Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray."

*My apologies for accidentally deleting all the wonderful comments. Damn technology. Please feel free to re-post, if you visit again! 

I’m not entirely sure how you even really should start a post about how your child was unexpectedly thrust into this world less than ten weeks shy of their due date.  It’s a wonder I can construct a sentence at all after the emotional rollercoaster we’ve been riding the past eleven days.

I guess I’ll start at the beginning. Hang in there, I’m not exactly known for keeping stories short and sweet. Try to follow the sleep-deprived incoherent ramblings. I certainly don’t want to forget a moment of that crazy, special day.

It was Thursday, March 8.  International Women’s Day. I had to get a ride to work with my husband that day because I was going to a breakfast (my boss has purchased a table for the event). I felt fine that morning when I got up around 6:00. I had some very mild cramping, but certainly nothing to cause any remote alarm. Hubs dropped me off at the office about 6:45 am.

I was sitting at my desk when I felt like I should maybe make a trip to the washroom. I discovered I was very lightly spotting.  I’m not a spotter, so of course this raised some concern. I hightailed it back to my desk and called my husband and told him I should probably make a trip into the IWK. I called the hospital just to check to see if they thought I should come in. They said better safe than sorry and to come in.

We pulled into the parking garage at the hospital at 7:36 am.  I went into pre-assessment (I met with the same nurse I had spoken with on the phone). She did a preliminary assessment and then took me upstairs to hook me up to monitors to monitor the baby’s heart rate and see the intensity of my cramps.

The little critter’s heart rate was strong. She felt my belly and said “Oh, wow, it feels like the baby is actually head down already!” She proceeded to tell me she contacted my doctor and that she’d be in to do a manual check to make sure everything is okay and decide what the course of action would be. I told her I really felt like I had to poop (I cannot believe I am sharing that, but hey...childbirth certainly strips away your modesty). She said I was completely fine to get up and go use the washroom. I told her because of my cramps I didn’t feel like I should go, but I certainly felt like I could go.

Hubs and I sat chatting and joking around. We watched the monitor. We chatted about if we’d go back to work or not after we left the hospital. As time passed and we waited for my doctor to arrive the cramps became more intense. I had originally hoped for a natural/intervention-free labour and delivery. When the nurse left after a quick check-in I exclaimed to my husband “I’m such a wimp. I’m totally getting an epidural in ten weeks when I’m in labour because if these are only cramps, I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle real contractions and labour.”

Hubs was now watching the monitor closely. He said “There’s no way they are cramps. They’re timed too perfectly. Those are totally contractions.”

The nurse arrived again to check-in and let us know the doctor would be here soon. Sure enough, she took a look at the screen and quickly decided that it wasn’t actually cramps, but indeed contractions. She said that once my doctor did the physical assessment they’d likely put me on something to help stop the contractions and any potential labour progression. She offered to unhook the monitors so I could move around a bit while we waited. I told her I’d love to walk around a bit, but she said no; they don't want to encourage labour, but I was welcome to adjust and move around where I was. I reiterated to the nurse my need to poop, but resisted the urge.  So I stayed put and knelt up. I bent over. I squirmed around.  It was becoming increasingly more uncomfortable, but certainly not bad enough that I’d let my husband go get the nurse.

My doctor finally arrived at about 9:10-915ish. We chatted while she prepped the tray of stuff she’d use to check my lady bits. While we were chatting/prepping I had another contraction that I had to actually stop talking to get through. She raised her eyebrows and exclaimed “Let’s get you checked right away.”

Sitting through the actual check was possibly the hardest part of the entire day (I'm not kidding).  It was near impossible for me to sit there with my legs perfectly positioned so she could do a physical check. 

“Okay. You’re 9 centimetres and your membranes are bulging.  You are having this baby right now.”

Um. Excuse me?

“No. I’m not.” I said. I looked at my husband with complete and utter disbelief. The colour from both of our faces had completely drained.

The doctor continued, “You need to prepare yourself to deliver a 3 or 4lb baby in the next few minutes.”

With that, the doctor threw the bottom of the bed into position and told my husband to get the rails. They RAN me to labour and delivery.

I’m told a NICU team was paged over the loud speaker. I certainly didn’t hear it. I think it was about this time -the run down the hallway- that shock started to set in.  I felt that familiar cold sweat and light-headedness. Shit.

As they made the turn into the delivery room I was greeted by a sea of faces.  It felt like a hundred people were there ready to jump on me as they wheeled my bed alongside the delivery bed.

It’s hard to remember what exactly was said to me while I was there. It was a complete blur. 

Someone directed me “When you get a moment, try to get yourself over to this bed.”

In a brief moment of consciousness I managed to heave my body over to the other bed. They started grabbing my arms and legs. As they tapped my arm I could faintly feel what I assume was blood running down my arm. 

I remember someone saying “We normally would be able to offer you an epidural, or gas, or something, but we just don’t have time for that right now. None of it would take effect in time or do any good. So you’re going to have to do this yourself.”

I remember someone else sliding an oxygen mask on my face. I remember hating that part and asking them to take it off. “After the baby’s here” they told me.

The baby, who had been fine, suddenly had his heart rate drop. They got me to roll onto my left side to increase blood flow. Then I was instructed I'd have to start pushing. 

