Eight weeks before my second son was born, I went into preterm labor. I left work one day because I was feeling like I was getting the flu again and wanted to feel better. I also wanted to know if the severe pain I was experiencing while teaching was normal. They said, “maybe, let’s hook you up to a contraction monitor just in case.”
My husband was in College Station for work. I texted him updates and assured him over and over again that I was fine. The doctor returned, checked me, and said, “You’re having regular contractions and are dilated to a one. I am sending you to labor and delivery.” I updated Nathan and said it was no big deal.
I go to the hospital where my contractions continue for hours, they tell me I’m progressing, they tell me to make plans for NICU. I still don’t believe them. A few more hours go by, and after loads of fluids, the contractions stop. I still tell my husband that I’m fine throughout these many hours. He stopped listening to me and was heading home from College Station despite my protests for him to stay. I wasn’t fine, and he knew that more than I did.
The doctor discharged me and sent me home 2cm dilated at 32 weeks. I continued to have regular contractions for 8 more weeks. Each additional week, I thanked the Lord for keeping Wilson within me.
At 40 weeks, when I go for my checkup, I’m 5cm dilated. They admit me around 5PM at the hospital, break my water around 6PM where they learn there is meconium in the fluid, meaning the baby could be in distress. I started Pitocin around 7. I asked for an epidural around 8. My doctor went home for dinner and told the team to call her if anything progresses. I texted a friend to get me something from Jimmy Johns for me to eat the next day after the birth.
Around 8:45PM, I tell my nurse the epidural isn’t working. I reminded her that the anesthesiologist gave me the lowest strength due to my blood pressure dropping severely when I had an epidural with Lincoln. She checks me and excitedly says, “YOU’RE CROWNING! GET DR. PILLA!” She calls my doctor from her cell phone to give a report. By the time the nurse is off the phone, Dr. Pilla walked in the door with an army of doctors for Wilson, since he is in distress, and for me. (I didn’t know why.)
At 9:03 PM Wilson was born. I later found out that Wilson had his cord wrapped twice around his neck, which was the cause of the meconium. He came out just in time. Because of the circumstances, Wilson also caused my cervix to come out of my body and tear, which led to Dr. Pilla spending a long time reconstructing my internal organs and packing me with surgical packing to prevent hemorrhage and further tearing and damage.
The fear of the unknown depicted in the above photo still grips me. After Wilson is checked out by his army, they hand him to me as my army continues to work. Once they are done, packing is internally placed, the doctors leave, and it’s just my husband, Wilson, and me…. and that friend who I asked to bring me Jimmy Johns. She came as I was pushing (waiting outside the door) and we forgot to update her in those 20 FAST minutes. She came in and dropped off the sandwiches after doctors were gone and left. She is a great friend.
I stayed on Pitocin for several hours after Wilson’s birth. Once that was done, they removed all the internal packing. We worked on nursing and were doing well. Wilson had a tongue and lip tie. We made an appointment at UTMB Galveston the day after our release to get it revised. We went, and he got his tongue tie clipped. After we were released for one night, and after that UTMB Galveston appointment, we returned home thinking, “this is it!”
That night I began convulsing from having a 104° and climbing temperature. It got to 106°. Nothing could break it. My husband laid on top of me to get me to stop shaking so violently. I called the doctor, they sent me to the ER where they ran tests and almost tore my cervical repair.
Wilson, Nathan, and I rung in Nathan’s first Father’s Day as a dad of two in a tiny ER room.
The tremors wouldn’t stop, except when I nursed. Then, they would immediately return. I was so tired and was so weak, I feared I would drop Wilson. There was no infant bed or place to put Wilson in the ER. Nathan and I took turns trying to stay awake and trying to rest and hold Wilson. It was dangerous. The ER readmitted me to labor and delivery where I had lots of antibiotics pushed through me. I stayed two nights, and nursed my sweet baby through those convulsive fevers with the wonderful help of labor and delivery nurses.
We were discharged. We went home. We sent home my mother in law who was watching Lincoln, thinking “this is it.”
We were home one more night when Wilson spiked a fever. I didn’t believe it. I asked my pediatrician friends. Surely, this isn’t a big deal? We’ve had enough. Wilson wouldn’t stop crying. Every doctor told us to get to an ER, now. We went back to the hospital where he was born thinking we would, again, be readmitted into labor and delivery.
Lincoln was at day care and would need to be picked up by 6:30 that evening. Nathan followed me in his car while I hastily left and drove our sick and sad six day old back to the hospital. We held his tiny body down while they did anal temperatures, repeated urine catheters, two spinal taps, and many IVs for blood cultures, and harsh antibiotics. Nathan leaves to get Lincoln once we know the plan.
Doctors decide Wilson is too sick to be treated by labor and delivery, he needs to be sent to a full pediatric unit. They arrange for us to be transported by ambulance from League City to Galveston. Wilson is hooked up to too many invasive monitors. Wilson and I load up in the ambulance, nursing pillow in hand, 6 days post partum.
The EMS worker was polite and tried making small talk. I couldn’t hold a conversation. I just kept staring at Wilson, hooked up to all these monitors, in his car seat, strapped to a gurney. Wilson and I arrived at UTMB Galveston and walked for an eternity to get to his tiny room. They got me a pillow and some pads. I’m 6 days postpartum and was left in this tiny room in a whirlwind, but I nursed my sweet baby so well. I had no medicine that I needed, no toiletries, nothing. After we were admitted, Nathan brought Lincoln and dinner. We had our first dinner together, just the four of us, in Wilson’s tiny hospital room.
They left, then it was two nights and three days of more antibiotics, blood cultures, and waiting. I refused vital checks in the middle of the night unless they came while I was feeding him. Otherwise, I made them wait. I believed his sleep and his nursing were very important. They obliged, reluctantly. Nathan went to work the following two days, at my request, and repeated the dinner ritual each night with Lincoln. Three days later, we are released. They told me Wilson had a virus. I would later find out it was meningitis from our regular pediatrician. Finally, home. After that, we had no more hospital stays.
I am still dealing with the aftermath of the chaos of Wilson’s first week of life. Some things are just hard. This is one of them.
There a few people I’d like to thank specifically for showing up for me: Laura Porterfield who visited me while Wilson was admitted in Galveston and held him while I showered in the tiniest shower I’ve ever been in. It was my first shower in many days. Susanne Stafford who brought me Jimmy Johns and never even once asked to stay or hold Wilson. She just dropped it off and knew what I needed.
Melanie Patton, my next door neighbor, who came over almost every morning after we were finally home to help me get out of bed. There were some dark times following the weeks after we were home. Melanie got me up and walking to push past the intense anxiety and fatigue I was feeling.
Sarah Abasov, who told me to go to therapy, because I was probably dealing with some PTSD related to all that trauma. She was the first one to call it traumatic. Lynn and Brandy Smalstig who came over a couple times to clean my house, stock my freezer, feed Wilson, go shopping and exploring, and encouraged me to take a nap. Grace Norman, who vacuumed my whole house and helped me organize closets. Shannon Short, who stayed with us one night and fed Wilson through the night so Nathan and I could get one full nights sleep. Wendy Scott, who was at my house when I took Wilson’s temperature. She told me to hold my baby and not go anywhere because that’s where I needed to be. There, and the ER apparently.
Cindy Dawson who, after Melanie returned to school, came over for morning walks and talks throughout Wilson’s first year of life.
Thankful also for the DOZENS of people who dropped of a bagel, coffee, meal, or a quick hello for many weeks after Wilson was born. Thankful for my community, and to not be in a season of hospital stays.
Written by Kelly Browning