I am a social media addict. There, I said it. I love to post about my life on facebook, scroll through other people’s facebooks and instagrams, and I especially love the TimeHop app – so I can see exactly what I was doing on this same day -any given time through my online history. This is silly and I love it.
This morning I rolled over and grabbed my phone off the nightstand and hazily clicked the smiling face of a tiny blue dinosaur. Usually this is met with a ridiculous amount of laughter at the crazy mishaps I discover in my past or sweet memories of days long gone. Today, I saw this:
No activity? That is totally unlike me. Why was there no activity? And then it hit me, like wave crashing down and sweeping my feet out from under me, today was the day.
One year ago today I was pregnant. 35 weeks and 4 days to be exact. I had spent the last 6 weeks having contractions, more than just Braxton Hicks. Real contractions that were causing me to dilate and I had been medicated to control my “uterine discomfort”. In an effort to slow these occurences down, I had scaled back on all evening activities (which is when they seemed to be the worst) and spent as much of my daylight hours taking it as easy as a mother of 3 can.
As my husband was finishing up getting ready for work, early enough that the sky was still dark, I rolled my giant belly over in bed (imagine a hippo on its back desperately trying to get flipped to its feet) and suddenly felt wet. Without getting too personal, let’s just say having 3 babies does a number on your bladder and sticking a big pregnant belly ontop of it just makes it worse. Feeling annoyed that I would now have to get up and change, I dragged myself out of bed and went to the bathroom. But I wasn’t wet.
I was bleeding.
My PJ pants were completely soaked in blood. I looked at my husband who was brushing his teeth and said “you aren’t going to work today”. At first I was panicked. That much blood in pregnancy is always, always a sign of something bad. I had visions of my previous miscarriage in my head as I called my OBs office, spoke to the after hours person and told them I was headed for the hospital and my Dr. should meet me there. My mind was flooded with anxious thoughts. I just kept saying over and over in my head “not again…not again…”.
This pregnancy had already been tainted by so much fear (for more about why, you can read my story here) and I could feel it welling up inside me again. My ears were prickly and I felt like there was an anchor in my stomach.
My brain went on auto-pilot. I stuffed a rag between my legs, got dressed, jumped in the car and just drove. Not thinking. Not feeling. Numb to my pain. My husband stayed behind to get our oldest son off to school, our daughter off to preschool, and drop off our youngest with a friend. Then he would join me at the hospital.
I don’t even remember the drive there. I’m sure I skipped a few stop signs. And maybe even rolled through a few red lights. It was still early and not many people were out and about yet. I walked in, blurry eyed and crying, and the nurse was waiting for me. My doctor had called ahead. Thank goodness. She asked me how much blood and all I could say was “a lot”. How do you quantify a huge red stain? But when she helped me into my gown, she saw just how much more had come out since I left the house and even though she was trying not to look worried, I saw it on her face. This was not good.
They hooked me up to all kinds of monitors to check on baby E and took my blood pressure and asked me about 100 questions. The monitor showed I was actively having contracts (but I didn’t feel anything) and a quick exam revealed that I had dilated further since my last exam the week prior. I was at 3 cm.
35 weeks and 4 days.
They sent me for an ultrasound of the baby and to check the placenta to see if there were any issues. What was supposed to be a quick peek turned into an hour-long endeavor. There was a student doing the ultrasound and she was having trouble and so the tech had to keep re-doing her work and all the while I’m lying there worrying. Bleeding. Screaming in my head that they should have used the next pregnant lady as their guinea-pig. Why me?
When I finally got back into my room the doctor examined me again. I was at 4 cm now. The contractions that I couldn’t even feel were actually dilating me. And fast. This was worrisome. She tilted the bed up to elevate my legs and told me I just needed to relax. They would watch me for a few hours and “see what happened”. They placed an IV and started overloading me on fluids. I asked her about the meds that I had been on for the last few weeks for my “uterine discomfort” and she said sure, if it had seemed to help me before, we could try that. But because I was this far along, and the baby was able to survive outside the womb, they would not take drastic measures to stop my labor. She ordered my ‘scrip and said she would be back in a few hours. She also said I needed to be prepared to have a baby today and that she would send in someone from the NICU to explain to me what I could expect from a premie of this age.
35 week and 4 days.
And then I waited. My mind wandered. I prayed to God that this baby would be protected. That the child He had given us as an answer to the desperate and intentional prayers of my husband after we lost our previous child to miscarriage, would stay safe inside until it was time for his birth. “Not this way” I cried. Not now. It wasn’t his time.
My hubby showed up soon and I gave him the run-down on what he had missed. He immediately prayed over me and with me and for our precious baby. We were confident that even in this, God was in control.
The nurse came back with my first dose of meds and said the doctor would be back soon to check me again. I had been placed on a “clear liquids only” diet incase they had to deliver me. It was so gross. And I was so hungry. I was kicking myself for not having eaten a huge plate of waffles before I left for the hospital. Or for at least sneaking in a few chocolate bars.
The minutes dragged on like hours. I’m not even sure how we passed the time. Talked. Worried. Prayed.
