This post has taken me about two and a half weeks to write. It's one of those stories that I know needed to come out, but the process of writing what happened wasn't something that I could force. Some days I didn't feel like writing, didn't feel like going back and putting myself into a place that I never, ever wanted to be. Here is part of what's been going on in our Quiet Life.
In the middle of my twenty-second week, my water broke. I had been feeling off all day, but just figured that it was nothing. I had tacos with my sister and Roman at Rubio's for lunch. Came home and put Roman down for his nap. Dustin had started work early that day and was able to bring some of his work home with him, so he pulled into the driveway a little after Roman had gone down. I had a piece of cake. He was on his computer. It was normal. Just... normal stuff.
And then I got up to grab a napkin and thought I had peed myself. I laughed at the thought of peeing myself like a "pregnant lady" and kept eating my slice of delicious, white, fluffy cake. And then I leaked a little more. My heart froze. I'm talking, it FROZE. I carefully wheeled myself to the bathroom and sat on the toilet and looked down to see a tiny gush of fluid pouring into the toilet. I wasn't peeing. I knew I wasn't peeing. I pounded on the wall (and woke Roman up, whoops) and called for Bubby, who came running in. I told him that I was leaking and he kind of looked at me like I was speaking French. It clicked with him and he froze, too. At this point I was shaking a little bit, my mind a whirlwind of thought and fear and worry. There didn't seem to be anymore fluid coming out, so I had Bubby bring my phone and then proceeded to leave a message for my Peri (high-risk OB). I put a pad on and went back out to the living room to lay down and wait for a return call. Dustin was tending to Roman, who was now awake -- changing his diaper, changing his clothes (he gets so sweaty when he sleeps).
Back in the living room, I was starting to feel a little queasy, so I slowly tried to make my way to the bathroom in case the cake was going to re-visit me - gross, I know. On the way back to the bathroom, I was slowly, but surely feeling like I was going to pass out, my vision was getting dark and things were moving much more slowly than I knew they really were. When I made it to our bathroom, my vision and consciousness almost gone. I crawled out of my wheel chair and sat on the pink bathmat and rested against the tub ready to slump over. Blackness, like someone was slowly dimming the lights,took over, my stomach in knots, I not able to catch my breath. I asked God if I was dying. I seriously thought it might be a possibility. Had my kidneys shut down? Did I have some freaky blot clot? And then I felt the warmth. It felt like I had peed my pants, a full bladder, spreading down the thighs of my jeans. My vision quickly came back, my body shook like a leaf and I just sat there. I looked down and knew what had happened. My heart broke into more than a million pieces. Five million, at least. Dustin ran into the room and we decided that it was time to go to the E.R.
We packed Roman up and dropped him off at his Gigi's house.
We drove, in tender silence, to the hospital.
I texted my sister and let her know what I thought had happened.
I avoided the call from my Mom that immediately followed the text to my sister - I couldn't handle hearing how worried my Mom probably was. My heart and head were full of my own worry and questions and fear.
I tried to breathe deeply.
I tried to lay flat.
We arrived at the Hospital and Dustin quickly wheeled me into the ice cold E.R. waiting room. Fat tears fell from my face. Streams of tears carved paths, streaking my blush and spotting up my shirt. Shit, this was real. We waited in the hallway once we were let back into the maze of the Emergency Room and once I was accessed, we were personally led up to labor and delivery by a nurse. Hearing that I was going to the delivery floor make me feel sick. Was this really real life? I felt like Alice, in some horrible wonderland. I just wanted to go back to my cake and tea wake up.
I was put into the triage room, changed into a stiff hospital gown and sat on the gurney where I continued to leak. I was like a faucet, on slow drip, every minute a piece of Teddy leaving me. It was horrific. Tests were done, swabs taken, monitors and straps pressed against my belly.
A doctor with a sad face came in and told me that it was indeed my bag of water that had broken and that I wasn't far along enough for the baby to be viable. When they left the room, Dustin and I cried so hard it hurt and held my belly tenderly. After the hard crying, I just wept. My husband wept. Crying and weeping. If my heart wasn't broken enough already, seeing him cry shattered any little bit that I had left. I'm really sick of having things happen within my body that are devastating (that I have no control over, mind you) for not only me, but for those that I love the most. It knowing that that people heart's are hurting because of you, even if you did not do anything to cause said hurt, it's a very heavy load to carry. If you have ever had your baby's life in question, the future totally unknown, death almost a guarantee, you know what our hearts were feeling. It is THE most helpless, heavy feeling ever. Ever.
They wheeled me into a labor and delivery room on the far side of the floor away from all of the other delivering mothers. Away from the babies who were being brought into the world. The healthy babies and mothers. I was not part of that club. They brought me tea. I continued to leak fluid. Lots of fluid, in fact. I soaked through two towels -- you could have wrung them out. My boy's life, the water in his tank, falling away from me. From us. God, I felt so helpless.
