“Rebecca, we need to take the baby. Right now.”
I had, what I would consider, a textbook pregnancy. We had been trying for over a year and had suffered loss, so to say I was a little cautious and apprehensive when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter is putting it lightly. I wanted to make the right choices and follow all of the “rules” and for the 39 weeks that I carried her, I did. I took my prenatal vitamins, stayed active, made healthy food choices, and cut caffeine cold turkey (even though I knew small amounts of caffeine was perfectly safe). Sure I indulged occasionally, but I was never healthier than I was when I was pregnant. Over those 39 weeks, the consensus was the same at each doctor’s appointment: She was healthy, growing, had a strong and steady heartbeat, and all tests for her checked out perfectly. So, when my water broke on July 25th, 2018, I was ready. We were ready.
My water broke at 3:10 a.m. I woke up to go to the bathroom and when I stood up, it was as if someone was popping a water filled balloon. All I managed to say was, “Oh my God.” My husband woke up in a panic asking me what was wrong and I just simply told him my water broke. I was calm and relaxed and feeling excited because I was finally going to meet my baby girl. Dave was less calm. Lol. Watching him run around trying to pack a bag (that I had told him to pack weeks prior), was pretty entertaining. I leisurely brushed my teeth and got changed, grabbed my bags that were already packed, and went to get my phone to call the hospital and my doctor.
After a brief conversation with the doctor, I decided we would wait at home for a while because I knew we had time based on the timing of my contractions. My doctor told me to make sure I was monitoring the baby’s movements because she should have been more active than ever. If he hadn’t told me that, I am not sure what the outcome could have been. The truth is, from the time my water broke to the time we got to the hospital, I only felt her move once. It was so unlike her; she was a very active baby in the womb. Dave was the one who pushed for us to go to the hospital when we did because he wanted to be on the safe side of things. I am so thankful he did.
After we arrived at the hospital and got checked in, they took me to triage for the initial work-up. Within minutes, the nurses were on edge. They started telling me to roll on my side and kept having me switch positions. My little one’s heartbeat was low, very low. At one point her heart rate dropped to 50 BPM and one of the nurses left to call my doctor. After several position changes and an oxygen mask placed on my face, her heart rate was back up to a decent rate and everyone calmed down.
They took me to the room where I would deliver and instructed me to stay on my side and leave the oxygen mask on my face for the foreseeable future. It wasn’t a comfortable position to be in, especially with my contractions becoming closer together. The nurses were in and out of my room frequently, checking on her progress. Each time a nurse came in and looked at the fetal monitoring paperwork, they would show me where things weren’t progressing the way they wanted. Her heart rate was all over the place and each time I had a contraction, her heart rate would dip lower. I stayed as calm as possible and just continued doing as I was told, hoping that things would even out and that we would labor naturally and get back on track to having this baby. Unfortunately, my little one had other plans for me.
I had just told Dave to make the calls to our families that I was at the hospital. The plan was to keep them updated and have them come to the hospital once I was dilated a bit more. Dave was on the phone with my mom when a nurse and my doctor came in to check on my progress. After several hours, I was only 2 cm dilated. They reviewed the seemingly endless printing paperwork coming from the fetal monitoring machine and didn’t seem too thrilled with what they were looking at but my doctor said she would be back soon to check on me and started to leave. Just as she reached the door, the nurse called out to her and told her to come back and look at what was happening. I was having another contraction and apparently my little one’s heart rate dropped drastically. That’s when the doctor looked at me and said the one sentence I am still having nightmares about:
“Rebecca, we need to take the baby. Right now.”
That was it. The nurse pushed a button and medical staff started pouring into my room. There was no explanation and no dialogue other than my doctor instructing everyone on what to do. I had so many hands on me as nurses were sticking things on my body, inserting IV lines, and moving me to a portable bed. It all happened very quickly. I managed to look over at Dave as he hung up the phone mid-sentence and saw him suiting up to accompany me to the OR. We didn’t even make eye contact as I was being pushed out of the room; nothing was said between us because there just wasn’t any time.
They pushed me into the OR and there were a ton of people already in the room. It was cold, the lights were incredibly bright, and every single person in that room was running around, gearing up, and getting things ready. It was an organized chaos all around me and my body was being pulled and tugged in every direction as I listened to my doctor yell out instructions to everyone. I can’t really describe my feelings in that moment. I was confused, I had so many questions, and I was scared. For the first time, I was really scared. Terrified actually. It was all happening so fast. They were all communicating with each other but nobody was really talking to me. I had no idea what was happening or why (it was all explained to me after the fact). The medical staff worked like a well-oiled machine which I am forever grateful for. But it was an awful feeling not knowing anything.
