This birth story series is sponsored by HCA Midwest Health.
I became pregnant with my first child at 35. While I liked to think that being in my mid-thirties was still young, I was considered to be of “advanced maternal age” for child-bearing. Gee, thanks. It wasn’t my fault that it took a bit longer to find Mr. Right! But as a lamented that new distinction, I quickly learned that it meant I was privileged to more ultrasounds, higher-level ultrasounds, and genetic screening. So I took advantage of these extra perks, and settled in for a routine pregnancy with a due date of April 23.
Before I knew it, spring break was upon me. As a teacher, I was looking forward to a week of relaxing and working on the remaining baby preparations. While I was at school on Friday, after a visit to the bathroom, I popped into my co-teacher’s classroom and asked her what it looked like when you lose your mucus plug. I had already consulted Google and my previous reading of allllll the books told me it didn’t mean the baby was coming ASAP. My co-worker told me that she had her baby a few days later. Well…hmmm. Maybe I didn’t lose it. Yes. I told myself it was nothing and moved on. My due date was 5 ½ weeks away, and the first baby was usually late (again, according to Google and the books).
Two days later, I woke up and discovered I’d started bleeding. It wasn’t a lot, but enough that I knew it wasn’t right. I called the on-call doctor, and they told me to head to the hospital for a check. After Matt showered (yes, just him…I will regret my decision not to shower very soon), we headed off, calling our family to let them know we were just going in to make sure everything was OK.
I was checked into the hospital and hooked up to all of the machines. After a few hours, the on-call doctor was ready to send me home. After another check, it was determined I had started leaking (although barely) amniotic fluid. After more monitoring, my actual doctor arrived (after delivering triplets – bless her heart) and decided we were going to have a baby today!
Suddenly, NICU doctors were ushered in to tell us what would happen after Will was born. Wait, what? He will need to be in the NICU?? I barely remember this discussion, as I was in shock over the fact I was having a baby TODAY! My lesson plans weren’t ready for my long-term sub! We didn’t have the car seat installed! I had nothing with me at the hospital! We hadn’t taken the breast-feeding class yet! I was supposed to run the March Madness pool for my school! I wasn’t ready to do this today!
They went ahead and completely broke my water, so I sent my dad and Matt home to pack up a bag and get some lunch. My mom stayed with me while I ate something and tried not to panic. My mom was a retired nurse and had taught childbirth classes, so she was wonderful at keeping me calm and telling me what to expect. But what transpired, was definitely not expected.
After a number of hours, they administered Pitocin, since I just wasn’t progressing. This is when things got crazy.
I remember contractions. I remember my epidural. I remember needing oxygen. I remember getting sleepy. I remember alarms and people in and out of the room. And then I remember them saying that I was going to need a c-section because the baby’s heart rate was dropping.
I was wheeled away, and within minutes, at 8:20 p.m., William had arrived. He was healthy, but taken to the NICU rather quickly for oxygen and monitoring. I knew he was in excellent hands, and for the first time all day, I wasn’t panicked. I was relieved.
Will ended up in the NICU for about 15 days. He was considered a “feeder/grower,” meaning he needed to learn how to eat without a feeding tube, and gain some weight. I was discharged begrudgingly after four days, and didn’t want to leave Will at the hospital. But I had a friend take me to the hospital every day, and Matt picked me up after school. Each day I grew more impatient, desperately wanting to take my baby home. I remember constantly asking the nurses if he’d gained weight and could leave. I’m sure they loved that.
But as bizarre as this sounds, his time in the NICU was a blessing in disguise. I had 15 nights of decent sleep while I recovered from my c-section. I had nurses to help me for 15 days, while I figured out how to pump and feed him. My frozen milk stash was overstocked. Our parents took turns coming each day to visit. We had time to install the car seat and buy some preemie clothes and diapers. We had time to breathe, and I had time to reflect on the fact that this was the safest place for Will to be. So while Will grew, I did too.
For labor and delivery expertise, more moms in Kansas City choose an HCA Midwest Health hospital. Our OB/GYN teams at our delivering hospitals – Centerpoint Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park Regional Medical Center and Research Medical Center – ensure every woman has access to top-quality maternity care, including specialized services for women with high-risk pregnancies. By delivering more babies than anyone else in the region, our maternity hospitals deliver experience and safety. Learn more at hcamidwest.com/delivers.