Wow. I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since I last blogged. I can honestly say 2019 was the craziest, scariest and happiest year of our lives all rolled into one.
We had a baby girl! Her name is Sophie Isla (middle name pronounced “eye-luh” because yes, we’ve already been asked many times lol), and she is the sweetest, most perfect girl we could have ever asked for. Our pregnancy journey was not the easiest, hence why I had to take some time away and focus on my health. Sophie is now five months old, born in October. I wanted to write a post about our journey, and her birth story, because well, now I’m a mommy and mommy stuff might start taking over the blog (sorry not sorry). I’m usually a very private person, and it took me five months to decide if I wanted to share our story or not. I decided I’d like to share it. Keep in mind this is our story, and these were my true and honest feelings.
So before you keep reading, if you personally know me, and don’t want to know details about our pregnancy or want mental images of things I’m about to share, stop reading. I won’t go into full details and be too graphic, but just know I am sharing the most personal story I’ve ever had to share and want to include the parts that may make someone uncomfortable. Also, if you’re currently pregnant and reading this, please keep in mind everyone’s birthing experiences are different! Don’t go into your labor scared, you will do great.
I’m going to start off on the day I first found out I was pregnant. The first couple weeks after finding out are usually full of excitement and thinking of all the million and one things you need to get done in the next 9 months, but ours were full of a bit of stress.
I found out I was pregnant on March 16th. I was exactly 5 weeks along. I took a digital test because I didn’t want to mess around with the lines and have a subtle line show up and still not know 100%. I wanted the “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant” right in my face. I went to Target, got a test and bought a pack of onesies, one of which said “Hey Dad!”. I also grabbed a pack of buns to throw one in the oven because Char joked recently about how he’d love if I did something funny like that if we ever found out we were pregnant. I pretty much knew I was pregnant. I was about 90% sure. I was experiencing some symptoms, and my period was officially a week late. And even though I knew I was pregnant, I was still in shock when seeing that word “Pregnant” pop up 3 minutes after taking the test. I remember immediately crying and feeling a whole mix of emotions: happy, scared, excited, terrified and OMG I NEED TO TELL CHARLIE IMMEDIATELY. So I grabbed the test, put one of the buns in the oven and hid the “Hey Dad!” onesie. I called Char downstairs making up some random question.
“Hey, can you come down and help me find a cookie sheet, I was gonna make cookies”.
He comes downstairs, and I ask him to check the oven. He opens the oven, sees the bun and immediately got it since we had just joked about it. When he turned around I was holding up the onesie and the test. “Are you serious?!” he yelled. He was beyond excited. He couldn’t sleep that night because he was so happy.
Two days later, things took a turn. The day started out normal, but right when we were about to sit down for dinner I used the bathroom and started bleeding. I immediately thought the worst. I am the worst and Google everything even though I shouldn’t. Google informed me this could be normal, or it could be what I thought it was. I decided to wait it out and see what happened the next morning before calling my doctor, because it came to a stop. The next morning it started back up. I didn’t have a doctor’s appointment for another couple weeks, so I called the office and asked what I should do. They advised me to go to the ER. After spending the whole day there, I was basically told I could possibly be miscarrying. The baby had a heart beat, but it was slow and they just weren’t sure what would happen because I was only 5 weeks along. I had to wait an entire week for another ultrasound. That whole week I was a mess. Worrying, not knowing if I was going to miscarry at any moment. At my next appointment I had prepared myself for the worst. I half expected them to start the ultrasound and not find a heart beat. But there it was, and now it was fast and strong. Our little bean was showing up on the screen and her heart rate was amazing. I was so happy she was ok. I was now 6 weeks. The only other person, besides Charlie, who knew we were pregnant was my sister Molly. She lived in Singapore at the time, and I know she felt like she missed out on a lot while living in another country so I wanted to tell her first. I told her the night we found out, and I had been updating her on what was going on. She was thrilled to find out baby was doing good. It was discovered that what I was experiencing was called a subchorionic hematoma, and it was causing the bleeding. The definition is “the accumulation of blood between the uterine lining and the chorion (the outer fetal membrane, next to the uterus) or under the placenta itself.” I was put on medication for it and was told it could last for weeks. It happened off and on until about week 14. Talk about stressful.
