Emberly Rose Cross – February 18, 2018 – 9:57am – 3 pounds – 14.5 inches long
Emberly – meaning – full of fire
My premonitions about Emberly have been pretty darn accurate from the start. I always knew she was a girl. I always knew something just wasn’t right. And after finding out about something not being right and going through surgery, I knew she would come early. Little did I know exactly how early she would arrive.
It all started on Thursday, February 15th.
I had my weekly visit with my fetal therapy doctors. Everything was looking good and I was feeling totally fine. The previous week, my doctor had noticed two small pockets of fluid where my placenta and uterus connect. These spots of fluid were at the exact locations of the ports they inserted into my uterus during surgery. My doctor wasn’t happy to see them there but didn’t think they would cause any problems. She said anytime you mess with the uterus there is a chance of something going wrong. Because you cannot stitch the membranes (or bag of water) closed, cells multiply in the place where the tiny holes were to create a patch and keep it closed. It was likely that fluid had leaked out a bit, but as long as it didn’t start to drain out and leak out of me everything was fine. I left the appointment that day feeling optimistic and that full term was right around the corner. I was finally in the third trimester.
Two weeks prior, my other fetal therapy doctor had recommended a place where I could get a prenatal massage. Darius, being the incredibly brilliant man that he is, booked me for a massage as a Valentine’s Day gift later in the day after my appointment. The massage was fantastic and I was finally feeling relaxed; like I had really taken care of myself.
That evening Darius and I were hanging out together watching a movie and around 9pm I just didn’t feel good. I was getting cramps, back pain and leg pain. I basically felt like I was about to start my period. I blamed it on the massage, knowing that after I get massages I am usually sore. In the back of my head, a slight panic had set in.
Friday, February 16th
Around 4am the cramps woke me up. Real panic had now set in. This is exactly how my labor started with Lincoln. I was terrified to sit up in fear that my water would break. I shook Darius awake, telling him that I didn’t feel right and he told me to call labor and delivery on the fetal alert card I had been given in case of emergency. Knowing in my heart they’d tell me to come in, and knowing I had no clue what we’d do with Lincoln at this hour, I ignored Darius. I took two Tylenol and went back to sleep.
Now, at around 7am things hadn’t gotten any better. I was having trouble deciding if they were contractions or cramps, but my stomach was tightening up and I refused to time them because I was so terrified. At this point, Darius is anxious and frustrated, telling me I have to call but I knew my doctors office didn’t open until 8. I called labor and delivery and they told me to come in. By the time we dropped Lincoln off at my friend Jen’s house it was close to 8 so I called my regular doctor who told me to come to their office instead because they were obviously familiar with me and my case.
We arrived around 8:30 and I was hooked up to a monitor to track the baby’s heart rate and my contractions. Lo and behold, I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes. I received a shot of betamethasone which is a steroid shot used to help develop a preemies lungs in case delivery is necessary. My doctor informed me I would be staying overnight in the labor and delivery unit to get my contractions under control and stop my labor.
Fear set in. I didn’t want to stay. I wanted to go home and be with my sweet boy. This was not my plan. NONE of this had been part of my plan.
I was started on indomethacin which is used to help stop preterm labor. A few hours later, my contractions hadn’t stopped and they started me on magnesium. Magnesium is horrible and it makes you feel absolutely terrible, but it does it’s job. When they first started magnesium they pumped a lot into me quickly. My arm felt like it was on fire at the spot where the IV was, I was burning up, nauseous, uncomfortable and feeling sick. After about fifteen minutes of this, they were able to lower my magnesium and although I still felt horrible, I was feeling “better” than before. I stayed on magnesium through the night, trying to sleep here and there.
Saturday, February 17th
Being on magnesium this long had really started to mess with me. When I was on mag I was told it makes your muscles very weak so I had to use a bed pan to go to the bathroom which was such a degrading experience (my reason for telling you that will make sense later). I was starting to see double and when my nurse came in my room and when I told her there were two of her, she knew it was time to turn my mag down.
Later in the day, my doctor came in and told me he was happy with how the mag was working and that I would stay on it throughout the night again. I was so upset I wouldn’t be going home, but glad I would be going home the next day and that the mag was working. My doctor told me that being on the mag and indomethacin for this long wasn’t horrible for the baby but also wasn’t necessarily good. He wanted to wean me off the mag overnight, stop the indomethacin, and start me on a new drug Sunday morning that I could continue to take at home the rest of my pregnancy to keep the contractions at bay. Sounded good to me! In the back of my mind, I knew something wasn’t right. And I hated to say it out loud but part of me was ready for the pregnancy to be over. I was miserable, I felt horrible and my body was exhausted from all of the medications. And to be honest, I was so tired of living my every day in worry or fear or trying to take it easy all the time because we didn’t want preterm labor. Of course ALL that mattered to me was bringing home a healthy, full term baby, but you have to understand – at this point I was just so exhausted. I also feared being told I would be hospitalized for the rest of my pregnancy which was very likely an option. But at this time, things were looking good for me. My contractions were now 7-10 minutes apart and I couldn’t really feel them anymore. They weren’t nearly as intense.
