HOCKEY & A BABY (PART I)

I am going to share my labor and delivery story in two posts. It lasted 5 days so it can only be told completely if broken up into two segments. This is raw and uncensored. If you’re uncomfortable with talks of blood and the sort, this entry might not be for you. Although its fairly common, I share our story because its rather unfamiliar territory to the average person until this nightmare comes knocking at their door.

It was Saturday, December 10th and we were having a quiet morning. Our Christmas tree and decorations were up and we were excited about going to our first hockey game together later that evening. I was 6 months pregnant and feeling excellent because my belly was finally starting to show! My pregnancy so far had been smooth as butter. Barely any nausea, eating a balanced diet, light occasional workouts and even quite a bit of traveling which was signed off by my doctor. We also just had Jed’s fetal anatomy ultrasound where we got to see how perfectly he was developing. We began buying his room decorations and were also starting to plan what I was hoping would be an epic baby shower. We were two ecstatic parents enjoying all the firsts of expecting a baby!

That Saturday at around 10 AM, I started feeling what seemed like very mild menstrual cramps. As a side note, I get uncontrollable, crying-in-fetal-position-type cramps that only 800 mg of ibuprofen and a heating pad can ease up. I guess because the cramps I was feeling were so mild I turned to Google and read a lot about “growing pains” and Braxton Hicks contractions. I thought that perhaps my belly was finally stretching and getting bigger and this was just the pain associated with that. “Maybe they’re fake contractions,” I thought. “But these can’t be– they barely even hurt,” so I went about my day.

The “cramps” continued all day. It was now 6 pm and I was having them every hour for maybe 15 seconds but they were getting stronger. My husband, Jeffrey, asked if I wanted to call my doctor or go to the hospital but I wasn’t really worried so I declined. We both got dressed, hopped in the car and started heading to our first hockey game. While we were in the car, during one of my “cramps,” I realized I hadn’t been feeling little Jed kicking and moving as much as he usually does. This little boy was so active that I had been feeling him in my belly since 4 months gestation. I started to worry now and think that maybe something was wrong. If we had made it to the hockey game and something were to be wrong, we’d be a good hour away from my OBGYN and hospital. All of these circumstances got me nervous and Jeffrey was insisting so I dialed my doctor.

While on the phone with him, I started to cry in fear that maybe something was wrong. He told me that more than likely it was what I was assuming– Braxton Hicks or maybe even dehydration. He told me that although everything was probably okay, to be on the safe side and calm any fears, I should come in to the hospital and get checked out. He told me he’d have the nurses waiting for me and that if anything, he’d be on call. Jeffrey turned the car around and our hockey game outing had now turned into a hospital visit.

I was remaining calm and optimistic. When I walked into the hospital, the nurses had me filling out paperwork while asking me some questions. “Have you drank enough water today?” was one of them. “No, not really. I think I only had 2 bottles of water all day,” I responded. “Oh honey, you’re probably just dehydrated. That will cause the contractions. You just need some fluids and you should be alright!” Okay, great. They handed me a hospital gown and asked if I had experienced any bleeding. “Nope!” Thank God because that would’ve really freaked me out. Well, God works in mysterious ways because when I went to the bathroom to put on my hospital gown, I now had light bleeding. “Calm Cristina” immediately turned into “panicking Cristina.” The nurses told me again that there’s no need to worry. These things can happen and are not a cause for immediate alarm. After all, I was in the hospital, the best place to be in this situation.

I will never forget how the situation escalated. My nurse put my IV in and was keeping me calm as the ultrasound technician was taking a look. She was so sweet and positive and just kept talking to me about dehydration and how I’ll feel better after all of this. Out of the corner of my eye I kept noticing more people coming into the room. There were now two techs looking at my ultrasound and another doctor saying she wanted to check my cervix.

The calm I was feeling initially from everyone was slowly starting to feel a little more chaotic. I turned to my nurse and asked “What’s going on?” She looked at me, now with a worried look on her face and said “It looks like you’re in preterm labor”.

What!? How could this happen?

Apparently what I had been feeling all day were not “cramps,” they were contractions. My cervix was paper thin and I was already 2 cm dilated. Jed was head down, ready for delivery. He was so incredibly low that they could almost feel his head. My water hadn’t broken yet though, which was the only positive.

Panic. Pure panic. I grabbed Jeffrey’s hand in complete fear as I cried and shook uncontrollably. “Were we going to lose our baby boy? If he came out today, would he even survive? I don’t know what happens to babies born this early. Why is this happening to us?” So many daunting questions racing through my mind.

My OBGYN arrived which brought me both more fear and comfort. Fear because I knew him being there only attested to the severity of the situation (as he was on call and at home when this began), yet comfort because I trusted him entirely with our son and knew we’d be in the best of hands. He sat by my bedside and confirmed all that was happening. He explained to me that the goal now was to stop my contractions, halt the labor and keep Jed in my belly for as long as possible. They started me on magnesium and warned that it would make me feel horrible.

