By Guest Blogger Erin Gildner
A Baby Story (part 3)
Read PART 1
Read PART 2
At 25 weeks, on May 25th I was taking a shower and caught a tiny glimpse of what appeared to be a little glob that looked like snot (gross, I know, sorry) go down the drain. I thought it was weird but didn’t think much of it; I felt fine. I went to work at a state office where I was interning for the spring/summer. While I was working on the computer, I started to feel a tightening in my chest and abdomen. No pain was associated with this, it just felt weird and I wasn’t able to draw in a full breath. As the feeling got more frequent a thought came into my head that they might be false contractions, but nowhere in my mind did this set off an alarm; at least not until I went to the bathroom and checked my underwear. Around lunchtime, I went to the bathroom, checked my underwear, and promptly freaked out. My Mother was working in the same office at the time and so she quickly took me to the hospital.
Triage took forever and I tried very adamantly to explain to them that I thought I might be in early labor. Apparently they weren’t too worried. When I finally got into a room I was asked to disrobe and to give a urine sample; when I went to cath myself, my water broke in my hand, and I lost it. The nurse that was helping me was as cool as a cucumber, and at the time it pissed me off, but I guess you have to be calm when you work with hormonal frantic mothers in labor. I guess that’s their coping mechanism. After people realized the situation, it got pretty busy around the hospital area I was in. It’s all pretty hazy now that it’s been over 10 years, but I do remember the fear. I remember getting something via IV to stop the labor and being told that I wasn’t going to leave the hospital until I had the babies. I was assured that they would do all they could to keep me from having the babies so early. The Magnesium Sulfate that I was given to stop contractions made me hot, angry, and made it hard to breathe. Because I was having so much trouble with the drug, they had to stop it; I’d have to go without. They put the babies on a heart rate monitor and I remember it being a constant battle to keep track of both of their heart beats. It was chaos and it was scary.
In the late evening, after making several failed attempts to locate both babies’ heart beats, someone thought to check my cervix; after that, things got real, really fast. Not once did anyone think about my paralysis and lack of feeling in my nether regions-this was a mistake and so I urge expectant mothers with SCI to have their cervix checked during visits-it’s something that could possibly help prevent a preterm birth, which is more likely to happen to women with SCI than those without. My son’s head was already crowning and there was a look of terror on the Resident’s face when they realized that a baby was going to be in the room very quickly.
When the alarm was sounded, the call was answered quickly. The High Risk OB on call entered the chaotic room and I remember him saying that there were too many Indians and not enough Chiefs-after this, things got organized quickly. I don’t know how much time passed after that, but I remember being told to push, and I heard what sounded like a kitten’s tiny meow. My husband was standing up with a view of the birth and his knees buckled-they had to get a nurse to assist him and get him to a sitting position quickly. After my son was out, I was told that my daughter’s umbilical cord was prolapsed and that I would have to be rushed into emergency surgery. My son was born at 11:33 pm and my daughter was born about 20 minutes later. After I woke up from anesthesia I was told to look at the two beds where my children were. They were so tiny and red and undercooked. My boy was a whopping 1 lb. 11.5 oz and my baby girl was even tinier at 1 lb. 5 oz. I knew that this was going to be long road full of uncertainty.
Wish I could say that everything turned out okay and that there wasn’t a lot of heartbreak and pain, but that’s just not the case. My daughter was taken off the ventilator the day I got out of the hospital; her kidneys were not functioning and she just was too tiny and underdeveloped because of her gastroschisis. Our daughter died in our arms and we had to plan a funeral at the bedside of our son’s NICU bed, while he was fighting for survival.
My son spent 15 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at two different hospitals, and came home from the hospital on his due date of September 8, 2004. He endured several surgeries while in the NICU and it was a roller coaster ride I wouldn’t wish for anyone to have to endure. When my son came home from the hospital he was only 4 lbs. It all seems like a dream now, but the last 10 years have been wild. While my son will always have to live with the after effects of being a micro-preemie, he never ceases to amaze me every day. He’s awesome and I think that his disability from Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and all that he has endured have made him the truly unique and one-of-a-kind person he is today. He’s so smart and loves to figure out how things work. He knows how much of a miracle he is and I think that he’s proud to have lived through so much adversity during his lifetime. He also knows that he’s got a special sister watching over him.