My Story: Special Delivery — Early Edition
By Rebecca Godlove, Pediatric Alliance, Chartiers/McMurray Division
“You’re not going back to work. You’re going to the hospital.”
My doctor returned to the room with my test results. Only a few moments earlier, he had said that bed rest was not necessary. But immediately after that statement, my urine was found to have protein in it. That, coupled with the alarmingly high blood pressure readings that my medication could no longer control, indicated pre-eclampsia. Tests were ordered and I was told that I could have the baby the following day. Maybe even the same day.
Problem was, the baby wasn’t due for another month!
An unexpected and almost eerie calm came over me as I called my husband, then the office, then my parents, and explained the situation. At Mercy Hospital, I was greeted by some friendly nurses and hooked up to several machines and an IV (my least favorite thing ever). My husband joined me soon after, and the diagnosis of pre-eclampsia was confirmed. We were given the choice of inducing labor, which could take up to 48 hours, as my body was nowhere near labor; or we could opt for a c-section — something I was hoping to avoid at all costs.
Still, the idea of both the baby and myself dealing with the dangers of unacceptably high blood pressure for up to two more days was even scarier. We decided on the surgery, and at 4:03 PM on June 11, 2014, Ronen Curtis Godlove was born.
The first thing he did was terrify his mommy. I heard the doctors record his weight as four pounds and three ounces — almost a full pound smaller than our ultrasound tech had estimated only weeks earlier. Then I heard his cry and he was given to my husband to hold. He was beautiful!
We weren’t out of the woods yet, though. Only hours after we returned to the recovery room, the baby’s blood sugar readings came up very low. His body temperature wasn’t stable. As kindly and clearly as they could, the nurses explained that my son was being sent to the NICU. Still groggy from the drugs I was given, I simply nodded soberly and fell back to sleep.
Over the next nine days, my husband and I visited the NICU as often as we were able, trying to process the fact that we were parents, and our son was sick, and that no one had any idea when he would be coming home. Updates changed daily — almost hourly. His blood sugars were dropping and he was not eating. Then, he was expected to go home within 48 hours. Then, he was refusing food again. His feeding tube had to be reinserted.
As you can imagine, it was deeply emotional. I struggled to bond with my tiny baby. He was hard to hold, intubated and wired as he was. Did he recognize me? He was handled by caring nurses, but I had wanted to breastfeed him immediately after birth. I didn’t even the get the chance until several days later. My husband, friends and family were quite supportive, offering prayers, gentle encouragement, and lots of love. Still, those nine days were among the hardest in my life.
We celebrated Father’s Day by leaving our baby in the hospital as I was discharged. It was hard. But Ross was still glowing – it was his first Father’s Day as a father! The next week was spent at the hospital as frequently as we were able to be there. The whole concept of “taking care of myself” as I recovered from a c-section went completely out the window as we spent hours in the NICU or at home, frantically trying to prepare for an arrival with no reliable ETA.
Last Friday, June 20th, Ronen was discharged. He had gained a few ounces and was healthy enough for even a nervous new mommy to take care of. We were grateful for the help of the whole staff, who were excellent at keeping us in the loop as much as possible. Still, it was terrifying and daunting to know we were flying solo now, with a fragile life in our hands and still a thousand questions on our mind. Ronen is doing quite well in most areas, although he still sometimes tries to sleep through his feedings (I do, too, but apparently it’s not okay with him if I do it). He is slowly but steadily gaining weight and has charmed the pants off nearly everyone who’s met him. A tiny but mighty wonder!
As we begin to adjust to our “new normal”, we are grateful for the support of friends who have already “been there, done that” with preemies, or feeding challenges, or sleepy babies (or all three). Our parents have already come by our house with meals. Church members check in with our families because they don’t want to bother us as we try to get to know our little boy outside a hospital setting.
It’s been a long and very difficult road from miscarriage to motherhood — and, to be honest, the fact that I really am a mom still hasn’t fully dawned on me yet. I have a lot of changes to get used to and that’s a challenge for anyone. But I know we’ll get through it, and this little boy will give me lots to write about in the meantime!
Signing off for now,
The brand-new mommy of a rainbow baby
Read about Rebecca’s remarkable journey from miscarriage to motherhood: