This is the incredible story of my preemie miracle (I may or may not be a little biased!)
Not today, God, please not today!
This is what was going through my head on the afternoon of October 16, 2014. Here I was lying in a hospital bed at Langley Memorial hospital hooked up to a fetal heart monitor, blood pressure monitor, IV and a catheter.
I had gone in for a scheduled prenatal visit with my Doctor that morning at 10:30am. But something wasn’t right. The nurse took my blood pressure twice and told me it was a little on the high side so she’d get the doctor to take another look at it. When he came in, he took my blood pressure again; it was high and they’d found protein in my urine. He sent me to the hospital for further tests. It didn’t really worry me too much.
So, I phoned my husband and told him not to come, it was just a couple tests and I’d call him if anything changed. They got me in pretty quickly and hooked me up to all the monitors. The OB came in and started telling me about preeclampsia and premature birth. We were only 29 weeks pregnant! It was completely shocking! I called my husband and said “You need to come now.”
By this time, magnesium was coursing through my veins to prevent having a seizure (risk of preeclampsia). They had started me on blood pressure medication to try getting my blood pressure down and gave me a steroid shot to help develop baby’s lungs in case she needed to be delivered that day. A transfer was being set up for me as Langley was not equipped to handle such a premature birth.
At about 3:00pm that afternoon, they arranged a transfer by ambulance to Surrey Memorial hospital who had a bigger NICU. I saw countless doctors and was under 24 hour surveillance by a nurse to make sure I didn’t seize. We had no idea what to expect. What’s the survival rate of a 29 week baby? Does she have to be born today? Finally, a Neonatologist come in to talk to us. She had one of her own kids at 30 weeks. It was so comforting to hear her tell us about how her daughter is thriving now. She told us there was about a 95% survival rate at 29 weeks. To have her talk to us as both a doctor and a mother who had been through exactly what we were going through was a big relief. Our baby was going to be born that night.
They prepped me for surgery and wheeled me into the operating room. I don’t even know how many nurses and doctors were in the room. Pete and I knew next to nothing about C-sections. It was one of the scariest moments of our lives. The epidural terrified me, but the anesthesiologist told me it wasn’t much worse than getting an IV. He lied, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I expected. My husband was escorted into the room as I started to lose feeling in my body. Having a C-section is the most surreal experience! I felt pulling and the doctors moving things around, but no pain. I also felt the most unconditional love I have ever felt in my life. Here I was, literally giving myself up for my daughter. There is no greater love than that!
See my post 5 tips for C-section Momma’s for some great recovery tips after having a C-section.
At 11:38pm our beautiful baby girl, Lily Ann Hultgren, came into this world and whisked away with the neonatal team. She weighed only 991 grams (2lbs 3oz). My husband went with her to the NICU; I wouldn’t be able to meet her until 24 hours later as I was still on the Magnesium and needed to be under a nurse’s watchful eye. I finally met Lily the next night around midnight. She was so tiny and precious; I was scared to even touch her, I thought for sure she would break!
They warned us the NICU would be a roller coaster ride and they were right! We had many ups; first time holding her, first bath, first experience breast feeding. And we had some pretty big downs as well. One night Lily stopped breathing completely and all the doctors and nurses were called in to come help her. Again, a true miracle she survived. They still don’t know what happened.
Looking back, none of this could have been done without the support of all the staff in the NICU. They are truly miracle workers!
We took Lily home on Christmas Eve 2014 after 69 long days in hospital. It was the best Christmas present we could have ever received, truly my preemie miracle!