In 1986 I was pregnant with my first daughter, being only 17 years of age. It seems like only yesterday in my mind and was the worse and yet best day of my life. The pregnancy was not going well from the first, from not gaining weight like I should to several infections throughout the pregnancy. I was due in August, a month after me and her father had plans to be married after my 18th birthday in July. However, my daughter had other plans we soon found out.
I woke up on the morning of May 30, 1986, with stomach cramps and dampness between my legs. When I went to the bathroom, I discovered I was bleeding, quite heavily in fact and I was gripped in fear. I called the doctors office but he was not in, after explaining to the nurse what was going on, she told me to stay home. I was surprised but being young with a huge fear of doctors at the time, I listened to her advice, a mistake I would later regret.
I tried to take my mind off of things but the cramping and bleeding both continued to get worse. I had no idea that cramping was actual labor and I was having contractions. A friend stopped in to check on me and demanded I got in the car as he was taking me to emergency. I told him to wait and let me at least call my doctors office back to let them know I was going into emergency and they should get a hold of my doctor. The nurse I had talked to earlier actually yelled at me this time. She was yelling how she had told me to stay home, that my doctor was not scheduled to come in until 4pm and only then should I come in. Again I listened, after all I thought the doctors and nurses knew more than me, apparently they felt the same way.
My soon to be mother in law had come home from her work and took me to the doctors at 4pm on the nose. I was met with over an hour wait in the waiting room while my bleeding continued to get worse and my abdominal cramping had me in tears from the pain. The Doctor finally came out and called my name, when he asked me to get on the scale to see how much I weighed; I blatantly asked him why he needed to weigh someone who was having a baby. He shot the nurse a look; I did not see hers for she stood behind me somewhere. The nurse had never said a word to him about me and he thought I was there for a regular check up, after all I was not due for another 2 and a half months.
He confirmed I was in labor; the bleeding was caused due to my placenta tearing loose basically meaning my child had been starving this whole time. We lived in a small town, with a small town hospital, not equipped to handle emergencies such as mine presented. He asked if I had someone in the waiting room that could drive me to the Ann Arbor Hospital, 40 some miles away. No ambulance or helicopter for me, just a ride obliged to do the speed limit, taking almost an hour to get there. We had stopped quickly to let my soon to be husband who was at work know what was going on. He did not believe me and decided to stay at work. I was shocked, in disbelief and scared beyond reason.
His co-workers must have told him he was crazy because he actually was waiting at the hospital when we got there. The doctors there after reviewing the situation took what seemed a life time preparing me for a dead baby. Surgery would be taking place 12 hours after the placenta had torn, meaning she had been starving for a long time. They said she had less than 5% chance of surviving and if she survived the surgery, hopes for her to continue being alive was grim at best. They really thought they would be delivering a dead baby though and tried what they could do to prepare me. Hysteria had been growing in me every minute that passed, with any new information I received.
They only could give me a partial spinal as they were worried about what any drugs would do to such a small fetus. They were going to have to do an emergency C-section. In the ER room they put a tent over me so I could see nothing. I could see nothing but soon the screaming coming from me I am sure was heard throughout the whole floor. While they tried to assure me I was only feeling pressure, I knew it was not pressure at all I felt.
I don’t think the partial spinal took the way it should of because I could feel everything. I could feel them cutting me open, I could feel them moving my insides around and I was screaming. It seemed like a lifetime and nothing they told me could convince me I was not feeling them cutting me open. I knew what I felt and it was what it was.
I was hysterical and gripping my soon to be husband’s hand I almost broke it. I think he was the only person in the room that day that believed me when I was screaming I could feel everything. I took comfort in his belief and then finally, I heard her cry and the doctor’s shouts of excitement that she was breathing! I remember asking if she was alive and once I was told she indeed was in fact alive, I finally succumbed to fatigue and went unconscious.
For the next three days, everything was a blur; I came in and out of the world around me. I guess that I contracted a uterus infection so my high fevers had me going in and out of consciousness. I did not see my baby for 3 days and when I finally did, I was not prepared to see such a tiny life, all kinds of tubes attached to her. I was scared to death to approach her; I did not want to hurt her. She weighed only 3 pounds and 4 ounces but was actually fooling everyone and doing remarkable.
She was only on full oxygen for a day and partial oxygen for 3, a remarkable feat for such a premature baby. I did have to come home without her, one of the hardest things I ever had to do. She was in the hospital for a month and a half before they finally let her come home. She was a miracle and even though the surgery was a nightmare to say the least and very traumatic for me, it was worth it to have this beautiful little girl with me, alive and well. We would not find out for another 3 years she had a mild case of cerebral palsy but even in that we have been fortunate. It is mild enough where she is capable of walking and doing most things other people can do, it could have been much worse considering the events of that day. She is the reason her Grandfather got involved with the March of Dimes. She is a miracle that was worth everything I experienced to bring her into this world.
You will be glad to know that when I went into labor with my son and they told me to stay home, I did not listen and delivered him not even 30 minutes after arriving as I had him one hour after my initial labor started. I would have had him at home for sure if I would of listened. I found out sometimes you need to speak up and just go with your instincts. Doctors and nurses do not always know what is best and sometimes just give out lousy advice because they are having a bad day. While I blame nobody for what happened that day and fully accept my mistakes of that day, I did learn to speak up when I know more what is going on with my own body sometimes.