This post is going to be long and detailed but I don't want to forget a single detail of one of the greatest miracles I have been a part of. Our family welcomed baby number 5 on June 4th at 31 weeks and 4 days. This is her story...
It was the night of Friday the 27th, the kids last day of school before summer. I had such grand plans of having lots of fun throughout June and early July before the baby came so the kids would feel like they had a fun summer before we were homebound for a while. But all that changed around 3:30 am Saturday the 28th. Ben had been up late playing xbox and I had been dosing in my chair. Earlier that night I had made a drink run and made a yummy dinner. Off and on I remember having a few Braxton Hick's but didn't think anything of them. Ben's back had been really bad that week and needed help in the shower, so we had decided to shower together after he was done playing. He woke me up from sleeping in my chair around 3:30 and I went to get in the shower. As I was getting undressed I had a real quick tight contraction. It didn't really hurt but felt really strong. I got in the shower and had another one. Ben joined me and I had two more by the time I was done washing myself and helping Ben. I remember grabbing Ben during one and expressing concern that it was too early for these types of pains. He tried to reassure me that everything would be fine and I stepped out of the shower. I had another tightening and then felt like I needed to pee (really detailed remember) so I sat and peed but when I stood up I felt the tightness but with lots of pressure and then my water burst all over the bathroom floor. This was a serious burst, like a water balloon had broke between my legs. Ben was just stepping out of the shower and saw the splash. I instantly became panicky and didn't quite know what to do. Ben rushed to my side and said a prayer. Now I don't really remember his exact words but I do remember feeling somewhat at ease. Ben then tossed me his towel and streaked down to our bedroom. He put the first clothes he could find on and that happen to be MY Old Navy flag shirt and his Superman pajama pants. I folded a towel up for between my legs and had Ben grab me a nightgown. Ben then raced upstairs to let his mom know that my water broke and that we were headed to the hospital. I waddled up behind him, careful to keep my towel in place. We managed to get in the car and quickly drive to American Fork Hospital. During the drive I felt a couple small contractions but nothing painful or regular. Once at the hospital, Ben pulled up to Emergency and got me a wheelchair and wheeled me over to labor and delivery. I think we were both in a state of shock and confusion but laughed a few times still. As I was being checked in at the labor and delivery desk, the nurse made a funny face when she finally got to the question of 'how far along are you?' The day my water broke I was 30 weeks and 4 days. I was taken back to a room and a flurry of action started happening. I can't even remember how many people kept coming into my room and talking to me and doing things to me. The biggest concern was to stop the contractions so I could be transferred to a different hospital because American Fork Hospital could only handle 34 weeks and older babies. So they put in an IV and started me on Magnesium and gave me the first shot of steroids for baby. My contractions didn't seem to be increasing and I wasn't dilating so a transfer to Utah Valley Hospital was arranged. Dr. Melendez said that I had a table for two waiting for me over there. I think he truly thought that I would be delivering that day. I was then put on a gurney and transported by ambulance south to Provo to Utah Valley. I even asked about sirens. They laughed at me but I was super excited to tell the kids about my ride. Three great paramedics transported me to the other hospital around 7 o'clock that morning. While I was riding in style, Ben left before me and had to drive by himself. He said it was one of the worst 15 minute drives in his entire life.
Once we arrived at Utah Valley, the paramedics took me up the back service elevator to the 5th floor. They raced and caught an elevator that had three nurses already in it. Little did I know what a tender mercy it was for me that we caught that elevator. Here I am laying on my side, strapped to the gurney, not really sure what to expect at this hospital and if I was going to be having my baby that day too early when one of the nurse asks me how I'm doing. I replied with the details of my water breaking at 30 weeks and being transferred because of how early the baby could be. This nurse then did something that will forever be etched on my heart. She reached out to me and said "Well we're your nicu team and we're going to take care of your baby. Everything is going to be alright because we are going to take care of your baby." I had an immediate wave of peace and comfort wash over me and I know Heavenly Father sent her to ride in that elevator for a reason. For the rest of the week I told everyone about my elevator angel and how, because of her, I felt so calm with the whole situation. And gratefully I ran into her about a week after baby girl was born and was able to hug her and express my gratitude for what she said and did in that elevator. And the night before, baby was discharged I was able to hug her again and let her know that my baby was going home and thank her for keeping her word and taking care of my baby. Just another spiritual experience we had during this trial. Well Ben was eagerly awaiting my arrival in the labor and delivery waiting room and I'll always remember the look on his face as they wheeled me near him. We were put in a room and a whirlwind of doctors and nurses descended on me. I remember being really thirsty but unable to eat or drink anything because they still weren't sure if I was having a baby that day. Ben was texting and calling and updating family about the situation and called his brother Steve to come help him give me a priesthood blessing. Ben promised me in that blessing that no matter how things happened, everything was going to be okay. Another tender mercy we shared. Steve was also a life saver for Ben because he ran and grabbed tons of snacks for Ben that he really needed throughout the weeks to come. Around afternoon time Ben's mom came to sit with us. We were still kind of in limbo and not sure if baby was coming or not. I was still having a couple contractions here and there but nothing strong and regular still. I did get some pain meds through my IV but I was really hoping to just be able to sleep but didn't get to sleep until later.