Meanwhile, my husband was frantically trying to get someone…ANYONE…on his cell phone (he didn’t have any luck). He had to abandon the phone to see our baby arrive. I had him on my left side and my doctor on my right. And a whole team peering into my nether regions directing me to push/stop/push/stop.  

I was only in the delivery room for about 15 minutes or so in total before the impatient little critter arrived. At 9:36 AM after about five or so pushes (the first push broke my water), our son arrived.  All three pounds of him. They whisked him away to be assessed. We had no idea he was making his entrance into the world, so we had no idea what to expect. My husband stood outside the team of doctors that were frantically evaluating his status.

While they were assessing the baby he eventually managed to get a hold of my Mom. He could barely croak out "She had the baby." before he passed the phone to me. In a stunned stupor I shared the exciting news with my Mom - she was a grandmother to a little baby boy. She was equal parts ecstatic, stunned, overwhelmed, and concerned. She made immediate arrangements to fly here, but couldn't get out until early Saturday morning. A tortuous two-day wait for her.   

While they were checking the baby another smaller team was checking me. They established that he was stable and transported him immediately to the adjacent NICU. As they wheeled him towards the door they slowed down so I could take a look at him. He was so tiny. I was so stunned.

I had to stay in the labour and delivery room for one hour so they could monitor me. It was incredibly calm, but excruciating to sit there waiting to hear how our little guy was. My husband came back and reported that it appeared he was fine. Tiny, but fine.  Because he was so early they gave him surfactant for the development of his lungs. Before I left labour and delivery the nurse offered to let me shower and clean up. I was still wearing the dress I arrived in. Fortunately I did manage to kick-off my heels before pushing. 

Little Nolan James is now 12 days old. The only thing he has hooked up to him at the moment is his feeding tube. They feed him every three hours. I’m on the same pumping schedule and deliver the goods a couple of times a day. I think the tube will likely remain for another three weeks or so until we can start breastfeeding. He doesn’t have any oxygen support. No IV. He may be little, but he’s a fighter.

He lost 13% of his birth weight (dropping to 2.5lbs) in the days following his birth, but he has been gaining in the past few days. We’re hoping he’ll be his birth weight again by this weekend.  The doctors and nurses call him a feeder and a grower. They made my heart rest a (little) easier when they said he must have read the book on being a preemie because he’s certainly following it and doing what he’s supposed to.

It’s hard to believe he has been in our lives for nearly two weeks already. It’s also near impossible to imagine our lives before him.  My husband (and many others!) told me that becoming a parent changes you. He said it’s hard to imagine loving someone so much that you just met. I thought I understood. While I hadn’t experienced it, I thought I could imagine it. I couldn’t. It feels like my heart will forever be outside my body. It’s overwhelming. And wonderful. And scary.

He certainly didn't arrive according to plan; as the saying goes, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray." But we're happy he's here safe and sound and can't wait to take him home.


  1. Oh Erica.. I'm so glad this has a happy ending, but I was crying for you through your entire post trying to just imagine going through all of this shock. I hope you are doing ok. He certainly sounds like a fighter! xoxo

  2. From Ange:

    Congratulations, sweetie, to you and Ashley!

    Wow. Just, wow.


  3. From CynthiaO:

    I am so happy that you posted this today! I have been frantically checking multiple times a day since you noted on facebook that he had arrived! My heart is with you while you wait for the amazing day when you can unhook him from everything and take him home! Congratulations to you and Ashley!!! *hugs*

  4. Thank you for this! my thoughts are with you and your family during this time, and like every one else - checked for updates daily - sometimes hourly. Tia now has a play friend and my soon to be wee one will have someone to chase around..

    Erica - your son is honoured to have you as a mother
    Kelly & Family X0x

  5. It's Alicia...your fellow Newfie friend.

    I've been thinking about you LOTS since I found out you delivered at 30 weeks! Nolan James certainly is a fighter. I work in a NICU here in Winnipeg and I certainly smiled when I heard that he is referred to as a grower and a feeder! You have quite the story for a first time mommy. I can only imagine what you went through that day but in hindsight, it must seem like a flash in the pan now that he's here and healthy! There is nothing more precious than a baby, but those premies are extra special! Take Care!


  6. So beautiful Erica..I love him already & I cannot wait to meet him <3 xoxox

  7. OMG Erica! Your story is something so unbelievable! The end of your story talking about how much you love your Lil Nolan! Words cannot express how I have never heard it said that way and how beautiful it all is. Here is sit barely 6weeks pregnant and wondering what it will all be like and despite your last crazy 2 weeks, you give me so much to look forward too! I am so happy that Nolan read the book on being a preemie and I will continue to pray for him that he does well and gets out of the NICU sooner than later! WOW, words cannot express how beautiful your birth story is and how wonderful you made being a Mommy sound! Keeping being a Fighter Nolan! I can't wait to watch you grow and maybe one day, I will be lucky enought o meet you!

    Your First Baby Buddy,

  8. Congrats! Hey- you had a natural birth right? What a roller coaster, Mama, you did a wonderful job!

  9. Hello, Erica!
    I'm so happy to know that you're doing well...It sounds like your little guy truley is a fighter and determined to make his own way in this life. I know you must be so relieved that everything turned out OK for both of you...

    Amy (another first baby buddy)

  10. Oh, wow - just read this now... Thanks for sharing! He's doing well now?

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