Later in the evening, around 11pm, I called my nurse in to help me use the bathroom. When she took my pan away and when I wiped, we both looked at one another at the same time. There it was – blood. My heart rate spiked and I screeched “WHY AM I BLEEDING?” She called the doctor and began to calm me down. I remember the way she held my hand and rubbed my forehead telling me that it would be ok and that many women in high risk pregnancy cases bleed and have full term babies. The doctor did her pelvic exam, and cleaned where I was bleeding from saying that it looked like it had stopped. She called another doctor in to check and they both confirmed the bleeding had stopped. And for a while, it looked like it had.
Hours later, I used the bathroom again and the blood started to return becoming darker and darker. They did another pelvic check and this time it was excruciatingly painful. My doctors asked me to cough and when I did I could feel the blood gush out. Each movement, cough, wince, anything – I could feel the blood gushing out. It was an absolute nightmare. I was starting not to feel so good either and I knew there was no way I was going home that day. One of the doctors did a quick ultrasound on me and determined that my placenta was still attached and that internally, nothing really looked wrong. Although I was 50% effaced, my cervix was closed and I was not dilated at all. They called my doctor anyway who said to start the mag again and that we had to get my bleeding under control.
Sunday, February 18th
Around 7am my doctor came in and did another ultrasound. He was able to determine that I had a blood clot between my uterus and placenta and I was now having a placental abruption – where the placenta begins to detach from the uterus. Emberly was literally KICKING the exact location of the clot causing me to bleed even more heavily. I could see the worry and disappointment in his eyes and I knew what was going to happen. He said my case wasn’t necessarily an emergency but at this point I was losing a lot of blood and he didn’t like that. Emberly, on the other hand, was completely fine during all of this. Her heart rate and fetal movement always looked fantastic. My doctor didn’t want anything to HAVE to become an emergency delivery and said he was going to call my other doctor to make a final decision. About twenty minutes later he came in and said they had decided to deliver the baby today. In total shock, I began to laugh hysterically. All the doctors and ultrasound techs in the room looked at me like I was INSANE. My doctor said “no, I’m serious” and as I said “I know!” I began to now cry. I was just over 29 weeks. I had met with the NICU doctors before. I knew she was probably going to be very sick and very tiny. I also knew this was going to mean she’d be here for months before coming home…most likely around her due date is what they told me. I did ask if the delivery could be vaginal because that was the great thing about this surgery all along. My doctor said because they’d have to induce me, there was too great a chance of me losing a lot more blood and Emberly and I both going into distress. A c-section was the only option.
Darius got dressed into scrubs and I was wheeled to the OR. I received an epidural and the entire time I swore I was going to throw up all over the nurse holding me in place. I remember the OR was cold, I was panicked and I couldn’t stop shivering. They kept telling me to hold still and I wanted to scream “THIS IS MY FOURTH EPIDURAL – I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!” but I just shut my mouth instead. After the epidural was in, they laid me down and strapped my arms into place. They started to administer other numbing mediations and narcotics through my IV line. In another IV, I was receiving a blood transfusion. Darius came in and held a tray next to my face in case I needed to throw up – which I did, twice. Do you know how hard throwing up is while lying on your back and having your insides being moved around at the same time? It’s so hard. At one point I felt like I was suffocating from the pressure of the c-section and the crashing of my hormones causing me to shake like crazy.
About a minute before 9:57am my doctor said “baby is almost here!” and my heart was pounding. At 9:57 my favorite nurse, Jasmine, yelled “BABY GIRL!” and the smile on my face could not be erased. Darius was by my ear saying “our baby girl is here! she’s here!” And knowing she was so early at 29 weeks, we didn’t expect hear a cry, but a minute later THERE IT WAS! My Emberly, my sweet ball of fire, my little fighter! She was 11 weeks early and already shouting out! I couldn’t have been happier. About 30 minutes later the NICU nurses wheeled her by me and I started to cry. She was SO tiny, weighing 3 pounds and 14.5 inches long. Although tiny, she was so beautiful and peaceful. They had her wrapped in this little plastic bag to help keep her warm and sterile as they took her to the NICU.
My doctors finished stitching me up and one of my amazing anesthesiologists let me watch Game of Thrones spoofs on her phone to keep my mind clear. I needed that distraction so much in that moment.
Five hours later, at 2:57pm, my sweet girl was finally ready to meet her mommy and I was wheeled down to her room. And lucky us, she is in room 3 which happens to be me and Darius’ lucky number. Although I couldn’t hold her that day, being able to touch her, see her, feel her and witness the glory that she is was the best thing ever. Seeing the love beaming from Darius’ proud eyes filled my heart. This tiny, three pound ball of fire was fighting for her life and in that moment I sure as hell was going to make sure I did everything I could to help her become the strongest little lady there ever was.