The day before my girl was born, was pretty typical. It was the day before mother’s day and I was out and about with my 4 year old son. I was 24 weeks pregnant. We went to the mother’s day tea at my friend’s church and I was having some back pain. I have chronic lower back pain and figured that was the case. I took some tylenol and continued on with my day but the pain never fully went away, After the tea we headed to my friend’s house to celebrate her boy’s birthday. At that party I still had some back pain but nothing major. I grew tired so my son and I left early. My husband works nights and when we got home I woke him up and stated I needed to rest as I was having back pain. He got up with our son and I started stretching to alleviate my pain. As I was on the floor, my dogs would not leave me alone. They kept pushing and pestering me. At this point it dawned on me that the pain was now coming and going and I should probably time it as it may be contractions. I had a traumatic C-section with my son with induced labor so I had not been through natural contractions. The contractions, which I now realized they were, were about 10-12 minutes apart. I was really hoping that this was braxton hicks or something else as my baby girl was not ready to be born.
I went out to the kitchen and informed my husband that I was having contractions but no other concerns. We both agreed that I should call OB triage at the nearest hospital to see what they thought. I went back to the bedroom to grab my phone as my husband made me some food to eat. When I got to my phone, I decided to use Dr. Google for only one piece of information. It was the mortality rates of babies born at 24 weeks. 50% of babies born at this age gestation die. This brought me to my knees. God had been speaking to me the previous weeks regarding this birth. My traumatic first child’s birth had pushed me to be much more informed about my birthing options and I had fear that I would go through trauma again. With my first child’s birth, I did not have information given and was basically a statistic. I never bonded at birth with my son as he was removed from me immediately and not brought back for over a hour. I developed post partum depression partly due to this. I did not want trauma. I wanted a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). God knew. He had shown me that he had walked this birth and gone before me in it.
Deuteronomy 31:8 “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will no leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
He had taken every step, every decision, every path that was offered before me. If I surrendered and let him guide each of my decisions it would be good. Would she live? I didn’t know but I know my God is good and that is what made me pray. I sought Him to help me surrender, acknowledged that I had seen His message to me the last few weeks between scripture and friends and sermons that all focused on surrender and God going before us. I then I begged for my girl’s life. I asked him to save her. I then gave Him lead of this birth and felt the peace that only He can give and we will never understand. How do you feel peace at a moment like this? I did.
I went out and sat down to eat at the table while calling triage. Did I mention that two weeks prior the best OB in the world let me know that God had another plan for him and that he wasn’t able to help me birth my babe. The OB that had gently and wonderfully led me through my miscarriage. He was sad that he couldn’t but faithful and knew that God’s plan is good, hard, but good. I didn’t have an OB and the hospital that I had planned to VBAC at was 45-60 minutes away. The closest hospital, which was 10 minutes away, is not terrible with VBACs but they use words like ‘allow’ when describing their VBAC policies. It’s my body, my healthcare, you do not ‘allow’ me to do anything. I decide after information is given and then we go from there. K? Yup, I was headed to that hospital. You know what they did have at this hospital? One of the best NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Units) in the state. Yup. God’s plan.
I got through to triage and since I had no other concerns (bleeding, dizziness, illness) they stated I could come in or wait until Monday to see a DR. My husband and I decided to be safe and headed to the hospital. My son had to come with as we do not have family close and I do not believe that either of us thought we would be there long. Ha. At triage we got all checked in and met Nurse Christine. She was great. She laid me down to check my cervix and we heard something along the lines of “oh my”. I asked her the be more specific and she stated as she quickly stood to lay me all the way down that I was 4cm dilated and she could see my bag of waters with a hairy little head. As she started to move extremely quickly to get steroids and shots to stop labor into me and inform the DR of the situation, I turned to my husband and asked him to pray. Small confession, except for meals, we don’t pray a lot out loud together. It’s something we are working on. He did. I don’t remember what he said but it calmed me. We called a friend, thank you Jesus for her, and she came to get our son. Nurse Christine who was amazing and informative later visited me in my room to not only see how we were doing but to tell me that she loved that we immediately went to prayer and that she had gotten off work and gone to church for Mother’s day with her family where they all prayed for my family. That’s just about the best thing you can hear from a nurse. She’s got God by her side. I still thank God for her. The DR arrived and stated that I wasn’t leaving the hospital until baby was born… SAY WHAT?! Immediately I started preparing for a 4 month hospital stay. It would be fine, I have a husband, and a boy and a job and how was this happening again? I could do this. God has this. He’s already done it for me. I don’t need to be scared. All of these thoughts went running through my mind. That peace, that surpasses all understanding, always coming at the best moments and I found myself scared but settled.
