A Dramatic Preemie Delivery (That Turned Out Fine)


Photo by madfoot

There are many, many moms around here dealing with the joys and challenges of a preemie or other child with special needs -- and I salute them. I was just looking at a thread in Moms of Preemies! on NICU pics and present-day pics of babies and, wow, was it moving.

If you're mom to a preemie or if you know there's a good chance you'll deliver early, connect with Moms of Preemies!, Preemie Moms, or NICU Graduates - Preemies (some groups are private, so you'll need to join.)

Cafe Amy introduced me to a friend of hers who had a dramatic preemie delivery -- her baby was due on January 2, 2009 and she delivered a couple of weeks ago, on October 23rd, when her baby was just shy of 30 weeks. An early delivery is very serious business, and can come with many complications. Sometimes things go reassuringly well, though, too. Here's Amy K.'s story.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your pregnancy before we get to the delivery -- anything unusual?

I'm 41. I tried to conceive for about eight months and then did an IUI to get pregnant. The first trimester was like a dream -- just felt energetic and hungry and romantic. Second trimester was just fun. Third trimester hit with a vengeance -- suddenly I felt huge, awful, fatigued, and depressed. But the ultrasounds were fine, the baby was moving, my blood pressure was fine -- there was no cause for concern.

So, how did your labor begin?

For about three days before, I felt really lousy -- even lousier than the third trimester blues I had been experiencing. I was just feeling like a colossal wuss, moaning and crying and unable to sleep.

Finally I fell asleep at about 1am on a Wednesday night. At 3, I woke up suddenly to the odd feeling that a balloon had just popped inside me. I thought, "Uh-oh." Sure enough, a little water leaked out -- then a LOT. I woke my husband and said, "Don't get hysterical, but I think my water just broke." I called my doctor, a midwife came right on the line, and she said "Get to the hospital." I started crying, but reined it in. We were at the hospital in five minutes.

Was your doctor very concerned, or was there even time for that?

He walked in looking really worried, but we still thought I'd be on bed rest. He put me on steroids to get my baby's lungs ready just in case, put me on something to stop my contractions, and said he was transferring me to another hospital for two to six weeks of hospital bed rest.

I arrived at the other hospital at 6am with the full expectation that I'd just sit around there for weeks, and my husband and I started planning what movies we'd watch. But Penelope had other plans. Within a few hours, my contractions started coming faster and harder and then REALLY fast and AWFULLY hard. My new doctor said, "OK, this is going to happen today. You're going into labor."

During that time, as I was having contractions, the head pediatrician came in and talked to us about how they'd have to take her right away from us to stabilize her. She talked us through the possible problems, the most distressing being the concern about her lungs. I'd had the steroids at 3am and it was early afternoon -- was that enough time for them to be OK?

What happened next? How did the delivery go?

Once the epidural was in, I turned into someone else -- someone calm, focused, and relaxed. With the pain gone, I could feel Penelope moving through my body and it was as amazing and powerful as everyone had told me it would be. I went into standup-comic mode, making wisecracks between pushes, which is my way of dealing with stress. I remember my doctor telling me to let my husband talk so I could save my strength for pushing.

And then, before long, with one collassal push, out popped the baby -- pink, covered in goo, and screaming her head off (which was a relief -- her lungs worked!). Then they whisked her away and I sat there stunned. I had pushed for a total of 35 minutes, and she'd arrived 12 hours after my water had broken.

It was an hour later when they wheeled her in for me to see. She was tiny but bigger than I had feared. I was just too happy to be sad; too worried to be upset. Mostly I just thought, "She'll be OK."

When will Penelope get to come home?

Preemies aren't sent home until they can do three things: maintain body temperature, reliably eat and poop, and avoid irregular episodes of breathing. This just doesn't happen before a gestational age of 35 weeks, so this means she'll likely come home around Thanksgiving, which is apropos.

Any words of wisdom for moms who find themselves in unexpected early labor?

Get your butt to the hospital if you feel at all hinky. Insist on being seen. Your job is to make sure your baby is safe, so forget anyone who discourages you from calling the doctor or asking questions. You know when something is wrong.

For an update, read Cafe Suzanne's interview with Amy K. (aka madfoot) to find out how Penelope is doing now.

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