Sunday, August 19, 2012

Let me introduce you to someone

On FB we call him Mickey, after Mickey Mantle, he is a die hard Yankees fan and can spout off random stats like the best TV announcer. It is his passion. He shines, and I love it, so that is why on BBOC his nickname is Mickey. He LOVES it. When I told him he giggled...and yes even at 17 he giggles. Just don't tell him that I told you.

Really, he is Joshua, or Josh. My baby. My life, my sweetheart. My pain in the ass.

I call him son. (among a plethora of other colorful things) I used to call him booger, because as a child his nose ran ALL the time and that's no exaggeration. ALL the time. But I digress.

In 1995, I was pregnant for him. This being my second pregnancy, my midwife, kind of blew off many of my concerns.

 Why am I contracting so much? This said at my 14 week check up. 
 I feel a lot of pressure at subsequent check ups. etc

My blood pressure was fine. I wasn't due for an ultrasound. I was not getting pelvic exams because I was not yet 28 weeks gestation.

I. KNEW. Something. was. WRONG. 

I could feel it. In every single fiber of my mommy body. I. knew.

I was working full time and the back contractions were constant. 

I was told I was a worried 2nd time mom and to relax. 

My first was born 3 weeks early, fully natural. I was now 24 and young to them. 

I know my body.

SO, finally, one day at home his dad and I were off work and our oldest who was 2 1/2 was with us. I had made french toast. I was standing there doing the dishes.

It was August 10th actually. A Friday. 

I felt funny. Like something trickled, but I wasn't soaked, like you hear about, so I wasn't sure. I was contracting like a madwoman.

I was 28 weeks along. I was scared out of my mind. His dad thought I was paranoid.

I got in the shower so he wouldn't hear me crying to God to save my baby, because I. knew.

I got myself together and reminded him that I need to get my glucose test done. So, he had to take me to the Dr anyway. 

Off we went. I walked in while he was parking the car. I told the nurses that I thought I was having real contractions and leaking fluid.

They immediately put me in an exam room. By the time he parked the car and got back the Dr. was SCREAMING orders like I wasn't in the room.

"3 cm and bulging!!!! Get her to ST. Elsewhere STAT"

There was a flurry of activity all around me as I lay there fearing the unimaginable. I was going to lose my child. 

A nurse saw me laying there bawling about what was going to happen to my baby...and just being hysterical. She explained that I had to be Mercy Flighted to Strong Memorial Hospital where there was a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

At this point, my ex left me, yep left. (you will see a theme here and I have forgiven but these are the facts) He had to take our oldest back to someone I guess. I don't why, I wanted my son with me and near me. I was soooo scared.

I was so alone. With. every. fear. imaginable. swirling in my head.

I was put in a room while they waited. Hooked up to monitors to see if my not yet full size baby was stable. 

He was thank God.

They loaded me up on Terbutaline...oh it is this a drug from hell if you have fought pre term pregnancy...

Made me hyper, just what I needed. To not relax when all I could think about was the child swirling in my womb, that was his or her safe place, and was trying to come out. Trying really damn hard, too. 

To the nurses, the contractions slowed. But I knew better.

So alone, yes ALONE. I boarded the Mercy Flight helicopter.

When we arrived at Strong, I was greeted one. I was put on labor and delivery in a special room.

The loaded me up on Magnesium sulfate. I mean loaded. It is a natural muscle relaxant, but at high doses makes you burn. They tipped me upside down to take the pressure off my cervix.

It gave me a splitting headache. For which they did nothing. 

My mother and sister showed up. They stayed a few hours to keep me company. My mom wanted to buy baby clothes. Baby clothes for a baby that in my head might not make it and shouldn't be born yet.

The nurses explained about Steroid shots and what it would do for my baby's lungs. I recall getting 2.

I was semi-stable so they moved me up a floor and to a room.

My ex...I don't recall if he even made it that night, pretty sure he didn't. 

So Saturday and a bunch of interns roll around...I am constantly being checked. 

Clearly, I am contracting they say, but how can I be dilated??? ALL these interns are using a speculum and LOOKING...well the reality in this situation is that the pressure from the speculum pushing up around the vaginal wall, gives the illusion that the cervix is closed. 

They keep me stable on medications and want to observe me through the weekend. 

