CARTER JAMES SMITH
Born on Sunday July 24, 2016 at 2:22 pm
(born at 34 weeks)
As unexpected as I had expected everything to be about this pregnancy and Carter's birth, I still could not have imagined that his birth would have gone near as unexpected as it actually did.
Allow me to start at the beginning, while it's all still fresh in my head.
To start at the beginning would require me to go back a bit to a few prenatal appointments I had with a doctor I disliked very much. I have loved the place I've gone to for all my prenatal appointments except for this one doctor who I happened to get a few times. When I would tell him my concerns he would half smirk and disregard them. He referred to my concerns and my aches and pains as "pathological", and he was just all around rude. He would continue to ask me a billion times what happened in my first birth, with Everett, and then act like I was crazy for being concerned simply because my first baby came fast, unexpected, and early. Anyways... I could go on and on, but basically I just really didn't like him and made sure to make all the rest of my appointments without him. Despite my avoiding him in the office, I knew there was really no real way of avoiding him if he was on call when I happened to go into labor, so I had been fretting about that constantly.
Now... to get on with the real story. Fast forward to Saturday morning at about 5:45... I woke up with a sharp pain encompassing the middle of my stomach. It hurt really bad, but it wasn't anything like labor pains... it was just, pain. I laid there waiting for it to pass, wondering what it could be and decided to get up and use the restroom to see if that might help. After walking out of the bathroom it just got worse, to the point I was almost doubled over and could barely make it back to bed. Steve insists I screamed, (I think I just made a little moan), and it woke him up in a panic. He asked if I was going to have the baby and I told him no, but I was in a lot of pain. I sat on the edge of our bed and then I started to get strong contractions along with the pain. Steve asked what I wanted to do and I told him to help me back in bed and to see if laying it off would do the trick. After about 40 minutes the pain subsided and I was able to go back to sleep. I didn't wake up again until about 9 in the morning and the pain was completely gone. I was having small braxton hicks which was normal for me, so I didn't really think too hard about it. My mom was staying with us and so we decided to go out to breakfast. When we got back I was really tired and sat down to watch a show with Everett. I noticed I was still having braxton hicks, which although that was normal for me, I usually didn't have them so strong or regular until night time. So, I decided to start timing them. They were averaging about 10 minutes apart but they still were not totally consistent. I was debating whether or not it was worth calling the doctor because I knew I would be sent to the hospital because it wasn't during office hours. Plus, I really did not want to run into that particular doctor... especially without being totally sure I was actually in labor.
Luckily, I have a sweet cousin who works at the hospital I would be going to as a Labor and Delivery nurse. So I decided to text her to see if she knew who was on call. I had made up my mind that if the rude doctor was on call, I would wait until things got worse, but if it was anybody else, I would go in to be checked just to be safe. She replied saying she was on a trip so she didn't know who was on call and then asked me if I was having labor pains. I explained my situation to her but then didn't hear back for the rest of the day. So, I went about my day, I stopped timing the contractions and had decided they were just Braxton hicks, and everything was as normal as it had been before the sharp pain occurred.
The next day, Sunday, I got a text back from my cousin right before I started getting ready for church. She let me know it was really good Carter was still moving but said she might be worried that I could have had an abruption and said to feel free to call just to be checked. I had no idea what an abruption was so I looked it up online and learned it was when the placenta starts to come away from uterus which can cause serious complications and bleeding. I looked at the symptoms and found I had some, but not a lot. I was definitely not bleeding which the website did say does not alway happen, but more commonly does. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be in constant pain or if it was just a moment of pain either. I texted my cousin back with my questions and then told my mom and husband what her thoughts were and began to discuss with them what it could mean. They both insisted I call the hospital just to be safe, especially after what happened last time. I really, really didn't want to because I wasn't in any pain at the moment and didn't even have any Braxton hicks to claim.
Then I reflected back on the last time I went to the hospital on a fluke when I felt strong like I needed to, almost to prepare me for when I really did need to go. I couldn't help but think, maybe that moment when I just acted on faith and went even though it was nothing, was supposed to prepare me for that moment to do the same thing when I didn't even have any real reason to go. So, I called, and I went! I couldn't have been more grateful it was one of the really nice doctors on call, and even though he didn't seem to think it was anything of too much concern, he was still really nice and thought it would be good to be checked.
My mom stayed home with Everett and took him to church and Steve came with me to the hospital. When we got there, we went through the drill of hooking me up and being monitored. I had a really kind nurse which I was grateful for. She kept mentioning that Carter's heart rate was on the higher end, but didn't seem overly concerned. Then my doctor came in... with the nurse behind him and she was holding an IV. The second I saw the IV flashbacks of the shock of being in labor with Everett came back, with the whole, "She's a nine, we need to get her hooked up to an IV right away and into labor and delivery." I kept wondering why on earth they had an IV when the doctor hadn't even checked me yet.
He told me that Carter's heart rate had consistently been super high since I got hooked up to the monitors which meant he was in distress for some reason. They did a little ultrasound and found that I had indeed had a slight abruption. Before they told me anything more the doctor checked me and I was dilated to a three. He said they would wait a little bit to see if Carter's heart rate improved but if it didn't they would take me back. I asked him what he meant by that and he said, take me back for a C-Section.
