They tell you when you get pregnant how much your life is going to change, the sleepless nights, the crying, the diapers, never getting alone time until they are a teenager and then that age comes with an all new set of changes. But what no one mentions is how your life changes when your little bundle of joy is born 16 weeks early. Maybe it’s not that they don’t mention it, maybe it’s because no one really knows or wants to talk about it, well this is for just that…..talking about it.
The reason we have started this gofundme is to allow us to spend time with Lincoln when he comes home. As most people know, FMLA does not pay while out and Short Term Disability is not able to be split to cover the birth recovery time and some of the time Lincoln would need to adjust to being at home once released from the NICU. Since Brittany has to complete the normal maternity leave with Lincoln in the NICU, having this time off would allow her to bond with him and help him to adjust to his new surrounding. If you would like to know about our journey, please continue reading, thank you for everyone's thoughts and prayers, they mean the world to us in this difficult time.
When I was 23w4d (23 weeks, 4 days gestational for pregnant mommy talk), I woke up and went to the bathroom like normal to start getting ready for work. I had what I was describing as a weird pee, though it was weird, but brushed it off and took a shower to get ready. When I was done I was leaking clear fluid, now unless I was involuntarily peeing on myself with no provocation, I began to admit to myself this was not supposed to be happening. I yelled for my husband as blood appeared on the toilet paper and called my OB to let them know when we’re heading to the hospital.
This was the longest, most nerve racking 15 minutes of our life…..or so I thought.
After the initial examination, the doctors informed me that my amniotic sac had completely ruptured and they were not equipped to take care of a child this premature so they transferred us to another hospital. Once I was at the new hospital, it was a waiting game to see how long Lincoln would stay put, we made it 60 hours (our first goal was shooting for 72 to make it to my 24th week, viability week). I got up to go to the bathroom and immediately started throwing clots, my placenta was rupturing due to an infection caused by my cervix being open and the absence of my amniotic fluid. As many women know, child birth gets rid of all amounts of modesty, quick. I had 15+ doctors, fellows, interns and nurses in my room as my husband and I had to make the most important decision of our lives in a very, very short amount of time…..while my legs were spread open and my cervix was being probed on.
And this marked the new, most nerve racking moment of our life….
We decided to go ahead with an emergency c-section knowing the chances of survival for our baby boy at this gestational age and the limited chances for survival of a vaginal birth. At 8:03pm they began prepping me, I was so scared, the nurse had to keep telling me to breathe and that everything would be okay while tears streamed down my face. I’m pretty sure I ugly cried in the OR. As I laid back and my body began to go numb, I saw a familiar and loving set of eyes through an OR mask, they were my husband’s. They were so red and puffy, I have never seen him cry, I have never seen him so scared until this moment.
At 8:38pm, Lincoln Joseph was born. He let out one big yell to make his presence know and was quickly rushed to a warmer to allow the L&D team to intubate him. They rolled him near my head so I could see him, perfection…..
It was 2 hours and 20 minutes before we could see our baby boy. My husband wheeled me into the NICU, we washed our hands and got to see Lincoln through his new plastic walls. We washed our hands again so we could open his isolet, and place our hands on our son to let him know we were there with him. So many thoughts and emotions ran through me while we stared at him in awe: love, fear, hope, terror, guilt.
My heart was so full of love for this baby, a kind of love I was always told about but I never knew I would actually feel it. So much fear in my heart that my baby was not well enough, that he was too early, that he could not do this. I saw this tiny baby and had all the hope in the world that he was a little fighter, he came early for a reason, and I truly believe it was because he wanted to shake up his mom and dad’a world, and he has. I was absolutely terrified that I was not ready to be a mother, I was supposed to have 4 more months to prepare for this. And lastly, I felt so guilty, I felt like there was something I could have done better so this wouldn’t have happened. That this was my fault somehow, even though the doctors assured me these things just happen some times.
It’s been 3 weeks since Lincoln rushed into our lives. He has just completed his 21 day antibiotic run to treat the bacterial infection in his blood caused by my infected placenta. He has been given steroids so his lungs can develop and put on a oscillator, CPAP, then a ventilator to help him breathe. He has had a chest tube because his lung collapsed. Three PIC lines, numerous blood gases and IVs and transfusions. I don’t even know how many X-rays and echoes he has had to check his brain for bleeds, chest for his lung development and heart to see how the PDA (it's a canal between the lungs and heart that eventually closes while the baby is developing in the womb, since he was born early, they need to assist its closure) is progressing.
At this moment in time I sit by his bedside I know that we have a little fighter on my hands. I know the downs he has had will not be the last, and most likely not the worst. But his good days have far outnumbered the bad.