So, I guess I should start from the beginning: in early February of 2018, something just felt… different. Somehow, I knew I was pregnant. I told my boyfriend how absolutely positive I was about it. He thought I was crazy because I just had my period about two weeks previous to this “feeling” I was having, but nothing could convince me otherwise. I just knew.
A week went by, and I took a test. Negative. “I told you so!” was the immediate reaction I got from Daniel. But again, nothing could tell me otherwise. I knew. Over the next week, I just kept talking about it. Daniel thought I was crazy, but I finally convinced him to let me take another test. I hadn’t even missed my period yet, but I needed to know I was right. Positive. “I TOLD YOU!” And that is how I found out about this new adventure I was about to embark on. February 20, 2018 was the beginning.
Everything from then on was a normal, happy pregnancy. March 29th I had my first appointment. I was 9 weeks and 1 day. A little peanut on the screen and it’s little arms were flailing so fast, it looked like it was waving. Daniel and I were so excited. I talked of having a little girl, and of course, he talked of having a little boy. We talked names, nursery colors, plans, dreams.
June 11th, I had another appointment. A GIRL! My mind was racing and I cried as we were leaving. I was going to have the little girl I had been dreaming of. Everything was great.
At 20 weeks, I had my anatomy scan. Again, everything was perfect! I had my glucose test next, and again, everything was perfect.
On August 7th, Daniel and I both had the day off, so we went on a nice date together. We had lunch, we went to the zoo, spent some time at the lake, and enjoyed some nice couple time together. Everything was amazing. I kissed him and rolled over to go to sleep. As soon as I rolled over, I felt like I had a wetness in my pants. Weird. It felt almost like I was bleeding, but I’m pregnant so I can’t possibly be on my period, right? I stood up and clear fluid rushed down my leg. I was horrified. I ran to the bathroom and Daniel followed me. I sat on the toilet and he sat on the floor. He laughed at me and told me I probably just peed myself. I laughed too. My belly was getting bigger, and I was feeling her move a lot more. And after all, pregnant women pee themselves, right?
So, we just shrugged it off and went back to bed. Something felt off to me and of course I went straight to Google to diagnose my symptoms. I found stories of womens’ water breaking and my heart sank. But, no, that can’t happen…. I’ll be 28 weeks tomorrow. There is NO way my water is breaking. But, I decided to put a pad on and track the amount I was leaking. I laid back down and went to sleep.
At 3 am, I woke up. The bed was SOAKED. I jumped up and ran to the bathroom. It just kept flowing down my legs. A puddle was on the floor. I was shaking. I called my OB and she ran down a list of questions.
“Are you having contactions?”
No, I don’t think so. I don’t know. I’ve never been in labor.
“Are you in pain?”
“Are you bleeding?”
“Is any part of the baby out of you?”
“What does it smell like?”
“What color is it?”
“Okay, sweetie, I think your water broke. I am going to call the hospital you need to go to Labor & Delivery. They will be waiting on you. Are you by yourself?”
No, my boyfriend is asleep.
“Okay, you need to wake him up and have him take you. You don’t need to drive.”
“Good luck, bye.”
Oh, ***. Am I about to have a baby? My heart was pounding so hard. 3:38 am. I stood staring at my phone screen with what seemed like 10 minutes. 3:39 am. Okay, I need to wake up Daniel..
The ride to the hospital was only about 15 minutes. But, it was almost like nothing was actually happening, but yet, everything was so clear. So vivid. It was foggy. There was only two other cars on the interstate. A black truck and a red car. We passed a gas station and some of the lights were flickering. The ride was silent. I think we were both too scared to talk. It was a heavy feeling– not knowing what to say. My mind was busy going over everything I had done my whole pregnancy. Maybe I messed up. Maybe I did something I wasn’t supposed to. I caused this. This is my fault. How do you talk about things like that?
4:02 am. We pulled up to the hospital. Daniel dropped me off at the front and went to go find parking. I walked through the doors, went through the metal detector, and walked to the front desk. An older gentleman with crooked glasses greeted me. I told him I needed to go to Labor & Delivery.
“For you? You don’t look like you need to deliver.” No ***, ***.
I took the elevator to the fourth floor and a group of nurses were waiting for me. I was ushered to a small room and a nurse came in to talk to me about what was going on. She explained to me everything that could/would happen:
If this is actually my water, I would be transferred to a bigger hospital with a better NICU.
