On May 18, 2012 I was 34 weeks pregnant and on bed rest. I had been on bed rest since about the five month mark due to Pelvic Dysmorphia Syndrome which is essentially your ligaments pulling away from your pelvis. If you are thinking that sounds extremely painful you would be correct.
At 28 weeks I went for an ultrasound and they noticed that my cervix had shortened to half and I was told I was at risk for preterm labour. There were a lot of words thrown at Este and I like cerebral palsy, beta shots, weekly ultrasounds, non-stress tests etc. Basically we were told to take it day by day with the goal of “making it” to 35 weeks.
Cut to May 18th, 2012. After weeks of strict bed rest, meals on wheels from family and countless hours of tv, my water broke at 1:00 pm in the afternoon. I remember I was lying in bed with Ali trying to get her to nap as we had family coming over at five for my 31 birthday celebration.
I heard the tell tale pop and felt the subsequent gush and knew my water had broken. I called Este who freaked out, telling me to call 911 and I told him to calm down and meet Ali and I at the hospital as I was driving.
When we got there Labour and Delivery confirmed that my membranes had indeed ruptured and the whirlwind ensued.
We had a meeting with the maternity GP on call, an obstetrician and the head nurse who all lulled Este and I into a false sense of security. “Oh this is fine” they said “we are happy when babies make it to 28 weeks these days”. We were left with the choice of immediate c-section or I could wait a couple of days until I went into labour naturally and deliver vaginally with the risk of infection due to the fact that I was strep-b positive.
We were not willing to risk infection so we opted for the c-section.
At six pm they wheeled me out of my room in Labour and Delivery and into an operating theatre. Ten minutes after that they held Carlitos over the curtain and Este and I burst into tears.
He was beautiful and he was crying.
They took him off to the side while they started to put me back together. Este cut his umbilical cord and then they bundled him all up and brought him over to me.
I noticed right away he was having trouble breathing and his lips were purple. After what seemed like a split second with my son they took him away to the neonatal intensive care unit. Neither Este or I wanted our bean to be alone so we decided that Este would go to the NICU while the doctors finished sewing me up.
After I came out of recovery and was settled in my room on Mother/Babe I had the overwhelming urge to be with my son. Este wheeled me into the NICU and nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.
My sweet Carlitos was on his tummy in an incubator hooked up to a CPAP machine to help him breath. He had leads on him everywhere monitoring his breathing, heart rate, sats etc. I started sobbing. This was not what I was expecting after our pep talk from the doctors prior to delivery. I wanted to hold my son and I couldn’t. All I could do was open a portal on the side of the incubator and rest my hand on his diaper. Because he was born at 34 weeks the nerve endings in his skin were extremely sensitive so the nursing staff advised against any rubbing or light touch.
The next few days were hell. I was in a shared room, alone, and I kept dreading the arrival of another new Mom and her babe. I finally asked one of the nurses to put my anxiety at rest and she replied “Oh honey, we would never put another mom in there with you when you don’t have your baby.”
I was relieved and devastated all at the same time. I sobbed for a long time as an artificial machine pumped my boobs so that my milk would come in and the nurses could start feeding Carlos through an nasal gastric tube when he was ready.
Before I was released three days later, the NICU staff informed Este and I that a nurse had accidentally given all of the colostrum I had tirelessly pumped to another baby by accident. I will never forget Este’s face. He just broke down under the stress and worry for me and our little bean.
Carlos remained in the NICU over the next seven weeks on CPAP, caffeine, monitors and nasal gastric feeding tubes. We, along with the NICU nurses, celebrated each new milestone together. It was a test of emotional strength for both Este and I as our little guy got stronger.
We have gone through months upon months of assessments with Queen Alexandra to ensure Carlitos is developing as he should. This past summer “he graduated” from the program as well as from his pediatrician. Those were huge milestones for him and for us.
Since he was born, Carlitos has always had respiratory issues. He was seriously ill with croup the September after he was born, seriously ill when we went to Argentina and we have endured countless trips to the ER, clinics and his family doctor over the past twenty months.
This past Tuesday Este took him to emerg as his never ending cough worsened quickly and he was struggling to breath. They advised us that this time it was not croup but a virus made worse by what they suspected to be asthma. It was suggested we see his family doctor as soon as possible to talk about some long term planning. Four hours and two inhaler prescriptions later the two of them were home.
Yesterday I was able to get Carlitos in to our GP’s office. The locum and I discussed Este’s family history of asthma, Carlitos’ many trips to the clinic, constantly being on antibiotics for lung infections and always having a cough that worsens with any viral or bacterial infection. She explained that it is hard to diagnose children under three but that this did sound like asthma and it was serious enough to warrant a referral to a pediatric specialist.
Today was day two of Carlitos running a fever. When he woke up this morning his temperature was 39.7. I alternated both puffers, Tylenol and Advil all day but he was writhing around on the floor screaming and crying. Back to the clinic we went. It seems his virus has turned into a bacterial infection.
Every time Carlitos gets sick I am taken right back to that horrible, helpless feeling I felt when he was in the NICU. Even though he is talking up a storm (by 20 month old standards) he is still unable to tell me what hurts or what I can do to help. It hurts my heart and sends me into the depths of anxiety.
Thank you for bearing with me through this long post. Some have it much worse, I know, and some have no idea what I am going through, but most people know what it is like to love somebody so profoundly you would do anything to take their pain away. That is what it is like with my kids. Whether it is Carlos and his lungs or Ali and her feelings; when they hurt, I hurt.
Silver Lining: When Este got home tonight he told me today at daycare (he prefaced it with “today your daughter…”) Ali and Brucy were busted kissing in the romper room (side bar: what is it with my kids and getting busted kissing?! This doesn’t bode well..). Teacher Chianne told them that kisses were reserved for family to which Brucy replied: “We are family…she’s my wife.” Chianne, being the quick thinker that she is, said: “Oh you need a marriage certificate to be married”. Brucy then went and drew a “marriage certificate”, had Ali “sign” it and gave it to Chianne and said “See? We’re married.” Chianne had the last laugh though as she told Ali and Brucy that you had to be 18 to be married. They both just shrugged, said “oh” and went about their business.