Everything seemed to be progressing perfectly. I felt great, my little bump was becoming not so little anymore, and we were in baby mode. Everywhere we went, we looked for things for the baby. Clothes, nursery items, bouncers, bibs, pacifiers, bottles…I researched on the daily for must have items. I really wanted to feel prepared for her arrival. And speaking of her. We found out in June we were having a little girl. We were beyond thrilled. I will always remember that appointment. The ultrasound tech asked if we wanted to know and we both said “YES!”. We truly did not have a preference, we just wanted a healthy baby. As soon as she moved around on my belly I could see she was a girl. I remember thinking “GIRL” right before she came out and said it. I looked at Charlie and said “we’re having a girl!” and he was beaming. One of the best days of our life for sure.
The Summer went by quickly and everything seemed perfect. Our baby girl was doing great. We had an appointment on September 10th. I woke up that morning feeling excited since we had an ultrasound that day. We hadn’t had an ultrasound in a few appointments, so I could not wait to see her on the screen. She was always so active, and of course active during ultrasounds. I always told the tech that I promised I did not have any juice or caffeine, she’s just always active. My girl loved to kick and move around all day and night. I was 30 weeks and 3 days.
The tech that day was so friendly. She asked if we wanted to do a 3D ultrasound and we said yes. We started out with a normal ultrasound, and then moved to 3D. We got to see her face in 3D for the first time and it was the cutest thing I had ever seen. She looked just like Daddy. The tech then asked me to use the restroom and come back, and that she wanted to do a transvaginal ultrasound. Weird. I hadn’t had one of those since I was in my first trimester. But I thought maybe it was just a normal thing for this point in my pregnancy. She printed us some photos and off we went to our appointment with our doctor to go over the ultrasound results.
The office was really busy that afternoon. My doctor had to run out to do a c-section, and a nurse came out to ask if anyone would be willing to reschedule since it would now take a while to be seen. I thought about it, but was a little nervous and wanted to speak with her about the ultrasound today. A few people got up to reschedule. We ended up waiting over an hour in the waiting room. We saw the nurse practitioner (who is awesome) to go over the ultrasound since my doctor was still at a delivery. She said everything looked great…but then she got to one number and said something looked off. My cervix was measuring very short. She said maybe it was an error and she went to call and ask. She came back. It was not an error, my cervix was indeed measuring very short. She started talking about what she wanted to do, and my head started to spin a little. I immediately felt overwhelmed. She said the words “…if you were to go into labor in the next 2 weeks” and I froze. What?! I’m only 30 weeks along! I have 10 more to go! This isn’t supposed to happen. She told me not to worry, and that I would be getting one of two steroid shots right now. The shots help to mature the baby’s lungs in case she were to come early. I got the first shot, and then went for an NST (non stress test). This is where they put monitors on your belly to hear the baby’s heart, and to see if I was having any contractions. They asked me if I was feeling contractions and I said no, just the baby stretching. They told me that stretching was not stretching, it was a contraction. Since this was the first time I’ve been pregnant, I truly just thought what I felt a couple times a day was the baby stretching out, because that is exactly what it felt like. Nope, they were contractions. And a lot of them I wasn’t even feeling. I was contracting every few minutes and didn’t know it. I was officially terrified.
They sent me over to labor and delivery at the hospital to have another NST. I thought I would be there for another hour or so. I ran into my doctor on the way out as she was returning from her delivery. She asked me how I was feeling and I said I felt good, just concerned. I remember her saying everything would be ok and not to worry.
We went over to L&D, and I was hooked up again.
A doctor came in and asked a few questions. He wanted to see if I was dilated at all and checked my cervix. I was not, thankfully. He said they wanted to keep me overnight to be monitored and to stop the contractions. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Just a few hours prior I felt great and thought everything was perfect. Now I was finding out I could deliver any day? I was absolutely terrified.
They took me from triage into the room I would be staying in. They gave me an IV with magnesium sulfate to try and stop the contractions. I called my mom. I told her not to worry, and that I just wanted to let her know what was going on. Not even 30 minutes later she walks into my room. She is honestly the best. Char left to grab me some clothes and food. He came back and stayed the night with me. During the night I was switched from the magnesium sulfate to Procardia. I had to take a pill every few hours to try and get the contractions to stop. The next morning my doctor came in to see how I was doing. She said I was still having slight contractions, but they had improved. She wanted me to stay for a full 24 hours so I could get my 2nd steroid shot and continue taking the Procardia throughout the day.
