This true story was written by Angela B. and shared with us via social media.
I lean into Beth’s arms, she’s the nurse that met us as we arrived at the hospital a mere half an hour ago. She was so kind and calm as she quickly prepared me for surgery. She’s now holding me while they inject my spine. Michael has to wait outside while they do the spinal tap for the emergency surgery.
I want Michael by my side, desperately. I’m blinded with fear and sadness and I start to cry softly and hope no one notices. I can’t pray. I have no words for God or this situation anymore. I’ve lived the longest two weeks of my life since our doctor broke the news that “everything was wrong” with my pregnancy.
I quietly whisper “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” in Beth’s arms. I don’t know what else to say. I’ve begged Him to keep my precious baby daughter in my womb longer, I have begged Him for miraculous growth and here I am delivering at 25 weeks, although she’s only measuring 19 weeks.
We know she doesn’t stand a chance. 500 grams, that’s what they told us was the bare minimum for viability. We know she’s well under 400 grams. We will soon find out if she’s alive or dead. If she’s alive, we will provide “comfort care.” We will hold her, possibly for up to three hours as she gasps for air. She will make noises and fight to live.
We will hold her and sooth her until she dies in our arms.
She will be too little and the breathing tube will not fit down her throat. Doctor after doctor has assured us of this. How on earth does a mother prepare for this? I want this to stop, I want out, I want to get up and run out of the operating theatre. I want this cup to be taken from me.
They lay me down and tears slowly stream down my face while I try to be strong and smile and chat with the medical staff. I suddenly feel a hand on me. It’s Dr. Yup, the neonatologist that was barking at us when I was admitted. “What do you want to do? She won’t live she’s too little. Should we resuscitate? She’s too small for a breathing tube, should we bother trying? Her life will be bleak.”
I look at him and snap “We know.” That’s all we’ve been hearing lately. Dr. Yup sees my tears and tells me gently they will do everything they can to save our baby. I know it’s just talk, even the best maternal fetal specialists in the country have confirmed that our situation is hopeless. They offered me the chance to terminate my pregnancy.
Michael is finally allowed to join me and he enters sobbing and telling me he loves me. I wonder if he fears he will lose both his girls? My body is slipping into dangerous preeclampsia and the pathetic placenta is failing us both. I don’t blame myself, it was nothing I did, but my body has failed us.
I take one look at him and start laughing and tell him to pull it together. “C’mon, I sorta need you to be the strong one right now.” We laugh and try to distract ourselves from what’s about to happen.
We lock eyes and Michael prays as tears stream down our faces. I feel the pressure, like I have a piano on my chest. I look at my dear husband and whisper to him “she’s here.”
It’s quiet and there is no crying. We begin to sob, ugly loud sobs, somehow I’m just not embarrassed anymore. Our worst nightmare has begun as the countdown to her death begins. The journey no parent should ever have to take.
Beth congratulates me on my beautiful baby girl. I hear a few more congratulations and I think it’s a kind gesture since I did just give birth, however it feels a little cruel as we all know what is about to happen.
I guess I’m a mother of two even if for just a short time and I accept the congratulations in this twisted birth scenario. We wait. It’s just a few seconds but it feels so much longer. I wonder how this works. Do they just keep her here until the surgery is done? When do we get to see her?
The trauma is too much, I don’t want to think anymore. Michael and I can barely see each other through the tears but we won’t take our eyes off each other when suddenly Dr. Yup starts barking at me again.
I see him out of the corner of my eyes, a blur as he’s rushing by with his NICU team. He’s yelling at me, “Look at your baby, look at your baby!” She’s being rushed out of the room.
Wait what? I am stunned. My brain freezes I am so confused. I simply cannot process what is happening. She’s alive and they are taking her to the NICU? How can this be? That was never an option. I haven’t played this scenario out in my head. Sure, we prayed for it, but it was never supposed to happen.
My head is spinning and all I can see for a split second is my baby girl. My Naomi. My heart rate sky rockets and the anesthesiologist pumps me full of sedatives. I start to scream from shock and joy. I’m screaming at Michael while I cry. “Look, look, she’s alive, look, she’s alive,” as though he’s not seeing what I’m seeing. I tell him to go with her.
I don’t see Naomi again for over 24 hours.
I’m sick. So very, very sick. As one nurse explains it to me, it’s like we’re poisoning you to stop you from having seizures. My body is numb from medication and I feel no pain from the surgery yet at the same time my head feels like it will explode. I am being burned from the inside out with “the mag” (magnesium sulphate).
I cannot sleep from the pain and shock of what has just happened.
I can’t move to go up the hall to see my girl. The nurses coach me through it, they massage me to help me sleep. So far we have a miracle, but nothing is stable. Not to sound crude, but I feel like we’re just waiting for Naomi to die. She’s so little, well under the minimum 500 grams. She’s a tiny 364 grams.
I gasp when Michael first tells me her weight.
Everyone told us she would die, and with this weight we know the future is grim if Naomi lives. She will most likely be blind, deaf and possibly mute. She is extremely high risk for a brain bleed which will cause brain damage. She may never walk. Right now we’re waiting. We’re on stand-by as we wait to see what happens hour to hour.
I’m finally off the seizure medications and feel well enough to get into a wheelchair. As I’m wheeled into the NICU, I am shaking I am so terrified. The lighting is harsh. The smell of iodine and cleaners is strong, and there are so many machines beeping. Incessant beeping. I wonder how the nurses switch off, I wonder if they hear the beeping well after their shifts are over.
We scrub in as Michael gently explains every step we must take to get to our daughter. He wheels me to her incubator and I have to force myself to look. I pray for strength and imagine Gods hands on my neck turning my head as I need the strength to look at my daughter.
It’s not supposed to be this way, peering through a barrier to see our frail tiny sick girl.
There are tubes and cords everywhere. Her skin is transparent and her eyes are sealed shut. She resembles a frail little featherless bird. Her legs are thinner than my fingers. I am horrified. Amazed but ultimately horrified.
Everything is so perfectly formed, just too small.
And so begins a very long but ultimately miraculous 142 days in the NICU. We will sit by her crib crying and praying. We will learn how to change her tiny little diaper and how to give her milk “popsicles.”
We will agonize on the days she needs surgery, and rejoice over her bowel movements. We will see her eyes unseal and hear her make her first tiny soft little cry, like a baby kitten meowing off in the distance. We get a front row ticket to watch her be knit together outside of my womb with the help of some of the most amazing people we have ever met.
And one day, we will get to take her home.
We will get to see her thrive and grow and defy all the odds that have been stacked against her. We will hear doctor after doctor tell us she’s a miracle and almost everyone that meets her will have a tear in their eye. We will protect her fiercely from germs and watch her blossom and turn into the most beautiful and happy baby girl this world has ever seen.
We are so incredibly blessed that we get to be her parents. What a gift. People often tell me that she has a great purpose on this earth, that she will go on to do great things. I tell them she already has.