By that night the contractions had stopped but I was continuing to leak water. The doctors were hopeful though that they could keep me pregnant till 34 weeks. At that point the risk of all the preterm stuff was less but it would all depend on balancing that with how my body reacted. I was given lots and lots of antibiotics to prevent infections in me and baby. And we then started the waiting game. Ben's mom went home to help with our other kids and we just sat around waiting to see what was going to happen. I stayed pregnant overnight and received the second and last shot of steroids. That was the first big milestone we needed to hit and are still so grateful I got those shots. We were also so grateful for the couple missionaries who brought us the sacrament that day. They left us with a sweet message and a strong sense of the Spirit. That night Candice brought our other kids to visit and that was so great too. It was good to see them and let them know that I was ok and that baby girl was ok. Those three big kids are pretty awesome kids. I sure am grateful for how well they handled and continue to handle our life right now. Sunday night into Monday morning I stayed pregnant but the first of the baby's heart deceleration's started happening. We had a bit of a scare Monday morning as her heart dipped three times in about 20 minutes. I was rolled over and given some oxygen and she started doing better. Also my IV became occluded and had to be relocated. An anesthesiologist actually came to do it because my veins are so crappy. It was also during this time that we were beginning to realize that 34 weeks was most likely not going to happen. Her little heart was not handling a fluid free uterus very well.
Tuesday we met with the maternal fetal medicine doctor that we had been seeing throughout the pregnancy. She said everything looked great and that I was staying pregnant for now but if her heart keep dipping a C-section was happening immediately. I knew a C-section was my only option because little girl had been breach and with my water breaking, she went transverse with her head in my right hip side area. That night Candice brought us dinner and the kids and we were able to all eat together in the same room. I sure was missing those kiddos at that point but Candice and Connie were doing an awesome job taking care of everyone and sending pictures and videos. I don't think I will ever be able to fully express in words my love and appreciation to those two for all they did for me and my family during that time. Wednesday June 1st and I finally got to shower. I had to have a plastic bag and glove over my IV but it was so nice to get cleaned up a bit. I also got a new room that day. The room we had been in had a beautiful view of Mt. Timpanogos but the bed was a break down birthing bed and I was so uncomfortable in that bed. Our new room had more of a regular bed with extra padding. It helped but I don't believe I have been so uncomfortable for such a long time as I was during my hospital stay. My back and hips were constantly aching and I was always in a battle with myself over whether I should roll over and risk losing baby on the monitors or just stay put and suffer through the pain. If baby girl would have just stayed on the monitors my choices would have been easier but we were constantly losing her and it stressed me out all week.