During my day at the hospital, I was taken to get another ultrasound to check my cervix again. The tech was very nice and showed me Sophie on 3D again. I got to see her little hair! She then showed me where the cervix shortening was showing on her screen. I truly appreciated her actually pointing out everything as she saw it, because I was genuinely confused about what was happening since I had so much information thrown at me within minutes the day before. To keep it short, I had a shortened cervix and funneling. Sophie’s head was IN the funneling (lower than she should have been), creating more pressure onto my cervix. My cervix length was still the same as the day before (very short…about 1.2cm when it should have been around 3-3.5cm). But at least it hadn’t shortened even more since then. I was taken back to my room and a doctor from the NICU came in to talk with me. He basically went over everything that would happen if I delivered early. This was one scary conversation. I was being told if I delivered that week, she could possibly need to be flown to another NICU in our state. He said that she may need oxygen and a feeding tube, she would most likely be jaundice, and a whole other list of possibilities because I was only 30 weeks pregnant. Those last 10 weeks of pregnancy are obviously so important to allow her lungs to mature, her eyes, hearing, organs, EVERYTHING. She could not come this early. She just couldn’t. I was beyond scared. I kept it together during our conversation and asked the questions that I had at that moment. I just prayed she could stay put for another 6 weeks or more.
The Procardia seemed to work. My contractions stopped and I got the 2nd shot. I was so happy to hear everything was ok (for now) and that I could go home. I was not put on bed rest, but was told to take it extremely easy and that I now needed to get weekly NSTs and to have my cervix checked again within a week.
I went home and stayed off my feet as much as possible for the next week. At my next appointment I had an NST and an ultrasound. The NST showed I was still having slight contractions every few minutes, and the ultrasound showed my cervix at the same length as the week before. I was thankful my cervix hadn’t changed, but confused about the contractions. I was drinking SO much water to stay hydrated. I just wanted to be able to stop them. My doctor did not want me getting anymore weekly cervix checks so that nothing could disturb my cervix anymore (transvaginal ultrasounds are probably not great to keep having when you have a short cervix), and she wanted me to keep taking it easy and continue with the weekly NSTs.
Two Weeks Later: October 2019
October 2nd, 2019. I had my weekly NST appointment. It went well and my contractions had slowed down and I only had one or two very slight ones during it. I did not see my doctor this day, I saw the office’s nurse practitioner because my doctor was at a delivery. She told me things looked ok, and if I felt ok then I was good to go until the next week. We went home and all was well (I thought).
October 3rd, 2019. I was having some pelvic pain this day. I felt good though, just tired. I took it easy the whole day, and while in my home office I put my feet up like I usually did and got a little work done. I took a nap and decided to go to my Grandma’s house for dinner with my family. I was there for about an hour and felt great minus the pelvic discomfort when I would stand up. I sat the whole time I was there, only standing up when I got there and when I was leaving. I decided to go home and rest for the remainder of the night. Little did I know 24 hours later we would have a baby.
It was 8am the morning of October 4th, 2019.
I was getting up to use the bathroom for what felt like the 100th time since 11pm the previous night. I had some pelvic discomfort since the day before, and it had become more pronounced throughout the night. I just had a feeling something was off. When I stood up after going to the bathroom I felt a gush and I heard something hit the floor. I paused for a second because I knew it was either my mucous plug or my water breaking. I was scared to look.
I looked down, and could tell it had been my plug. After cleaning myself, and the floor up, I walked back into our bedroom and said to Charlie, “Don’t freak out, but I think I just lost my mucous plug”. He immediately became worried. I told him not to worry and that I would do some Googling (I know, I know, I told you I’m the worst). I kept reading that your plug can rebuild itself and not to worry immediately, because it didn’t necessarily mean labor was happening. I knew that probably wasn’t true for me because of the issues I was already experiencing with my pregnancy. So I did what anyone in my situation would do. I called my mom. After asking if she thought I should wait it out and see what happens, she responded with “No, call your doctor!” After hanging up with my mom I felt some more leakage, so I put on a pad and prayed this wasn’t my water breaking. It was.
