On October 5th, 20014 at 1 p.m. I was in the most excruciating physical pain you could imagine. I was in an operating room, wide awake with my husband beside me. He was squeezing my hand. I remember trying to focus on that instead of all the burning, stinging and pulling.
“You’ll feel some pressure and a little tugging but you won’t feel pain.” That’s what the doctor said before he cut my stomach open. The knife was just inches away to the most important part of my body.
I had been on strict bed rest for days. 10 days. I spent 10 days praying, crying, researching and cursing my body. I hated my body. I hated that my body was doing this, it was doing all it could to destroy me. It was destroying the most precious thing in the world to me.
Since my husband and I decided to get married we knew we wanted babies. We wanted 2 babies. People thought we were crazy because between the two of us we had 5 already. I can’t explain it in words but for the first time in my life I had this overwhelming need for a baby. I needed to be the mother of a new born again.
Our kids were older, 11, 12, 16, 18 and 22. Everyone had their opinion. If I had $1 for every time someone said “You know what causes that, right?” Or “How in the world are you guys going to afford another baby?” I’d be a very rich lady. I didn’t care. I just wanted a baby, I would’ve done anything.
I had difficult pregnancies in the past. Premature labor and babies were no stranger to me. Both of my prior pregnancies ended too soon, in the NICU. The first time they just couldn’t get my labor to stop and my son was born at 30ish weeks. My daughter was born at 23 weeks because my water had broken at 19 weeks and I ended up with an infection.
I thought it had something to do with my age, stress or a fluke. I was just a child and neither one was planned so you could imagine the fear and anxiety about becoming a mother and then becoming the mother of 2 just 10 months later.
After my husband and I were married I had a surgery to make sure my body could carry a baby. They removed some endometriosis and noted that my cervix was short probably due to previous surgeries. The doctor told me that he didn’t see a reason why I couldn’t have another child. It would be considered high risk just because of my previous preterm births and he told me that I may need a cerclage later in pregnancy.
When I think back now to the time of trying for our first child, I feel sad. It consumed me. All I thought about was having a baby. Months and months of negative pregnancy test, tears and frustration were broken up by positive pregnancy test that didn’t last long.
I counted, I added, I subtracted, I stared at calendars trying to figure out what it was I was getting wrong. I would exaggerate and imagine pregnancy symptoms. I researched every single day. I swear I must’ve taken 6,443,789 pregnancy test.
I got a positive test one day and went straight to my OB/GYN. I explained to them what I’d been going through. The doctor told me that it probably wouldn’t hurt to put me on progesterone. Low progesterone levels can cause early miscarriage. I immediately started taking the small pills and it seemed to work. The first time I saw my babies heart actually beating on an ultrasound I was SHOCKED. I was the happiest girl in the world.
We paid close attention, we had weekly ultrasounds and I tried not to worry. I tried not to worry until I started bleeding. I was sure I was losing my baby and I was crushed. My sadness turned to anger when one of my doctors looked at me and said “Why do you even keep trying?” I called my husband that day fuming.
Weeks later the bleeding stopped and to my surprise my baby was still alive. Everything went smooth, for the most part after that. I was hospitalized a few times for kidney issues and did end up needing a cerclage but everything with my baby was just fine. Until it wasn’t.
I had just gotten out of the hospital for a pretty horrible kidney infection. My husband and I decided to meet for lunch. I drove through the parking lot, spotted my husband and parked my mini van. As soon as I got out to greet him my water broke. When I say it broke, I mean it BROKE. Just like in the movies.
I was obviously admitted back into the hospital and put on bestest. I was only 27 weeks along and scared to death. I cried because I wanted my child and I cried because I didn’t want her yet. I wanted to give birth to a healthy baby. I was robbed of that.
10 days after my water broke, there I was. I was on an operating table getting ready to deliver and very tiny and sick little girl. There was just nothing else they could do. I was showing signs of infection and the risks to the baby and me were too high.
I had a spinal block, just like everyone else who has had a C-section. I tried telling the doctor I wasn’t numb before he cut me open but he decided that what I was feeling was “pressure not pain”. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
It felt like a lifetime. They kept saying “we’re almost there, just a few more minutes!” When you’re being cut in half a few minutes feels like an eternity. I begged them to put me to sleep. I cried and screamed. I was mostly scared of moving to suddenly and the doctor cutting my baby. If I weren’t tied down to that table I would’ve gotten up and ran out of that room.
Feeling my skin and muscles being cut open was bad enough but there was also this smell, like burning skin. It was awful. My husband was trying to tell me that I would be okay but he had this look of panic on his face that told me he felt helpless. The anesthesiologist had that same look on her face, she was a student. I remember her asking “what do I do?”
A half a second after I heard my daughter’s first cries, I was sedated. I heard everyone talking but I couldn’t say a word. Everything was happening in slow motion. I never got to see my baby in that room. They closed me up and took me to the recovery room.
It seemed like forever but my husband finally came in with this picture of our baby. He told be she was tiny. He told me she was doing okay and she was getting all settled in the NICU.
I had finally had this child I waited so long for. We had been through so much to get her here. I couldn’t wait to see her. I couldn’t wait to hold her. Sweet Kennedy. I had this wave of love and happiness wash over me. I felt full. She was perfect.
A few hours after that surgery I was wheeled in to the NICU on a stretcher. I still wasn’t able to sit or stand but I had to see my baby. She looked much different than the photo I saw of her. She looked sick. Tubes and wires were everywhere. I couldn’t see her face but I counted her fingers and toes and I cuddled her for a few minutes before they took her from me again. That was the first day of our NICU journey. The first of many.
I’m so grateful to have this child. She could’ve just as easily not made it into this world just like all the other positive test. She’s a miracle. She’s a fighter and she’s beautiful.