Nurse Christine was assigned that night in triage and she brought us up to Labor and Delivery. She informed us that if baby stayed put we would transfer to antepartum where I would stay until baby came. They were hoping for at least 48 hours as the steroid shots that grow the lungs can only be given 48 hours apart. Enter nurse Leslie. She was exactly what I needed. She was polite, made sure I got what I needed but had minimal socialization. I had started to prepare for birth I think at that point while emailing my Bradley instructor at 1AM to cancel my classes that started on the next day (I didn’t owe money if I canceled in time, those classes are $$). Preparing for birth for me, I found out, is turning inwards and having an open dialogue with God. I folded into myself mostly and let my husband try to get some sleep as we were now in the middle of the night. Nurse Leslie had an external monitor on me but she let me know that I was the best gauge of where my contractions were. They had subsided in intensity with the labor stopping drugs. She wanted me to let her know immediately if contractions began to get intense again. By now everyone in our immediate family, who live all over the USA, had been informed. My best friends all had been informed as well that I was in labor. I kept praying for a surrendered heart and kept remembering that God had already walked this.
We still didn’t know why I was in labor. Leslie stated that if there was an infection in my uterus you can usually tell when the waters are broken by the smell. When they were broke, she stated my waters smelled off, I asked. At about 1AM I called Leslie back in as my contractions were picking back up. I wanted her to check me again. She checked me and I was 8cm dilated. NO! This should not be happening. My girl is too little and I hate all of this. Why her? Why us?? DR arrived again and let me know that we were having baby tonight. COME AGAIN?? I had JUST wrapped my brain around staying on my back for 4 months in a hospital and now you are telling me I’m going to give birth? Nope. God quietly entered again, yes, you are and can. He is so faithful and so good. I knew this. Scripture and past experience has proven this. How could I not surrender and trust. My hope is solely in Him, I stand on solid ground even when the world is raging. DR wanted to talk about how I wanted to birth this little one. I stated I wanted to VBAC. He said ok…. I was floored. I couldn’t believe that he was on board. I was so extremely thankful. It sounds weird but I started to worship God at that point. Praising Him. It helped so much. Later, while doing more research I found that this doctor knew his stuff. When a baby is born this early there has not been shown any significant difference in mortality based on how they were birthed, either by vaginal or cesarian.
The NICU came to discuss with us what was going to happen. DR would break my waters as we needed to know when she was coming and be prepared. Once she was born, I couldn’t see her or hold her. Leslie had to keep reminding me “This isn’t your typical birth Karissa. This is different. She will be extremely small and need help immediately”. My dreams of having my baby on me right after birth vanished. I asked the NP that was overseeing the NICU team assigned to me again if I could hold her. She said no. Nothing was going right. It was all wrong. I nodded and continued to listen. I was doing my best with contractions and tons of people in the room. The islolette arrived and there were at least 10 people in the room ready to save my girl. I was so thankful again. I asked God to bless each of them. DR broke my waters and the race was on. You would think with her being so small that it wouldn’t hurt. It did. Birth hurts no matter how you birth your babe. This I know. DR caught babe after 2-3 pushes. She was perfect. She had all her parts. She made noise!! It wasn’t a cry but it was noise which meant her lungs were there and working!! Praise God.
As I looked at her in the DR hands she disappeared but I then heard the NP state “she made noise give her to mom quick”. That woman, I will never be able to thank her enough. I got to whisper to my girl and tell her what my heart wanted to scream. Even though it was hectic, this woman seemed to disappear. We got to know most of the folks at Lauren’s birth but she wasn’t ever at work it seemed. Finally, after a few weeks late one night my girl needed to be intubated again (a new breathing tube down her throat). In walked the wonderful woman that let me see my girl for a few seconds. I didn’t recognize her at first but she mentioned that she had intubated my girl before and by now I knew who had intubated my girl. I realized it was her and asked her for a hug. It was so wonderful to thank her in person. She was a floater from another hospital and had been keeping tabs on my girl from afar.
Lauren Katherine was born at 3:28 AM on 5/10 weighing 1 pound 12 ounces. She was so tiny. She was big for a 24 weeker. I was thankful. My husband took a couple pictures of baby and off they went to the NICU. Wonderful nurse Leslie cleaned me up and brought me two chocolate milks. I had gotten my VBAC. I have no idea how but God made it happen. It was quiet except for the baby next door who was crying. The baby that I had heard all night that reminded me to hope. That baby, besides God, was the best reassurance that my girl would be ok. She was and is a healthy baby girl. 120 days in the NICU. We got to watch God’s miracle grow outside the womb. My girl is considered a Micro Preemie due to birth weight and gestational age. I bonded with my girl immediately and I had sadness but normal ‘this situation shouldn’t be happening’ sadness and no PPD. I thank Jesus every single day for carrying me through her birth and growth in the NICU. Life is hard and as I saw mom after mom enter that NICU to see their babies and go home without their new babies just like I had to on my first week I prayed they knew Jesus. Without Him I would not have made it out whole. His grace, love, faithfulness and mercy gave us the ability to be there every step for our girl.