I called my doctor’s office and left a message for my doctor or nurse to call me back immediately. While I was waiting I decided to repack my hospital bag from a duffel bag to a small suitcase to fit a little more in it. I packed a few outfits and swaddles for Sophie. As I was packing the bag, my contractions started. They weren’t bad, but started to build up to every few minutes. I started to get really scared. She’s six weeks early, technically 7 because I was 33 weeks plus 6 days, and the doctor considered me 33 weeks. Will she be ok? How long will she be in the NICU? Will I get to hold her after I give birth? Will they take her away before I even get to see her? So many questions running through my head. So many emotions. And to top it all off, Charlie was in the next room on the phone with people coming the next day to install a new furnace. Ugh. We usually have nothing going on, and of course the weekend this happens is the weekend we had guys coming to install a new furnace. But isn’t that always how life works? I told him not to cancel the furnace installation because if Sophie was indeed coming today, I did not want this installation postponed a month. I really wanted the new furnace working by the time she came home.
Charlie got off the phone and could see I was getting uncomfortable. He told me we weren’t waiting for a return phone call from the doctor’s, and we were going to the hospital. As we were about the walk out the door a nurse from my doctor’s office called back and once I told her what was going on, said get to labor and delivery ASAP, and that she would call them and let them know we were on our way.
The hospital was already busy when we arrived. I had Char drop me off out front and told him to meet me at labor and delivery. We knew the hospital well at this point because of our weekly non stress tests and frequent ultrasounds. I got up to L&D and shakily pressed the button to be let in. “I think I’m in labor” I remember saying. The nurses were so sweet and nice to me. They had been expecting me since my doctor’s office had called them. I felt calmer when I realized how great they were.
I was taken into triage and then felt scared all over again. I was alone and waiting for Char. A minute later I heard his voice asking for me and then he found me. The nurse swabbed me to make sure it was indeed my water breaking. It was. I was quickly admitted after a doctor came in and said I was already dilated to 2.5cm. Holy shit. This was really happening. No stopping it like last time. It was now 10:30am.
I wasn’t sure what to expect once in the delivery room. It was a nice, large room with a couch for Charlie. He turned on the TV and asked what I wanted on. Of course I didn’t care, so he put on a ghost hunter show (remember it was almost Halloween, and Char loves these types of shows). My contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart at this point, and I remember the nurse asking me a question and having to pause to answer. She said something like “wow, you’re in labor, labor, huh?!”
I called my mom and let her know what was going on. I remember telling her the baby was coming. She was driving and pulled over. She had to run into work and then was leaving to come to the hospital. She got to the hospital within 30 minutes. I was told I was allowed to eat, which surprised me because I have always heard you can’t eat while in labor. We had chicken spiedie sandwiches and they were surprisingly good for hospital food. After we ate, my contractions started to pick up. They were getting more intense by the hour.
My doctor came in and I felt so relieved to see her. I love my OB, she is so calm and just great at her job. She checked me and I was at a 6. What? A 6 already? It was about 1pm at this point. I told her I wanted my epidural. She let me know that when she last checked me that the baby was “sunny side up”, meaning her face was face up rather than down. Apparently this can sometimes complicate things, and make pushing harder and longer. I had no idea. She wanted me to get on all fours on the bed to try and flip her. This was indescribable. The pain was so, so intense and just horrible. I can’t even compare it to anything because I’ve never experienced a pain like this before. After 15-20 minutes of this I moved to a ball next to the bed to try and flip her that way. While I was doing this they wheeled in the epidural tray. Thank God. I didn’t think I could last any longer. The tray was there, but we were alone in the room. I told my mom to go get the nurse and tell her I needed the epidural NOW. I figured we were just waiting on the anesthesiologist.
My doctor came back in. She checked me again. Baby was still sunny side up, and I was at a 7. It was about 2:30pm now. Prepare yourselves for the next part…she told me she didn’t want me to get the epidural. My labor was progressing quickly, and since Sophie was premature she did not want to slow things down or cause any complications with an epidural. I remember practically begging her to let me have one. I told her I didn’t think I could push without any help. She calmed me down by saying that even if I had the epidural she would turn it way down during pushing so that I could feel the contractions and knew when I needed to push. This calmed me for about 10 seconds until the next contraction hit.
