Dave and I were about to walk out the door to a Christmas party. I only needed to put on my dress. Before I put it on, I noticed that my underwear that I had just put on was wet. I tried using a panty liner, but my underwear was so wet it wouldn’t stick. Thinking this was another instance of being kicked in the bladder and wetting myself, I changed my underwear and immediately soaked through two panty liners. I knew immediately that something was very wrong. We called my doctor’s office, and next thing I knew, we were on our way to labor and delivery.
We fortunately had a Zipcar reserved for the Christmas party. For some reason we can never find cabs despite living on one of the busiest streets in Boston, When we walked into the hospital, they knew we were coming, so they brought us to the L&D floor without having us go through registration. I took my coat off, and my jeans were completely soaked, despite the fact that I had placed a towel in my underwear. I was immediately hooked up to an IV, given drugs to help Jillian’s lung growth and an ultrasound was ordered. We were advised that they were going to try to stop labor, and that it would be for the best if we could hold off at least 48 hours (well, 16 weeks would have been better, but 48 hours became the goal).
During the ultrasound, we saw that Jilly’s heart was beating strong, and that she was moving around. The doctor moved to look at my cervix, and despite being completely clueless about ultrasounds, I could see that my cervix was open. I looked at his face, and it was a face that you never want to see from a medical practitioner. I knew things were bad. Almost immediately after that moment, I started feeling contractions for the first time.
We returned to L&D, and the doctor and nurses did their best to make me comfortable while keeping an eye on Jillian. The doctor assured me that it would be possible for me to stay pregnant, but obviously there was a good chance that I wouldn’t. A pediatrician came to talk to us from the NICU to prepare us for what was probably going to happen. Eventually, because my contractions stopped, we were told that I could have some dinner.
After we ate, the nurse moved me around a little bit because she couldn’t find Jillian’s heartbeat. They moved me all over the place, they would pick up the heartbeat, and then it would disappear again. The next several minutes are a total blur to me, but I just remember that as soon as they put the ET thing on my finger (I have no idea what it’s actually called, but it lights up and tracks the pulse), that I was having my sweet little girl that night.
There was an instant flurry of activity, and next thing I knew, I was being wheeled into the OR. I somehow lost track of Dave during all of this, and I had an overwhelming fear that I was never going to see him again. Everyone assured me that he would be by my side soon, they just had to get me ready and he had to change into scrubs. A million things were going on, and I only remember that somebody sat there with me and held my hand while I waited for Dave.
During the c-section, I didn’t feel anything other than pressure and pulling. I was doing everything I could to wake up. I thought I was having the worst nightmare of my life, but I could not wake up from it. Very shortly after everything started, I heard the softest, high-pitched cry from the other side of the curtain that had been placed in front of me. I am still astounded that I was able to hear it with everything going on. I heard her cries two more times as they worked on her. Soon after, she was wheeled out to the NICU. Before leaving the OR, they wheeled her to Dave and me so we could see her. We obviously knew she would be tiny, but I was not prepared for how tiny she would actually be. I can say for certain that I had never seen a baby so small.
The rest of my surgery was pretty uneventful. I don’t remember much about the next several hours at all, really. I know Dave called our parents, but I don’t remember any of it. Dave also went to the NICU to see Jillian. I don’t remember him leaving, but I do remember him showing me pictures of her that he’d taken on my phone. Eventually I was moved to another floor, and I was wheeled on a bed into the NICU so we could see Jillian. I have to admit that I was terrified by what I saw despite seeing pictures of her ahead of time. In addition to the countless tubes and wires, Jillian’s skin was discolored (she was black and blue all over her tiny body). That said, she was the most perfect thing I’d ever seen. My heart ached liked I’d never felt before. I wanted nothing more than to hold her against me and talk to her, We did get to touch her, but I was terrified that I would hurt her.
By the time we got to my new room, it was after two in the morning. We tried to sleep, but I was too terrified to close my eyes. I spent the rest of the night watching the most boring shows I’ve ever seen about dangerous roads around the world. It was my only option, though, because literally everything else on TV involved babies, pregnant women, or death. I did start to nod off a few times, but when I did, I would either start reliving the c-section or I would hear a baby cry down the hall, which pretty much ripped my heart out (I have since been moved to another floor, thankfully).
There are a million more details that I want to write, but I need to take a break for now. Jillian is hanging in there so far. We hopefully have a very, very long road ahead of us. While it’s terrifying to know that our baby may be in the NICU until at least the end of March, it’s even more terrifying to think of the possibility of her not being there. We’re trying to stay positive, but it isn’t easy, and we’re also afraid to get our hopes up, even though hope is all we have at this point. I’ll post about this separately, but I will say that Dave and I are both astounded by the outpouring of love, support, and prayers we’ve received from friends, family, and total strangers.