Adeleine was born 13 weeks premature. Her due date was November 23rd. She was born on August 23rd. That's not even close. That's not even in the third trimester. To say we were shocked would be an understatement. This is the story of the 15 weeks our family spent at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Part 1: Labour & Delivery
*Please note that this blog is not medical advice. It is simply our story.*
What caused the premature labour? We'll never know for sure. The most recent theory is that I had an abruption of the placenta (bleeding behind the placenta or the placenta lifting away from the uterus) and the bleeding caused cramping which together weakened and aggravated the amniotic sac, caused a tear and infection got in. We'll never find out what actually caused the bleeding, but basically, once the amniotic sac is torn it's only a matter of time before an infection finds its way in there. The infection affected the placenta and umbilical cord and unfortunately (or fortunately for the baby) the body's response to an infection in the uterus is delivery (everybody out!).
On a Thursday afternoon before a weekend we were going to camp (we were packing that night for the trip) I had some cramps. They started to get regular (every 10-12 minutes) and I was a little concerned. I decided it was time to get to the hospital after I began to bleed a bit. I told Andrew to stay home, feed Liam his dinner and continue to pack for our camping trip, I'd be home by 8pm. No problemo. I drove myself to the hospital. The cramps were getting closer together by the time I got there. It wasn't until I told the triage nurse why I was there that I got scared (ummm denial?). Something about saying the words "I'm 26 weeks pregnant and I have bleeding and contractions 5 minutes apart" out loud that wakes you up. Initially, they told me I had a bladder infection and would likely get some antibiotics and be on my way (see, no problemo), but then later on they checked and discovered I was 2cm dilated. This was not good. This meant I was actually in labour. This is when things began to go downhill. I was put on IV antibiotics and given something to relax the uterus and slow down labour. I was also given a steroid shot to help Adeleine's lungs develop faster, since at this early gestation baby's lungs are not quite ready to breathe air. I called Andrew to tell him not to come to the hospital because "We are NOT having this baby tonight." That was the goal, no baby. I spent the night in the triage with the nurses, and the next morning the doctor was actually surprised I made it through the night without delivering. That was not encouraging!
They moved me to an inpatient floor where I continued on the antibiotics, anti-labour meds and steroids. Andrew and Liam came to visit me that weekend and the thought was that I would simply be on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. We began to think we would not get to go camping that summer, let alone go on the trip to New York we had planned. We were settling into the idea of me being immobile until November.
After 48 hours, the anti-labour meds were discontinued (you can't be on those forever I guess) and the cramping started up again. Slow onset and far apart. Sunday morning, the doctor told me that I needed to prepare myself to have this baby, that they just couldn't stop nature. Andrew and Liam came to visit me that afternoon and while they were there, I started timing the cramps again - 15 minutes apart. Later that afternoon it was confirmed: I was in labour. I knew they couldn't stop it this time so I called Andrew and asked him to come back because we were having the baby. It was like admitting defeat. He left Liam with our wonderful neighbours across the street and drove to the hospital. All the grandparents were on their way too. By 8 pm I had spiked a fever and the doctors wanted the baby out faster so they put me on the oxytocin to bring on the contractions. A wonderful nurse Lorrie from the NICU came to chat with us about what to expect in the NICU environment and the doctor gave us a summary of the risks and then gave Adeleine a 60/40 chance of surviving without death or major debilitating disease. We all took a deep breath and said, ok, let's do this.
At 1:30 am, after just two pushes baby Adeleine was out. She was immediately whisked away by the NICU team. She began screaming and yelling in the resuscitation room so we knew her lungs were good. She was 26 weeks and 6 days gestation (13 weeks and 1 day too early), weighed 2lbs 2oz (970g) was pink as a piggy and had the cutest little feet I had ever seen.
This wasn't the end of the journey though...it was just the beginning.
Part 2: The First 24 hours