Usually, when women experience PPROM (Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes), they have their babies within 24 hours.
With my baby being only 28 weeks and just entering the third trimester, she would have a limited chance of survival and a long NICU stay ahead of her.
My heart sank. Everything else she said to me was just floating in the air, not reaching any listening ears. My eyes stayed focused on her, but my mind went elsewhere. Her words echoed in my head. Louder and louder each time. “Limited chance of survival.”
What did I do wrong? How can my perfect pregnancy just take a sharp turn like this? “Limited chance of survival.” What would I do if I lost my little girl? She didn’t deserve this. I’m such a terrible mother and she isn’t even here yet. “Limited chance of survival.”
The nurse finished talking and a doctor walked in. He swabbed the fluid and left the room. I don’t know anything he said to me. I don’t think I even answered the questions he was asking me. I was… lost. All I could do was stare. At the ceiling. At the clock. 5:33 am. I watched that clock tick until it hit 5:56.
The door knob turned and the doctor and nurse walked in. They explained that my water did break and I was about to be transferred to another hospital. I cried. Hard. I sat on that hospital bed and I sobbed. Daniel held me and I’m sure he was saying comforting things, but I didn’t hear them. I just cried and cried.
Around 7 am, a stretcher was rolled into that small room and a lady named Heather and an older, bald man, whose name I don’t rememeber, loaded me up and strapped me in. Daniel had called my parents and they were just getting there as I was being loaded up. No one was allowed to ride with me, so I waved goodbye and was put into a blue ambulance. I watched the sunrise through the back window and thought about the small little girl I had let down. That was the worst sunrise I have ever seen in my life.
I reached the other hospital and was rolled up to my room. It was a nice, big room. A mini fridge, a couch, a tv, a jetted bath tub. I hated it. Heather and the older man lifted me into the bed. My parents and Daniel arrived about 15 minutes later. I hadn’t moved. I sat there. Emotionless. Thoughtless.
I remember my mom telling me that everything was going to be okay, and I remember trying so hard to believe that, but I was angry that she had said it so simply. I know she meant well and I know that’s what you are supposed to tell someone in a situation like that, but it just felt wrong. Nothing was okay.
I don’t remember what time everyone left, but I know Daniel had to work at 10, so I know it was before that. I had a couple nurses come and get vitals and things of that nature before my family left, but no one spoke to me until I was alone.
It was probably about 11 that morning when I heard a knock on my door. A group of about 15 nurses and doctors came in. I was scared. Why did they need this many people to talk to me? They each introduced themselves. Some were NICU nurses, some were ultrasound techs, some were doctors working on the floor, some were doctors strictly dealing with premature infants. It was nice to meet so many people willing to help me and my baby, but I had to hear the truth. I heard the survival rate of babies born at 28 weeks, especially those with no amniotic fluid. I heard about the NICU and how that would work. I heard about the chance of needing a c-section. I heard about the chance of my baby having a brain bleed. I heard about how she would need help breathing and eating. I heard how I would be monitored and how often. I was told that my labor would try to be delayed until I was 34 weeks. I tried really hard to listen to everything, but it was hard. I had no sleep and my heart was broken. I didn’t ask any questions and I just let them make their way out.
I cried that whole day. I finally wore myself out and fell asleep. After I woke up, I told myself I needed to be strong. I needed to be positive. If not for me, for my baby. She was still in my belly, and she could feel my emotions. She did not need to be sad or stressed.
My days in the hospital were long and lonely. Daniel had to work during the day, but he spent every night with me. He was my rock. I was only allowed on my feet for an hour and a half at a time, so even if I did leave my room, it wasn’t for long. I was monitored for 30 minutes every morning and every night. My comfort was feeling my baby move with kicks of reassurance.
I spent a lot of time on YouTube watching videos of preemies. I Googled over and over again stories of women in the same situation. I read and read, and watched and watched. I saw so many amazing stories of women and babies overcoming the impossible. The one that gave me the most hope was a story of a woman whose water broke at 17 weeks! She didn’t deliver her twins until 35 weeks! That was insane to me, but if she could do it, so could I. And I only had six weeks to go. I marked September 19th as my new due date. I could do this. I needed to do this.