What?! I wasn't even mentally prepared to deliver, yet alone a C-Section! He went on to explain that there was bleeding behind the placenta and that if we had not come in and it had gone unnoticed Carter and I both could have bled to death. He told us that unfortunately abruption causes more babies to die because it is caught too late. I couldn't have been more grateful for the spirit preparing me to go to the hospital at an inconvenient and unexpected time way back a few months ago and to just go when I felt like I needed to. I also just kept thanking my sweet cousin in my heart because if she hadn't said anything, we would not have even begun to consider going in.
They begun putting in the IV and I began to cry. Everything was so surreal. I had so many mixed emotions of gratitude, anxiety, fear, and simply trying to wrap my head around it all. It hadn't even been five minutes when the doctor came in and explained it was kind of an emergency situation and they needed to Carter out right away. That meant C-Section. I thought I had conquered my greatest fear when I gave birth to Everett naturally, but realized in that moment I was dead wrong. Surgery is something I had never experienced to any degree and never wanted to experience. I began shaking uncontrollably and knew I needed my mom. I had Steve call her to have her give Everett to one of our neighbors so she could be there.
It wasn't long before the nurse came in and said we needed to go into the operating room right away. I asked if I had time to get a quick blessing from Steve and she said I did but to make it quick and then asked if we needed any oil or another priesthood holder... gotta love living in an LDS town! Right before Steve started giving me the blessing my mom walked in with as perfect timing as ever. I could tell she wasn't quite informed of the entire situation so I briefly explained it as best and as fast as I could through my tears when Steve proceeded to give me the blessing.
After the blessing I was wheeled into the operating room where I was moved to the operating table and told to hunch over so they could start the spinal. It's like the epidural but works quicker, and I was grateful I didn't have to have something stuck in my back the entire time like the epidural. As the spinal was being put in my back I had another doctor explaining how the operation was going to go and what I would be feeling. If it wasn't for that spinal I don't think I ever would have stopped shaking. I began to go numb from my a little above my waist down right away. The nurses laid me down and strapped my arms out away from the table on two boards. They put the curtain up so I didn't have to see what was going on, (thank goodness!), and then they let Steve in. They had him sit on the other end with me as he held my hand. I was terrified. The doctor began what felt like poking me to test if I could feel it. I couldn't really, but I was worried that even the slight pokes meant I would be able to feel it. That is, until they notified me they had already begun with the incision. It was the most awful, weird feeling I've ever felt in my life. I didn't feel anything sharp, but I could definitely feel things moving, pulling, and tugging really strong. They then pushed on my chest incredibly hard and I felt a ton of tugging and pulling and the next thing I knew I heard Carter's sweet cry and they held him up to peek over the curtain.
The second I saw him I burst into tears. So many emotions filled me. All the pain and discomfort I had just felt, all the pain from my pregnancy, the emotional difficulties during this pregnancy, the stress, the worry, the panic of when we thought Carter was going to come super early, and just everything hard I had gone though led up to that moment. It felt like such a release and like seeing him in that moment peek over that curtain was what it was all meant for. In a lot of ways I think it was almost like everything fell into place right then and there. Like I was finally able to see how all those little hard puzzle pieces came together and how much Heavenly Father had His hand in it all every step of the way. I don't think I've ever felt so many emotions, so strong in that way in my entire life.
They took Carter back to the NICU and began putting me back together. When I got out of the operating room I realized it had all happened so fast that Carter was already here and nobody even knew because we didn't have time to call or text anybody. Steve and my mom began informing family and friends and I needed to just rest. They took my mom and Steve back to the NICU to see and hold Carter for the first time but I was unable to go because I was still numb. It was probably about eight hours until I finally got to hold him for the first time. He was on oxygen and had an IV in and was all hooked up to the monitors. We felt so grateful that by the time I came down to see him they were ready to take him off the oxygen, but it was so sad to see them peel the tape off of his fragile little face.
Recovering has been a little rough so far. Shout out to all you mamas who have made it through a C-Section and the recovery, especially the ones who have had multiple C-Sections. Even though they are made out to be rougher than giving birth vaginally, I feel like it was even rougher than it was ever made out to be. But, I am probably just a wimp haha.
Carter is doing so well and eating like a champ for being born at 34 weeks! He is the sweetest little thing, and all the nurses seem to love him just as much as we do for it. He is so teeny-tiny and cute! He's currently off of his oxygen still and now off of his IV. He has a feeding tube in, is hooked up to some monitors, and is currently on the bilirubin lights. But for how premature he is, he is doing so well and we are so proud of our little guy! He even took 20 ml through nursing in our last feeding. We are hoping that his eating well will get him home to us sooner. However, we were told that a minimum of two weeks of him being in the NICU is probably what we can count on, and of course if things change, (which we hope they don't), it could be longer.
We feel so, so blessed that things went as well as they did as we could very easily have had a very different outcome. We are just so grateful for inspired family members, great doctors, amazing friends, family, neighbors, and ward members, and just all the amazing people that surround us for helping us out in so many different ways. We love you all!