God is in the details.
This was especially true for this particular life experience. I haven’t been able to openly discuss this with anyone other than family because it was too painful for me to think about. I’m going to start from the beginning, so bear with me. Spoiler alert – this post does have a happy ending 🙂 I realize the title/first few words may foreshadow a different outcome, but I want/my intention to share with you our experience is to make aware and comfort other women/couples who may experience this as well.
On April 16th, 2018, Brooks and I found out we were pregnant with our first child. It was the happiest day of my life!! It was 1 week before my birthday to the date and we were heading to Big Cedar Lodge that following weekend to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary (April 8th, 2017) and my 26th birthday. I called my husband and he said, “Wow.” Then, he called me back ten minutes after that conversation and said, “Oh my gosh, are you serious?! This is amazing!” That’s just a sneak peak of the man that Brooks is. I really do have the best. He has been unwavering in his comfort and gentleness since day one.
For the first six months of pregnancy, I was sick every. single. day. Not just sick but sick sick. It was difficult for me to be at work. My body was tired. I was drained and wasn’t sure if this is what pregnancy was supposed to feel like. After all, I follow plenty of mom’s and mom-to-be’s on Instagram and they seemed to be active, happy, and energized. Don’t get me wrong, I was the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. But, something was off. I felt like I was hit by a bus every single day. The migraines were the worst. Some days, I couldn’t even imagine how I would get up, get dressed, go to work and be a functioning human being. But I did it.
I know a lot of women experience nausea, discomfort, fatigue, etc. during pregnancy. I’m in no way saying that what I reveal in the rest of my story is going to happen to anyone who experiences these symptoms. I’m merely painting a picture of my pregnancy and the months leading up to the scariest time of my life thus far.
At 32 weeks pregnant, I was feeling worse than ever. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t think past the migraines. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. In my mind, I thought I had GB because I wasn’t healthy enough. Turns out, you can get it even when you are the healthiest person on the planet. It all has to do with your placenta and how it forms. I managed to keep the GB under control through my diet and what little exercise I could manage. I pricked my fingers four times a day to read my blood sugar levels. I had never done this in my life and, now know, what a glimpse of life is like for a diabetic. In addition, my blood pressure was starting to sky-rocket.
I started seeing my doctor twice a week for fetal testing. My doctor was worried I might be at risk for preeclampsia at this point. I completed a few 24-hour protein tests and each time, the levels grew and I knew that it would come to preeclampsia. I just knew it in my body. My mother had preeclampsia with both of her pregnancies. I was exhausted. Luke was doing great. But, at this point, I thought to myself, “I am never going to get pregnant again. This is just not worth it.” Boy, was I ever so wrong. But, I’m not done with my story yet.
When I was exactly 34 weeks pregnant, I went in to my OB’s office for another NST (fetal testing). Basically, we were looking for a certain amount of movement within a certain time frame. Well, Mr. Luke Chandler was not moving as much as my OB would have liked so we moved to the ultrasound room. We were looking for two separate movements of any kind and we only saw one. Red flags go up, naturally. I’m a first-time mother and I am already so unbelievably attached to this baby boy in my womb. I had no idea what was happening and why he wouldn’t be moving.
I get checked into the high-risk unit once my blood pressure reached 165/121. I complete another 24-hour protein test. The levels come back and I am officially preeclamptic. Therefore, I am given a magnesium drip through IV to prevent seizures. As if I didn’t already feel bad enough, I couldn’t eat with the magnesium drip in the event of a seizure and the drip makes you feel like you have the flu X 200. It was AWFUL. I was laying in the hospital bed, hurting physically and emotionally, unable to eat a single bite and with the worst of the worst symptoms.
Three days pass. I am still on the magnesium drip and we are finally about to start pitocin to induce labor. Well, 20 hours later and I am only dilated to 4cm. I really can’t even describe the combination of everything that was going in my body and how I was feeling, other than I even MORE SO convinced myself that we weren’t having another baby. ever.
The nurses up my pitocin level and another two hours goes by. I’m dilated 6cm this time and I also have a mental breakdown. I simply could not take anymore and begged the nurses to get my OB on the phone. I begged and begged for a c-section. She stated that she believed in me and asked if I would just wait another two more hours to see if I dilated any more. So, I felt defeated but I agreed.