I can’t even describe the last 3cm of pain, going through the transition period. Excruciating is the only word I can think of. I felt her head coming down, and with each contraction a stronger urge to push. We had a new nurse on shift come in, and she was absolutely wonderful. She reminded us of one of my cousins, who also happens to be an L&D nurse. When you’re experiencing the worst pain you’ve ever felt, it really makes things a lot better when you’re comfortable with the people caring for you. I wished throughout my pregnancy that I liked the nurses I would have during labor, and I really did.
The nurse could tell how much pain I was in by me clinging on to the rails of the bed. She told me to let my body take control and do what I felt like I needed to with each contraction, so I let myself push through each one. My doctor came back in. I was at a 9. It was almost 4pm. She was delivering a baby in the next room over. I was worried that she wouldn’t be able to come to my room in time if she was already with another woman that was pushing.
For the last couple hours of my labor, my contractions were coming every minute. I remember saying I just needed a 10 minute break to recharge. I just wanted a break. It was too much.
My doctor came back in. She had delivered the baby next door. I was at a 10. What perfect timing. It was such intense pain I didn’t even feel scared to push anymore. I did some practice pushes with my nurse while my doctor went to change. She said I was doing great. My doctor came back in, this time with the NICU crew. Three NICU nurses came in with an isolette for Sophie. I was scared again. I remembered that she was early. That she would be taken from us after she was born.
Another contraction was starting, and my doctor told Charlie to hold one of my legs, while the nurse had my other. They could see her head. Charlie was telling me to push harder. I remember pushing, and my doctor telling me to push into my butt. She then said, “Yes, like that!”. I pushed a few more times until I couldn’t. I closed my eyes in-between each contraction almost as if I thought no one could see me if I shut my eyes. I just wanted her out.
It was now 4:30pm. I had been pushing for 10 minutes. I wasn’t sure how long this would take, especially since she was sunny side up. I didn’t know if I could do this. The pain was so intense.
Another contraction came, and I remember Charlie being so excited he could see her head start to come out. When the contraction ended, it would go back in. He told me afterwards that it scared him when that kept happening. Pushing was so intense it was almost like I was no longer in my own body.
And yet another contraction just seconds later. I remember feeling the contraction end, but I still pushed as hard as I could 4 more times because my doctor was yelling “Push, push, push!”. I felt her head come out. I felt the rest of her body come out. I remember thinking in this exact moment, I did it. I really did it.
I heard her cry, and my doctor placed her on my chest. My first words were “hi, baby!” And Charlie said “hi, Sophie!”. Charlie cut her umbilical cord, and then the NICU nurses needed to see her. They cleaned her up, and I kept asking if she was ok. She was crying and sneezing. I thought she must have been ok if she was crying. Once they looked her over and wrapped her in a blanket they let me hold her and take some pictures of the three of us together for the first time. She was beautiful. I couldn’t believe this perfect little human was inside of me for 8 months. We made her. It’s a wild thing to think about. Sophie Isla made her grand entrance at 4:44pm, just 7 hours after getting to the hospital, and a total of 9 hours in labor.
After a couple minutes they told us they needed to take her to the NICU. I asked them to show her to my mom who was waiting outside our door in the hallway. I watched them stop and show her to my mom as they wheeled her out. I was so happy and relieved she was breathing ok. All I wanted to know was if she needed oxygen once in the NICU and what her weight was. She felt like a healthy, full term baby to me when I held her.
We stayed in the L&D room for at least an hour after I had her. We had food delivered to the room, my mom stayed for a bit and then my sister and Charlie’s parents came to visit. After they moved me to the room I would be staying in for the next two nights, all I could think of was seeing our girl. We were finally taken up to the NICU to see her. I’ll always remember the first time I spotted her. She was just laying there, awake, and looked so perfect, even with all of the wires and IV attached to her.
I remember feeling so sad to see her like this. I felt like it was my fault. I felt like my body had failed me. If I could have just kept her in for 2 more weeks she could have avoided this. She was already such a good weight for her gestational age. She was 5lbs 13oz. We were so happy with her weight, as were all the nurses.
