Paige's NICU Birth Story
Ok so I have gone back and forth about sharing my birth story. It’s pretty sacred to me and putting stuff like that out there into the general public can be scary because of how close it is to my heart. But I do feel like I read so many birth stories that went exactly as planned and even though they are still completely beautiful and wonderful, I feel like it’s important to have ones like this out there too so mommas don't feel alone. Still beautiful and wonderful, but also scary and not expected.
This pregnancy was so much more painful and uncomfortable than my other two. I was bigger and sicker. I had Braxton hicks like no ones business. But one night, a month before my due date, I started to get pretty intense contractions. They were bad but not getting worse. So I did a lot of swaying and not trying to overthink it. I packed my hospital bag just in case though. I tried to go to sleep but didn’t sleep very well. I was up at around 3am and woke my husband up. We decided it would be better to go in just to see what was going on and see if they needed to try and stop labor. My wonderful friend surprisingly answered her phone and came and slept on my couch so we didn’t have to wake our kids up.
We checked in and they were worried about what was going on and ran all the tests but were probably just going to send me home. They checked to see how far dilated I was and right after that, my water broke. So they admitted me. Um I am a MONTH early.. how is it possible that I am having this baby right now? We were nervous but also hopeful that everything would be ok and excited to meet her so soon. I had a slight fever and baby girl’s heart rate was insanely stressed so they had concerns about an infection.
I got my epidural. I love my epidurals because I can still feel everything that’s going on without all the pain. I can always still move my feet and don’t feel trapped. I know when I need to push and can feel every contraction with pressure and not pain.
Paige’s heart rate was still through the roof and not going down. And then all of the sudden I felt my contractions completely stop. My nurse called to tell my doctor and he told me if this continued, I was going to have to get a c section. I freaked. Like full on panic attack freaked out. I wasn’t expecting a baby already let alone a c section. My other two deliveries were like the easiest thing on the planet. I asked him to give me some time. He told me I had an hour (I really don’t like doctor bashing. Like it makes me so sad. Because most doctors are incredible and amazing and I 100% trust them and their abilities. But my doctor had the worst bedside manner on the planet. I am just going to leave all of that out because it’s not what I want to remember or is it helpful)
Every time I panicked and my heart rate went up, it would make Paige’s even worse. So I had to try with everything I could to remain calm even though I was completely terrified. My husband was so sweet and so calming and helpful and everything I needed.
We started praying so hard. Like praying the hardest I’ve ever prayed ever in my whole life. I know I would be ok if I absolutely had to get a c section, but mostly I just wanted my baby girl to be ok. The whole situation was so scary and nerve-racking. But as I prayed I felt my Heavenly Father’s arms wrapped around me clear as day. There has been countless moments since this experience where I close my eyes and try to remember it because I never ever want to forget it and how it felt and the heavenly love that was there.
My nurse came in and stopped talking and just stared at the monitor for a while. Then she was asked, “Do you guys pray?” We laughed and said “Harder than we’ve ever prayed before.” And she said “that’s the only thing that explains what’s going on right now because her heart rate is perfect and you are totally contracting just fine.”
We were so relieved!! Not much later, a few pushes, and Paige was born. They handed her to me for about .2 seconds and then took her away immediately because she was completely purple and wasn’t breathing.
That moment where they hand you your baby after 9 months of being in pain and hours of panic and pushing and stress and tears is all worth it when they place that baby in your arms. It is the best moment in the entire world and nothing compares to the love that bursts out of every crevice of your heart. And I didn’t get it. I was devastated.
I couldn’t see what was going on, but she had a team of doctors surrounding her trying to get her to breath. All of them were tugging and beating on her with no success. They hooked her up to oxygen so they could breath for her. I kept asking over and over again if I could hold her and to please not take her away. My husband was by her and the look on his face was not reassuring even though he kept telling me everything was ok. Later he told me he thought he was watching his child die right before his eyes.
They hooked her up to a bunch of machines and closed the lid over her bed. She was going to the NICU. They brought her to my bedside and I was able to put my hand into the little opening on the side of her bed and feel her shoulder and her cheek. I balled and balled. I needed her in my arms so bad it physically hurt. I told her I loved her over and over and then a few moments later she was gone.
Matt went with her and I stayed back to deliver the placenta and recover a bit. I was shaking so bad and was having a hard time breathing. My head hurt and I was super nauseous.
They brought me to my room. I felt so empty handed. After I got all checked in, I went to see her in the NICU. I walked in and was so overwhelmed with all the machines and thick smell of hand sanitizer. Seeing her tiny little self in that bed all hooked up to oxygen and feeding tubes and all kinds of monitors and IVs was overwhelming. I was able to reach in the little side holes again and touch her and tell her I loved her 47 million times. I kept asking everyone when I could hold her. A nurse told me I could come try at 9 that night. (I delivered at 10:30am so 9pm felt like an eternity)
We went back to our room to try and get some rest. I would fall asleep for a minute and wake up in a panic. I couldn’t relax without her by me. Finally 9pm came by and we went in. They set me up in a recliner chair and pulled the curtains all the way around us and her bed. They took her out of her spaceship NICU bed and placed her on my chest. Tubes, IVs, and all. I finally felt peace. I was able to breath calm and just relax. They told me they could let me hold her for an hour. That hour came and went and they asked if I wanted longer and I told them I would sit there with her till they kicked me out. They were SO kind and so sweet and gave us some more time with her. It was the best thing in the world to finally hold my sweet girl. So many tears and so many emotions, but I could finally handle it all holding her.
