Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of birth stories I will be sharing over the next few months featuring a wide range of women and their birth experiences. Fewer than 1% of babies are born before 28 weeks, but thankfully medical advances have allowed for more and more of these babies to survive and thrive. (If you would like to share your own birth story, please visit this post to see how.) ~Olivia
My first pregnancy was a missed miscarriage at 18 weeks. I had no reason to be worried, but suddenly found no signs of life at the scheduled ultrasound. It was difficult to say the least. When I got pregnant again 5 years later, I was very nervous until that mark passed. 20 weeks, 22, everything was going well, and I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. My hips hurt to walk, but I was less sick to my stomach the second time around, so I took that as a sign that things would be better.
I’d taken to napping in the nude, as I often felt too warm. One Friday afternoon while 26 weeks pregnant, I woke up from my naked nap and my thighs were slick wet to the knees. There was no blood or anything. I hadn’t felt anything that seemed like it might be water breaking. I hit the internet and various sites said clear discharge was normal, but something just didn’t seem right. I called the health line and they suggested I get checked just in case. By the time I finally saw a doctor, the last thing I expected to hear was “You’re having a baby.” What? I had only just started to feel the baby kicking! I was loaded into an ambulance and rushed across town to the big city hospital. I kept my legs crossed the whole ride.
The night before I’d been watching a ten-year-old episode of the TV show House where a 28-week gestation baby was given a 75% chance of being fine. While in the hospital, I was told that my 27-week gestation baby would have a 90% chance of being fine. I could only thank God for everything that had happened over the past ten years.
At the hospital, I was given all the things my baby would need in a hurry – magnesium for his brain, steroids for his lungs, antibiotics for the birth – while I lay in bed with an aching back and a monitor strapped to my belly, hoping all that he would stay in long enough for all that medicine to take effect. A doctor came in a few times to check if I was still in labour, and the nurses came in every few hours to tell me that the baby was doing beautifully, very healthy and strong.
I wasn’t allowed to eat for two days. When Sunday morning came around, the doctors seemed to think labor wasn’t progressing and were getting ready to move me off of the high risk ward and into a regular room for monitoring, so I was given a sandwich for breakfast.
As soon as I finished eating and went to the bathroom (also for the first time in two days), I started cramping. I mentioned this to a nurse, and she brought in a doctor to discover I was fully dilated. I’d most likely been in labour while asleep. I was having a baby no matter what! I was whisked to the ultrasound room to find the baby was not only breach, he was actually transverse, so I had no choice but to have a C-section, and the next stop was the operating room.
That afternoon, just barely into week 27 of my pregnancy, my son was born, his tiny three-month-early lungs cried nice and loud. While he had oxygen and CPAP help for several weeks, he never needed to be on a ventilator, so all those medicines did their job. We were in the NICU for 2 months, and he came home one month before he was even due to be born. My little miracle is now one year old, walking on his own, babbling constantly, and the picture of health. We still don’t know what happened or why. He just wanted to be here so badly, he decided to be a November baby rather than waiting for Valentine’s Day.