To kick off a new series on my blog aimed at helping moms of Neonatal Intensive Care babies, I wanted to share how I (very unexpectedly) became a NICU mom myself. This is the story of my youngest son R’s fast and furious birth.
I never wrote a birth story with my first son C. His birth was a natural vaginal delivery, in a hospital, with the support of my husband and a doula. C arrived five days past my due date. It was a thirteen hour labor, with some really bad tearing that I took a long time to recover from, and a perfectly healthy baby. C’s birth was a long and exhausting experience, but it was also empowering. I felt like superwoman during and afterwards!
My second born, R, decided to be different from his big brother in every way! I had a check up on my due date, Tuesday February 24th, and brought my mom along. Because I made it to my due date, I was given a standard non-stress test. The test revealed I was having a few minor contractions but that the baby was perfectly fine. My entire pregnancy up to this point had been healthy and uneventful. My doctor checked me and I was barely two centimeters dilated at 11 am. He had me make a follow up appointment for early the next week but said he wouldn’t likely see me for it. I felt excited that I would be meeting my baby sometime in the next few days!
After my appointment, I went to lunch at Panera with my mom and then home to take a nap. As she was dropping me off I asked my mom if she would like to be present at the delivery. My father had recently passed away and I thought it would be a special gesture to have my mom at the birth. She said yes!
My nap didn’t last long. At 3:39 pm I noted in my iPhone that I thought I was in labor. I was having what I described as “waves of cramps.” I called my husband to tell him and he decided to come home right away (good decision). I decided to start timing things with an app I had downloaded on my phone and discovered my contractions were less than two minutes apart. My pain level increased pretty rapidly. I got sick several times and knew I wanted to get to the hospital ASAP. I was feeling very scared and like I wouldn’t be able to handle natural labor this time around. Little did I know I was almost done!
The drive to the hospital was super uncomfortable, with lot’s of quick and painful contractions and me screaming through each one. My husband was impressively calm during the drive, but later he told me I didn’t notice his white knuckles gripping the steering wheel. Part of my screaming was telling him that I would want “all of the drugs” this time!
I bolted from our spot in the hospital parking garage down the long hall to labor and delivery. At the check in desk I had a contraction while gripping a chair as the receptionist asked my name. Immediately I dropped to my knees with a second contraction and my water broke all over the floor. The water was dark brown with meconium.
Nurses instantly appeared with a wheelchair and they whisked me back into a delivery room. I jumped out of the chair and lunged towards the bed yelling that I needed to push. A nurse screamed “she has to get in the bed!” I leaned on the bed and pushed once still fully dressed. Then, my husband yanked my pants, underwear and shoes off. I was repeatedly asking for “help,” which was very scary for my husband. I was just in so much pain and thought something was wrong.
As it turns out I was already fully dilated and baby R was crowning. The doctor and nurses were scrambling to set the room up but just told me to push. It only took two pushes and R was out. I immediately felt a sense of relief, and I remember smiling. I couldn’t imagine tolerating that pain level for the same thirteen hours that I was in labor with my first son. I was so happy my labor was over and the baby was here.
R was born at 5:28pm, after only an hour and 50 minutes of labor. He was 7 lbs 8 oz and 20 inches long (slightly smaller than his big brother was at birth). The birth happened so quickly that my mom didn’t make it to the hospital in time.
I was so shocked and thrilled to be done! But the reaction in the room was not positive. I had my glasses off so I didn’t see the cord wrapped twice around the baby’s neck. He also didn’t cry right away. It seemed like a million people were in the room working on him, including doing CPR. It was terrifying. A nurse eventually brought him over for me to hold, but she never let go of him herself, and was holding a tiny oxygen mask near his face. When she explained that he was struggling to breath, I wanted them to take him away to get help right away! I looked at him for a few seconds before he left for the NICU.
A doctor arrived at my bedside to explain that R had suffered Meconium Aspiration Syndrome. She even mentioned that he might need to be flown to another hospital (luckily this didn’t happen). A nurse then asked me all of the admission questions that had been skipped over earlier due to my fast arrival. It was surreal sitting in that quiet, cold delivery room without a baby, not even wearing a hospital gown.
R looked beautiful and perfect on the outside but was having some pretty serious lung issues on the inside. Our NICU stay ended up being 19 days total, and we didn’t get to hold him for the entire first week. We never expected to be NICU parents, and it was one of the most challenging times in our life so far. We made it through and R is home now. He is a chunky, happy, almost 10 month old, but we will never forget his dramatic entrance into the world.