My biggest pregnancy fear came true.
Every night, beginning the night I saw the little black bean on the ultrasound, I would pray for a healthy baby to be born after 36 weeks.
My prayers aren’t usually so specific, but given my fertility problems and that my first child arrived at 36 weeks, I was worried.
So when I rolled over in bed at midnight two weeks ago and felt the gush of water between my legs, I froze. I was only 33 weeks. I began sobbing. I’m not sure how long I sat crying in bed, but it was long enough for my husband to call my mom, her to arrive and him to pack our things.
It was just too early.
Then my motherly instincts kicked in.
Our birthing plans changed. I had to adapt. I knew we would need a NICU.
We arrived to the hospital at 12:30 a.m. The medical staff placed me in a comfortable room and said I’d be there for a couple days to develop my unborn baby’s lungs. I was ready to do whatever it took to ensure her health.
But she had another plan.
The medicine I was given didn’t work.
The contractions became stronger and closer together. One minute I was dilated to 5 centimeters, soon an 8 and then my room was filling up with doctors and nurses scrambling to prepare for her birth.
I was in the most pain I’ve ever felt and was asked to breathe through the contractions until my doctor arrived.
The medication I was given didn’t allow me to have an epidural.
And, I am in no way trying to start a mommy war, but my opinion after having babies both ways is that epidurals are beautiful and magical.
Luckily, my doctor arrived in time to sit on the end of my bed and tell me to push.
Eight hours later, I gave birth to a girl, Kennedy James, weighing 4 pounds, 14 ounces. The baby I had dreamt about and tried to have for two years. She cried right away. It was a small, but mighty cry.
The NICU doctor told me she looked good but would probably need to be there 5 to 7 weeks until her due date. They took her away with my husband following close behind.
The reality of the situation hit me as I sat in the delivery room alone as my husband texted me updates and pictures of our baby girl.
I spent the next two weeks recovering, sitting in the NICU and learning how to take care of a preemie. Kennedy could eat well, but needed to learn to breathe while she ate. The doctors kept reducing the amount of time she’d need to stay, and just two weeks after she was born, she was finally able to come home.
We’re now getting to know each other without nurses to help or give advice. We’re adjusting to life as a family of four. We’re preparing to move to our new, much larger, home in a week. And I’m counting my blessings every single day.
Melissa Cruickshank is married with two daughters. She works full-time. Read her here on momaha.com