We talked with the nurses for a while and asked questions while Charlie got to hold her for the first time. I asked how long they thought she would need to be in there, and they said they could possibly keep her until her due date. It was October 4th and her due date was November 16th. My heart dropped. I didn’t think I’d be ok if she needed to stay there until her due date. I didn’t know how I was even going to leave the hospital without her in two days. I was already a wreck just thinking about it. I tried to just stay positive and pray she’d be ok. I kept trying to tell myself this was just temporary, she needed to be there, she was getting excellent care and that she would be home when she was ready. It’s VERY hard to stay positive in a similar situation when you just gave birth hours before. My hormones were all over the place, I couldn’t stand up for long by myself yet and I was exhausted.
We stayed with Sophie for an hour or two, and by this time it was past 10pm, so we went back to our room. Without our baby. The second time in one day I had to say goodbye to her after carrying her inside of me for 8 months. This was the first of many times I held in my tears.
Since I could barely walk I had to stay in my bed the whole night. I needed Charlie’s help getting up to use the restroom. I didn’t get any sleep. I went back to the NICU first thing in the morning and Sophie was awake. I held her and talked to her. I asked the nurses how she did overnight and they said she was great. I asked again what they needed to see in order for Sophie to come home. A small part of me was wishing she was perfect and would be able to go home within a couple days, although I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t help but wish it would. The nurse that morning was one we hadn’t met the night before, and she was great. She said Sophie was jaundice, so she would be going under the lights for the day and would be retested the next morning, and would still need to be monitored for a few days to see if her levels went back up. Sophie also needed to be in the isolette with an IV where the temp was consistent and would be slowly lowered in order for her body to maintain its own temp. They also needed to make sure she did not need oxygen or a feeding tube and be able to eat on her own. Her weight had already started to drop, which is normal for any newborn, but they would also need to see her weight start going back up before she left.
That morning she was rooting around trying to latch, so I called our nurse over to show her. Later that day we were able to try breastfeeding and it was successful. That was so amazing to us. We had planned to breastfeed my whole pregnancy and weren’t sure if she would be able to after she was born. She struggled a bit, but did latch and feed for a few minutes and it made this Mommy so incredibly happy.
That day my oldest sister Megan and my parents came to see me. I took them up to meet Sophie. Since she was under the lights I couldn’t take her out until I needed to feed her, but I was so happy my sister got to see her. My mom was there when I fed her, so she was able to hold her for a few minutes. I was so happy she got to hold her.
That night I set an alarm for every 3 hours to go to the NICU and feed her. I was actually excited for this because I wanted to be with her as much as possible. I wanted her to know my smell, my voice, and to just have her be held rather than be in her isolette. Any chance I got to do skin to skin with her made me so happy.
The next day was the day I was being discharged. I put off being discharged until the very last minute (seriously), because I didn’t want to leave. I knew I could be in the NICU as long as I wanted every day, but I seriously hated the thought of being separated from my girl for any length of time. My nurse noticed my normally positive self was feeling down and asked if I was ok. I started to cry for the first time, I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I said I was starting to feel really sad about not bringing Sophie home that day. A doctor came in and asked if I felt any symptoms of postpartum depression. I said I didn’t. And to be honest I wasn’t even sure. I had to leave my baby at the hospital while I was being sent home, wouldn’t any parent be in tears over this? After filling out Sophie’s paperwork and birth certificate we were officially discharged. We went up to the NICU for a bit to feed and hold her. I was just so sad to be leaving her there. It was about 6pm and she was on a 3 hour feeding schedule, meaning she needed to be fed every 3 hours, so we told the nurse we would be back for her 10pm feeding. As much as I didn’t want to leave her, I was looking forward to taking a shower in my own bathroom and change my clothes. I was in a lot of pain, and my feet were incredibly swollen. In all of the chaos of Sophie’s birth, I kept forgetting I needed to take care of myself as well.
We got home and Char made us some food while I showered. I cried in the shower. I cried in the shower every day she was in the NICU because I didn’t want Charlie to see me crying. I didn’t want to seem weak at the time, and looking back I feel stupid for feeling this way. Our baby was in the NICU, and I was recovering from child birth. I had every right to feel emotional. Especially to him. I wasn’t weak, I was one strong and badass mom. AND I gave birth all natural. I never in a million years thought that would happen.
