Saturday, March 30, 2013
“Either I’m pregnant or my period is coming early.” Read the text I sent to my mother and boyfriend during my great grandmother’s repast. I had been overly emotion since her death one week prior and couldn’t even sit through the funeral. After eating, Tyrone, my cousin Lisa, and I made a trip to Target where I looked at different pregnancy test. “Really Cheylah?” Lisa questioned because I already had a 14 month old baby boy at home. “Really” I respond as I continue searching until I find a double pack First Response Pregnancy Kit. “I’ll take it tomorrow”. Tomorrow happened to be Father’s Day, June 17, 2012. I woke up and grabbed the test. The two pack came with a digital and a regular test. Tyrone said, “Take the digital” I thought to myself “Why? It’s going to be negative”. I grabbed the regular test and peed in a cup, dipped, wiped, looked. Positive. “Oh my God!” I ran into the room and grabbed the digital and ran back to the bathroom to dip it. I came back into the room pacing back in forth. “What’s wrong? Cheylah, what’s wrong?” Tyrone kept asking over and over as I watched the hour glass dance on the small window. Finally the word “Yes” popped up. I tossed the test to Tyrone, “Happy Father’s Day Daddy!” This was the start of a wild ride.

I made my first appointment as soon as I could. They did the normal blood and urine and showed I was pregnant but the ultrasound showed nothing. “Maybe the baby is ectopic? Maybe you are having a miscarriage. You have to come back in 48 hours to do betas and a repeat ultrasound” said the nurses and doctors. I came every two days for weeks. Only answer I got to give me hope was that my uterus was thickening which happens with pregnancy. Finally in early July I saw the little piece of rice! Finally my baby decided to show itself. I was so happy and scared at the same time. I was working in pharmacy, going to school, and taking care of my oldest Trenton at the time. I was terrified of having two children under two years old but oh so happy my baby growing inside of me was ok. A couple of weeks later I noticed bleeding. I tried not to worry because I bled in my previous pregnancy and knew it could be normal. I started to worry when the blood got bright red and heavier. I feared I’d lost the baby. I went to the midwives office and found out I had a sub chronic hematoma.  I was told it could subside on it’s on or I would lose my baby. “Sometimes things like this happen Ms. Branch. Sometimes babies go away and come back to you when the time is right.” I can’t even count the number of times I heard that line from one of the midwives. I heard it so much I wanted to throat punch her. From then on, I was told to only come in if I soaked a pad within an hour. Bleeding would be my new norm.

All was going as well as could be until one night a work. I felt a gush and thought “Ew, maybe too much discharge.” I went to the bathroom only to see blood everywhere. I came out and told my manager I had to go to the emergency room NOW. I left work in a panic. I lost the baby. I know it, it’s too much blood. I sobbed as I took the bus ride to the hospital as I called my mother and boyfriend to tell them the news. My mother tried to keep me calm and my boyfriend said he was on his way. Once in the ER I waited and waited. I wasn’t seen for 3 hours. I’m miscarrying and they won’t see me. This isn’t right. Once in the back a number of familiar tests were done; blood work, ultrasounds, urine test. Everything came back normal. Baby bean was fine. The rest of the hematoma had finally emptied. I was so relived! Now I can have a regular pregnancy! I thought.

I was having lots of nausea this time around, sensitivity to sex, anything you can think of. I was sure this baby was a girl. I went for my anatomy scan in September. Tyrone was running late. We were both convinced this baby was a girl. We went on with the anatomy scan without him. “So, you have a boy at home?” asked the ultrasound tech. “Yep, Trenton” “So you want a little girl?” “I’d like one but I will be grateful for whatever God blesses me with” As I watch my baby spread its legs I see a penis, another boy! “Well Ms. Branch, you’re having another boy!” “I see!” I decided to name him Cameron Jacob, CJ for short. Everything looked fine during the ultrasound. We confirmed I had an anterior placenta, which is why I barely felt him move. We found out he was breeched as well. I was due to come back for a follow-up October 30 to get better images of his heart and to see if he flipped head down. I was ecstatic! When I went back to school and work I had plenty of sonograms to show off. I was starting to feel him more as I would sit in class. Things were going great. One week I got so upset (school related) I started getting bad contractions. I was only 22 weeks. I called the midwife line and they told me to calm down and drink water. I noticed I had started to bleed again too. I was told to come in. One of the midwives checked me and said I had a friable cervix. Drink plenty of fluid and rest when I can. The week of my follow-up ultrasound came up but Hurricane Sandy had been in the area. The ultrasound center called to cancel my appointment. I was so sad. “Mom, I really needed this appointment. Something doesn’t feel right” “Cheylah, call them to see when you can come in”

