Monday, July 27, 2015

Riding Waves of Grace: Joey's Birth Story - PART II

You can find Part I here

Another horrible phone pic, taken in my long-term-stay hospital room, but I wanted to show how much smaller my tummy was after losing all of my water. My previous post has a picture of me at 27 weeks and I look roughly the same size, but I assure you there was a substantial difference.

It was 6:45 on a cloudless Sunday morning. Mark was rifling through the linen closet looking for a towel, I was on the phone with my Mom, already grateful for the first grace: it was early enough that Mom wasn't yet unreachable at church, but late enough that we'd all gotten sleep.

Our conversation was brief as I relayed that my water broke, everywhere. She would be over immediately. Our four other children were fast asleep and would wake to find Grandma here and us gone. I knew they would be confused, but seeing Grandma would put them at ease.

Until this point, I had been very careful not to move, fearful even of reaching for the phone. Not only did I not want to lose any more of the precious fluid, but I was terrified that with any movement, part of my tiny son or his umbilical cord would slip out in a rush of water.

With Mom on her way, it was time to get ready to go. Mark called the hospital to let them know we were on our way with a 30 week rupture. At my request, he grabbed one of Lucy's diapers to help contain the stream still freely flowing.

Dressed in pajamas, clutching my pillow and wearing a diaper-pad, I gingerly made my way downstairs, getting to the front door just as Mom arrived. I don't remember what was said beyond the reassurance of prayers. I recall feeling the jitter of nerves and adrenaline, fearful but calmed by the ignorance of what might come next and by the fact that I was helpless: I was both the participant and an observer.

Our drive to the hospital was pleasant but surreal.  The empty roads and gorgeous sunshine took me back to another Sunday morning seven years prior, when we made a similar drive for Iain's early birth. 35 weeks along with him, my first baby, I was scared and concerned, but not like this. 30 weeks is a different set of scenarios and possibilities. Mark and I sang our song to our son, the same song we've sung at the birth of all of our children: The Lord's My Shepherd. As we sang, tears welled up and rolled down my cheeks. Why and how had this happened? What could I have done? And more importantly, what did this mean for our son?

A nurse was already waiting for us as we walked into the hospital. She led us to a small labor room where I got settled in bed and waited. Since the moment I felt that gush, the only thing I cared about was hearing the galloping sound of my son's heartbeat. It seemed like an eternity before the monitors were placed, as even a 1 second ultrasound was performed to make sure he was head-down, prior to listening for his heartbeat. When I finally heard it, galloping steadily along, I relaxed just a little bit.

While getting into my hospital gown, I had tossed the sodden size 5 diaper in the trash. Between what I lost at home and that dripping diaper, I knew there wasn't much left inside me. I began to worry that the test strip to confirm a rupture would be negative and wasn't in a mood to argue that my son's life was indeed in danger. Fortunately, despite being down to a tiny trickle, it was enough to create a positive test and I was officially there to stay. For how long, I did not yet know.

Part III

Monday, July 13, 2015

Riding Waves of Grace: Joey's Birth Story - PART I

30 weeks along in my 5th pregnancy, I was growing more uncomfortable by the day. I had joked to both Mark and my doctor that I felt 10 weeks further along than I was. We knew we were having a boy, our second with three girls sandwiched between them. I also knew he was going to be big. I was consistently measuring a couple weeks ahead, but with a husband who weighed 10 lb 15 oz at birth, this was neither a surprise nor a medical concern. Despite my discomfort, I was having a nearly textbook pregnancy.
Clearly a bad picture, but my last during normal pregnancy. Roughly 27 weeks along.

Earlier that week, my doctor had cautioned me to take it easy, no more house projects until I was at least 36 weeks along. With a history of preterm labor and our first son's preterm birth at 35 weeks  (followed by full-term girls) it was best to be cautious. I obeyed grudgingly, getting a kick out of teaching Mark how to paint walls and occasionally grabbing the paintbrush for a bit of cutting-in when no one was looking. We had moved into our forever-home five months prior and had been putting our personal touches on it ever since.

Saturday, May 2nd ended with an idyllic evening. We got a late start on our first backyard fire but the temperature was perfect, the stars brilliant, the s'mores delicious and I enjoyed a sip or two of Mark's beer. Looking up from the fire to the deck lit with twinkly lights, I imagined a Spring and Summer filled with evening fires, the kiddos running around the yard playing flashlight tag. It was bliss and I was soaking it all in.
I don't have a picture of that evening, but this is the morning equivalent of that night.
I can not express how grateful I am that we carved out time on that late evening for a family fire, because the next morning our world turned upside down.

Laying in bed Sunday morning I drifted into consciousness, opening my eyes to see the pale light of dawn filtering through the Thomas the Tank sheet that covered our window. A trickle... Surely it was nothing. A gush. My stomach dropped, my heart sank and as I reached out in alarm to shove Mark awake, a deluge. Denial screamed at me to simply go back to sleep. It was both alarming and amusing to realize how childish my mind was as it tried to process what was happening.

Continue with PART II