They brought in a ultrasound machine. We held our breath and then we heard the most glorious sound, his heart. It was amazing and painful at the same time -- that little beating heart had a very small chance of ever being more than alive in that moment on that screen. It was likely that I'd deliver him in the next 24 hours. My OB, one of my favorite doctors of all time, came into the room and sat with us and shed a tear. I had just seen her the day before for a routine appointment and everything was fine. Everyone was so nice to us in that room on the far side of the maternity floor.
The doctors decided that I would be transferred to another hospital, one that would be better equipped to handle us. I rode in an ambulance with a friendly EMT and made small talk. He'd lived in Wisconsin and hated it. He had a cat. I stared out the back of that square ambulance window, wondering how many times I'd been on the same freeway since I'd been pregnant. How many times I'd driven down that road with a totally normal pregnant belly. How I took that privilege for granted. If I could just have one more day with everything normal!
We arrived at the new hospital and they wheeled me out on a gurney and up to the labor and delivery floor. Labor and Delivery. Delivery. Delivering a baby, my baby that would not live because he was too young. My sweet Teddy boy. God, I begged God and ignored God all at the same time. WHY. Why can't I just have NORMAL? All I want for the rest of my whole life is to be normal. To be boring. For my quiet life, damn it.
That night was long. We weren't even in a real labor and delivery room as they put us in the surgery prep labor room. Thank God we didn't have neighbors in there - it was a double. Dustin slept on of those horrible fold out chair-beds with one pillow and a thin hospital blanket. It was miserable.
There was a point after I woke up that next morning where the fog of sleep wore off and the reality of our situation hit me like six tons of brick to the chest. I broke down again. I shook like a leaf. More tears came out of my eyes than I knew possible. How was it possible? I screamed that they were going to take my baby. MY baby. The couldn't have him because he was MINE. They couldn't HAVE him. Dustin, my sweet Dustin, held me and we mourned the child, our Teddy, that we both thought we would probably lose very, very soon.
The next morning, the the Peri doctor came in, the high-risk baby doctor. He sat on my bed and did an ultrasound, confirming that my water was almost gone. He also confirmed that a baby in its 22nd week would not survive. MY baby. He told us that most women go into labor within 24 hours to two weeks after rupture, which would put my baby on the very bottom of the premature totem poll. The very bottom of the survival charts and that was only if my body was able to hold out on labor for those two weeks. That without any water, his lungs would not develop properly and he would have a very small chance. MY baby. He expressed that it would safest for us to go home and wait it out until I was 24 to 25 weeks, if we wanted to try and save the baby. The biggest thing to watch out for besides my body spontaneously going into labor, was preventing infection in my now jeopardized uterus, and the hospital isn't exactly a germ-free environment. At 24 or 25 weeks, I could choose to re-admit myself to the hospital and start a course of antibiotics that would help prevent infection, but they would not be useful until I was in the viable baby zone. Until then, our only option was for me to go home and lay flat and do nothing.
After he left, the neonatologist (baby doctor) came in and talked percentages with us depending on when Teddy was born. We discussed the importance of getting the steroid shots (Betamethasone) which would help his lungs develop a bit faster. That was also something that would be done once he reached viability. She also went over the risks and percentages of having a premature baby, week by week. The longer he was able to stay in me the better. She expressed that 28 weeks was the golden week. The week where if he is able to hang on that long, he will have a really, really good chance of having a normal outcome even though he'd have to stay in the NICU probably until his original due date (Valentine's day). Twenty-eight weeks sounded like a lifetime away from my current twenty-two. An un-scalable mountain made of ice that I'd have to bare-hand climb.
We were also offered the option to induce labor then and there. The doctors both emphasised that there would be no judgement as to what we chose. That some couples, after hearing the very real possibility of having a premature child with extremely severe disabilities choose that it is more humane and loving to choose not to bring a child into the world that could possibly be blind, deaf, extremely mentally retarded, incontinent, unable to feed itself, unable to breathe on his or her own, unable to walk, talk or live a 'normal' life in any way. Basically, there is a very real chance that babies born at the bottom of the premature totem poll would be vegetables. Forever. I really appreciated that they didn't try to guilt or persuade us either way but were very supportive to what we wanted to do.
After we were left alone, we talked. As the Mother and Father of Teddy, we were his voice. We had to stand up for him, decide what would be best for him in his life and in his death. WE couldn't NOT try, though. We had to give our Teddy a chance. We had to have faith. We had to have courage. We had to have hope.
It was very, very hard deciding that going home was the right thing for us to do that day. That it was okay to leave. That we were going to go home with the hopes of coming back in two weeks with this boy still in my belly. And so as his Mother and Father, this little boy's voice, we did just that. We packed up, Dustin gingerly wheeled me out of the hospital and got me into our car. He drove us home carefully, slowing for the turns, making sure I was okay. That we were okay. He's such a good guy, truly. I don't know what I ever did to deserve such a great man.
Once we got home, Bubby helped me into the house and onto the couch where I began my new job. My goal in life was now to keep this baby inside me. To help him grow. To stay free of infection. To lay flat. And here I am at the beginning of my twenty-seventh week doing just that in the hospital with this boy still safely tucked in my tummy.