If its possible to have the best moment of my life and the worst moment of my life in the same day, I’m going to say that that best describes the day Henry was born.
I got the stomach flu on Sunday, and spent Sunday & Monday at home, sick as can be. Monday night I started having contractions and was felling really terrible, so we called my OB who sent us to the hospital for monitoring. At the hospital, they said I was dehydrated, which had caused the contractions to start, so they gave me a bunch of IV fluids & send me back home.
On Tuesday morning, I went into the OB- just to get rechecked. They were concerned because I was still having some contractions, and Henry’s heart rate was not quite what it should be. Soooo, they sent me back to the hospital again for more monitoring. We spent most of the afternoon at the hospital, and around four they said that everything looked okay, Henry’s heart rate was responsive, and they sent us back home again with instructions to take some Tylenol PM and try to sleep it off. I still felt pretty awful, but I think we were pretty relieved that they felt like Henry’s heart rate was okay, and that I was not actually going into labor this early.
We went home, and I went to bed. I woke up a few hours later, thinking that my water had broken. I rolled out of bed, stood up, called for David, and turned on the light beside the bed. My water had not broken, I was hemorrhaging, bleeding all over the floor. David called 911 and the paramedics got to our house really quickly- just a few minutes.
I won’t go into all of the gory details, but I will say, there was a lot (a whole, whole, lot) of blood. So much so that when the first paramedic walked into the room and saw me laying on the floor in all of it, the first thing he said was “Holy sh**.” (This is amusing now, obviously not so much so at the time.)
This is about the time that things get really blurry for me- my last really clear memory is that I kept asking the paramedics if Henry was going to die, if they could save Henry. No one would really answer me. Finally one of the paramedics, a woman, knelt down on the floor, got really close to my face, and told me very quietly that right now they were just trying to make sure that I was okay. That at the hospital, they would check on the baby & do everything they could but right now, they were just going to take care of me.
I realized then that not only were they not going to try to help Henry, but they really couldn’t help him. I don’t remember much of what happened after that- David could fill in a lot more details, but here’s what I’ve been told went down. :)
We drove the hospital, sirens, lights, & the whole nine yards. They took me straight up to the maternity unit and into an OR. My doctor was already there, they knocked me out immediately, and Henry was delivered by emergency C-section. They got him out in 90 seconds flat.
His first Apgar score was a 1 out of 10. Not so good. They got him breathing & into the special care nursery. He spent the first day or so of life in an oxygen tent, hooked up to lots of tubes & monitors. For the first two days he had a feeding tube as well.
We weren’t allowed to hold him for the first day or so- finally one of the nurses had mercy on me & wrapped him up, cords tubes & all, and let me hold him for a few minutes.
He continued to recover very quickly and do extremely well. By Thursday night they had downgraded him all the way to level 1 (a normal baby) and he was allowed to room in with us! He was discharged Friday morning, and we took him home late Friday afternoon.
I think it took a while for it all to settle in- for David & I to realize what had happened, and what had almost happened. The official diagnosis is that I had a placental abruption, which is when the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus. They are relatively rare, and there’s no real way to predict that it will happen. Mine was a ‘full’ abruption meaning that the placenta totally detached, and that from the time I started bleeding to the time he was delivered, Henry was kind of unconnected to me in terms of getting blood flow, fresh oxygen, etc. The fetal mortality rate is 40% with a full abruption, and many infants who do survive suffer brain damage, or severe problems with breathing or feeding.
My OB came to see us the first morning in the hospital and used the word ‘miraculous’ to describe how well Henry was doing. She explained that the abruption was pretty severe, and what it all meant. The nurses in the nursery kept talking about how well Henry was doing & how lucky we were. Friday morning, a pediatrician came in to talk to me. Henry had already been discharged, so I wasn’t sure why a new pediatrician was here. She said she was the pediatrician present during my C-section, the first one to take care of Henry. She had worked that night, Tuesday, but had been off Wednesday and Thursday, and this morning was her first day back. She said she just wanted to come and tell me that when she saw Henry this morning, she went back & pulled his chart, because she couldn’t believe that he was the same baby that she had treated on Tuesday night. “You should feel very, very lucky,” she said. “It’s unbelievable- almost unheard of, that he’s doing so well, so quickly. That’s quite a miracle baby you’ve got there.”
Our doctor reminded us that the pediatrician will be keeping a very close eye on Henry, making sure that he hits all of his developmental milestones, etc. He’s doing great, but considering his traumatic birth, they will want to be sure that he continues to develop and do well. Since we’ve visited the pediatrician 4 times in the first week that we’ve had Henry at home, we now see what she means- a VERY close eye. :)
The whole experience has been surreal in a lot of ways. I’m sure having your first baby us always kind of surreal, but between him coming a month early, all the drama of the abruption and emergency C-section, and all the subsequent narcotics (which were lovely, by the way) I think it took longer than usual for me to realize that not only is Henry finally here, but that he almost wasn’t here at all.
I feel like the Lord has been so kind to us. He has protected me, protected Henry, in so many ways. About a year ago, I memorized Psalm 139. Verse 16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to pass.” I have found this verse especially comforting in the past week. Realizing that not only was God in control of Henry’s first day, and his scary arrival into this world, but that He has already planned each one of Henry’s days, for the rest of his life. I know that God has a plan for Henry, a plan to prosper him, and not to harm him. A plan to give him a future and a hope.
We are sleepy at the Williamson house, but we are very, very, happy. And very thankful.