I woke up on the morning of March 20, 2012 at 35 weeks pregnant, walked my toddler to daycare and went about my morning routine. At the time, my husband was enlisted in the Army and was away at boot camp so I was staying with my parents. It was around 9:00am and I started to feel intense pain and I assumed it was braxton hicks so I ignored it. Just a few minutes later the pain was so strong it literally knocked me off my feet and tears started rolling down my cheeks.
That’s when I knew something was wrong. I didn’t think it was serious but my dad took me to the hospital to get checked out by labor & delivery triage. He dropped me off and it was a little overwhelming being there alone but I didn’t let my anxiety get the best of me.
I waited in pain for over 2 hours just to get into triage, it was horrible! For some reason that day was “the” day to go into labor in that hospital because women were coming in from all over and triage had an overflow. When I finally made it in the nurse immediately needed to check me because she said what I was feeling had to be contractions. She checked me and realized I was not dilated at all and then connected me to the monitor because I was still having what seemed like contractions.
After a little while on the monitor, the nurse came by to tell me my pain was registering as contractions but I was not in labor and this was an issue. She didn’t want to alarm me but they needed to stop the contractions with a shot. This is when I started to get really scared. Here I was all alone thinking I’d be sent home any second with nothing wrong and now I have to get a shot to stop real contractions! I was panicking inside but keeping it together on the outside because I didn’t want to have a full blown panic attack in front of strangers without any family with me.
The nurse gave me the shot in the arm and it burned so much! My heart started racing too and she told me that was a normal side effect so I focused on breathing and trying to will myself to stop contracting. It didn’t work. The contractions persisted even after a second shot attempt and the doctor came in to tell me I was being admitted for observation.
At this point it was around 4pm and I’d now been in triage since 10am, alone, no food or water and in tremendous pain. It was not a pretty sight. Oh and did I mention my OB/GYN was out of town and I had to deal with a doctor I’d never even met before? That also added to the stress of the situation.
I was in the patient room for what seemed like 5 minutes (probably around 2 hours though) and a Perinatologist from the hospital came into my room to tell me they planned for me to labor that night! Yep, just like that the team of medical professionals discussed my case and decided Jacob needed to be delivered right away. They told me there was fear of uterine rupture since I’d had a c-section just 23 months prior and with them not being able to stop my contractions this was the best course of action at 35 weeks along.
I didn’t even know what to think or say but I went along with the plan because I believed the doctors and I was also in shock. Thankfully, right at that moment my in-laws showed up and I had some company. We started preparing for delivery by calling my parents (they were taking care of my other son) and contacting the Red Cross to call my husband. Remember when I said he was in Boot Camp with the Army? Well, the only way I could contact him was in extreme emergency and only through calling the Red Cross. I wasn’t able to talk to him before Jacob was born but I know he got the message.
Jacob was born at 10:29pm, weighing 6 lbs 3 oz with a head full of fuzzy black hair.
I was laying on the operating table and heard him cry and sighed with relief. Then, I heard him cry a strange cry, almost gasping for air and I started to ask “What’s wrong? Why is he crying like that?” No one really answered me but I could tell something was wrong because the room got quiet and there was a serious tone.
It took a few minutes but the nurse finally came over to me and calmly told me he stopped breathing twice and they had to revive him. He was born a little too soon and his lungs hadn’t fully developed yet. I felt my heart drop and tears filled my eyes so much I couldn’t see clearly. They brought him over for me to see and he had a little mask on his face. I barely kept it together as they put him into an incubator and wheeled him away to the NICU.
I spent the next few days recovering in the hospital room and forcing myself to get up and walk all the way to other side of the maternity ward to see Jacob. He had a few rough days with tubes in his mouth, a picc line, antibiotics, and round the clock treatment..
He definitely had a spunky attitude from birth because he was recovering so fast! He only needed a few days of the breathing tube and his lungs started working by themselves. I like to think he was rushing to get home because he was fighting to get out of the hospital. I also like to think his birth weight helped him tremendously! At 6 pounds, he was able to fight off anything a lot more than if he weighed less.
Once he was done with the breathing tube, I was able to actually hold him and feed him and it was the best feeling in the world. I was counting the days until I could take him home!
Jacob was born on a Tuesday and my husband flew in from Boot Camp that Saturday in the middle of the night. We walked over to the NICU so he could meet our son and the picture above is the very first time daddy and son were together. My heart was filled with so much joy that at that moment to finally have our family complete. My husband Gabriel was medically discharged from the military before completing basic training. He injured his foot and had to be sent home. What seemed like a curse at the time turned out to be a major blessing because we needed him more than the Army and I was so happy to have him back.
Thank God Jacob was only in the NICU for 10 days and was able to heal quickly! I know we were very lucky because other families have to endure the NICU life for many weeks or months and we only got a small glimpse. It really made me feel blessed and truly thankful for a healthy baby and having our family whole once again.
Even though Jacob was home and everything was seemingly fine, I was struggling internally. The whole birth experience was so scary and traumatic it triggered some deep rooted anxiety & depression I’d dealt with in the past. I’d suffered from Postpartum depression after my first son was born but it was handled well. This time it would take a turn for the worse and I seeked psychiatric help. I was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression, general anxiety disorder, PTSD and prescribed medication to help me cope.
Jacob’s birth day was both one of the worst and best days of my life. I will always remember the horror I went through that day and I’ll never forget his first cry right when he was born literally gasping for air. It’s forever changed me.
But even with such a traumatic event, I think back and smile because without the bad parts of that day I wouldn’t have my Jacob.