ELLIE'S BIRTH STORY
It was Wednesday, the day after the 4th of July, and I was 36 weeks pregnant. The night before had been a quiet evening spent between Ian, myself, and my appendages (all of which were swollen enough at this point to be referred to as their own entities) at a nearby park, watching fireworks - not realizing what apt foreshadowing the celebration held. The next morning was business as usual, both of us returning to work and discussing over text whether or not Ian would be able to slip away from the office long enough to meet me at my doctor's appointment later that morning. Thank Heavens he did.
We had had an ultrasound the week before to make sure that baby's growth was on track as my stomach was measuring small. So far the ultrasounds confirmed that things looked great, she was on the smaller side, but this was no surprise as I am fairly petite myself. We had scheduled a follow-up ultrasound for that morning the following week, just to keep an eye on things.
The ultrasound technician didn't say much as she scanned my belly and snapped photos of measurements with the computer. After finishing the ultrasound, instead of pointing us back to the waiting area, she promptly escorted us down the hallway and straight to our doctor. She handed her the ultrasound images and muttered things like "Breech" and "low fluid" . Our doctor nodded and smiled at us, sensing the uneasiness that had crept over our faces as this bizarre series of events unfolded. Was something wrong? She calmly thanked the ultrasound tech and said she'd get a room ready for us and meet us in there shortly.
A few minutes later we were shown to the exam room; another couple of minutes went by and in came our doctor.
She began by explaining that my amniotic fluid levels had dropped drastically in a very short amount of time. At the prior week's ultrasound it had been at a 9, which was perfectly normal, today it was at a 2.
"Usually this means that the placenta has stopped working properly and is no longer delivering a sufficient amount of nutrients to the baby, which means she will stop progressing inside your womb and will need to be delivered," our doctor explained.
"She is breech and at this point the fluid is too low to attempt to turn her, so we are looking at a C-Section delivery."
"So," she continued, laying our options out for us, "I can deliver this evening if that works for you guys."
"Tonight?" I blurted. I thought I was coming in for a routine appointment. I wasn't ready to have this baby TODAY. I hadn't packed a hospital bag. We hadn't finished her nursery or attended the birthing class that was scheduled for 2 weeks from now. We hadn't even had our baby shower yet. It was ironically scheduled for that weekend, 3 days from now.
She back-peddled and told us we could put it off a few days if needed but that ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) guidelines advised delivery within a week, at the latest, under these circumstances. Ultimately, after some wise parental counsel and advice, we decided there was no good reason to wait and scheduled the C-section for 6 pm that evening.
By the time we left the doctor's office we only had a couple short hours before we had to head back to the hospital. We returned quickly to pack our bags and drove to the hospital. Ian grasped my hand tightly and offered a prayer that everything would be okay before we made our way to the entrance.
It took an hour for them to prep me for the surgery. I was dilated to a 2 and having very mild contractions. I couldn't feel them, but they were showing up on the non-stress test (NST). Baby was showing no signs of stress and the doctor explained the main concerns with pre-term delivery were underdeveloped lungs and IUGR so a NICU stay was a possibility but we would hope for the best.
Looking back I think I was in shock for most of this experience. I could barely process everything that was happening and that the doctors and nurses were telling us. My parents had arrived which had helped calm me down a bit. Word came that our OB was on her way, so they wheeled us off to the delivery room to have the epidural placed so I could be awake during the c-section.
The surgery began and the doctors were explaining the steps of the surgery. It would take less than 10 minutes to get her out once they started. I was so nauseous I could barely focus. All I could think was "they are delivering my baby and I'm going to miss it because all I can think about is trying not to vomit." I heard my doctor's voice over the sheet, letting us know they were getting ready to pull her out. My nerves and adrenaline were rushing and my nausea was at it's peak when it suddenly ebbed away, moments before they pulled out our baby girl.
They quickly lifted her above the sheet for me to see. I was such a delirious mess at this point. Everything was blur as I caught my first brief glimpse of my baby girl before they whisked her away to be assessed, but I remember three things: 1) She was crying - I knew that was a good sign, 2) sobbing aloud "why are her feet so big?", and 3) wondering if I was going to love her when I finally got to hold her.
Elize Marie Hamill was born.
5 lbs. 7 oz.
Thanks for being our little surprise. We love you more than we knew was possible.