to save our baby?

Within 30 minutes, I was hooked up to an IV running Magnesium Sulfate, had a catheter (ouch!) and saying goodbye to my husband as he would have to drive to meet us at the hospital.  I am thankful I was so doped up on Mag, otherwise I’d have been a nervous wreck like my husband was.

Once we’d landed at the hospital, I was taken to the Labor and Delivery floor where my husband and his parents met us.  I was so hot and out of it that I didn’t have the strength to be as concerned as they all were.  I could write on about how I was transferred from Labor and Delivery to the High Risk Unit, then back to L&D and back to High Risk several times in the course of the one week that I was there, but I’ll save that for another post.  You read right, one week.  I kept Jonathan Keith in the womb for one week exactly until my water broke and we discovered I had an infection in my fluid – the baby HAD to come out.

I delivered baby Jonathan in maybe 15 minutes with 3 pushes.  It wasn’t hard to do, he was only 1 lb 11 oz and 13 inches long.  I didn’t open my eyes from the moment I went into labor until I was put back into my hospital room, except for one time.  Once Jonathan came, my husband told me to look, and I briefly opened my eyes and heard him force a wee cry before he was passed through what looked like a drive-through window that connected the operating room in which I delivered to the NICU.  I quickly closed my eyes again, and lay on the table for what seemed like forever while the staff massaged my stomach, trying to get the placenta to pass.  It was painful as I’d had no pain meds.  I heard them say things like, “Is that placenta?  That color doesn’t look right…”  “That looks like kidney…”  I didn’t care if my internal organs were coming out.  I’d failed to keep my baby inside me where he belonged, and I felt deeply guilty and ashamed for delivering him to a sure death.

That was how our NICU journey began.  I thought the worst was over as I lay recovering in the Labor and Delivery room.  But I had no idea that the worst was yet to come.

Jonathan is now 6 months old (almost 3 months adjusted) and we are the happiest parents in the world.


  1. I am sorry about your having to endure such an experience, but I am glad you insinuated that he is doing well. I look forward to reading more…

  2. Angela Perez says:

    Reading your story touched my heart. I too delivered my youngest son at 23 weeks. He was 1 lb. 8 oz. & 12 inches long. He spent 16 weeks in the NICU. I am happy to report that he just turned 2 years old this past Sunday & he us healthy & thriving! I pray your son reach all the milestones & continue to fill your families lives with many years of priceless memories. God Bless you!

  3. Olga Geiling says:

    I was very touched by your story, you had to go through a lot. It almost copies my story, only my pregnancy ended with 24+6 with a c-section, because my water broke 6 days earlier. Our tiny little Sophie is also now a healthy beautiful girl, who will be 2 in two months. I hope Jonathan is well and that he makes your life filled with happiness.

  4. Hi! Your story made me cry! I had my daughter at 32 weeks after my water broke at 27 weeks. I wish I had listened to my instimcts vs my midwife. I hate that pregnancy & L&D is like a live and learn experience. We should be given the BEST care and not shrugged off when it comes to comcerns. Its better to over react then under react!

  5. Im glad to hear your little miracle is doing well!!! My water broke at 20 weeks with boy/girl twins. I spent 3 weeks on hospital bedrest until my son passed away and my daughter was born the next day, June 1, 2010. She weighed 1lbs 6 oz and 12″ long. She spent 3 mo in the NICU coming home on oxygen, caffeine, apnea monitor, pulse ox monitor. I see your little man is on O2 as well. Brielle is now off since xmas! Sounds like our little ones are about a month apart!! Good luck with everything!

  6. my twins where born at 24 weeks, & have a lot of medical cond, blessed to have them

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