One of the main goals of stalling labor for as long as possible is to be able to administer two crucial rounds of steroids into the patient. These steroids promote development of a baby’s lungs so that if he/she were to be born early, their chance of breathing and survival would be exponentially greater. These steroids can only be given once every 24 hours though, hence the need to keep stalling labor. Now that we were in this situation, we went into survival mode. All of our long-term plans now turned into short-term goals to ensure the best possible outcome for our son.

Forty-eight hours.

I told my husband we needed at least 48 hours before Jed can come out to ensure he received both rounds of steroids. This was now goal number one. All of our focus was on the next forty-eight.

Meanwhile, my doctor told me that if Jed were to come early, he could deliver him with ease; no problem. But my hospital (Mercy Hospital) didn’t have a Level 3 NICU capable of caring for a baby Jed’s size. That meant that if I gave birth at Mercy, Jed and I would be separated immediately as he would be rushed via ambulance to a hospital where he would have the best chance of survival. Because of this, my doctor felt it was best to have me transferred already to a hospital that was prepared to welcome and immediately care for Jed if I were to deliver. He arranged a transfer and at around 12:30 AM, Sunday December 11th, we arrived at Jackson Memorial Hospital/Holtz Children’s Hospital via ambulance. It was my first ambulance ride ever but I was too drugged to remember much else aside from the sirens and the fact that there were hurricane-force winds or something of that sort that night.

To summarize the next 4 days, my water broke later that Sunday. Thankfully, Jed held on and was able to get get both rounds of steroids. I remained on magnesium and my labor and contractions came to a stop. I was put on bed rest until I would deliver and had to sleep with monitors on to make sure Jed’s heartbeat stayed strong. Eventually I was taken off of the magnesium (thank God because it really makes you feel horrible and constantly hot) and now it was a waiting game. I would remain in the hospital, not able to sleep in my own bed, until Jed decided to come. Whether it was 2 days from then or 2 months, I wasn’t going to experience pregnancy at home anymore.

The doctors told me the next goal would be to make it to 29 weeks gestation which would greatly increase his chances of survival. One of the NICU fellows came to my bedside to brief me on what to expect with a micro-preemie baby. He bluntly told me that Jed’s chances were roughly 60%. This number jumps close to 100% by 29 weeks. I was also told that should I make it to week 34, they’d deliver him then and not wait until full-term. I was only 24 weeks. Could I really be here for 10 entire weeks? The idea was overwhelming but I was ready to do whatever I had to do for my son.

Between monitors, vital checks, nurses poking and doctors probing me, I barely slept. I also grew nervous as every time I would urinate, I had hints of blood. The doctors said this was normal but that if I were to have larger amounts of bleeding, I would need to call them immediately. This caused me to panic every time I would urinate, to the point that I would shake uncontrollably. It seemed like the amount of blood was increasing and I was starting to feel uneasy.

The catheter they put in me had to be removed after my water broke due to risk of infection. This was good for me but a nightmare for my husband as I would wake him up every other hour to position the pail under me to pee. The IV plus all the water the doctors recommended I drank had me going often. Add the fact that Jed was on my bladder and I found myself going every other hour. At around 3 AM, Thursday December 15th, Jeffrey helped me with the bed pail. But this time I felt as if I had pushed something out, something more than just urine. I immediately panicked and asked Jeffrey if there was blood. He said yes, but not to panic. He called the doctors and within 2 minutes, I was being prepared for transfer back down to the labor and delivery ward. I later found out that what came out of me was a golf ball-sized blood clot. Joy (sarcasm).

Upon doing another ultrasound, it seemed that what was causing my bleeding was an abrasion on my placenta. I don’t like talks of placental rupture or detachment so this immediately put me on edge. I suddenly went from wanting to keep Jed in my belly as long as possible to wanting him out, for his and my safety. I remember looking at my husband and telling him “I want him to come today.” To my surprise, he smiled and said, “Me too”. God gave us peace that day to accept that our son was to be born at just 24 weeks and 6 days and that he would be okay. We knew he was ready and I wasn’t scared anymore. I was ready to give birth.

When the doctors came in with worried faces, not really sure how to break the news to us, we stopped them and said we didn’t want to prolong delivery anymore. We were ready. They basically sighed with relief that we had accepted this and were okay with it and they smiled and went on about what great attitudes we had about the matter.

Next thing you know, Pitocin is on it’s way, epidural is going in and the contractions are getting closer together. The rush, the fright, the anxiety and excitement fight for dominance within me but all I could think of is meeting our boy!

Just because I always like to end every post on a positive note and with something to strengthen your faith, here we are today enjoying brunch with our son, now almost 6 months old (a little over 2 adjusted). To think how different our lives were 6 months ago. It gets better, my friends, it gets better.

