Something’s been gnawing at me.
No, it’s not just the Little Guy (though he is a biter, and I’m still trying to wean him). It’s the Little Guy’s Tale.
Sometimes referred to as ‘The Pregnancy Saga,’ the Little Guy’s Tale is the narrative that originally formed the core of this blog.
A multi-part epic of blood lost and love found, it was a story I felt compelled to write in the middle of the night…all the salacious and soul-searching details…until I got to the second trimester and got blocked.
I got blocked because there were things that put others in a negative light, or because I had to face personal weaknesses I was ashamed of.
But I have to finish it.
So… skimming over the second trimester (let’s just say it was hard to be a pregnant mom of a challenging four-year old, living on my own without a car, working full-time at a stressful job, remodeling a house, trying to get three kids used to the idea of becoming a family), let’s move on to the third.
The third trimester kicked off with a wedding on 10/10/10.
Since my new husband’s house was still getting remodeled, we didn’t get to move in together until three weeks later–Halloween weekend. I brought my clothes and toiletries. Three days of wedded bliss later, my water broke in the night.
Seven weeks early. The Little Guy wasn’t due until just before Christmas.
We rushed to the hospital, where they tried to convince me I was just peeing.
I was pretty sure I knew what it felt like to pee, and this wasn’t it!
A few arguments and tests later, they confirmed what I knew all along: something was not right. Not that it was an emergency or anything… it only took the ambulance another couple hours to arrive to drive me to another hospital across town where they were equipped to deliver babies under 35 weeks gestation.
They injected me with hormones, hooked me up to IV’s, strapped on the monitoring belts, and told me I could stay on bed rest for a couple weeks while my amniotic fluid replenished itself. It was just a slow leak. They wanted the baby to get to 35 weeks before delivering.
They let me order a sandwich.
I felt so calm. So confident. My entire pregnancy, I had been prepared for loss.
Halfway through my first meal of the day, a nurse rushed in: “How long have you been in labor? Your contractions are just two minutes apart! We have to deliver right away!”
Enter the anesthesiologist, who, with a grim look on his face, squeezed the bag of drugs into my IV port. Ow. That was cold. He was not pleased about the sandwich.
Into the operating room. They had me sit on the edge of a table and curl up so they could inject more drugs into the base of my spine.
Down on the table. Count-down to ten as the drugs kick in. The curtain goes up.
I’m full of endorphins and calmly chanting, “C’mon little guy. You’re going to be okay.”
They tug. They pull. They can’t get him out.
What’s going on?
They finally tilt the head of the table back. Pull him out. Lift him up. I look in his eyes. His hair comes all the way down to his eyebrows. They rush him away.
He’s tiny. But alive.
Later, my husband tells me the blood on the floor almost reached his shoes. He thought I was going to die.
Later, we visit the baby in the NICU. His tiny body is covered in bruises, and hooked up to so many wires and IVs. I don’t know how to hold him.
Later, they treat him for jaundice. He is our glow-bug.
Later, my friends visit my hospital room to bring the presents from the baby shower they had held earlier that day for me.
Later, I almost pass out after trying my first shower–they give me a blood transfusion.
I pump milk. We send it down to the NICU. My husband brings me preemie diapers that the nurses showed him how to fill with ice so I can ice my breasts, my feet, both swollen.
I visit the baby. They’ve moved him to the slightly-less urgent side of the NICU. I hold him while the nurses change shifts.
Miraculously, the little four and a half-pound creature squirms around and latches on. The nurses don’t entirely believe me.
Later, they release me from the hospital. My husband drives me across town every morning to stay with the baby. I cry. I hold him. I almost fall asleep. I slowly make my way to the cafeteria to get food. I feed the baby my milk through a tube that runs through his nose down to his stomach.
I decide there is no way I can go back to work. I need to take care of him.
He pulls the tube from his nose in the night. They’ve never seen a baby do that before! He is strong.
I persuade the nurses to let me breast-feed him. I learn to weigh him before and after. They can’t believe he takes it in.
We measure weight gain in grams.
His heart rate dips when I hold him. The monitors go off. The nurse rushes in, shows me how to jiggle him to get him going again.
I’m afraid to hold him.
Next door, in the twins’ room, the monitors go off all the time. We are lucky.
He has no real problems.
My husband, who had arranged his leave well-ahead of time and who notified his boss and his team about our emergency, gets fired for ‘job abandonment.’ He had been on the job for less than five months, so the law doesn’t protect him
I decide to go after a promotion at work.
Our other children visit. They are in awe.
Almost three weeks later, he reaches 5 pounds. They monitor his heart rate and breathing while he sits in a carseat. He passes, and they send him home.
We are lucky.
- NICU Trauma (fightingformysunshine.com)
- Surviving the NICU: My Story (blogher.com)
- A Moment of Joy Captured in the NICU (22w6d.com)