Ok, but they say I will be sent home on full bed rest because its clear that movement increases them (duh you guys, really) I say to these geniuses...I have a 2 and 1/2 year old at home and my whole family could I be on bed rest????

This whole time, I also know they aren't as lucky as they think and that things are progressing, but what would I know? It is only my body after all.

Sunday, oh Sunday. The Ex and his brother show up after getting lost and they bring my son...YAY!!!!!!  I missed my boy so much!!! They immediately go in search of food and leave my son with me. The nurses figured this out and one the aides came to hang out with us. They spent maybe an hour with me, but I spent 3 plus hours with my buddy. 

Sunday evening, my contractions are stronger...ok they say, must be the visit. They give me terbutaline. Yuck.

Monday, I call the nurse. I am contracting more and I "feel" something in the birth canal. And pressure, lots of pressure.

In comes "Drs. with brains" Lets do a pelvic...

Knees up...extreme discomfort...Doctor's head pops up. Inquisitive look on his mind you this is a teaching hospital, my legs are spread for a team of interns, med students, and residents...He then declares...

"Your doctor wasn't crazy after all. You are dilated and you have progressed to 4 cm now."

If I weren't so scared, I swear I would have said NO SHIT.

(THIS my friends is why my Dr referred to the place as St. Elsewhere, he loved it but hated that all the students got to make decisions and not listen to the seasoned folks like him)

What I did say was, I knew he was right, how else would he have said bulging membranes and why else would he have Mercy Flighted me...for fun?

Terbutaline makes you a little bit cranky. Just a little, as does 4 days of nobody believing what was wrong. My baby did not want to stay in and their efforts were not working.

I was visited once by my mom and sister Monday I think, but its a bit hazy. 

I was entirely, devastatingly, alone for the next 2 days. 

Late Monday they took me back to labor and delivery, hooked me up to monitors non stop. Said no more food. Gave me something stronger than Terbutaline and a big fat headache. 

Alone, I begged for water. 

Alone, I begged for Tylenol.

Alone, the contractions were sooooooo strong all night that I was curled up on my side crying, begging God to make it stop and let my baby stay in longer. 

I stayed that way for all of Tuesday. 

Wednesday, they finally got orders for something for my head.

They did another pelvic-6 cms at 9 am

They did an ultra sound-footling breech

They made me sign C-section papers because the baby might not survive a vaginal delivery, even though as they put it, if I was fully dilated, the baby would "fall" out. 

The doctor looked at my reports from the machine and said my contractions were slower but very very strong, I knew this...I hadn't slept because of them. Every 15 minutes, I was holding onto the bed railing for dear life as the wave of pain passed around my womb squeezing my baby. I knew that every day helped the baby so I kept going as long as he or she stayed in.

She then said, we probably can't stop the labor at this point. Great. She said they would check on me later. 

I made phone calls. Mom and sister and the then husband.

At about 5:30 they did an ultrasound to see if the baby had turned. Then they checked my cervix. 9cm. The doctor, looked at me and asked if I was ready to have this baby, because we can no longer stop the labor. 

I asked if the baby would be ok? They explained that a team of pediatric neonatologists would be waiting right there to make sure the baby was ok and that incubators and special equipment take over for my womb. I don't think I was ever so scared.

My mom and sister arrive as they are explaining that I have to have a Cesarean and right away. They ask who I want in the OR.

My immediate, tearful response was,
"I want my Mommy"

They took me and prepped me for a spinal. I was so cold. The walls were to white. So, white. I was shaking. They didn't let my Mom in until they had done the spinal. Then your bottom half is numb and they strap your arms to boards out at your sides. I couldn't wipe the tears from my face. And believe me the tears fell as I lay there shaking with unbelievable fear. 

At some point during this whole process I had to pick a boys name just in case and I told my mom. Joshua Thomas. 

They decided to try an External Cephalic Version-which boils down to manually trying to turn him while he was inside me so he wasn't breech. It was so uncomfortable.

We are lucky they didn't rip his foot off. As they finally opened me up and delivered him, they explained that his food was lodged in the birth canal. If you recall I told them I thought I felt something. Yeah. It was my son's foot. He had all these bruises on his tiny little foot. 

August 16th 1995 at 6:44 pm he was born.