The doctor came back and checked me again. I had finally stopped bleeding. This was good news. But I was still contracting. She told my husband to go home and get my a bag.
While he was gone the Neonatologist came in for a visit. He explained all the things that could be wrong with a baby this premature.
The more he talked, the more I shut down. No. This wasn’t happening. This baby was perfect. He was going to stay perfect. He was NOT going to be born today.
Mike came back with my computer and a comfy pillow and a few other things to keep me occupied. I told him what the Neonatologist had said and then I told him that it didn’t matter – because I was not delivering today. This was not happening.
Call it denial. Stubbornness. Or my iron will.
I had decided.
When the doctor came in after lunch to check me again there had been no further dilation. The contractions had stopped and everything seemed like it was heading back to “normal”. They continued my medication and IV fluids and told me to keep resting.
I was going to have to stay overnight for observation – just in case. But if there was no further bleeding, no further contractions, and no further dilation, I could go home in the morning. Right then I set in my mind that I was going home. I just felt at peace. God had heard my cries. I knew it. And He was going to answer this prayer.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15
Mike hung around with me for a few more hours and then when it was time to get the kids home and fed dinner and off to bed, I sent him away. I was that confident we were not having a baby.
Still on a clear liquids diet, and extremely bored, I got a little silly.
This was me complaining about how swollen my feet were. I’d been on IV fluids for hours and they felt super squishy.
My “clear liquids” meal. Easily the most disgusting and most unsatisfying thing I have ever eaten.
This jello did NOT taste like sunshine.
They continued my “uterine discomfort” meds through the night, kept me loaded on IV fluids, and by morning, although extremely groggy and bloated, I was feeling like me again and VERY ancy to get home. I had spent most of the night praying and sleeping and just telling God that I trusted Him. That I knew everything was going to be alright. By the time Mike came to get me the next morning, I was practically giddy.
The doctor released me on moderate bed rest. Which meant that I didn’t have to literally never get out of my bed – but that I should stay in bed as much as I possibly could. She told me that being dilated 4 cm already, it was unlikely I would make it much longer in my pregnancy and I should make arrangements to have the baby basically “any day”.
My hubby had gone out the day before and bought us an outfit to bring our son home in. It was so tiny. The smallest thing I have ever seen. It looked like doll clothes. My mind couldn’t process that my baby could be so little.
This precious outfit.
I was actually annoyed that he had taken the tags off. I just kept saying that we were not going to need it. My sweet friend came to visit me on the day I got home. Having birthed 5 babies herself – she didn’t think I’d make it through the weekend either. She told me not to sneeze while standing…
4 cm at 35 weeks and 5 days. It was inevitable.
She brought me diapers and few more sweet premie outfits and worked out “on call” plans for the next few days with my husband. We would have to juggle and balance our 3 children between friends depending on what day of the week or time I could possible go into labor. It was all very complicated.
After that morning, my husband never went back to his office. Being downtown was too far away and I needed extra hands to help with shuffling kids and housework and doing all of the things I now couldn’t do because I was in bed.
And then my mother in law came to stay with us. I cancelled meetings and scaled back my activity levels even further. Everyone was planning for an early delivery. All signs pointed to this baby coming at any moment. Medically, it was almost a certainty.
And then I remember the day I saw this
I almost cried. In fact, I think I did. So many people had been praying for me. For the baby. For our family. And God heard those prayers.
Against all odds – I had made it to 37 weeks. He was no longer a “premie” and if he was born now would be perfectly fine.
No additional complications.
No time in the NICU.
He was considered full term.
By a sheer iron will and faith in God -I had kept that baby inside.
I will never forget this day. Every year on this day my timehop will remind me “no activity” and that silence will scream at me.
But now, as I reflect on this day, having taken it all in. Having allowed my heart and mind to go back, I see so much beauty in this silence. That day I cried out to God in my weakness and He delivered me….(by not delivering me). I held strong in my absolute belief that He was protecting me and my sweet baby. Even though the doctors practically laughed at me. Even though my friends and my family and everyone else who were making “just in case plans” didn’t believe me. I held firm. I knew. I knew in my heart that this precious baby growing inside me was going to be just fine.
Sometimes you hear people say things like “There’s nothing more we can do – just pray…”
They’ve got it backwards.
Prayer is the most important, most valuable, most effective – life changing – earth shattering – mountain-moving thing you can do. To call upon the name of the most Holy and Awesome God and ask that He use His great power to effect change in your life- that is something.
Prayer is not a last resort.
It’s not your last line of defense.
It’s not what you do when there is nothing left to do.
It’s how you win the battle before the fight ever begins.
I don’t know why my body went into early labor that day. But I know with 100% certainty that it was God who stopped it. He literally held my body and my baby in His hands until it was time. The time.
Which turned out to be just one day shy of 39 weeks…and when it was time, it was time!
All 7 lbs 14 oz of sweetness burst into this world into the hands of the very same doctor who had told me mere weeks ago he would never make it this far…
But that is another story for another day…
Ironically, he is my largest baby thus far.
Or maybe that’s not irony.
Maybe that’s God once again displaying His awesome power.