Monday, February 7, 2011

Five's Birth Story - Part 1

I had an eventful pregnancy with Five.

We'd only been married for 2 months when I got pregnant. We were living in Nevada at the time and I had to come back to Canada because I had no health insurance. I was 3 months pregnant when I got back. I was super excited to feel him move for the first time at 14 weeks.

2 weeks later, his amniotic sac started leaking fluid. My doctor said there was nothing that could be done and that I'd lose the baby. I told her that I thought he was okay, I could still feel him moving regularly and she said it was impossible to feel him move that early. My mom called my cousin who was a midwife in the Philippines. She said that the fluid gets replaced and holes can close over. Additionally, there are actually 2 layers to the sac so sometimes the outer layer can rupture and leak some fluid but the inner one is still intact. She recommended that I go on bedrest for a couple of weeks so that's what I did. I didn't leak any more fluid and I think I was on bedrest for about 2-4 weeks, I don't remember the exact timing.

Nov 12, 2004 - 4 months pregnant
The 20 week ultrasound was great. The tech isn't allowed to tell us the gender, but did focus the screen on his parts and my mom was able to very clearly see that it was a boy. It took Hubby and I until 6 months in my pregnancy to agree on a name. We had a lot of fun going through baby names and suggesting totally random names that we'd never choose.
When I was 6 months along, Hubby was finally able to join me in Canada. 1 month later, I went into preterm labour. I woke up at 4 am on Saturday, January 29, 2005 with strong contractions. They were 2 minutes apart and 90 seconds long (yes, only 30 seconds' break between contractions!) The nurse said this was impossible and we must be timing wrong. We went to my hospital where I had a nurse named Anna and a doctor who I'd never met but he was very nice to us and gentle with me and also considerate of our fear. I lost my mucous plug and was told I was 1 cm. Contractions were coming ever 3-4 minutes. I was given nitroglycerin patches to hopefully stop the contractions and a shot of steroids to develop his lungs in case the patches didn't work.

I was then transferred to a hospital about an hour away. They said I was lucky - because my baby was only 28 weeks, he'd need a level 3 NICU (these are for the sickest babies). Beds in these NICUs were hard to find and they had been having to airlift patients 4, 6, or even 8 hours away! It was reassuring to have all the paramedics AND nurses AND doctors caring for me. One of the paramedics was also named Anna - we had 3 Annas in the ambulance! I felt safe, in good company, even though I was terrified. I remember just feeling so relaxed as they wheeled me from the room through the hospital and into the ambulance. Hubby sat at my head, facing the back of the ambulance. My nurse sat to my left, keeping constant watch over me. She noticed every 3 minutes when my eyes went to the clock and asked if it was another contraction, which I confirmed.

We arrived at the next hospital. I was a bit uncomfortable with everybody in the hospital staring at me as we went, but I just focused on the people with me. I got to my new room and met my new nurses. I was sad to see the other two Annas leave. My new nurse was nice. She told me not to worry, the baby would be fine and I'd leave the hospital still pregnant.

Jan 30, 2005

One of the nurses gave me 2 nitroglycerin pills and explained that in a few hours they'd give me another set of pills. Hubby asked if the patches I had would replace one of the sets of pills. The nurse replied, "What patches?" Yikes. She read my chart (apparently for the first time) and freaked out. She ripped the patches off and washed my skin to try to get as much of the drug off as she could. As my blood pressure plummeted, they pumped me full of (cold!) fluids to try to get my bp back up. It got down to 52/24. My mom called my aunt (a nurse) and told her where it was and she said to check again, because that was impossible. She said that anything under 70 is life threatening and I shouldn't even be awake, let alone alive still. The nurses asked if I felt dizzy and I didn't. I didn't feel any different really. The contractions continued, and were ramping up in intensity. I remember one particularly bad one when I grabbed Hubby's arm and looked in his eyes and barely kept from screaming. Five's head had engaged in my pelvis. At some point they gave me another steroid shot for his lungs.

The doctor had come in to explain what would happen when the baby was born - that he'd immediately go to the NICU and as soon as he was stable, we could go see him. He assured us that he'd arrange for us to have a tour of the NICU as soon as I was more stable to move around (assuming the baby would take awhile and I'd have time for a tour before he was born.)

I did pass out for awhile. My bp had gotten so low that the doctors actually had given up on me. Hubby was standing by the door and heard them discussing in the hallway that they were going to do an emergency cesarean "to save the baby." They came to get me to take me to the OR. Hubby stood in the doorway and would not allow them into the room. He'd assisted hundreds of animals during birth, as well as was a volunteer firefighter for 6 or 7 years. He said, "If you cut into her with her bp this low, she will bleed to death. I won't allow you to do a cesarean as long as she's still alive." While all this was going on, my dad (a Christian minister) had called his friend who was the senior pastor of a church and got the prayer chain going.

Eventually I came to. The contractions slowly got further apart. I wasn't allowed out of bed for quite awhile. We spent the night in the hospital. By Sunday morning, the contractions were maybe every hour or so. They said if the contractions did ramp up that they would just let the baby come since I'd had both the steroid shots (and I think they were afraid to give me any more nitroglycerin!) By Sunday evening, they released us. As I was leaving in a wheelchair, the nurse I'd first met coming into that hospital was just coming on shift. She asked if I was going to the NICU to see my baby. I told her that I was still pregnant and was going home! She was surprised and said she had thought I'd have him. This surprised me as she was the only one that reassured me that he'd be fine and gave me hope that I'd leave the hospital still pregnant.

I was put on strict bedrest, allowed to get up ONLY to use the bathroom and to shower quickly. I was on bedrest until 34 weeks (6 weeks!) That's a very long time to be in bed, but of course totally worth it for the sake of my baby. I was forced to quit my job, which I wasn't too upset about at that point as I was tired of working and it was a job that required me to be on my feet for 4-6 hours straight (excluding break times).

At 30 weeks, I had amniotic fluid leaking again. It was a Friday night and the ultrasound tech had left for the weekend so they hooked me up to an iv for fluid and put me on a mild antibiotic. On Monday, the ultrasound showed that there was plenty of fluid and he was happy and the bag appeared to not be leaking any more. The doctor said it was my choice if I wanted to stay or go home so I went home. I was terribly lonely in the hospital, especially at nights when I was all alone.

At 34 weeks I came off the strict bedrest but was still taking it easy until 37 weeks. I was still in and out of the hospital frequently with off-and-on labour and round ligament pain that came and went and I thought at first was labour too. Each week was a milestone. Each week, each day even, that he stayed inside increased his chances of survival and his chances of not having any negative side effects from being born too early. I spent most of my time learning about preemies and how NICUs were run and how I could express breastmilk for him and all the different ways for getting that milk into him (cup feeding, finger feeding, syringe feeding, putting it into a feeding tube, etc).

When I reached 37 weeks, I felt a huge burden lifted. I wouldn't have a preemie! I was full term! I was astonished that I'd made it, as was my doctor. She assured me that I'd birth very soon.

March 22, 2005 Beer Belly! (Not my beer!!!)

To be continued...
Five's Birth Story - Part 2 (Birth)
Five's Birth Story - Part 3 (What I learned from the pregnancy and birth of my first child)


  1. Wow Anna! Just reading your story for the first time. What an amazing journey of faith. Why is baby sometimes refered to as ``Five``?

  2. "Five" is my firstborn. I don't want to post his name on my blog so I'm referring to him by his current age. :)


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