It was an ordinary day in May of 2008.  I was in my 27th week of a very non-eventful pregnancy.  I wasn’t due until August and I felt awesome.  Not a single hint of morning sickness, no fatigue.  I felt so great that day that I was even dancing in the mirror as I got ready for work-really jamming out.

I went to my job as a retail trainer and met with my manager to go over the backup plan for covering my classes in July just in case I had to go on maternity leave early.  As we finished up, my manager said “We’re all set as long as you don’t have the baby tomorrow!” and we both had a good laugh.  During the meeting, my back started bothering me.  Actually my tailbone and behind were aching.  I joked that I was going to come in the next day with a donut to sit on.

Later that night I was still uncomfortable.  My husband and I sat on the couch, had some dinner and watched the movie Knocked Up.  Went to bed still uncomfortable and tossed and turned.  I never said a word to my husband about my discomfort; I just figured it was a backache.  I couldn’t sleep so around 2:00 I got up and did some laps in my bathroom, trying to be quiet so as not to wake up Christian.  I thought if I stretched a little I’d get some relief.  Nope.  Then I tried “going to the bathroom” just in case that was it.  While I was in there, I picked up the trusty pregnancy book to see if this was sciatica or something else.  Maybe there would be some stretches?  After reading a bit, I realized this was not just back pain, this was something else.  Braxton Hicks?  I had never been pregnant before so I had no clue.    The book wasn’t very helpful; nothing matched possible symptoms for 27 weeks of pregnancy.  After finishing my “business” (yes, I’m still in the bathroom, by myself, trying to be quiet) I saw blood in the toilet.  Holy unexpected Batman!  It was time to wake up the husband.  And by now the pain was excruciating.

I woke Chris up with “Something’s wrong, I need to call the Doctor.”  Yeah that’s a great way to be woken up, right.  I told him to look in the toilet while I called my OB.  That didn’t help matters.  He asked what was happening and I told him that his guess was as good as mine.  At this point, I’m on all fours in my hallway while I called the doctor’s office.  That was the only position that gave my back relief.  The doctor called back at 4:25 a.m.  Remember that time, it will be important later.  She said to come to the hospital.  She’d meet us there, just to take a look-very casual.  We put the dog out, fed him, threw clothes on and hit the road.

We get in the car, and after a short discussion of “how do we get to Manchester Hospital from here?” we made our way.  My eyes were on the digital clock on the dash board, realizing that every 2 minutes, I felt like my insides were being twisted.  Hmmm, I wonder what’s happening.  I couldn’t even let my mind go there.  The worst I could think of at this moment was, here we go, it will probably be time for bed rest. I’ll be home in a few hours and stuck in bed for the next week or so.

We get to the hospital and find our way to the labor and delivery floor.  It was my very own Mr. Toad’s wild ride in a wheelchair.  We tell them our name and shouts of “The 27-weeker is here!” ring through the halls.  They get us immediately into the only available room:  A tiny triage room with a bed, a sink and a few spare monitors.  The nurse hands me a Johnny and says, put this on and hop on the bed.  She turns to wash her hands in the sink.  When she turns back, I am lying on my side, Johnny clutched in my hand, perpendicular to the bed.  She says, in a shocked voice, “Do you feel like you need to push?” At which time, the angels sing, the light bulbs go on, and I have found my solution to this incredible pain.  “Yes!” I say.  She pushed a red button and all hell broke loose.

In about 2 minutes, the tiny room was flooded with medical personnel.  My husband and the nurse each take an end, strip me and get the gown on.  My doctor comes in and takes a look and says, “As soon as we get this incubator heated up, I’m going to break your water and you can push.”  My next words to her are not exactly ladylike.  Along the lines of “are you kidding me?” but you can add the f-word in there…I asked her if this was really happening, if there was anything we could do to stop it.  Nope, I was having my baby then and there.

Three pushes later, the doctor says “Whoa!” and I have a baby girl.  It’s now 5:05 a.m., just 40 minutes after we were on the phone with the doctor at home.  Forty minutes.

I didn’t actually see her for a few more hours.  One, because my glasses were lost in the shuffle and two, because the medical team whisked her away to do the important stuff, like getting her to breathe…

When you have a baby 13 weeks early, you are not exactly thinking clearly.  The first thing I said to my husband when they wheeled me into the nursery to see her, was “She doesn’t look like a Shannon!” through my tears.  You see, we hadn’t even had time to pick out a name.  And under a layer of saran wrap to keep her warm, hooked to a bunch of beeping machines, she really did not look like a Shannon.  We named her Zoey which means “Alive”.  Half hope, half promise.

And that’s how I became a mom.  My daughter was transported to UCONN health center in a mobile NICU unit.  The only thing I could think of to tell the transport team before they left was “Drive carefully”.  That day started a 15 week roller coaster of events, both medical and emotional.  I became a mom in a whirlwind of uncertainty.  It made me the mom I am today, relaxed and un-phased by most anything.  I have a vibrant, healthy, funny, smart, beautiful little girl.  She’s s fighter and a real spitfire.  Would I have been a different, more nervous first-time mother if I had a traditional birth?  Possibly, but four years later I can finally say I wouldn’t change a thing.

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