by HEATHER, The Extraordinary Ordinary
Million Moms Challenge Blogger
My first two pregnancies had resulted in two beautiful boys, arriving right around their due dates without much hullabaloo. I suppose I expected the same uneventful pregnancy experience with my third, but at 31 weeks I started experiencing some loss of fluid and frequent contractions. My husband and I headed to the hospital at the doctor’s request.
I didn’t think anything was wrong. I thought maybe I was just experiencing something normal that I hadn’t experienced before. But while we set up shop in triage and the doctor started running tests, we saw the anxiety in her eyes when she came to talk with us. She had run a test to check to see if amniotic fluid was leaking and sure enough, it was positive. So as fast as we had come in the door and I had gotten myself in the pretty little gown and on the bed, we were being whisked away by ambulance to another hospital with promises that it was the best place for a baby to arrive this early. I watched my husband’s face change and a fear that shook my arms and legs and sped up my heart took me over. I bit back tears and tried hard to be strong but I couldn’t believe our baby was coming.
That night at the second hospital of the day, I was being handed information about preemies and I was poked and prodded and whispered to with such kindness and care. (Isn’t it funny how terrifying kindness can be in some situations?) Then, just as quickly as my contractions had been coming, they quieted and I knew–It was going to be okay.
After over a day of close monitoring, a nurse came in and ran another test to check for amniotic fluid and sure enough, it was negative! The relief that filled the room was something I could have reached out to touch. Later that same day, I got to go home with a baby still tucked away inside me. It appeared that the first test had been a false positive and strangely enough it didn’t frustrate me to have gone through something so scary as the result of a testing mistake. I was only relieved, and handed a good dose of grace in the form of perspective.
Maybe that’s what prepared me, because six weeks later that sweet baby decided to come a little early after all. I went into labor at 37 weeks, and our newest bundle arrived but was not quite ready for the world. She (yes, it’s a girl!) needed oxygen and frequent blood sugar level checks and spent the first couple of days sleeping away from me in the special care nursery. The fear I had experienced at 31 weeks was replaced with the deep sadness I felt at our separation that first night. She came via c-section and so I wasn’t supposed to get out of bed to go to the nursery.
In the end, the hardest part of my pregnancy had come after delivery. Our baby moon, our fourth trimester together, began apart.
So at three in the morning on that first night I looked at the nurse and said, Put me in that wheelchair and take me to her, and with a shift in her eyes, she did.
I held my daughter for the first time many hours after she was born. Here she was, my first girl and my last pregnancy. Her breathing was labored and her tiny chest was heaving up and down, fighting. The nurse who was assigned to her took her out of her isolet and put her in my arms. She looked up at me and our eyes locked and then there was peace. My husband gasped and said Sweetie over and over and Oh sweetie, look at her! Look at her! She calmed down. I can’t believe it. Look at her breathing. She’s not struggling. This is the first time!
I shook with tears of joy and pain. I met Elsie Jane and nothing else mattered. Three days later we left the hospital together. We didn’t bond in those first moments and I fought all the thoughts that scream how damaging that was for my daughter. I fought those thoughts because our story may not have been ideal and maybe it didn’t follow any sort of script from a pregnancy and natural childbirth handbook, but it was ours. Our connection was, and is, ours. This connection brings peace in the chaos like only a mother and child bond can bring, whenever it begins.
All three of my pregnancy journeys have changed my life. I’d love to hear more about your best or most difficult pregnancy moments. By replying, you will be entered to win an exclusive Million Moms Challenge Gift Pack, which includes an all expenses paid trip to a conference on mothers hosted by the UN Foundation in DC (Jan/Feb 2012), an iPad2, a custom-made Million Moms Challenge pendant and $50 donation in your name to Global Giving.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Million Moms Challenge. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs September 19 to October 16, 2011. A random winner will be announced by October 18, 2011.