“Are you pregnant?” Austin smiled as he held up the positive home pregnancy test I had left sitting on the bathroom sink for him to find in the morning. I was already up and reading the Bible as I drank my coffee.
We were thrilled with anticipating another sweet child – and a little overwhelmed with uncertainty over what this pregnancy might hold. The last one ended, well, unexpectedly.
From that moment on we did everything we could to lower the risk of premature birth and breech presentation. My incredible doctor and her team developed a really good care plan to give this baby every chance to make it to full term so that we could have an uncomplicated, unmedicated VBAC.
Aside from the routine prenatal appointments, I went in once a week for a (very painful) shot of progesterone in my hip muscle that was supposed to prevent contractions from changing the cervix. I had extra ultrasounds to keep a close eye on the placenta, cervix, and baby’s position.
I was proactive in exercises, stretches, chiropractic care, and positioning to keep everything aligned and open so that baby would have room to flip head down with no obstacles.
And of course, most of all, we had a lot of prayer support for this whole pregnancy.
And for the most part, everything was smooth sailing. It all seemed to be working great.
We had a little hiccup around 22 weeks. I had over-exerted myself on a hot day and had a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions. Too many. We drove to the hospital as I held back tears. But they put on the monitor to watch me for a few hours and checked my cervix and everything was perfectly fine. Bullet dodged!
I took it easy after that, being extra careful not to participate in any kind of activity that could trigger contractions.
We reached 31 weeks and I started to get nervous. I went into labor at 32 weeks last time, and even though I had every reason to be confident that the same thing would not happen this time, I still got a little anxious.
Then at 31 weeks and 3 days I got a really bad stomach bug. Let me be clear that I am not exaggerating when I say this is by far the worst stomach bug I have ever had in my life. I’ll spare you the details, but it hit hard, it hit fast, and it was bloody. I couldn’t keep down even a sip of water and got severely dehydrated in just a couple of hours. So we headed to the ER and I was wheelchaired back to the Labor & Delivery wing of the hospital so they could also keep an eye on baby as they treated me.
A few hours later, the bug relented and I started to feel better. I had a couple of bags of IV fluid in me, and the baby’s heartbeat and movements were good. But the nurse noticed just a couple of weird contractions. Normally, they would be easily ignored, but because of my history she just wanted to be safe and run a couple of tests. The fetal fibronectin test came back positive. It’s not conclusive, but a positive means that you are at a high risk of going into labor within two weeks. And my cervix was open – 2 cm and 80% effaced. Not good.
I was admitted and immediately put on Magnesium Sulfate. I won’t go into details about that drug. You can read more about it in my daughter’s birth story. But it wasn’t pleasant.
It did work, however. I was on Mag for 48 hours so that we had time to get two shots of a steroid called Betamethazone – a drug that triggers the production of surfactant so that the baby’s lungs mature more quickly. The Mag also can prevent brain injuries or defects in preterm babies.
I was back in the one place I had most feared for two years – fighting against premature labor on harsh drugs that wreak havoc on your body. And this time, it was four days earlier in the pregnancy than last time.
But they worked! Two days later I had no contractions and hadn’t progressed any further, so I was discharged and put on modified rest. We were so relieved. It was different than last time. Last time, labor never truly stalled and just a few days later our daughter was born by emergency C-section. This time, the labor never truly got going. We all posited that the dehydration just triggered something a little funny and that I would probably just hang out at 2 cm for a few weeks and be able to deliver a [more] full-term baby.
We settled into this optimism for a whole week. I just knew that this time was different and that we had every reason to expect that this was just a hiccup. We prayed hard that we could have just 27 more days. If we could make it just 27 more days, we’d get to 36 weeks and we could proactively turn baby head down with an ECV if needed. And he’d be much bigger and more mature, so we could probably avoid NICU this time.
I woke up Friday morning feeling…different. 32 weeks and 4 days. Deep down, somewhere in that motherly instinct section of my mind, I knew that this baby was coming soon. But I pushed that away and tried to remain optimistic. After all, I had no signs of labor. You’re just being paranoid, I told myself.
We had some wonderful friends bring us dinner. Shortly after they left, I began feeling contractions. Not one here, another there. One every 5 minutes. Suddenly.
We went to the hospital. Surely they’ll strap on the monitor, the contractions will calm down, they’ll give me a tocolytic shot, and we’ll go home. Yet, part of me despaired that we’d be doing this over and over for several weeks and I felt defeated and overwhelmed by that thought.
