I saw Dr. Nance for the last time on the afternoon of February 3, 2004. I went in for my weekly checkup. My blood pressure was normal, baby’s heartbeat was fine and I was dilated to 2 or 3. I went home. I felt fine.
On the morning of February 4, 2004 I awoke at 4:33 am. When I awoke suddenly and realized that I was feeling some pains, I was elated. I knew this was the day that our baby would be born. I went downstairs to play solitaire on the computer, hoping to pass some time. After about 1/2 hour I was feeling really uncomfortable so I went upstairs. I tried lying down in bed but the pain was so intense. I went into the bathroom to check for blood. Everybody knows that bleeding is a sign that something isn’t right and so I was happy to see that I wasn’t bleeding. I tried to lie down in bed again. I was having a hard time breathing and began to feel lightheaded. I made my way to the bathroom again to check… again nothing.
I woke Carl and told him I was in labor and that we needed to leave. I didn’t want to leave too early but the pain I was feeling was different. I hadn’t experienced it before. I tried timing the contractions but was unsuccessful. Carl got dressed and I asked him to grab the bag I had packed. I told him I would be waiting in the car and we really needed to leave. As he was grabbing the bag and his coat I started for the car. I was so incredible weak and shaky, lightheaded… I couldn’t walk, so I crawled. I crawled to the garage and got in the car. I remember that Carl got in and as we backed out of the driveway I looked at the clock in the car and it was 5:15 am.
The drive to UVRMC would normally take about 30 minutes. In an emergency, one could get there in probably 25 minutes. It took us 45 minutes! The drive was horrible! Snow was coming down… big fluffy snowflakes. It was white-out conditions and the free-way had not been plowed. We drove through several inches of newly fallen snow. I could feel the car sliding from time to time. I gripped the door handle in silence. I was scared! In my heart I knew that if we slid off the road, I would die. I remember commenting to Carl that I couldn’t figure how to time the contractions because I couldn’t tell when they would stop or start. My stomach was hard the entire trip. It felt like one long gigantic contraction.
Carl pulled up to the curb and I got out. He quickly parked the car. I told him I couldn’t walk that I needed a wheelchair. I couldn’t believe how wimpy I was acting! Within minutes we found ourselves upstairs at the Labor & Delivery check-in. We sat down and the nurse gave us the clipboards. She began asking me questions. She sensed that I was hurting and asked me how far apart the contractions were. I told her that I couldn’t tell when they stopped. She asked me a few more questions and then told us we could fill out the paperwork later. She sensed my discomfort. They gave me a gown and I quickly put it on and then requested that I be checked immediately.
The nurse came in and checked me. I was still dilated to a 2 or 3. The same as the day before! I couldn’t believe it! I thought for sure I would be like an 8 or something. Then she checked for the baby’s heartbeat. I immediately sensed her worry when she was unable to find it right away. After several seconds she was able to detect a heartbeat but it was very faint and quite slow. Within seconds there were about 6 – 10 medical staff surrounding my bed and moving stuff around. They wheeled me into the Operating Room and explained that we needed to do an emergency C-Section. People were scrambling around. They gave me an epidural and told me that normally it takes about 5-8 minutes to work but they would only give it 2 minutes. The nurse was prepping me to have the C-section and as she started applying the iodine stuff another staff member grabbed it from her and said “We don’t have that much time”, and he dumped the whole bottle onto my tummy. I looked at Carl and he was white. I mentioned to someone that I thought my husband was going to pass out. They told him to sit on the floor against the wall and someone threw him a sheet and pushed him over.
I was really scared but I tried to cooperate. I wanted them to get the baby out. Someone asked me if I was okay and I said, “Yes, I’m just worried about the baby”, and he said “You have a right to be!” Uggh! That wasn’t what I wanted to hear.
Six minutes after they had wheeled me into the OR my baby was born. Nobody said anything, and I didn’t hear the baby cry. They grabbed the baby and ran out of the room. I didn’t know what was going on and I was too afraid to ask. I didn’t even know if he was alive. I just layed there while they worked on me wondering what was going on. Finally, after what seemed like 5 minutes, somebody said, “Did you know if you were having a boy or a girl?” I said “No”, we wanted it to be a surprise and he said, “You have a beautiful baby boy but he is very sick right now”. They were working on him and that’s all I knew.
Crew was born at 6:11 AM, 7 lbs 8 oz., 20 inches long. Apgar score 3!
Once they opened me up it was easy to see what had gone wrong. I experienced a Grade 4 Placental Abruption, which is a complete abruption of the placenta. The placenta was covering the cervix which is the reason why I had zero bleeding. The blood had pooled up inside of me. Crew was with little or no oxygen from the time the placenta detached until he was born. I believe the placenta detached at home well before 5:00 AM which tells me one thing. Crew is meant to be here because his life cannot be justified medically. Crew is our Miracle!
I don’t know a lot about shock except I’m pretty sure I experienced it. They wheeled me into the NICU to see my baby. I couldn’t sit up and Crew was all hooked up to machines. All I could really see was his little feet. I felt so bad that he needed so much support. I was in denial.
They took me to my room. I don’t remember much about that first day. I do remember that I received phone calls galore and it was helpful to know that so many family and friends cared. I was so tired and it was a battle to keep my eyes open. I didn’t realize that first day the situation we were in. I kept expecting them to bring Crew to me. I don’t even remember if I went back to the NICU that day. I don’t think I did! Reports from NICU staff indicated that Crew would likely be taken off the respirator within the first 24 hours.
… (THE NICU) to be continued