It was a sunny, serene morning in June. After a long week at the busy banking center where I was employed, I was making a solid attempt at relaxing with my fiance. This was one thing I found oddly difficult, however. I was seven months pregnant and the tasks to prepare for baby were piling up.
After my first missed period in December, I had assumed I was pregnant. But a negative pregnancy test in January begged to differ. I have always had a very irregular period and chalked it up to that. A couple of months passed with no sign of good ol' Aunt Flow, and I decided to take matters in my own hands. It was the Sunday after Easter when I took my next pregnancy test, this time with more accurate results: a small blue plus sign.
I was overcome with emotion. I felt the excitement of becoming a mother, the fear of whether I was ready to handle something so serious, and doubt in myself for not checking again sooner. After a long night of reassuring conversation with my fiance, I went to the doctor’s lab for a blood test and was told that I was 6 to 8 weeks along. Phew! I scheduled my ultrasound for four weeks later. Those next four weeks were filled with announcements, education, and some much-needed hugs.
I started to show, and I mean fast. I felt like I had tripled in size in those four weeks. And the heartburn … oh! It all seemed to come about so suddenly. My fiance and I walked into the OB/GYN office in May with no idea of what was to happen next. I assumed we weren’t going to see much on that screen; it was much too early. However, I was wrong … very wrong. What showed up on that screen was a baby, and not the little sea-monkey you would expect. A real baby: toes, fingers, a tongue, his little man parts. We then found out that I was not 6 to 8 weeks along. In the tech’s words, “Looks more like 30 weeks!” I was speechless. There was no way we were ready! We were to have only a few months to prepare.
I was overwhelmed with guilt. I only wanted the best for my new baby and was so fearful that I was going to be anything but prepared. We trucked on, though. I jumped on the prenatal vitamins that I had missed for four months and started scheduling Lamaze classes. I spent every free moment that week learning about labor and newborns and everything before and after.
I was supposed to take the Lamaze classes later on that sunny June day. That’s not quite what happened. I was lying awake in bed, cuddling and chatting with my fiance when the pains started abruptly—that tight cramping feeling. False labor, I thought. I called my doctor’s office in a hurry, trying to calm the pains so we could keep our planned bicycle ride through the nearby park before our class. “Eat some fruit and lay on your left side for an hour. Call back if the pains do not subside,” they informed me. So I did as told, but I only felt more pain. What’s worse is that I was bleeding. Not heavily, but enough to cause concern. I called again and scheduled an emergency doctor’s appointment for an hour later. And let me tell you, that hour was awful! The cramps became more and more agonizing and were timed apart by 7 minutes exactly. I forced myself to walk into the office, taking 30-second pauses during the contractions all the way to the desk. We waited almost an hour for the doctor and I trudged on, beyond excited to get to the bed and finally get some real advice. That was when we heard the most alarming sentence of our lives. “You need to go to the hospital now,” proclaimed my gynecologist, “you're 10 centimeters dilated!” I immediately started sobbing as I listened to my fiance exclaim, “What do you mean?!”
To say that we rushed to the hospital would be an understatement. We arrived promptly at 3:15 p.m. Because we were moving along so quickly, I skipped admitting and nurses were quickly surrounding me asking more questions than I could even fathom.
With my fiance and I being the oldest children on both sides of our small families, this was to be the first grandchild for our parents. Our very eager and nervous loved ones arrived with enough time to tell me that everything was going to be fine before the nurses wheeled me off to an operating room.
I was told there was simply no time for any sort of pain medication and that they normally give preterm mothers two steroid shots in an attempt to rush the infant’s lung development before labor. And that was when it hit me. I was only 7 months pregnant. All worries about preparedness subsided in fear for my beloved unborn child. How could he be okay in such a situation? He still had 2 very necessary months of developing to accomplish before entering our world. I was in absolute shock, expecting the worst. All I wanted was to know that he was going to be okay.
I received one steroid shot, but the medication had no time to pass through my bloodstream before the birth. Our beautiful Max was born at 4:22 p.m. on June 2nd, 2011. Hearing his cry was the most reassuring sound imaginable. I knew in that moment that everything would be alright. I saw a quick glimpse of him after the labor, before he was rushed into another room. My fiance kissed me on the forehead and was allowed to go see our baby boy for a few minutes while I was being cleaned up. A nurse then brought all 3 pounds and 15 ounces of our son to me and I was able to cradle him and kiss his precious forehead before he was taken out of sight again.
The rest of the day seemed like a blur after that moment. Our family was able to go see Max in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit while I was being transferred to my recovery room. After an hour or so, my fiance came to wheel me down to see our son. Emotions were running wild as we entered his room. He was in an incubator with an IV and little tubes leading into his little nose and mouth. All I wanted was to hold my darling baby, but that would not happen for quite some time. We met with the neonatologist and talked for what felt like hours about his condition and how the following months could ensue.
Max was in the hospital for exactly 40 days. It was the most tiring and frightening 40 days of my life. We watched him mature the way an unborn baby would during the final two months in the womb. We watched and helped teach him how to suck and swallow, how to breathe on his own, and how to nurse. During the last week of his stay, I moved into his room at the hospital and took over his care.
The second most joyous day of my life was the day that we were able to bring Max home. He was sent home on an apnea monitor. Many, many doctors’ appointments later, I am beyond grateful to announce that Max is a very healthy little boy. He has no developmental delays and is off the apnea monitor. He has also tripled in size! At a little more than 3 months old, Max just hit 11 pounds and is becoming quite a little porker. I’ve been told numerous times that the love, care, and time that we showed Max made such an improvement in his health. I am not sure if that is true, but like to believe that it is.
I am grateful for every beautiful day that I have had with our little “miracle” baby. He is the apple of my eye; the light and love of my life. We have learned as a family that you must roll with the punches. And that a little love can make a lot happen.