I'm a mother to a 12-year-old tomorrow. I have crazy birth stories for both of my kids.. today, I'm sharing his.
January 26, 2006. 25 weeks pregnant with a baby boy.
I had gone in for a check up two days prior, but I woke up feeling pressure in my lower pelvic area that morning. I started to feel a slight pain that never lasted for long. It came and it went, but something felt wrong. We decided to drive down to the ER at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
They sent me to the women's floor, while Niti had to stay in the waiting area. They asked me a few questions and asked me to rate my pain from a scale of 1-10. I wrote 8 (found this out later.. the closer to 10 you're feeling, the faster they'll see you). I sat in a different waiting room for 3-4 hours. The longer I sat, the weirder I began to feel. It felt like something was expanding. It's hard to describe.
Finally, they had a room ready for me. They walked me down the hall and told me to wait outside the door. At this point, I started to feel a lot of pain. I could barely stand. They rushed to get me in on a bed in the room and attached some monitors around my belly. The two nurses left the room. I was in the room by myself when the pain came back with a vengeance and I had the urge to push. My body was telling me to push. Then, my water broke. More like exploded. Think turning on the tub faucet. I looked down and I see a little blue/purple leg sticking out. In that instant, the nurses walked back in before I could call for help.
They called for help. They got me onto a gurney. They rolled me through the hallway saying they needed to book the OR -now- for an emergency c-section. Through the haze, I stopped her and said, "but I see his leg." She took a look and after that, everything was a blur.
I remember getting to the OR. I remember them asking me to push. I felt zero pain after my water broke. They carried a tiny, perfect, little boy to show me. 1 lb 13 oz. His head was the size of my fist. His body was the length of my forearm.
I was in shock. His due date was in May. I didn't know how to react. They told me to give him a kiss. They quickly put him into an incubator and wheeled him off to the NICU. My head was spinning. I'm not sure if I fell asleep or if everything just happened so fast. The next thing I remember is being in a post-op room. The doctor came in and introduced herself. Niti was able to see me soon after that. He didn't say much because he didn't know what to say. A nurse came in and asked him if he wanted to see his son. He started crying after that.
He didn't want to ask me, but he thought we had lost the baby. He had been wondering why I was so calm. After a few hours of waiting outside with no updates, he finally asked the security guard why it was taking so long. The guard mentioned that he did see an Asian girl with a lot of blood getting rolled out. Needless to say, Niti was freaking out the entire time until he got to see me.
From his birth until early June, we drove to the NICU nearly every single day. I would spend my days there and head home. Then, when Niti got off work, we would both head back together.
Nathaniel had open-heart surgery when he was about 3 weeks old to fix a heart murmur. He had surgery to fix a hernia. He had laser eye surgery to remove abnormal blood vessels that were growing. He had IV's in and out of his body.. on his arm.. on his head.
If you looked at him today, you would never know because he's completely healthy. You wouldn't know that he had to be resuscitated upon birth. You wouldn't know that his legs were bruised up from sitting for too long in the birth canal. You wouldn't know he had a scar on the back of his shoulder blade from the heart surgery. He also has a scar around his hairline and another on one of his arms. You wouldn't know he lost 15% of his peripheral vision.
Through the battle scars and fighting infection after infection, you wouldn't know these things because he was taken care of by an amazing team of doctors and nurses. The two I remember the most were Lani and Shelly. They taught me how to feed him. They taught me how to bathe him. They taught me how to use a nebulizer. They were kind. They were patient. I will be forever grateful for their hard work and dedication.
I wrote the poem below with Nathaniel in mind when we attended the NICU reunion last year. We printed off a stack for the nurses and I'm sharing it below for all the NICU families who may be walking down the same/similar path.