We went back to the NICU at 10pm and seeing Sophie again made me the happiest mommy in the world. I was pumping at home every 2 hours in order to bring in milk for Sophie every visit. The nurses insisted that I allow myself to get some rest, so Charlie and I decided that the schedule easiest for us was to do 8am-10am, 1pm-2pm, 4pm-6pm and 10pm-11:30pm feedings. Since Sophie came early, I hadn’t finished up work projects for clients that I planned on finishing before giving myself a maternity leave. So yes, I am crazy and still had to finish projects while she was in the hospital. While going to the hospital 4 times a day for hours at a time. And pumping every 2 hours when home. And getting 5 hours of sleep. I felt like a zombie, and was in a lot of pain, and it was way too much. I reminded myself 10 times a day it was temporary and she would be home soon. My heart ached every day for parents whose babies need to be in the NICU for many weeks, even months. Some visits I would go alone so Charlie could catch up on work. Every time I went alone I cried in my car after. I didn’t tell anyone this until recently, but it’s the truth. I don’t cry often, but I did every single day she was in the NICU. While Sophie was in there, she was hooked up to heart rate and oxygen monitors. I will never forget the ringing of these machines. Every single time they went off my heart dropped.
Sophie ended up in the NICU for 12 long days. While she was there we were able to get most of her nursery finished at home, buy lots of newborn clothing, because for our whole pregnancy we thought we wouldn’t need that much newborn size, so only had a few things. We got the carseat base installed in both of our cars. We put together her stroller, pack n’ play, bassinets, changing stations, and washed all of her clothes. Every day we did a new project, because we said each project finished meant it was closer to her coming home, and coming home to a house fully prepared for her. For months while pregnant I looked forward to having a nesting stage. I said from August to November would be nursery time, full on house cleaning time, and just be in baby prep mode. Instead, I was told at 30 weeks to take it extremely easy, and basically be on bed rest. I had zero energy to get anything done. I was exhausted every day, and had to take a nap each afternoon. Sophie was incredibly active, and was always moving and head butting/hitting my cervix. It was very painful, and made me so nervous since I knew I already had a short cervix. So long story short, I did not have the time to prepare for her like I thought I would. So when she was born, and when I should have been resting and recovering, I went into full on baby prep mode. Thank God I did not need a c-section, or I have no idea what I would have done.
A couple days before Sophie came home, one of the nurses told us she was being taken out of her isolette and moved to a normal bassinet. This was a test for Sophie, to make sure she could maintain her body temperature for the next couple days. We also brought in her carseat to have her do a “carseat test”, which meant placing her in the carseat for 90 minutes to make sure her heart rate and oxygen levels didn’t change drastically while in there. She passed with flying colors. We were thrilled.
The night before Sophie came home, we spent the night in the hospital with her, in the family room in the NICU. It’s a room where they let parents stay, but it only allows one family at a time, and was always “booked” when we asked about it. So we were happy we could finally spend a night with her. This night was a test for her, to make sure she could maintain her body temperature over night, feed well every 3 hours, see if her jaundice levels stayed down, and make sure her weight was still going up. To say we were nervous was an understatement. We did not tell any family or friends we were there, because we didn’t want to get everyone excited and then have the doctor want to keep her longer.
She did great that night. We were excited and nervous the next morning while the doctor made his rounds and let us know if she could go home. Her jaundice levels stayed down, and her body temp stayed perfect. A nurse came in the room saying the words “Sophie is going home!”. I cried. I called my mom and she cried, which made me cry again. We got Sophie dressed and in her car seat. We said goodbye to the nurses and the doctor and thanked them for how well they took care of our girl.
And just like that, we were home to start our lives together.
At the time I am writing this, Sophie is 5 months old and a little over 14 pounds. She is doing amazing. She is our whole world, and what they say is true. Time really does fly. We are enjoying every day with her, and soaking up every cuddle, smile and giggle while we can.
To any Moms or Dads out there reading this, possibly facing similar pregnancy issues or have a baby in the NICU, I feel your pain, and I know how you’re feeling. Just remember things will get better, and your sweet baby will be home with you soon. Let yourself cry. Let yourself be sad. You will get through it. All my love and hugs to you. And Mamas, remember, let yourself heal. Take care of yourself, too. If you want to reach out, feel free to send me a message on my contact page.