Lily's Story: A Micro-Preemie's First Year
Something Is Wrong
So, in the fifth month of pregancy we dealt with being told my baby was positive for Down Syndrome, finding out the odds were she didn't have Downs, the death of our beloved 20 year old cat, and a trip to the emergency room...
After a slightly uncomfortable evening, I went to bed thinking nothing of the little pains. I still hadn't felt Lily kick, so I had no idea anything was really wrong.
I went to work the next morning, as usual. I didn't have time to clear off my desk before heading out to my 6 month doctor appointment. I made an announcement to my co-workers that I would clean it up when I got back. I didn't know I would never return to that office.
I met my husband at the doctors office. The nurse who takes your blood pressure told us I was going to see the nurse practitioner and wouldn't have an exam today. Jed reminded me to tell her what I was feeling the night before. I did so, and she said she would have the nurse examine me just to ease my mind. I am so thankful she did.
They must have had it in my charts that I worry over every detail. The nurse practitioner gave us the impression that she was just humoring us by being willing to give me an exam. You know how you know when something is wrong by the way someone's face changes when they discover something? I'll never forget her face when she discovered I wasn't imagining it.
The nurse said that I was dialated a centimeter, and that at 6 months I wasn't supposed to be dialated at all. She told me to call work and tell them I wouldn't be returning for a few hours because they wanted to do more tests. That soon became, "You probably will be on bed rest the rest of the pregnancy." Which, after an ultrasound, became "We want to send you in an ambulance to the Marshfield hospital where there is a level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit."
During the ultrasound, the technician announced we were going to have a little girl. I was so happy at the news. I looked at Jed, and he was pale faced. He realized how grim things were before I did. The technician said I was actually dialated 5 centimeters on the top of my cervix and the bottom was only being held together by a small membrane about a half centimeter thick.
Our OB/GYN doctor came in and explained the situation to us. She had tears in her eyes. I realized then that she wasn't expecting my baby to survive. She called the specialist in Marshfield, who said I didn't need to come by ambulance unless I was actively exhibiting signs of labor. So, it was decided to have Jed drive us to Marshfield.
Jed left to get some clothes and things for me for my hospital stay. Hours went by and I was still laying in the exam room waiting for his return. He asked our friend Kevin to drive my car home from the medical center, as we would be taking Jed's car to Marshfield. Kevin wisely said Jed shouldn't drive and offered to drive us. Looking back now, Jed knows he was in a state of shock and that it why it was taking him so long to make any decision. What clothes do I take to the hospital? What else will Laura need? What am I supposed to be doing right now?
We arrived at the hospital and were put in a birthing room. I was told I wouldn't be allowed to birth there because the baby wasn't big enough, and they were only using it now to evaluate me. We had a number of ultrasounds and many other tests I barely remember now. I do remember the ultrasound hurt very badly. The doctor's told me it was just sensitivity.
The important thing was for me to get a steriod shot to improve the baby's lungs. The shots are given 24 hours apart. They were hoping I held out for those 24 hours, as this could very well have been the difference between the baby's life or death.
We arrived in the hospital on Wednesday. On Saturday, I told the nurse I was constipated and could I have a laxative. They gave me prunes. That night, I kept feeling pain. The nurses told me it was probably just gas because of the prunes. I said I didn't think so.
We had them attach a labor monitor to me. It said I wasn't in labor, so they took it off. I kept telling them about the pain, but kept getting told I was only having gas. They said unless I felt something in my back, I wasn't in labor. Finally, I asked Jed to watch the clock for me. I told him when the pains started and when the pain stopped. At the beginning of the third cycle he got up and announced he was getting the nurse again because gas didn't come at 2 minutes and 10 second intervals.
The nurses hooked the machine back up again. I finally got to feel the baby kick. Just once. That would be the only time.
They discovered I was in labor and that I was so early in the pregnancy (and so fat) that the monitor hadn't been picking it up. I told them the prunes felt like they were working and I need to go to the bathroom. I got into the bathroom and closed the door and all hell broke loose. Blood was everywhere. I screamed for help, and they put me back in bed, wheeled me over to the birthing rooms, and paged the doctor.
The doctor started me on medicine to stop the contractions, but they didn't work. I was in intense pain by this time. I kept telling the nurses it felt like there was a knife right below my ribcage. They told me there wasn't anything there to be hurting and it was misplaced pain. They were wrong, but we wouldn't find out why until three days after Lily was born.
I told Jed I needed something for the pain, as I had been experiencing it for about 9 hours. I received something which made me sleep. Unfortunately, I also have sleep apnea. So what they gave me was having me stop breathing every time I would fall asleep. I kept having the save few seconds of a dream. Just as I would feel myself falling asleep, I would see Kevin's little red fire trucks and think how mad he would be that they were selling them. I would wake up and ask Jed if we had always been in this room. Then I would fall asleep again, see the little red fire trucks, think Kevin was going to be mad....
By the third time I woke up and asked Jed about the room, he realized something was definitely wrong. The nurses came in and hooked up a canula oxygen line (CPAP-continuous air pressure), which made it so I finally got to sleep for me than 30 seconds.
The doctor came in to check on me right around noon. He said I was dialated further and this baby was going to be born today. He said we had to make a decision. We could have a vaginal delivery, but the baby was so small it may break it's neck on the journey, or we could have a caesarian. He warned us that "If you have a caesarian you may not be able to have any other children and I have to be honest. This baby may not survive."
I told the doctor to go ahead with the caesarian and to do anything he had to to save my baby. He said that was the mother in me talking and it had to be a joint decision between Jed and me. Jed also said yes to the caesarian, so the doctor said he would get the room setup and we would start in about an hour.
True to his word, exactly at 1:00 pm I was wheeled into the operating room. They wouldn't allow Jed in before they gave me an epidural. It took three tries to get it directly centered, but it worked. They allowed Jed in and he held my hand.
"There goes your baby!" one of the nurses said. All I saw was a blur as nurses were running something into the next room. Jed gave me the play by play... "They're frowning. Oh, good. Now they're all smiling."
We didn't get to see Lily for five hours. In the meantime, the doctor was finishing up on me. I got dry heaves during the last part of the operation. The man who gave me the epidural was stroking my hair to soothe me.
Next came the long wait to find out what was going on with Lily.
Next Segment: Lily's Time in The NICU.