While we waited Lauren’s cramps started to get stronger and quicker. We ended up sending each other text messages as a way of timing them.
I think we both started to realize this didn’t seem right at about the same time. Lauren asked me to go get the nurse and some water. When I found the nurse she was already on her way with an IV; her suggestion that we hold off on water until the doctor got here sending up a red flag.
Lauren was put back on the contraction monitor and set up with her IV. The doctor was apparently still busy with a cesarean but we were assured she would be there shortly. Together we both watched (me from quite a bit more comfort) as this time the TOCO graph showed huge spikes every time Lauren had a contraction.
When the doctor arrived it didn’t take her long to want to take a look down below and see what was happening. As a precaution she ordered an injection of steroids first, in case this was premature labour, which if the labour could be delayed 24 hours would allow the baby’s lungs to develop faster. She then tried to have a look to see if Steve was responsible for the bleeding but her speculum was hit with resistance (not pleasant for Lauren). She apologized and tried again with the same result. A finger check from the doctor confirmed what we feared, Lauren was five centimetres dilated, the baby was coming and it was her head which was blocking the speculum.
I felt my heart plummet into my stomach. We were only at seven months! I didn’t know anything about premature babies? Was this too early? Were we losing the baby? Lauren’s eyes reflected my own and I could see them beginning to well. Thankfully our doctor was amazing told us right away that babies could be born this early without lasting issues. Her calm demeanour did a lot to help bring us back from the panic we were heading towards. She explained softly that the hospital we were in was not set up for premature births and we would need to be transferred.
She said she would have to go make the arrangements right away but before leaving she asked Lauren if she needed any pain medication. Lauren, thinking that labour usually takes quite a bit of time and not being in that much pain other than the mildly painful contractions, declined. Lauren had always intended to get an epidural but we thought there was still time for that once we got to the next hospital (BIIIIG mistake).
The doctor left behind a resident to take a full history from Lauren. I stood there, Lauren’s hand clenching mine as her contractions worsened minute by minute, as Lauren did her best to answer the resident’s questions. It didn’t take long before Lauren was asking for pain medication, medication which unfortunately the resident wasn’t authorized to approve. Nurses returned shortly to get Lauren on some magnesium through her IV (apparently this helps protect baby’s brain). I switched sides to give the nurse more room which is when it happened, splooosh.
A wave of liquid came out of Lauren and covered the bottom half of the gurney (Lauren tells me this feeling is amazing and a relief from the contractions). I knew right away from the sudden uptick in the speed of both nurses that this was going faster than anticipated. One nurse called for the doctor and the reply came that the doctor was unavailable again. Her partner checked Lauren herself. “She’s fully dilated, we need to get upstairs.”
All of a sudden we were off. Lauren’s contractions had taken a turn for the worse and I could tell she was in a lot of pain (so could my hand). I did my best to stay at her side as we sped down the hallways of the hospital with her bed, Lauren groaning in pain and surprised onlookers dodging out the way. The nurses did their best to try to keep her calm, asking her to remember her breathing and focus. I didn’t say anything at the time but part of me was thinking WHAT BREATHING, OUR PRENATAL CLASS WAS NEXT WEEK!
Inside the elevator I noticed Lauren’s hand reach down between her legs. The nurses were telling her repeatedly not to push and Lauren was saying she wasn’t but the baby was just coming. Lauren had a blanket over her so I asked what she was reaching for. A nurse told me women just reach where it hurts; however, I learned from Lauren later that she was actually holding the baby’s head and trying to keep her inside!
The elevator ride seemed an eternity but when we reached the second floor we were whisked down the hallway and into a delivery room. We couldn’t have gotten there with a moment to spare. Lauren’s bed wasn’t even completely in the room when the doctor came rushing in. The doctor called out for some gloves but it was too late, Emilia was here. The doctor caught her in her bare hands and started apologizing while the army of nurses and other medical staff started working in a frenzy. I was told that normally the dad was offered the opportunity to cut the umbilical cord but in this case there wasn’t time. Naturally I didn’t complain. I recall Lauren crying at the time about the loss of Emilia’s cord-blood which he hadn’t had time to arrange the preservation of. It seems like an absurd thing to think about but at the time it seemed incredibly important.
I looked down at where my too-small daughter was being held above the table. She seemed too small, too frail, her tiny body perfectly formed but to my eyes not yet suited for this world. Then she cried. Lauren sagged backwards with relief and I felt the ball of fear that had clenched inside myself loosen. A portable premature baby table (an isolette, it basically has a heater and other medical devices needed to take care of premature or other babies) was wheeled into the room and Emilia was transferred there, although not before holding her up for mom to see quickly. The army of nurses descended on Emilia again and we were told she needed to be moved for treatment. I looked from Emilia to Lauren, who herself looked pale and in shock on her bed, and felt my heart tear a little bit. Lauren told me to go with Emilia and I told her I would be back as soon as I could.
Well, my turn for some kangaroo care (you hold the baby skin-to-skin) so mom can take a break. More later!