Thursday they let me get out of the building and get some sunshine. Ben pushed me in a wheelchair around the front of the hospital and back in. It was so nice to get out for a bit but when we got back to the room it took the nurses 15 minutes to find baby's heartbeat. They even had to bring in an ultrasound machine to locate her. It was pretty scary to say the least. She was found and put back on the monitors but her heart kept dipping and it started to take longer to come back up at this point too. Friday morning the relief society presidency came to visit me and it was nice to feel their love and concern. That day though, brought more and more deceleration to baby girl's heart rate. We had been told that if she had more than 5 dips in an hour they would schedule the C-section and if she went down and didn't come back up, they could do an emergency C and get her out in 5 minutes. Well this just didn't sit well with us. All afternoon on Friday June 3rd, Ben was restless. Every day that week Ben and I would take a long afternoon nap and that day Ben just couldn't relax. He just didn't feel good about waiting too much longer to deliver baby girl. I was at war with myself over it. I was just so uncomfortable and ready to be done but wanted to give my baby the very best chance and stay pregnant for as long as I could. I'm so glad Ben was in tune with the Spirit that day and made his concerns known to the doctor. Dr. Drewes was on call that evening and Ben expressed how we didn't feel comfortable waiting for the emergency to happen and felt like it wasn't safe for her anymore. Dr. Drewes understood and left to talk things over with the maternal fetal medicine doctors and came back to tell us that they were all in agreement that baby girl needed to come out. I think they would have delivered her that night but I had just eaten dinner and so I needed to wait. We were put on the schedule for 6:30 the next morning, one week exactly from when my water broke. Throughout my stay at Utah Valley I had some seriously exceptional nurses. They were so good to me and I felt really cared for but that Friday night I had Rebecca. She had been a night nurse earlier in the week and so she was familiar with our situation. The charge nurse assigned me to her and she had no other patients that night. From 6pm-6am she hardly left my side and I'm so grateful for her. She put in a new IV that didn't even hurt, she prepped me for the C-section, and made sure the monitors were constantly picking up baby's heart beat. That alone was a constant process. With the C-section scheduled I knew I wanted another priesthood blessing. Ben sent out a mass text to his brothers and at about 11:00 at night, Randall, Mike, and Bishop Gifford showed up. They had to wait a bit while Rebecca adjusted monitors as baby decelled again. But I was so grateful for them and their priesthood power they used to bless me and my baby. I know that because of those blessings and all the prayers said in our behalf, things turned out better than expected. After the brothers left Ben managed to squeeze in about 2-3 hours of sleep while I managed 45 minutes or so. I just laid there listening to her heart beat, willing my body not to hurt as I stayed in one position to keep her on the monitor and prayed, over and over again I prayed. It was an incredibly long night. Around 5:00 AM the C-section prep started. The nurses shift changed at 6:00 and I was sad to say good-bye to Rebecca. My new nurses came on right as I was about to get my epidural/spinal block. Getting that was a pretty crappy experience. I've never gotten an epidural when I wasn't in pain from contractions and really wanted that pain to go away. This time the pain of the epidural was a lot worse and I even passed out because of low blood pressure. I actually have no memory of passing out, I felt like I was there answering questions the whole time but according to Ben, I was out for several seconds. I threw up somewhere during that time too due to my blood pressure dropping. I really felt quite out of it during the epidural and for some time after it. Then they wheeled me to the operating room and started the C-section. Ben sat above my head and could reach out to touch me but it was weird going through that without him holding my hand and being much closer. During the procedure, Dr. Drewes asked about getting my tubes tied and Ben answered no, to which I chimed in with "I've been through enough, it's his turn". The whole room laughed. Now earlier in the week, the doctors had told us that they could rush me to the operating room and have her out in 5 minutes, if her heart rate dropped and didn't come back up. Well as Dr. Drewes opened my uterus, baby girl popped her arm out. He then had to keep pushing her arm back in as he tried to find either her head or feet to deliver her. He had to give me an extra incision to give him more space to get her out. I had absolutely no water left and because of that, she was tightly wedged. After 15 minutes, Dr. finally delivered her at 7:30 AM and told us it was a good thing we didn't wait for a more emergent situation because if she had been crashing when they did the C-section she could have been without oxygen for a long time and who knows what the outcome would have been at that point. I just know that I felt completely tossed around and like my pelvis was being ripped in two and the doctor said it was one of the hardest C-sections he'd done in a long time. I'm so grateful that Ben made a stand and urgently requested that she be delivered soon because we just don't know what could have happened. Once she was out, they handed her off through a window to the NICU team and Ben was able to go with her at that point. I laid there a while longer, dozing in and out. My blood pressure dipped again and it made me throw up again right as they were finishing up the stapling. Then I was given morphine and moved to another bed and taken back to my room. Ben met me there and laughed at my morphine induced state. I was pretty out of it for about an hour. After that hour, it was time to move me to my recovery room. On the way, we took a detour through the NICU and I got to see my baby girl for the first time. She was so tiny and had a few tubes and wires attached in and to her. It was kind of scary but I felt such relief knowing she was at last born and being so well taken care of.