We went back to our room to try and get some sleep. Every time I woke up, I checked the little camera they had on her (This was amazing. I could check on her anytime, anywhere. Such a blessing) and would relax enough to go back to sleep. We then went back first thing in the morning when the doctors do their rounds.
They weren’t 100% sure what made me go into labor early and if she was ok or not so they were running a bunch of tests. It turns out they think there was some kind of infection that she had to get antibiotics for, she had blood sugar issues, breathing issues (but those didn’t last too long thankfully), and some jaundice.
My other two kids came to see her and instantly fell in love even though I was worried all the tubes and stuff would scare them off. My daughter took one look at her and said “ Mom she is so cute! Thank you!!” Cue more tears from their already weepy mom. Hah
So the next afternoon I got discharged. I sat in our room with my sweet husband as we packed back up her swaddle blanket and her cute little coming home outfit and bow that I so carefully picked out months before in anticipation of bringing her little self home, and put everything back in my bag. They wheeled me out in a wheelchair empty handed to the curb as I cried and cried. I legitimately thought I would crumble to a million pieces and die right there on the curb.
I got into the car and Matt told me we would come back all day every day and that he would make me a bed in the back of our van if I couldn’t bare to leave the hospital again. He was so good and so sweet to me. This whole experience brought us together in a way I didn't even know was possible.
Pulling up to the empty house was brutal, but I took a well needed shower and a little nap. Then back to the hospital we went.
The whole NICU experience isn’t something I can really put in words. Something I thought would totally kill me ended up being one of the most sacred experiences of my life. Heaven is so close there with all those sweet babies. Every nurse and doctor was unreal. They explained every single little detail and made sure we understood. They made sure we knew none of this was our fault or something we could have prevented. The whole experience was so unbearable painful and suffocating but also safe and sweet.
One doctor in particular sat me down and talked with me for a good 15 minutes. He told me that I needed to take care of myself and that they were going to do everything in their power to keep my baby safe and healthy. He told me how much he loved his job and how honored he was to be working alongside women because women are incredible in nature. He asked me if I thought he ever thought about the Kardashians when he was at work and said no way. The NICU is a place where politics, media, race, gender don't matter. It gives you the ultimate perspective. He told me that down the road sometime when the world seems ugly and crazy, to think back on our NICU days and the people here and the things that happened there. The NICU really did end up being a sanctuary from the rest of the world. It turned out to be the sweetest pit stop in-between heaven and earth for our sweet little one.
She ended up having to be at the NICU for a week. I could be there with her basically whenever I wanted except for shift changes which was a hour in the morning and an hour at night. They fed her every 3 hours so I would especially try to be there for those. (I was pumping and bringing in my milk and eventually would try to get her to latch before feedings for a bit) Basically all week long I drove back and forth to the hospital and would sit on that blue recliner for hours and hours. I didn’t eat much, my milk came in with a vengeance, and I was still bleeding and recovering. But there I sat with that sweet sweet baby in my arms that I never wanted to let go of. Matt would come with me and we would be there together surrounded by the beeping of machines. Her heels looked like minced meat from the heel prick before every feeding to test her blood sugar and have to get her IV replaced about every day or so after her little vein would blow out.
After I knew she would be ok, I began to enjoy my time with her a little more. It wasn’t ideal but I knew she was in good hands. This was the best place for her to be. And I knew when I brought her home, I wouldn’t have to worry because I would know 100% that everything was ok. It really forced me to slow down and enjoy her. And just gave me a lot of perspective through all the pain of just not having her home with me needle and pain free.
After a week of spending hours upon hours on that sweaty recliner, way too needles and pricks, a day of not being able to really hold her because she had to be under the lights for jaundice, taking shifts watching the kids at home, sleepless nights, changing a diaper from the side in that dang bed, washing my hands 400 million times, and so many tears in elevators and kisses goodbye, we finally were able to go home. Unplugged and healthy.
I am so grateful that things turned out ok and that she is healthy, happy, and wonderful. I am forever grateful to the wonderful NICU nurses who were so kind and good to us and my sweet baby. I was also not prepared for the overflowing amount of love from so many people. So many people shared their stories and gave me so much hope and peace. There really are so so many good people in the world and I felt extremely lucky to be surrounded by so many of them. I had no idea that being a NICU mom all of the sudden put you in this club of the strongest, most supportive and encouraging mommas I've ever come across. I felt so honored and so many brought me so much peace and hope.
I wouldn't wish a NICU experience on anyone in the whole world, but I know I am a different person because of it. I couldn't possibly imagine having to be there a second longer but I know so many parents who have to. The strength those mommas have is awe inspiring and incredible. So give major hugs to any NICU mommas you may know. Their hearts are tender and brave, scared and hopeful. Ultimately I hated the whole experience but also am so incredibly grateful that heaven was close, how it's changed me and my perspective, and that my baby girl is home safe in my arms.
Welcome to the world my sweet baby Paigey-Baby. You are such a gentle warrior and your strength has already completely changed me. I love you with my whole heart and soul and am honored to be your momma.