Finn's Birth Story
I wrote this only months after Finn was born. Writing has always been one of my ways to heal. Reading it brought back so many feelings and I know so many moms can relate. Here is Finn's birth story:
It was June 27th, I was almost 32 weeks through my pregnancy, my very challenging pregnancy. I had a rough first trimester with nausea, then several colds, kidney stones, a miscarriage scare, etc and then at 20 weeks was told I had placenta previa and should plan for a c-section at 36 weeks. I combated this with prayer and believing that the placenta would move and I would be able to deliver normally, but I also took the necessary precautions.
I planned to go into Doctor care at 30 weeks, but at 28 weeks I started to have some bleeding, so was put on “low impact” or “modified bed rest” by my midwife and scheduled to meet the doctor. Two weeks later when bleeding happened again I went into the hospital. I ended up staying for two nights and was even further restricted. I met with the doctor and made a realistic plan for a c-section at 36 weeks.
I wanted the curtain pulled down so I could see the baby come out. I wanted skin to skin right away, delayed cord clamping, delayed measuring and bath; I wanted as much as I could for it to feel like a “normal” delivery. The doctor was very accommodating and said we could make all of it happen. I started to accept this new plan, and I was preparing myself mentally and physically. I was going to schedule a visit to the NICU in case baby needed to stay for a few days, and I was already settled with the plan to live in the NICU during the entirety of the stay.
So on that Wednesday, June 27th, I did not think much of it when I started to have some, what I called, indigestion. I went to bed early and tried to just drink lots of water. Around midnight I woke up still uncomfortable, so decided to get in the bath to see if that would help. It didn’t, so I called my doctor. She said to treat it as indigestion and if the symptoms did not subside, then to go to the hospital.
We didn’t have any drugs on hand to help so I drank some water mixed with baking soda. Shortly after I was able to fall asleep and slept in after a restless night. When I woke in the morning the discomfort was still there. My husband, Will, went to the store and bought every indigestion fighting remedy he could find. I called my midwife for natural remedies and she suggested I go to the chiropractor- I scheduled a visit for 12:30pm.
Will came home and I took some tums, or Maalox, or maybe both, and then I drove to the chiropractor. There he pushed on the spot that was hurting thinking it may have been a hernia of some kind- often common in pregnancy. It hurt terribly, but not enough for me to rush off to the hospital. I stood and talked with the receptionist about the placenta previa and how her daughter was born at 33 weeks. It made me feel better about my early delivery, but on the drive home the discomfort got greater and greater. By the time I pulled into our driveway I was crying.
Will came and helped me into the house and I told him it was time to go to the hospital, something wasn’t right. He was making sandwiches because I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. We didn’t imagine it could be anything too terrible, so we took our son James with us. I urged Will along and finally we got to the hospital.
They looked at me in my discomfort and sent us right back. Being in the bed made it feel better and when asked what level my pain was, I think I said a 3. I asked what the worst case scenario was so we could make a plan for James, and the nurse said maybe an overnight if they had to run some tests, so Will called his mom to come get James.
They took my blood and a urine sample and left us to watch a kids movie and eat the sandwiches Will had brought. Will was just about to walk out with James in his arms to meet Grandma Penny, when the nurse came back in and said, “You are very sick and you don’t you know it. We have to get the baby out now.” I had preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome and my body was shutting down.
I lost it.
I tried to hold my composure with James there, I told Will to take him out, but I was sobbing. My baby wasn’t ready to come. It needed more time. I tried to ask if this was completely necessary, if I could even wait a day… she said it was life or death.
The doctor on call came in and she wanted to see if we could wait even an hour since I had just eaten, so took another blood test. This sample showed things were worsening far too quickly and there was no time to wait. My discomfort had turned to pain at this point and I just wanted to get it done with. The doctor said the pain would stop and my body would heal as soon as the baby was out. From there, everything happened so quickly and before I knew it I was being wheeled away from Will. I had never stopped crying.
Once in the operating room I was stripped naked. My arms and my legs were strapped down. A nurse I had met from my previous stay in the hospital stayed by my face. She tried to help me with my breathing. I listened as the anesthesiologist said his birthday was tomorrow. I watched as nurses chatted by the sinks and I admired one of their earrings. I looked to the door and saw my doctor with her arms up in front of her face like they do in the movies. Everything had to be quick since my blood would have trouble clotting.
I lied there shivering, scared, cold, exposed, then finally they put me out. It’s all somewhat of a blur after this, but I remember waking up and my catheter hurting and asking if I could have it taken out. They obliged.
The next thing was Will coming in. He was to my right. His face so sullen. He told me it was a boy. They would take me to see him.
They wheeled me in, next to the incubator where I was only allowed to reach my hand in through the small holes to touch his hand. I had to be reminded several times not to stroke him, that his skin was too sensitive. They took our picture, then I went back to rest.
The pain wasn’t gone, it was just replaced with new pains. Cramping, contractions, and a sharp pain at the incision.
My big concern was then to get my breasts pumped. I felt this was the only thing I could actually do for my baby.
I had five transfusions total. Blood, plasma and plattetes. People looked at me like I was dying. I guess I looked like I was dying and without the necessary help, I guess I was. I was in so much pain since they had removed the catheter and my bladder wasn’t emptying. At one point I had both my original doctor and my new doctor there with me at the end of the bed. Two doctors, I knew that wasn’t a good sign. Once I got a new catheter so much pain was relieved. I finally started to feel better, until they started the magnesium. My whole body tingled and I felt a heavy weight bare me down on the bed. My poor sister-in-law watched as this came over me and thought for sure I was dying.
Finally, after about 24 hours, my trauma subsided. My strength eventually returned and a new determination was there, I had a baby. A baby I had only seen through plastic, a baby I had never held. It was almost 48 hours before I got to hold my baby for the first time. I knew I wanted to, but was also scared with all the chords and tubing and how fragile he was. He was born 3lbs 9oz and had CPAP- a large breathing device-connected to him. I was still in pain and on drugs, I held him in my wheelchair unable to make the transition into the rocker, but there he was: my human.
We would spend 57 days in the NICU together. I would be told there were times I couldn’t hold my baby, times he wasn’t doing well, times when needles and tubes and syringes were necessary. But there would also be quiet hours of holding my son, over my heart, praying fervently and endlessly for him. When I could no longer grow him in my belly, I grew him in my arms.
I believe God saved us both on June 28th. It was the end of a short, but difficult pregnancy, the beginning of some very challenging times, and the start one of the greatest loves of my life.