I had the perfect pregnancy, right up until the moment I didn’t.
When my husband, Josh, and I decided we were ready to start trying for our first baby, we expected it to take a few cycles. Little did we know, as we threw out my birth control pills on Christmas morning, I would get pregnant during the first cycle. Not a month later, we were crying tears of joy and nervousness in the kitchen as we looked at two pink lines.
I didn’t have the “typical” symptoms of pregnancy during my first trimester. Sure, I was tired, but that was about it. Somehow I was blessed with NO morning sickness, just a couple bouts of nausea that may very well have come from working in the petri dish known as an elementary school.
My second trimester continued on as perfectly as my first. I watched my growing baby bump and read what I should be expecting to happen inside my belly week by week. We took pictures often and dreamed of what our little baby would be. At the 20 week ultrasound, we told our ultrasound tech we didn’t want to know the sex of our baby and she took pictures of the baby’s sweet, tiny, alien-like face.
At 31 weeks and 6 days, we went in for what should have been the routine growth ultrasound. We had the same tech and she chatted us up, just as before. “This one should be much quicker,” she said. “We’re just measuring baby today.” She had some trouble, though, when it came to measuring our baby’s stomach. “This one is important and baby is sitting at a weird angle. I just want to make sure I get it right.”
When she was finished, she let us know she was going to give the doctor the results. She also did this at the 20 week ultrasound, so I didn’t think much into it. My husband and I happily chatted about our little peanut while we waited. I had no reason to believe anything was wrong: baby kicked plenty every day and the heartbeat was always strong.
Then the doctor walked in.
I’m not sure exactly how it went, those minutes are a blur, but somehow he explained to us that our baby was measuring small, there wasn’t enough fluid, and blood isn’t flowing right. These were indicators of premature birth…. And that’s where he lost me. I wasn’t even 32 weeks. Our baby couldn’t come yet… he or she was only measuring at 3 pounds and 8 ounces. Our baby was way too small to come now.
We were told to relax and take our time, but we needed to get up to the hospital in our area that had a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Relaxing wasn’t an option, but we tried to slow down and plan as best we could.
When we arrived at the hospital, which was 45 minutes away from our home, they were waiting for us. The Maternal Fetal Medicine resident prepped me. I got a steroid shot for baby’s lung development and a magnesium drip for baby’s brain development. These would help the baby when they came early, I was told. Not if, when.
They hooked me up to monitor baby’s heart and any contractions I might have and they told me to prepare to have my baby.