The days went by the same. They mostly mixed and ran together. Say bye to Daniel, eat breakfast, monitor, research, monitor, say hi to daniel, sleep, repeat. Until one day, I noticed I hadn’t felt my baby move…. at all. It was about 3 pm and I was monitored at 9 am, but she hasn’t moved. All day. I rolled over. I walked around. I drank some juice. Nothing. I called the nurse. She came into the room smiling, telling me not to worry. She put the straps around my belly and… nothing. I saw her face change. Tears fell down my cheeks. No, no, no, no. This can’t be happening. She tried to talk to me and calm me down, but I could see her worry grow as she ran the doppler across me. I couldn’t stop crying. She hit the alarm and ten more nurses ran in. I felt the tears fall harder. This can’t be happening. No one could find my baby’s heartbeat. One nurse called for an ultrasound. Another nurse grabbed my hand. One nurse wiped my tears. Another nurse shed a tear. The straps felt so much tighter on my stomach although no one had adjusted them. It felt like time stood still. Did I want to know? Yes, I had to know.
Finally, the ultrasound tech I met on my first day here walked in. She was an older lady with long blonde hair tied in a bun. Just like it was the first time I saw her, but this time she looked different. Her face wasn’t cheerful, it was stern, twisted into a frown. She started to plug in her machine but before she could, boomboomboomboom. I didn’t believe my ears, I don’t think the nurses did either because everyone’s eyes turned to the screen. Sure enough, there was a beautiful “156 bpm” displayed next to the prettiest zigzagged line. “Well, I guess you don’t need me!” she said. All the nurses left the room, but she stayed. She spent 30 minutes showing me every inch of my baby. We counted her toes and fingers and she showed me the hair she already had on her head. She even printed some pictures off for me. I think that was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.
From then on, I was monitorred every 3 hours, morning and night. Everything continued like normal, and I thanked God every day for the second chance I had with my baby. I wasn’t sad anymore. I had no reason to be sad. She was alive. She was okay. We could do this.
On August 21st, my mom came. We had lunch in the cafeteria and it was nice to have some company. I had chinese food. She had a burger. She had to work at 3, so she left around 2. I was so tired. Unbelievably tired. Then sick. Really sick. Around 7 pm, I was having really bad cramps. I called the nurse. I had her before, she was sweet. Her name was Megan. She made a comment about how I never call the nurse and was geniunely concerned about what was happening. I explained to her about the cramps and she put me on the monitor. I had no contactions. But, I was in pain. She brought me water and told me she would leave the monitors on and call a doctor.
The doctor walked in and explained that they would not check my cervix because my risk of infection was high, so they had to go by the monitor and since I had no contractions, she told me I had dehydration cramps. My nurse brought fluids and they were given to me through my IV. Daniel was at work and I didn’t want anyone to worry about me, so I didn’t call.
My cramps got more and more intense. The straps were still around my stomach and I was in so much pain I ripped them off and threw them on the floor. Holy ***. I walked to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. Cramp. I peed. Cramp. Ow. I had a hard time standing up. Cramp. My nurse came rushing in. She helped me to the bed. She was asking me about my pain. She put the monitor back on and went to get the doctor. The doctor told me the same thing. So I sat there. By myself. In pain. I tried to count my cramps. Dehydration cramps don’t happen this frequently, right? What do I know? They can’t be contractions, the monitor says I have none.
Daniel called around 11:30pm, I didn’t tell him what was going on. I wasn’t in labor, right? Why worry him over nothing? He was on his way.
At midnight, my nurse called the doctor again. She knew my pain tolerance, I’ve had her before. She was genuinely worried and I think she knew something was happening. The doctor was rude to her and she ended up calling another one. This doctor decided she would check me. Holy ***, dude. Worst pain ever. I was cramping so much I couldn’t even lift myself up onto the little bench she needed my hips on. Her and Megan helped me into position. “You’re closed.” What? How can I be in THIS much pain? This is not just dehydration cramps. It can’t be…. right?
Daniel got there around 12:30am. He stopped by the house and got some things we needed. He was mad I didn’t tell him what was going on, but he pushed the hair out of my face, gave me water, rubbed me, dealt with me slapping his hand away from me. Again, my rock. When the nurse came in, he yelled at her to check me again. I felt bad for Megan because she was literally the only one who was listening to me.
