I'm not sure how other people react when they find out they're having their child early. I don't trust television or movies to be the guide in that because my reaction to hearing I was pregnant in the first place wasn't the tear-jerking, cheering, jumping-up-and-down reaction you see on t.v. I was in shock, utter shock. Munchkin was planned so we weren't shocked in that sense but one second you're just you and the next second there is a living thing inside you and you're going to be a parent. I cannot even begin to put into words the cataclysmic shift that happened in me the second I saw two lines, and I'm a writer so believe me, I've tried!
A thousand things ran through my mind; boy or girl, how big will I get, what will I look like 9-months pregnant, where will we live when I give birth, will I be a good mom, etc. etc.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that Hubs and I would have a preemie. If you know me, you know I'm a planner, a list maker, a plan-for-the-worst type of person. We moved to Michigan when I was 17 weeks pregnant and needed to find a new doctor and hospital. We picked a hospital about 30 minutes away because it's the best darn baby hospital in 3 states. I distinctly remember telling my husband it has the best NICU in the Great Lakes region, ya know, just in case. I also vividly remember telling him about my new doctor, "I want someone who will fight for my life if it comes to that. I want someone who will put their foot down and not care who they offend if my life is at stake." Little did I know, that's exactly what would happen word for word.
At 29-weeks my wonderful, amazing grandfather had just passed away after an awful four-year battle with Alzheimer's and dementia. I was quite upset so two days later when I thought I was having horrible heartburn I didn't think much of it since it had been a stressful few days. It got worse and we ended up at triage in the Labor and Delivery department. (The whole story is written in a previous post here)
After all the tests were run and we started realizing things were bad, the on-call doc came in and said the words that haunt me still: "We're hoping to keep your son in for 48 more hours."
Silence....I was stunned. I'm usually quite emotional and cry easily. In this situation I didn't cry. I was shocked and confused, scared of the unknown. I knew I was sick; in fact, I was dying. My body decided my pregnancy was a foreign threat, it couldn't get rid of it so it decided to start shutting down starting with the kidneys and liver soon to be followed by massive hypertension, a horrendous drop in platelets, and, if not treated, a stroke.
I didn't cry, I didn't panic. My mind was racing and blank all at the same time. I was sick, yes, but my son was in danger. HE was my priority, not myself. At this point it was fight or flight. Stay strong or panic and make things worse. I fought...and fought...and fought. They didn't think I'd make it 48 hours without delivering; I made it 4 days.
Neonatologists and NICU nurses came in to talk to Hubs and I about all the things our preemie could face after birth. Words I didn't understand or were too scary to comprehend were being thrown around like surfactant, ventilator, respiratory distress, brain bleeds, etc. All the horrible awful things that can happen to your preemie. I was only half listening partly because I was so drugged up and partly because I didn't want to hear it.
Every minute, every hour counts at that gestation. I fought until my body literally couldn't handle it anymore. I was poked and prodded, blood taken every 4 hours, reflexes tested, not allowed to eat, seeing double, a face of fire due to anti-stroke meds and I endured it all without panic or complaint. Nurses called me the Miracle Mama because I was still pregnant 4 days later. My doctor saw my body was no longer controllable with medicine and it began to fail no matter what they did. My doctor stood up for me and told the NICU doctors my body was shutting down and they needed to take Munchkin out; she was going to save my life and their job was going to start with my son.
My life changed forever on the Sunday I heard the words "we hope to keep your son in for 48 hours." And 4 days later I officially became the mother to the sassiest damn preemie east of the Mississippi.