As they transferred me to the operating table (metal slab is more accurate), one of the nurses told another to roll me over for the epidural. I heard my doctor say, “No. There’s no time for that. Get her under now. We need to take the baby.” At this point I am looking to anyone for some guidance and comfort. I was so cold and shaking so hard that my teeth were chattering, and I felt so alone. I remember asking where my husband was as they put the mask over my face and I was told that he wasn’t allowed in the room. That’s when I finally broke. Up until that moment I had kept my shit together, but that was it. The tears started falling and, in that moment, a doctor took my hand. I don’t know her name, but I wish I did. She was my angel in the OR. She leaned over and said, “Rebecca, I am the in-house doctor. Look at me. Focus on me and look into my eyes. I am here. Everything is going to be ok; we are going to take care of you both. Just stay with me.” And I did. I have never searched someone’s eyes like I did in that moment. I was filled with so much fear and I needed something, anything, to hold onto. The last thing I remember is saying a silent prayer and then I was asleep.
My daughter was brought into this world at 1:29 p.m. on July 25th. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice. I didn’t get to witness her coming into this life but I am told she passed all of her tests with flying colors in those first moments of life. She was healthy and strong. She got to feel her daddy’s arms first and spent the first several hours of her life with him as I was still on the operating table.
I was in surgery for hours due to internal bleeding from two ruptured arteries. From what I have been told, two doctors stood on either side of me and each held an artery closed for over an hour while they waited for a specialist to come in to try and stop the bleeding because they couldn’t. I lost over 1/3 of blood in the process. Thankfully, the specialist was able to get things under control and stop the bleeding. Apparently, my uterine walls were completely broken down. When they opened me up they said everything looked as if I had been pushing and in labor for over twelve hours. The tissue was disintegrated which didn’t make sense because I only labored with contractions for a few hours and never pushed. I was only the third case in twenty-five years where this had been seen and they have no explanation for it. Yay me! Lol.
I woke up from surgery alone. There was a nurse standing over me and all I kept saying was, “Where is my daughter?” They ensured me she was safe and with Dave but I was so on edge. I was agitated because my brain felt foggy and I was trying to piece together what had happened. I was wheeled to my room where my doctor met me to discuss everything about the surgery. I didn’t care to really listen because I just wanted my baby. I can’t really describe that feeling either. It’s a feeling of hopelessness, confusion, panic. I just kept asking where she was and my doctor said that Dave would be bringing her to me shortly. But I wanted her right then and there. I had already been awake for over thirty minutes and I hadn’t even met my daughter.
I think that has been the hardest thing for me in all of this. The entire experience was nerve racking and stressful. Not having Dave next to me, not being able to say I love you before I was taken away, the feeling of complete and utter aloneness as I was being put under, all of it was awful. But not being able to watch my daughter come into this world and hold her in those first moments has been hardest of all. It was all like a dream, really. I went to sleep pregnant and I woke up not pregnant. I woke up and had no idea where she was or if she was ok. I woke up and she was no longer curled up nice and warm in my belly; nestled right under my heart. And I didn’t get to experience the first moments of skin-to-skin bonding with her and that was so very important to me.. I’m not sure the depth of my feelings could ever really be put into words because they are just so raw and deep. It’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
When I finally got to hold her for the first time I was so overwhelmed with it all. I wanted to be alone with her. I wanted the world to stop so I could get back what I felt I had lost. I sadly needed assistance holding her at first because I was so weak from the blood loss and the drugs had me in la la land. But I finally had her in my arms and I got to see for myself that she was ok. It was the single greatest moment of my life. To look down into her little face after carrying her with me for 39 weeks was incredible. She was my entire world. Everything that had happened didn’t matter in that moment.
I started writing this weeks ago and I am just now at a place where I am ready to share my experience with the world. I wasn’t even sure I was going to because it was such a personal experience for me and I don’t like feeling vulnerable. But I am sure there are many mamas out there that have had their own scary experiences and I wanted them to know they aren’t alone. And writing it all down has helped me cope better with everything we went through. I am just so thankful for my beautiful, strong, and healthy little girl. We are extremely blessed.