Yesterday was 6 months since I gave birth unexpectedly. Not that I didn’t know I was having a baby, I won’t be featured in any “I didn’t know I was pregnant” stories. I gave birth at 25 weeks and 3 days into my pregnancy. When I look back at the week or so leading up to my labor I can see how things add up, but at the time I attributed so many issues to just being pregnant. In fact, I had gone to the doctor for some of them and she diagnosed me with BV, gave me an antibiotic, and sent me on my way.
Babies born at 25 weeks have a survival rate of 50%-80%, but she was born because I had a severe case of chorioamnionitis. It’s a bacterial infection of the amnion and chorion, which are basically layers of the amniotic sac. It only occurs in about 6% of pregnancies and dropped my babies survival probability in half, and it is really super gross. I had at some point gotten a tear in my sac and what I thought was pregnancy incontinence was my amniotic fluid slowly draining, also bacteria was getting inside the sac.
Getting back to they day I gave birth, it was rough. I woke up around 7am with awful abdominal cramping that I attributed to round ligament pain from my stretching stomach muscles. I took a warm bath to try and ease it and that didn’t help much. By 9am I was laying on the couch while my boyfriend worried. By 11am I was bent over the side of the couch crying and trying to convince him I would be fine. “We’re going to the hospital now, before I have to scrape you off the floor,” he said.
We went to the satellite branch of one of the local hospitals and they brought me back immediately, took a look at my cooch, listened to my complaints, and promptly informed me that I was in labor. I advised them that this was of course impossible, haha. They told me they couldn’t treat me there and sent me by ambulance to the main hospital. At this point they were administering drugs to try and keep her in and stop labor as well as pain meds. I spent hours laying in the hospital bed, screaming with contractions and trying to make it to the toilet to pee because they were pumping me with fluids.
At some point I looked at the toilet before flushing and noticed that it was filled with what looked like egg drop soup. I told the nurse and she looked and her face got very still and she turned and walked away. I wasn’t entirely with it but I knew that probably wasn’t good. My amniotic fluid had gone…well…chunky.
About 20 minutes later a very worried looking doctor from the NICU came to my room and sat down on the end of my bed and began to explain what was going on while my boyfriend held my hand and we cried. I was told she might not make it, I was told about all the developmental disorders she might have due to my infection and her prematurity, and was told that they were going to do everything they could. My boyfriend called my mom and told her what was going on and to hurry to the hospital.
All day long everything had been about keeping her in and now, we were turning on a dime to getting her out as quickly as possible. They couldn’t give me an epidural, my white blood cell count was too high and if there was any of the infection in my blood they risked pushing it into my spine. They also stopped the drugs to prevent labor, so what I had thought was pain before was actually just the tip of the iceberg. My abdomen was swollen from all the infection and I had a nurse cramming a heart monitor hard against my belly. At one point I had an amazing freakout; they had tried to give me an epidural once before determining they shouldn’t and had botched it. I don’t know, maybe they botched it, maybe I wasn’t being still enough. All I know is that at one point I demanded that everyone get the hell out of my room and leave me alone because I needed to gather myself. Actually, I think what I said was that I needed to get my shit together. The nurses said, “fine, but we’ll be back and in greater numbers.” Apparently they are sand people.
I would say that I probably was in labor when I got up at 7am and at 10pm after hours of crying to my mom, my boyfriend, nurses, and the new gods and the old they wheeled me to the OR. The goal was vaginal birth but they wanted to be prepared for anything.
You know, when you watch a movie and a baby is born, the first sound is crying. You expect it. After only 30 minutes of actively pushing my baby was born and it was silent. I’ve never been so terrified in my life. “Is she alive?” I asked it quietly and no one answered me. I panicked. I couldn’t see her, I couldn’t hear her, and for the first time in 25 weeks my body was only mine again. “IS SHE ALIVE?” It was a shout in my own ears. My boyfriend and the doctors answered me, “yes, she’s alive, she’s ok.”
They wheeled me around a corner and I saw her for just moments before she was taken to the NICU. She was so small. She was so delicate. She was wrapped in plastic like leftovers. Then they whisked her away and took me to a room to recover. They would let me know when I could come see her.