I’d been feeling CJ kicking really low since the day I had contractions. I thought it was all in my mind. I finally called and the receptionist told me if I could get there within the hour I could be seen. I told her I could do her one better and be there in 15 minutes. I live a 10 minute walk away from the hospital. I left the house in pajamas and walked thinking of all the things that could happen. I never imagine what WOULD happen.  I went into my appointment so optimistic. So excited to see my baby boy again. The ultrasound tech began the ultrasound. Quiet. She’d asked me if I had experienced any cramping or contractions I told her very few but I drank water and they stopped. “I need to switch to vaginal, the baby’s foot is blocking the view of your cervix”. Okay. “Doctor you need to come to room 3!” “What’s happening? What’s wrong with my baby?” I questioned. “You have to wait for the doctor.” The doctor came in and looked herself. “Ms. Branch I need to speak with you in my office, your cervix is shortening.” They both finish up and leave. Leave me there with my thoughts. What’s wrong? What does this mean? Is CJ going to be ok? Will I have to go on bed rest? My thoughts are interrupted by the tech telling me the doctor was ready for me. Everything after this happened so fast.

The doctor told me in so many words that in some images my cervix was 0.8cm. In other images after that it had disappeared. Also, baby still had not flipped and his cord was under him. I needed to go upstairs to labor and delivery. I was going to be having my baby that night and he will most likely not survive. I was only 23 weeks along. I sobbed. God please don’t. I need him to survive. I need him to be ok. I called my mother and told her I was going to labor and delivery and what had been said to me. She said a prayer. I called my boyfriend and he said he was on the way. Once in labor and delivery an IV was started (after 5 attempts) and several nurses, midwives, doctors, and neonatologist were in and out of my room. Since CJ was still breeched I was forced to make a decision. They wanted to know how I would want to deliver. If I delivered vaginally his head would get stuck, causing brain damage and death. If I had a cesarean I would hinder all future pregnancies because I would need a traditional cut. He could also still die and I would have had the surgery for “nothing”. Tyrone and I just looked at each other. He cried and told me to just have him vaginally. We would hold him until we felt ready to give him up. He said he didn’t want his son to suffer and didn’t want me to either. A neonatologist, Dr. Cherian, came in and told me if the baby came now, at 23 weeks, he most likely wouldn’t survive. If he did he would be blind, deaf, or mentally retarded. I had the choice of letting him come, going on bed rest in the hospital, or aborting him. After lots of tears and speaking to lots of people, a neonatologist by the name of Dr. Kierbak ultimately helped me to make the decision to go on hospital bed rest. He gave me hope that it was a little but good enough chance he could survive. I wanted to take the chance and do whatever I needed to in order to give him a good chance of life. I just had one request: If anytime he didn’t thrive let me know. I wanted to let him go. I didn’t want him to have a life of suffering for my selfishness.

Once I was stable and I decided to have a cesarean, I was moved over to the antepartum unit. My new “studio apartment” (as I liked to call it) was cool. I was on bed rest with bathroom privileges. I sent my boyfriend home to retrieve some items for me especially my laptop. I continued to let people know what was happening. I let my baby birth board’s group from my oldest son know what was happening and the prayer chain started. Once I had my laptop those ladies helped my sanity. I had twice a week BPPs to monitor the baby and make sure my fluid was good. During the 24th week we noticed my bag of water was starting to bulge. We were officially on baby watch. If I felt my water break I was to call my nurse to have a fist inserted to prevent cord prolapse until we were in the OR. Regardless of what happened it was determined I would have an emergency c-section and would be put under. On November 11, the nurse came in to do CJ’s nightly monitoring. The nurse who always found him wasn’t on that night. (She always said he was the size of a 28 weeker and would ask if I was sure of my dates. Always said he would be 2 lbs. The little stinker would always give nurses trouble but not her). While on the monitor I felt contractions. The nurse would come in and tell me I’d have to stay on longer than the 15 minutes because he moved and I was contracting. Finally, a doctor came in and did a pelvic exam. She saw my water bulging with his foot on top of it. “Take her to labor and delivery.”

