Until June 30, I had had a pretty basic pregnancy. No risk factors for complications. No scares. Normal sickness. Until then, the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting was pretty accurate for me…
Justin had been away for almost 2 weeks. The entirety of his trip, I worried that something was going to happen with my baby while daddy was too far away. As the days passed without event, I convinced myself that I was crazy… On the 30th, I picked Justin up from the airport in the early evening, just 2 hours later the “fake contractions” I had been having morphed into something else. They came about every 5 minutes and didn’t go away, and my back hurt. That was different. The ER nurse in me balked at the thought of going to the hospital only to be sent home after finding nothing amiss. Later, with influence of my family the doctor was called and I ended up at the hospital on the other end of the needles. Within a few hours, we found that I was probably having a partial abruption. This would have been much less exciting, but I was already well dilated and effaced. We spent the night waiting to see what my body would do—it decided it was time to have a baby. My labor was quick. Less than 3 hours after they broke my water, I was babyless. Its times like that night that I can’t decide if I wished I knew less about the complications of having a baby early. Every time the doctor stated what she found in her exam, my heart raced knowing that everything she said pointed to having a premature baby- not what I expected.
The 10 minutes prior to Tessa’s arrival are a whirlwind to me. I opened my eyes to find the room that had been occupied by only Justin, my mom, our wonderful labor nurse, and me was suddenly teeming with people- 14 to be exact. I didn’t realize how thankful I would be for the skills of the team tucked into the corner- the neonatal resuscitation team. When my baby arrived, there was no cry, no offer for daddy to cut the cord, no tossing a screaming, slimy newborn onto mommy’s chest. My baby made no effort to breathe on arrival. I saw her only when the doctor raised her into my line of vision as he passed her to the people who would save her life. Soon they whisked her out of my room to the neonatal intensive care unit after one more quick glance. It would be four days before I held my tiny baby- not what I expected.
That began our journey to and through the NICU. Our journey there was incredibly short compared to most; still, it is an adventure all would prefer to forego. Over the next 4 days, Tessa would be intubated to be placed on the ventilator 3 times, experienced CPAP breathing, be placed on bili lights for her jaundice, be poked for numerous tests, and the list goes on. My heart broke every time she attempted to cry on the vent. The tube infringed on her vocal chords, so the cries were silent- just a red, sad, little face. But, I won’t forget the way her tiny head turned towards Justin when he spoke to her the day she arrived: she knew her daddy’s voice. I learned so much about tiny people while we were in the NICU. I learned what a roller coaster it is to have your baby there. All the while, God placed special, special nurses in my life to care for my daughter. Two ladies in particular cared for Tessa and became my friends- Page was part of the team who resuscitated Tessa initially and Ashley worked nights and fell in love with Tessa. As we spent hours together, I learned that both ladies loved Jesus- allowing them to truly love my daughter. I will always be thankful for them- they were certainly not what I expected.
It took Tessa a few days to “catch up to her life.” On the 10th, she came off all her breathing assistance. The next goal became gaining weight in order to go home. As soon as Tessa figured out the breathing thing, she did so well eating we were able to convince the doctor to allow us to come home on July 13th. All the details and ways God provided for us would make this post way longer than it already is… So, I will close with the thought that helped me be tough and mostly calm. That first day, with tears coming down my face as I looked at the tiny baby that had been inside of me, the only response I had for the nurse speaking to me was “there is a God in heaven who knew all this.” With each set back, God still knew. While the end of my pregnancy and a NICU stay was far from what I expected, God, in His rich mercy, was intimately acquainted with each detail.