January 22nd I started the hardest journey of my life. I woke up about 5:30am, after having the chills and what felt like a fever all night. I kissed my husband goodbye, since he had to be at work at 6:30 that morning... went and sat on the couch and noticed that all wasn't right. We had company over so I just tried relaxing on the couch since I had been placed on complete bed rest. About 8:15 or 8:30 I began noticing a sensation I hadn't before. My water had broken. I called my mother and my husband and let them know I was going to the emergency room. After that I told my company I had to leave, and they so kindly packed all of their things and drove me the 50+ miles to the closest hospital.
Upon arrival, my worst fears were confirmed... my water had broken at 21 weeks and the prognosis was not good. The on call doctor told me I had two options, option a.) sit and wait for my body to go into labor or b.) be transferred to another hospital that would induce labor and all would be over, I would lose my sweet baby boy. The doctor then ordered an ultrasound, where they determined Jacob measured 22 weeks and 2 days. After my doctor had that info she came to me with another option, she told me if I would like, they would admit me to their hospital, treat me for the raging infection they determined I had, and watch for signs of labor or distress in the baby, and see if they could keep me pregnant long enough to be transferred to another hospital closer to the age of viability at 23 weeks. I chose to be admitted and treated for the infection, contrary to the opinions and beliefs of everyone around me... excluding MY family. I wasn't going to give up hope in my baby boy and in the Almighty Lord who can do anything. Jake and I made it through the first night, and in the morning my doctor came in and said I was her miracle patient, she expected to get a call about me over night. After two additional sonograms each Sunday following being admitted it was determined that Jake had no significant amount of water around him. Heartbroken, we kept pressing on and fighting hard towards that 23 week mark all the while being on complete bed rest, unable to get up for anything. Sunday morning the 5th, I was given my promised dose of steroid via a shot to the hip,to begin rapidly helping to develop Jake's lungs.
Monday morning February 6th, we had finally made it, we were supposed to be transferred to another hospital... my doctor came in just amazed that we had come that far. I was given the booster steroid shot to help develop Jake's lungs and after speaking to hospitals all day long, my doctor found a hospital that would accept me, and that wasn't too big of a risk for the baby and I to travel to.
The next morning at 7:30am, the nurses and CNA's came rushing into my room saying plans had changed and the helicopter would be at the hospital to pick me up in 45 minutes and we had to hurry and get ready to leave. The flight paramedic and nurse arrived in my room about 8:20 with the gurney and all of the gear necessary to whisk me away to my new home away from home. After having a very painful IV placed into my hand we were ready to fly. Hospital security met us at my door and we traveled down the maze of hospital corridors to the helipad on the roof, located the pilot and away we flew. After a 30 minute flight we arrived at our new hospital with a level 3C NICU, that would be capable of taking care of Jacob should I go into labor early. Upon arrival I answered at least 500 questions about my pregnancy and health history, then I was stuffed into a wheelchair and taken to have another sonogram. The perinatologist determined that Jacob did have some water around him and fluid in his bladder... he said that Jake weighed 1 pound and 2 oz. I was extremely happy to know that he did have fluid and could possibly be practicing breathing. Little did I know this was the last time I would see my sweet Angel alive. When we arrived back in my room, I was hooked up to a monitor that kept track of Jake's heartbeat. The nurses noticed many decelerations in Jake's heartbeat. Every shift the nurses came in and monitored his heartbeat for twenty minutes.
Wednesday morning I met doctor number 2, who had a very negative report for me and told me that it was possible that they could come to monitor Jake and they could not find a heart beat. I was happy though because my mom and 5 year old son Payton were driving four hours to come visit me. :) We had a great visit, and they left to go home around 7. The nurse hooked me up around 11 that night to the heart monitor, and Jake was still having a lot of decelerations.
Thursday morning, February 9th, the third doctor came and announced they were going to be putting me on Magnesium Sulfate to prevent damage to Jake's neuro-system, and that I would be feeling really bad. However bad it made me feel though, I was willing to suffer through it in order to help my baby. I phoned my mother and by the middle of the afternoon, she was back with me. Several hours before she had arrived, they had come to check Jake's heartbeat and it was at a steady 135 beats per minute. After a full day of magnesium, the nurses came to monitor Jake's heartbeat, the nurse kept picking up mine and couldn't seem to find Jake's. The first nurse went and got another to see if she could find it. The second nurse didn't find one either. They then went and found the doctor, who brought the portable ultrasound machine in, and confirmed that there was no heartbeat and my sweet baby angel boy had passed away at 23 weeks and 4 days, so close to 24 weeks when his chances of survival were better.. Through my tears I tried to understand what had happened... what the plan was next. I was thinking I would need a c-section.. I was scared and miserable, overwhelmed... After about 30 minutes the doctor came back and told me that they were going to let me sleep that night and then induce labor in the morning, and I would deliver Jacob. I don't remember sleeping at all, although I had been given medicine to help me sleep.
Friday, the 10th, the nurses came in and gave me pills to start labor... these continued all through the day, every 3 hours, until about 6pm. It was determined that although I'd been contracting all day semi-regularly I had hardly dilated or changed at all. The nurses presented me with paperwork and consent forms for the funeral home to pick up my baby and an autopsy - things to think about, whether or not I wanted to see or hold him, whether or not I wanted pictures made of him. It was so overwhelming and upsetting... no one thinks when they are having a baby that they'd ever have to make decisions like that.. and I wish no one had to. Later that night Pitocin was started and at 10:26 pm, February 10th, 2012, my sweet Angel Jacob Austin was born. He was so tiny and perfect. I did decide not to have an autopsy done on my angel, couldn't bear to think of that, and I did decide to have photos made and to hold him. It was the best decision I could've made. I see his sweet face in my mind and smile... he was so tiny and fragile, yet so much mine.. I counted his tiny fingers and looked at his sweet feet and couldn't help but smile. It was hard to believe that these tiny feet were wiggling the day before inside me, and today they were in my arms and completely, scarily, sadly still.
The nurses took him to the room next door, gave him a bath, then my parents dressed him in the only outfit they could find that would fit his 1 lb 2.5oz ,11 1/2 inches long body, a "water baby" doll sleeper. : ) The great nurses took great care in providing me something I could hold onto... despite the fact I wouldn't be leaving the hospital with my baby boy. They stamped his tiny feet and hands onto his birth certificate and also took his tiny hands and feet and made a replica of them into a porcelain mold so that I would forever have something to touch. I was so incredibly grateful. Two days later I was released from the hospital.. and started the second part of my journey... Grief. This will be the second half of my blog another day.
If you've lost your baby I feel your pain, and my heart is breaking for you, I read other mother's stories of loss and just cry... I hate that anyone has this happen. I hope you have a strong system of support like I do in my family and rely on the Lord to help give you strength and the comfort you need so very badly.