I prayed so hard he would stay in and the contractions would stop. When I got over to L&D the nurse, Angela, was waiting. She was so nice! She started me on magnesium (aka devil drug) and kept me company. Once on magnesium I wasn’t allowed to get up anymore or eat. Bed rest was starting to get to me. Because it was cold and flu season I had only seen Trenton once. I didn’t have a lot of people see me but when I had company I was so grateful. I was lonely. Lonely, hungry, tired, and wanting it to be over. I felt so guilty. I wanted my baby to stay in and bake but I wanted the hell I was going through to end. On November 15th, the magnesium was turned off. I was able to eat and go to the restroom. I was so happy! Angela had come with her roommate Laura (another nurse) and planned to give me a “spa night”. All was well until I went to the bathroom and saw blood. “ANGELA!” I screamed. “Ms. Branch you may be dilating more. It’s ok” I went to the bathroom again and saw more blood, and then she called the doctor. My team came in and did an ultrasound. CJ had his foot in the birth canal.  The doctors were hoping he would retract his foot by morning but until then I was back on strict bed rest and had to start magnesium again. I cried. Angela was so sweet and kind to me. She started a new IV for me (IV phobia here) and stayed through the bolus. She told me she was going on break. I asked her if the baby came would she be there. She promised she would. I had to go to the bathroom again so the nurses covering for Angela asked did I want the pan or another cath. I chose cath. As soon as she finished inserting it I felt a gush. “I think my water broke!”  *gush and contraction*  “My water!!” The nurse checked me and there wasn’t any water. I was bleeding. She called the doctors and my team came in. I kept feeling gushes of fluid and contractions. Since CJ was so low the contractions didn’t pick up. One doctor came in and put her hand in me to keep the cord from coming. “She’s at a 10 but her water is still intact.” My midwife Ebony came in and told me it was time to go. It was 1 am on November 16th. Everything went crazy. One nurse gave me my phone to call my mom and boyfriend but no one could come. Mom had Trent and my boyfriend had no way to the hospital. I was rolled back to the OR. I kept asking for Angela and she finally appeared. I remember apologizing for messing up her lunch break. She said it was ok and she wouldn’t miss it. SO much madness was happening. Next thing I remember is being put under then being awakened but pressure on my stomach. I went to scream but couldn’t because I had a tube down my throat. I opened my eyes to look around. I didn’t see my baby. Just Angela. She told me he was ok. He cried when he came out and he was so beautiful. I fell asleep.

I was in and out of it for a while. Before I went under I asked the nurses to take pictures of him for me. So while I waited for my pain meds, I looked through the photos of my tiny little guy. I’d fall asleep, wake up to loom through pictures, fall asleep, wake up to call and text people and repeat. Cameron Jacob entered the world on November 16, 2012 at 1:27a weighing 1lb 15.5oz and 14 inches long. Around 5 am Angela took me to the NICU to see my son. He was so tiny. In his new home, the isolette. I fell asleep again.  When I woke up I called my mom and she came to the hospital. She checked on me and then went to see CJ. She said he was so little. I was in so much pain. After being on magnesium for so long I couldn’t move my left side. I wanted to get up so bad to see my baby. I finally saw him that night. He was on SiPAP. So many machines. So many alarms. It hurt to see him like that. I got my NICU orientation paperwork and went back to my room. I wanted to breastfeed so a pump was waiting for me upon my return. I started pumping. The next day I took my drop to the NICU and was told “You can’t control what happens here [NICU] but you can control the milk you give your baby”.  I made it my priority to pump!

On November 19th I was discharged. I took the long, agonizing walk to the NICU to say goodbye to my baby. It was so hard. I cried as I held him little foot. His little trouble making foot, and told him I would be there as much as possible no matter what. I kept it brief and sweet. As I walked out of the NICU, down the hall back to my room I broke down. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t believe I was leaving without him. I had tried so hard for weeks to keep him in. I failed. I wanted him home. I cried so hard my mom found me and helped me up. “He will be ok Chey.” After 76 days in the NICU, CJ was released on January 31, 2013 with just an apnea monitor. He has done so well to be born so prematurely. He is 4 months old (1 month adjusted) and came off of his apnea monitor on March 27th. I am so blessed to have my little miracle in my life.


Precious and priceless so lovable too, the world’s sweetest littlest miracle is, a baby like you.

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