With love,

12 Comments

  1. Nicole June 4, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Hey, what does it mean when you say 6 months (2 adjusted) ?

    1. diazmcristina June 4, 2017 at 10:17 pm

      Hi Nicole! My son was born December 15th, 2016. That means that right now he’s a little over 6 months based on his birthday. But since he was born so prematurely at only 24 weeks, the doctors do not expect him to act like a 6 month old. Instead, they use what would have been his due date (March 31st, 2017) to measure if he’s meeting his milestones on time. It’s called the adjusted age because it’s the age he’s supposed to be at developmentally. Hope that makes sense!

  2. Christi June 4, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    Oh! I’m so happy you have your sweet baby boy! He’s for sure a gift and a treasure ❤️

    1. diazmcristina June 4, 2017 at 10:18 pm

      Thanks so much Christi! He truly is. <3

  3. Adriana June 5, 2017 at 4:09 am

    This makes me so happy. I love to hear other nicu moms stories. The night I went to the hospital they told me I was dehydrated as well, but sent me home. The next day I found myself back and my Amelia was born a few hours after I arrived.

    1. diazmcristina June 5, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      It’s so wild to me how the same symptoms can mean something as easily fixed as dehydration to something as serious as being on the verge of giving birth! That’s why it’s always better to go in and get checked out. I’m glad everything worked out well for you and your baby girl!

  4. Hellen olivares June 5, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing ❤️

    1. diazmcristina June 5, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Thank you for reading! <3

  5. Katie Morales June 5, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Hi Cristina, I found your blog as I am also a mom to a miracle baby 🙂 and we also live in Miami 🙂 At 20 weeks 6 days my water broke unexpectedly. I was told that if I went into labor and had my baby at that point or any time within the next 3 weeks that she would not survive. Similar to you, they admitted me to a hospital and was told that I needed to be on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. Their goals for me were to make it to 24 weeks, then 29 weeks, then 34 weeks. After being in the hospital for 6 weeks and 3 days on complete bed rest, I had an emergency c section at 27 weeks 3 days due to the baby being in distress. Although I never had contractions or went into active labor, I understand the fear of seeing blood as I bled every week in the hospital up until I gave birth. My daughter was in the Nicu for 88 days but just last week she turned a year old and is doing great 🙂 As a first time young mom like you (27 years old when I had my daughter), I understand the emotions. Especially seeing other moms and friends around you going through wonderful pregnancies…that was taken away from us. It’s not an easy road and very tramautic but God chose us for a reason to experience what we went through and see first hand what a miracle looks like. God bless your baby boy and your family, and many blessings to him as he continues to grow and develop. Looking forward to continuing to read your blog! Thank you for sharing your story! 🙂

    1. diazmcristina June 5, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      Wow! Lots of similarities in our stories. I am so glad your little girl is thriving! I love hearing stories of preemies doing so well. Thank you for reading and for sharing your story with me. God bless your family!

  6. Brenda Maciel June 7, 2017 at 1:15 am

    I gave birth to my little boy last Tuesday at 26 weeks and 4 days. He was born so strong already and the hospital we found ourselves at is so great with everything, I found myself at such a calm state from the minute I entered the building and they announced I was 5cm dilated. Today he had a bad day where he stopped breathing too many times, enough for them to be scared and also worried about a possible infection. Today also happens to be my 21st birthday and I’m having a very hard time dealing with it all. Any words of encouragement? It’s nice to see I’m not the only one and there’s a light of the end of the tunnel. I originally began following you on your weight loss journey as I was also trying to lose weight, when I saw your son be born I couldn’t imagine the pain you had gone through and now I find myself at the same place. I’m really glad I came across your page many months ago, I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason.

    1. diazmcristina June 8, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      Congrats Brenda! Sorry for my delayed response. I am so happy that your son was born so strong. That’s a great sign! The NICU is a rollercoaster ride and it will be the hardest thing you’ve ever experienced. There will be plenty of days where your sons breathing will fluctuate but just know with time he will get stronger and his lungs will mature and he will eventually be breathing beautifully. I know it’s difficult seeing him this way but it will be past you before you know it. Hang onto your faith and stay distracted with positive things. Prepare his room, buy him the things he needs at home, scrapbook, etc. It’ll help the time go by faster. I also recommend that you try and be as present as you possibly can. You have a voice and an opinion and you need to be your sons advocate. Babies who’s parents are around often always do better for some reason (not just from me but from doctors ans nurses as well). You will come out stronger and you will love your boy more than you ever thought possible! I’m so glad you’re following me. My son had a very rough journey and as I start getting into those days and details, I hope it helps your faith grow. Please reach out again here, via email or on Instagram if you ever have any questions or just want to talk. <3 <3 I'll be praying for your son.

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