Against All Odds
Surviving The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
It was a Friday, April 24, 2015; I was twenty weeks and four days gestation. Only halfway through my pregnancy. My unborn child, Noah was kicking my butt all day while I was at work. I worked in customer service as a dispatcher for South East Trans, a transportation company that carried patients of Medicaid/Bluecare to and from their doctors’ appointments. I was ready to go home and relax for the weekend. Looking at the time, it was almost 6 p.m. I decided to take my last break since no calls came through. I excused myself from my work station and told my co-worker that sat next to me I was glad my shift was almost over. Needless to say, that was the last time she saw me. In the break room, my boss was coming off his break. Somehow, we struck up a conversation.
Because I sat in a cubicle, I decided to stand to give my butt a rest and that’s when I felt a wetness between my legs. At first, it felt like a trickle and then a gush. Immediately, I paused mid conversation as the horrible realization hit me. Either I was bleeding or my water had broken. I ran past my boss. The last thing I heard him say was, “Is everything okay?” I didn’t know how to respond in that fleeting moment so I just kept going while saying, “I don’t know!”
I went to the bathroom. I was already in tears by the time I made it there. I assumed I was bleeding so as I removed my clothes to check myself. I had a momentary sigh of relief when there was no sign of blood. But I was confused. I was a first-time mom, 33 years of age, married for two years and no idea what the pregnancy experience was like. That’s when an even bigger fear ripped through me. Another gush of water soaked my clothes, my water had broken. I quickly left the bathroom and rode the elevator to the first floor. I remember being in the elevator with one other person feeling like a fool because my pants and shoes were soaking wet and water kept gushing. How crazy was that?
I ran through the hallway out the exit and jumped in the car. The hospital was literally three minutes away. The entire drive I talked to Jesus Christ. Most of the time I was begging, “Please, please, please, Jesus, please God.” Other times I was telling him, “I know if anybody can fix this You can!” I also think part of that was giving myself a pep talk.
I pulled into a handicap parking spot and ran into the emergency room. I fumbled trying to get my words out. Tears, stuttering, just trying to get someone to help me. After that, my vision went blurry. I was put in a wheel chair and pushed toward the labor and delivery ward. People turned and stared as I went by probably wondering why I was so sad. They were a blur in my vision and everything seemed to move in slow motion. Even the nurses’ voices. Once they got me to a room, I was instructed to remove my clothes and pee in a cup. I was out of my mind, I was out of this world, I was delirious. How I managed to do any of those things was beyond me because at the time I was floating in another universe.
The reality of my situation made me numb. Even still, when I went to the bathroom, I checked for blood and there was none. After I lay down on the hospital bed, I was asked questions. What’s your name, how old are you, how many weeks are you, when’s your due date? I answered the questions, but my focus was really on the second nurse who was strapping this gadget around my belly. I watched her hit a few buttons on a machine when it dawned on me I had gone from answering the first nurse’s questions to talking to Jesus. Then there was a sound that calmed every nerve inside of me. My baby’s heartbeat. It was my first sign of hope.
It guaranteed me that at that moment my baby was still alive. From that moment on, I didn’t talk to anyone but Jesus. For what seemed like hours of me laying on that bed babbling, I was holding a conversation with the Lord. At the time, it may have been one sided with Him just listening, but nevertheless, it was the only conversation that was worth having.
Sometime during that period, I managed to call my husband. He was in training at his new job when I called. His first thought was that I had peed on myself so he was coming to the hospital to crack jokes at me not being able to hold my bladder. Even after he came in the room, he had somewhat of a smirk on his face. I didn’t even try to understand what he thought was so funny because I was still numb. This was our first child together. We’d been married two years and in a relationship forever and had never been pregnant. For a long time, we assumed maybe we couldn’t have kids. There was even talk of going to a fertility clinic to see what our chances of having kids were.
We’d also considered adoption at one point in time. When we found out we were pregnant with our first child it was surreal. In the back of my mind, I always wondered if it was too good to be true. Before my water broke, I had thoughts of not celebrating this good news until we reached 30 weeks gestation. When I think back on those thoughts, I feel like there must have been a reason for them. We had just found out the Thursday before my water broke that we were having a baby boy. That Monday, I purchased his first outfit. I called it his go home outfit. The one he would wear home; his official newborn clothes. Right after making that purchase those disturbing thoughts of not getting too exited until 30 weeks gestation came back again. I didn’t buy anything else.
The nurse came into the room and introduced herself to my husband, Patrick. She informed us that they were testing the fluid to see if it was indeed amniotic fluid. She said it shouldn’t take any longer than fifteen minutes and the doctor would be in to see us soon. During this waiting period, I was paranoid beyond belief. I still wore the belt that detected my baby’s heartbeat and at the time it was the only thing keeping me sane. After about an hour and a half, the doctor came into the room with a nurse and introduce himself. Of course, he wasn’t my doctor, but the hospital’s doctor on staff. With him was an ultrasound machine. They removed the belt and proceeded to put the aqua-sonic gel on my belly.
As they worked, the doctor informed us that the test came back positive for amniotic fluid and that most of the fluid around the baby had come out. I was crushed, but in my mind, I already knew that. That tiny bit of hope was being pinched away bit by bit. Then he showed us our son in an ultrasound. He was already head down in the delivery position. The doctor showed us the pockets of fluid around the baby that were left. Afterwards, he stood and gave us a stern look. “I’m going to be honest with you,” he said. “90 percent of women whose water breaks go into labor within 48 hours.”
I started crying again. The look on Patrick’s face was as if he’d seen a ghost. He knew there was no way Noah should be coming so early, but according to this doctor, he was on his way.