Two more hours go by (we’re at 24 hours now) and I’m dilated up to a 10cm. The nurse checks and then says she’s going to call the doctor. Well, on November 9th, 2018, out comes Luke. He made his debut. I mean in a LITERAL instant he is born. My doctor is not here. The nurse pulls him out and screams, “CODE PINK!” Great. What in the WORLD IS CODE PINK??!?! I’m speechless. Completely and utterly speechless like what just happened. I have no words. Who are these people? Who am I? Is my baby okay??
The nurses place Luke on my chest and he is completely blue and not breathing. If I’m being totally honest with y’all, I cannot help but to sob as I type this because it brings back up these emotions that I have not dealt with properly. I have been hiding them deep down in the furthest place so that I don’t have to experience this state-of-mind again. Now that it’s been eleven weeks, I have a better grasp on the situation mentally.
What felt like an hour, was six minutes before I finally asked, “Is my baby alive?” There were about twelve people in the room surrounded around Luke and I’m holding Brooks’ hand, completely exposed, vulnerable, hurt, angry, confused, scared and praying. Please Lord don’t let my baby die without me holding him, kissing him and meeting him. I was an absolute wreck and my husband was as white as a ghost, about to pass out.
The on-call doctor walks over to me and says, “your baby is alive but he is not doing well and is going straight to the NICU.” There was a sense of relief and fear at the exact same time. He is alive. But is he going to be alright and when can I see him?? So many unanswered questions and horrible what-ifs playing through my mind. My OB walks in after Luke is taken to the NICU. I’m confused and I’m hurt. This does not feel like it was handled well at all. My initial reaction is fear, followed by anger.
I was moved to the postpartum unit and still had the magnesium drip. I’m now told that I have to be on the drip for another 24-hours just in case a seizure were to arise. Five days of magnesium. Five days without eating. Five days of agony. All for me to be in a hospital bed, alone, without my baby. Of course my husband was there and even my mom was, too. But as soon as Luke made his appearance into the world, that motherly instinct kicked in that I’ve only heard and read about. My son. My child. My offspring. My responsibility. I felt completely defeated as I lay in the postpartum unit, wondering when I would get to meet my baby for the FIRST time. I don’t consider our first time meeting when he was blue and not breathing for the mili-second that he was on my chest.
Brooks and our parents have now all visited him in the NICU. I have a camera to see him but it wasn’t the same. The whole situation felt pretty unfair. I had just gone through an incredible amount of physical, mental and emotional trauma in the past five days to give birth to my son and I couldn’t even have ANY contact with him. Until, our family friend, who works in the NICU, surprised me with him. It was, single-handedly, the happiest moment of my life. There he was. So tiny. So fragile. He lay on my chest and I sobbed like a baby with my baby. There are a couple of videos to prove it. This. This is what I had been waiting for. Twelve hours went by before I could hold my son, kiss him and tell him mommy’s here and that I love him. Shoutout the BEST NICU NURSE EVER. 🙂
From then on, we were able to do chest-to-chest for feedings every three hours and visit him anytime we could. I moved from the postpartum unit to the high-risk unit again to be monitored. I FINALLY got off of the magnesium drip and had mozzarella sticks from Sonic. BEST MEAL EVER. Six days. No food. No energy. COME TO MAMA.
Luke progressed so beautifully. Within 72 hours, his feeding tube was removed, he had regulated and kept a normal temperature and his bilirubin (jaundiced) had gone down. A room opened up for us to bunk in with him. It was truly a special time for our little family. We changed his diapers, fed him, held him, kissed on him, prayed over him and loved him so hard. After six days, we were headed home!
I share my story, not to gain sympathy, but to inform other mothers and/or mothers-to-be what I experienced having gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, a magnesium drip and a 34.5 week gestational age baby born. I went into that doctors appointment that Monday completely unaware of what was about to transpire in the next two weeks. I wish I had been more informed of the possibilities.
I’m happy to report that we are all doing great! We are completely smitten over Luke Chandler and literally fight over who gets to hold him and change his diaper. Luke is 11 weeks old and eating like a champ. 🙂
I want to encourage all mamas that you are stronger than you think you are. Now, that we are thriving as a family, I think back to our experience and although it was painful, I most definitely want more children, even if I have to go through what I did all over again. It was 100% worth it. When I look into my baby’s eyes and see his soul, I am reaffirmed of what my calling is. I am a mother. I am strong. I am capable. You are, too.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.” – Psalm 127:3