Ok this post is a long one but here goes…
As I edited my last baby shower related article, I thought to myself, “What if this post is premature? What if I jinx something?”. With such thoughts lingering in my brain, upon completion, I proceeded to hesitantly click ‘post’. Who knew that less than 2 weeks later I would be hospitalized, giving birth 2 months early, making daily trips to the NICU for 4 weeks and dealing with a different sort of prematurity. Alas, no baby shower for us. So seeing as my original due date is may May 13th, I thought it appropriate, on Mothers’ Day, to take a second and share my pregnancy/birthing story.
“Each pregnancy is different.” I hated hearing and reading that. My pregnancy started with morning sickness, lack of appetite, and fatigue; not so different. As I entered my 3rd trimester, my not-so-different took a turn. I started to swell Michelin Man style! Though I thought the timing and the severity of swelling were a little early I figured that this was just my “different”. So, I carried on in my, life-saving, Kenzo moon boots [the only shoes I could fit] doing my usual daily activities.
I soon learned that control was a luxury I no longer had. I couldn’t control my energy levels, couldn’t control when I would grow out of clothes, and eventually couldn’t control my climbing blood pressure [BP]; an anomaly to my health history. My continuously high BP led to weekly OB visits, daily at-home BP checks, and bouts of fear filled crying sessions.
Inevitably, the day came when my BP reading was alarmingly high and I had to check myself into triage. After hours of monitoring while praying to be discharged, the attending Doc opened the curtain and dropped the feared A-word. I was being ADMITTED! At 30 weeks pregnant, I was officially diagnosed with preeclampsia [yes, what Kim K and Sibbie from Downton Abbey both had]. There was no history of preeclampsia in my family or anything in my lifestyle that would suggest I would develop it. Yet again, another thing I couldn’t control.
It didn’t take long before I had my daily hospital routine down. It included a series of BP checks [which repeated every 4hrs], baby monitoring, bland but tolerable hospital food, doctor rounds which included condition updates and a game of ‘Will Madelaine be delivering today?’, welcomed visits from fam + friends, Netflix, Mike commuting back and forth to our condo to gather supplies + shower + and attempt to feel human, and culminated with a dreaded stinging injection of heparin [blood thinner to prevent clotting]. I wanted nothing more than to be at home, but the longer I was there meant the longer my baby would be growing in my belly; a twisted concept I mentally battled with daily.
My routine continued for 7 monotonous days. On day 8, after an ultrasound and Mikes 1st attempt back at work [which didn’t last long], my preeclampsia did a 180 as the baby was showing early signs of distress. An hour later, the doc finaly deemed it delivery day. At 9am my ordered pre-surgery starvation/fast began. Nineteen hangry hours later [4am] I was finally wheeled into the O.R. for my c-section.
Many say child birth is beautiful, but honestly, it was the weirdest experience of my life. My epidural took forever due to my swelling and the jiggling of my insides during the baby eviction caused me periods of nassau. I closed my eyes and breathed through it as Mike, in awe, stared over the curtain to witness his son enter into the world. I didn’t experience the belly growth of my last prego months, my water breaking, contractions, and all the other pains of child birth but I suppose my labour pains were just spread over 10 long hospital days and the weeks of worry, stress, and swelling leading up to it. Once my surgery was over I got to hold my son for the shortest 2 minutes of my life. Because he was a preemie he was immediately wheeled away for further stabilization and bound for the NICU.
On March 15th at 5:05am Atlas Theodore Kowbel was born a whopping 3lbs 3oz. He wasn’t ours just yet. Forty-eight hrs post OP I was discharged but went home without a baby; another twisted mental concept I battled. For the next 4 weeks, as I pained through healing, Mike and I made a daily trip to the NICU and our new routine came into play. The start of my postpartum life were days at the hospital followed by nights at home without a baby. I had emotional breakdowns. It was hard and it didn’t get any easier; I think I just got use to it. The silver lining, thanks to the nurses, Mike and I got a hands on education in child care [not too sure how we would’ve fared without it].
Our little man crushed the NICU. He was gaining weight quickly and was off the tube feeds in no time! At 35.5 gestational weeks, Atlas was discharged [standard best practice is 36weeks]. On April 12th our new family was under the same roof. He was finally all ours!
Unbeknownst to many, our birthing story actually started in Feb of 2017. I had experienced one of the happiest moments in my life, sadly, followed by one of the most devastating. A miscarriage is heartbreaking but in my attempts to understand and move on, I learned [from those who shared their stories] that sometimes, it’s just part of the process. I had no control over it. Still haunted by the loss in moments of reflection, I found comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone; there was light at the end of their tunnels and I knew that mine too would eventually shine bright. That light was in sight 6 months later. Though our journey to it was not how I expected it to be, I wouldn’t trade it for another.
As I reflect upon the last 2 months all I could think is holy sh**! How did we do it?! During the entire process I think I shut off my emotions as best I could for self preservation. As a result, the magnitude of our experience didn’t hit me until weeks later. My brain needed time to process and catch-up to my body. And when it did, all the feels surfaced; I balled.
I felt compelled to share my story as I wanted to preserve my experience in text and to maybe give another mom-to-be out there, that may be going down the path of preeclampsia, comfort in knowing that they will come out on the other end. Hang in there, you will make it to your light!
So today on Mother’s Day I celebrate all the moms; courageous women who powered through their own birthing stories. I am also taking this opportunity to celebrate our strong, beautiful, and perfect little preemie. Atlas, you are now officially 1 day old; you did it, we did it!
Happy Mothers’ Day!