A month ago at this time I was recovering from the emergency C-section that brought Joshua into the world. They told me I couldn’t see him until the next day. We still hadn’t heard from the doctor. All we knew was that Joshua was here and he was very sick. I was begging the nurse to let me see him right then but I had to wait until my blood pressure came down. Good times.
I have been thinking about that day a lot recently. I never really had the chance to process everything. At the time it was also such a shock and felt so unreal. Then we were just watching and waiting and praying Josh would make it for the first few hours. And I just never thought about it. So I decided to write it down, to help me remember in the future and maybe help me process it. I have been having a lot of nightmares about the whole experience lately and I think this will help with that, too.
On Friday, February 22nd, I had my monthly check-up at my OB’s office. I was aggravated that I had to go because I would be late for work and I was trying to save up my extra hours for when the baby came. Although to be fair, I guess I did use those hours for the baby, after all. When I got to my OB’s office, the nurse took my blood pressure. I was already on meds for high blood pressure, which had only become an issue since I had gotten pregnant. The meds had been helping but I guess they weren’t helping anymore because my blood pressure was high. That combined with the swelling in my feet and legs, massive headache, and pain in my right side led the nurse-midwife to believe that I had developed pre-eclampsia. She didn’t want to wait for me to do my labs on Monday, so she said I had to go to Gwinnett Medical, where I was supposed to have Josh, for them to do tests.
I was even more annoyed then. I was going to miss a whole day of work. I texted Daniel and called my mom. I was fine for most of the drive to the hospital. Then when I called my sister-in-law to let her know what was going on, I started to cry. I felt like I had endangered Joshua with my high blood pressure and that broke my heart.
At Gwinnett Medical, Daniel and my mom both arrived just before they took me to a room. The nurse didn’t think they would even want to keep me overnight but they wanted to wait for an ultrasound before they let me leave. They did the ultrasound and noticed Josh wasn’t moving very much. He had a low heartbeat and nothing they did made him wake up. I realized then that I hadn’t felt him moving very much in the last few days. I hadn’t thought anything of it at the time. But that combined with his low activity level meant something wasn’t right.
The doctor came in and said we were to head to Northside Hospital immediately. There was a perinatalogist (which is fancy talk for a doctor that specializes in babies who are still cooking) that they wanted me to see. He was going to come to Gwinnett but he could get to Northside faster.
When we got to Northside, it finally dawned on me how sick Josh was when the doctor told me the perinatalogist was on his way from Monroe and was driving as fast as he could to get to the hospital. Until then I kind of thought they were overreacting. But the doctors and nurses were very concerned. There was a machine to monitor Josh’s heart rate and the nurse said it was the flattest strip she had ever seen, meaning his heart was barely beating.
The specialist arrived and did a special ultrasound. He said he was looking for how much Josh was moving, how fast his heartbeat was, and if he was getting enough nutrition from the placenta.
We were 0 for 3. He wasn’t moving, his heartbeat was slow, and he was only getting intermittent blood flow from the placenta, meaning he wasn’t getting enough nutrition. The specialist told me at the very least they would try to wait to deliver Joshua for a few more days. The only reason they would have to deliver him that night was if the blood flow from the placenta reversed, which would mean he was getting no nutrition.
I was trying to read the scan and I noticed there were some spots that were brighter than others. I asked if that was significant. He said he would explain it to me, and then, as he pointed to the screen, we all saw it. The blood flow had just reversed. If the doctor hadn’t been late, we wouldn’t have seen that happen. They told me later Joshua would have died by the next day.
The doctor told me we would be having the baby that night. He said it in the same tone you would use to order pizza. I guess he was trying to keep me calm. But I started to cry. I didn’t stop crying until we were in the operating room.
Daniel left for a minute to update everyone. My in-laws had already started the drive from Florida. Almost my entire family was there and I saw them a few minutes before they took me to the operating room.
The operating room was scary. Surgery didn’t scare me. But the idea that in about twenty minutes we would be parents was surreal and overwhelming. They told us at 6 that we would be having the baby. He was born at 7:08. That isn’t a lot of time to adjust.
Daniel was with me, dressed like a doctor and holding my hand. I was telling him knock-knock jokes and asking him to tell me stories. The nurses were talking to us, too. I think the doctor was telling a joke but I can’t remember for sure.
And then Joshua was there. They took him to go help him breathe and see how bad he was. He was in shock when he was born and his heart had almost stopped completely. When they brought him to me, all I could think was that he was the tiniest baby I had ever seen. I still couldn’t believe he was there. The doctor said I could give him a kiss, so I did. And then they took him upstairs.
The C-section was traumatic. I don’t want to be dramatic but the idea that they could just decide to take my baby from me while I could do absolutely nothing about it was terrifying. It was a nightmare. I hated it. It was like my mind thought that if I could just wait it all out, it would turn out to be a cruel joke. I would still be pregnant. My baby wouldn’t be in the NICU. But as hard as I wished for that to be true, it wasn’t. I was trapped. Our lives had done a complete 180 in fewer than 12 hours.
I felt so guilty. Everyone told me it wasn’t my fault. But it was. It was my pre-eclampsia that had caused the blood flow to reverse. Logically I know that isn’t true. But it felt true. It felt really true as the doctor explained to us that there was a 35% chance that Joshua would die. It felt even more true when she listed out all of the obstacles he had to overcome. It was hell.
You know the rest of the story. Joshua had some ups and downs but they saved him. And he’s doing well now.
So that, as they say, is that.