He was whisked away behind a wall to be intubated. My oxygen was low. All I remember is that I had a boy a very tiny boy. He was 3 lbs 7 1/2 oz and 15 1/2 inches long. They brought him over to my head before they took us both our separate ways. He was beautiful. I kissed his sweet baby head and they took him away. This is what they brought me an hour later. So, I could look at him. 

So. tiny.

His dad came after he was born. I do know now that he was sad for that. 

I didn't get to hold him until the next day.

The. next. day.

When you have a preemie all of those privileges of being in the hospital. pfft. Nurses bringing you the baby to nurse or feed, then taking them back to the nursery for you to rest. Nope. Not a NICU baby. I had to traverse 2 floors and half the hospital to get to my son, all while dragging my IV cart. 

It was 12 hours later at 6 am before they let me out of my bed with my morphine drip to go hold my son. 12 hours he was alive and I did NOT hold him. I spent as much time in the NICU as they would let me. They made me rest. I pumped. He had my milk from the start. 

I stayed in the hospital for 5 days. I cried when they released me. I didn't want to go. 

I moved into the Ronald McDonald House. He was hospitalized for 7 weeks.

We battled jaundice, an open PDA valve, brachycardia, jaundice again, and severe anemia. My preemie was on caffeine to make sure he kept breathing. 

I can't even explain it. I had a 2 yr old. I was there 2 hours a day. It was hell. A mere 2 hours a day with my baby because there was no one to care for his big brother while I visited. The other residents at Ron McD house were my angels and took turns watching him so that I could go once a day. These are parents with children with Leukemia, cancer, MS, anything you can imagine and they reached out to me so that I could hold my son 2 hours a day. 

You see, my little man and I stayed at Ron Mc D house alone the whole time.

His due date was October 29th. He had been home for 3 weeks, we had just moved. On October 29th, his dad was at work, he was lethargic and listless all day. He wouldn't nurse. He wouldn't take a bottle.

5 minutes before his dad got home, his head literally lolled around like he had no muscles. I was freaking out. I told his dad we had to go to the ER NOW. I held him all the way there. Screw the carseat.

I walked in the ER, explained the situation to the nurses, they took me back to a room and IN THE HALLWAY, he turned BLUE in my hands. Not in the car, not at home but at the hospital, where they could save him him. His O2 Saturation level was about 76% he was so anemic he had no hemoglobin to carry oxygen. A trip back to Strong and a blood transfusion saved his life. This time we were at the PICU and I stayed in his room all three days.

When he was 3 he was running a fever like any kid. Took him to the doctor. Antibiotics. FEVER never broke. I kept calling. 5 days later I get someone to listen. They say go to the ER, we will hope they listen, we are ordering a chest Xray and blood work.

They saved his life. He was a small 3 yr old. He had an abscess on his lung the size of a 50 cent piece. He could have died. Again. I was pregnant for my 13 yr old at the time and it was crazy to not be able to go through tests with him. He had to have his lung aspirated. I stayed his room the whole time. He came home with a pic line for antibiotics for 3 weeks because the infection was so severe.

That is him about 6 months after the abscess. Monthly trips to Rochester. I don't care. Look at that smile. 

Now look at him...that is my baby. Seventeen. Almost a man and I still see the little scars on his feet from the tape. (he still has a scar) I still see all the needles. I still want to protect him from this world. 

Ironically, when I picked his name, I had no idea that it more or less means saved by God. His life has been one miracle after another. This blog barely scratches the surface.


I love you Joshua Thomas.

You may almost be a man, but you will always be my little boy. 


  1. This is an absolutely beautiful and inspiring post!! :) I'm kind of at a loss for words right now...Truly touching.

  2. <3 Teary-eyed and wanting to give you, and your miracle, a huge hug. I love you, Miss Michelle! <3

  3. I feel like I left a lot out, but I had to or it might have been a book, isn't he gorgeous?

    Thanks for your kind works Miz Tink

    and TPNT-You know I love the hell out of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    xoxoxoxo to you both

  4. Love. My first was a NICU baby too, though nowhere near as early as yours. It's an experience that stays with you forever. <3

  5. Yes, it is Kelly and its all relative. Every story is etched in the heart of the mother forever and every story is harrowing no matter how premature the child was. Its a scary thing to go through. I thought jaundice with his older brother was bad....pffft that was God prepping me.