Sure enough, I was having regular contractions 5-10 minutes apart. But my cervix hadn’t changed! It was still only 2cm. So they gave me a shot of terbutaline and watched the monitor for a couple of hours. I kept contracting. They called the doctor. Around 3:00 in the morning, they gave me another shot. I continued contracting. They got stronger and stronger. I couldn’t get through them without some serious breathing and vocalizing. I knew. I just knew all night. I knew I was in labor and that it wouldn’t stop. I knew we were having a baby. And I could feel right where his head was – at the top of my belly just under my rib cage. I knew we were having a C-section.
The doctor came in as the sun came up and we called my doula, Shannon (God bless that woman! Seriously!) and the doctor confirmed what we already knew. I broke down. The one thing we prayed would not happen. The one thing we feared for months. And here we were at its threshold.
They began prepping me for surgery. There was no rush this time, like last time, though. I wasn’t in transition, so we could ease into it, so to speak. We prayed. My doula rubbed my back and helped me through contractions and spoke such encouraging words to me and Austin.
Finally, the time came. They wheeled me back into the OR and got me up on the table. The anesthesiologist put in the spinal and I lay down, numbing quickly as they put up the drapes and got the room all set up.
And the most amazing thing happened.
God pulled back the cloud and let me see his grace, pouring joy into me until the moment was full of it.
Soon my husband was at my side stroking my hair and we smiled with excitement over the moment coming – when we would get to meet our son.
The doctor cut into me and with excitement in her voice (and at my request) explained to me moment by moment what she was doing. “I’m cutting into the skin,” “I’m pulling aside your bladder now,” “Ok! I’m cutting into your uterus!” (The nurses kept telling me I should consider being a nurse…) And then the beautiful moment of birth came. “Do you know what you’re having???? This baby’s coming out rear-first! It’s a boy!!!!”
Joy spilled from the corners of my eyes and I laughed with happiness. Austin – amazingly – had looked over the curtain and watched the whole surgery, but they lowered the curtain and held up our son all covered in the beautiful mess of birth and crying the most beautiful cries! He was perfect and amazing and a gift and a treasure in all of his 32 weeks and 5 days glory. And we announced his name to the room – Solomon Augustine, our mighty peace.
They took him over and cleaned him off and called Austin over to cut his cord. I asked to see the placenta (“You should really consider nursing, Megan”). And then Austin brought our son over to me to see him clean and handsome all swaddled and content before he had to be taken back to the NICU as they stitched me up (and I fought waves of nausea…it happens when you get sliced in half).
I went to post-op recovery where Shannon met me and we celebrated and laughed as I told her the joy of Solomon’s birth while the nurse checked and checked my vitals and sensations as the spinal wore off.
A short time later, they wheeled my whole bed into the NICU and I held Solomon for the first time – for as long as I wanted – and just wondered at his face and toes and fingers and coos.
I never could have imagined that I would be thankful for a repeat C-section. In my wildest dreams, I never could have comprehended being so thankful for it that I was glad we had the surgery instead of a VBAC. But I am. I struggled before Solomon’s birth, wondering why God was asking us to walk through the one thing we asked him to spare us from. But he took our hands and gently led us through it to show us that even our worst fear could be redeemed. Solomon’s birth wasn’t just ok because hey, healthy mom healthy baby. His birth was fun and exciting and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way now. God made beauty from ashes; he gave us strength in our fears. In our desperate weakness he was so very incredibly lovingly overwhelmingly strong. (Sorry writer folks, but this moment really deserves all those adverbs.)
Solomon’s strong. He didn’t need oxygen at all (thank God for the steroid shots) and he’s been eating well and growing well. He’s feisty and a fighter, but he’s also so easily calm and content. He’s truly a miracle.
He’s doing so well, but he’s still so small. Officially, the expected discharge date is his due date (December 14), but it’s also reasonable to expect that he’ll be there another month or so. It’s all up to him. I have one small request. I know it’s exciting to dream of him coming home (oh believe me I know!), but please please please do not ask us when or if they’ve given us a time frame. They haven’t. They won’t. We probably won’t know until the very day the doctor says, “Do you want to take him home today?” Until then, it’s a painful question to ponder. Instead, we really appreciate encouraging words, prayers, and of course compliments on how beautiful and amazing he is! 😉
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above all heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost