I was blessed with a very easy pregnancy. I was teaching at an elementary throughout the duration, so it kept me busy and gave me little time to dwell on the ailments of being pregnant. We celebrated our ultrasound when we discovered we were having a precious baby boy. I wasn't surprised, I had only expected us to have a boy. Our paper chain shrank as his delivery date drew nearer and nearer. As we closed on 37 weeks I was so excited for the festivities we had planned. A baby shower on Saturday followed by a birthday pedicure with my sister. My birthday was on Monday and that always makes me excited and anxious like a child on Christmas Eve. We still didn't have a go-bag or a name picked out. We figured there was still a month to worry about those things. We had just finished our birthing class, but had not yet pre-registered with the hospital.
My mother-in-law and sister were asleep in our living room after the shower. I woke up to relieve myself at 3 a.m. Typical. On my walk to the bathroom my pelvis popped in three different places. Not as typical. After I climbed back into bed I started having the strongest contractions yet. I couldn't go back to sleep because I was having to breathe through them. I timed them for 30 minutes and found them to be about every 4 minutes. So I woke Matthew up. In his sleepy state he decided it would be a good idea to time them some more. After about an hour they were almost every 2 minutes, so I told Matthew it was time to face the facts and head off to the hospital.
We tried to sneak out of the house without waking our guests, but they were no longer sleeping. We nonchalantly told them we were headed to the hospital and took off. To this day I still find it funny that we live only 1.5 blocks from the hospital, but in my husband's sleepy worried state we took a route that about doubled our distance.
When I was finally in a room I was told I was dilated to a 6.5 and that I would be having a baby that day. This was when things became very real, very scary, and very exciting. After about two more hours I was ready to go, but the doctor was still at another hospital. We waited another hour for him to arrive and the nurse had to slow down the progression a bit. Our little boy's heart rate was going all over the place and there was stool when my water broke, so we knew he was stressed out. The doctor informed me that because of these things there would be some extra specialists in the room when he was born to help evaluate his health. We discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice. That was corrected and he was delivered shortly thereafter. It all became a whirlwind from that point on.
I really was unaware of some of the things that happened after. From my perspective: my baby was out, he was being evaluated by those extra specialists (quite a lot), and I heard him screaming which was a good thing.
My husband saw the lesion on his back when he was born. He heard them call out into the hall for even more doctors. He saw them ever so carefully handle him so as not to disturb the sac. They didn't even try to measure his height. They asked my husband what time he was born, and he responded, "I don't know 9:45ish." Things were just not done the normal way. We were all blindsided. When the doctor finally told me he had spina bifida I asked, "What is that? What does that even mean?" They all gave vague and uninformative answers, so that the Children's hospital could give the actual diagnosis. My men were then life flighted to the Children's hospital one hour away.
They never did let me hold him. I was wheeled to his crib side in the NICU while he waited transfer. He still did not have a name.
My mother and mother-in-law were with me as well as countless others who came to visit, but I still felt quite lonely. Matthew, my sister, and my boy were all at the other hospital awaiting surgery. I joined them the next morning to continue our wait. It was my birthday.
Together at last, we named our little boy Oliver John. He went into surgery and came back out. We rejoiced when we saw him moving his legs again. My mom treated me to an in-hospital birthday dinner. It felt as if an entire week had gone by in those 42 hours.
This does not end our story - quite the opposite really. It is the beginning of this life-long journey we are on. Since then Matthew and I have had quite the steep learning curve. We have become parents, nurses, and advocates for our little boy. Now that the water has settled and the sand cleared I see that we have been so blessed and cared for. We are so thankful to have Oliver and to have made it through those two days and the trying two weeks following as stronger, more faithful parents.