It took them until 2:30am to finally check me again. Daniel and Megan lifted me onto the little bench and I held Daniel’s hand as the doctor checked me. I saw her face change. “You’re five centimeters.” What? Holy ***. Oh my god. I just remember looking at Daniel and telling him to call my mom. I guess Megan paged for more nurses because the next thing I know I was being rolled out of that room and into another one. They asked if I wanted an epidural. Um, yeaaahhhh.
At 3:16am, two men came in and started explaining what was going to happen. Megan stopped them and told them to hurry. I didn’t feel a thing besides my “dehydration cramps”. At 3:24am, I was done and Megan was about to put my catheter in, just in case I needed a c-section. As she started, she looked at me. “Ten centimeters, we have to go.” What? That fast? Just an hour ago y’all wouldn’t even check my cervix. How am I dilated that much already? I went from thinking I was not in labor, to being in an operating room. In an hour.
There had to be at last 20 people in that room, but I don’t remember their faces. All I remember is looking at Daniel and holding his hand. This is it. 30 weeks. Here we go. I pushed twice. The epidural didn’t even start working yet. The doctor held her up. She was blue. Purple? I don’t know. She wasn’t crying and her cord was around her neck. I saw her for two seconds and she was taken away. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be holding her right now. I was supposeed to enjoy this moment. Why do I feel empty?
Daniel was allowed to go see her and I laid on that cold, hard table. Alone. I had no emotion. I was empty. I don’t know how long he was gone, but he came back and showed me two pictures. One with her nose and mouth covered with some breathing apparatus and another with blue hands, wrinkly skin, and a hospital hat. As I was looking at my baby, a bracelet was placed on my wrist with my name, baby girl, 8/22/18, 3:48 am.
When I was wheeled out of that room, she was being moved to the NICU. They stopped so I could see her. She was so tiny in that big….. box. I cried so hard as my child was ushered away from me.
I stayed up that whole night. Wondering. Wishing. Praying. Hoping. I was finally allowed to see her at 7:40 that morning. Almost 4 hours after I had her. We went down a long hallway, through a waiting room, through two sets of double doors, washed our hands, down another long hallway lined with rooms of incubators holding tiny, tiny babies. She was in the very last room. She was covered in wires and tubes. Small and beautiful. She was okay. And she was mine.
She spent 48 days in that hospital. I cried every single night. I hated seeing my child like that. I didn’t get to hold her for a week and when I did she was so frail and little. She couldn’t eat so she lost so much weight. She was 2 pounds 6 ounces the first time I held her. I spent every day with her. We had good days. And we had bad days. I watched her grow. I watched her change. Every day was different, but every ride home was the same. Lonely and sad. I was angry. Why do I not get to take my baby home? I watched so many women take their babies out of that hospital. I hated them. Why do they get to do this the normal way? Why do they get to take their babies home while mine fights for her life? It wasn’t fair. It’s still not fair.
I had a lot of guilt. I still do. I’m dealing with it, but it’s still there. I had a hard time looking at myself for a very long time. I hated myself. It was my fault my baby had to suffer. I felt alone and useless. I didn’t think anyone understood. I was angry. I was hateful. I was sad. I didn’t get to experience the birth I wanted. I didn’t get to enjoy those newborn days like every other mom gets to. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through.
But, now, I have a healthy, amazing, beautiful five month old. She is the light of my life. I have watched her overcome things that I would never have imagined. She is the strongest person I know. I’m still not happy with what happened, but I am at peace with it. I can’t wait until my little girl gets old enough and I can tell her how amazing she is. She gave me strength on days when I had none. She gives me hope. She gives me purpose.
Avalyn Renee, thank you for showing me what strength is all about. Thank you for showing me what real love is. Thank you for being you. I love you.
Wow. Thank you for sharing your story. I am 28 weeks and in preterm labor and reading your story gives me hope.
So happy to hear you and your little girl are okay.
Hello, and thank you for sharing your story. I am so hsppy to hear that Avalyn is doing so well!
Hello & Welcome,
Thank you so very much for sharing your story with us. My heart goes out to you and I hope that you have made peace with yourself for any blame you felt. Congratulations on your amazing NICU graduate! I hope you continue to post and keep us updated on your wonderful baby girl!
Love and Hugs
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