For a year…

For a year I’ve wanted to sit down and “talk” about it. For a year I’ve had some terrible nightmares and deep sadness over what Brooks’ birth and arrival was like. I’ve felt immense guilt at having these feelings. A new baby? It should only be happiness and joy, right?

Today the doom and gloom of that in between holidays and New Year has me forcing myself to just sit down and do it. Maybe this will help my overall mental health. Maybe this will help me let go of the anxiety and the trauma I experienced.

Those closest to me know our story. The story of our last sweet babies arrival and the scariest hours of my life.

This story gets gory and detailed and if you can’t handle medical issues that involve blood and babies, then this blog post is not for you. FAIR WARNING.

Early in the pregnancy I knew something wasn’t perfectly normal. I had some of the same signs of placenta previa that I’d had with Easton. However, I was hopeful. I was hopeful the placenta previa wasn’t actually in existence. I knew that even if it were that it could also “go away” over time as the baby grew. I wasn’t wrong, the placenta previa was diagnosed. My hope lessened as the appointments went on and became more frequence and my OB was very concerned about possible bleeding and not making it to 40 weeks. I had one goal – make it to Christmas. I got close to Christmas and had a small bleed and decided to put myself on bed rest to try and make it to Christmas. I canceled our tickets for Polar Express. I didn’t want to be too far from the hospital. I booked a Santa to come to my dad’s house “just in case’ we didn’t make it to the other Santa we had tickets for so I could see my kids sit on Santa’s lap before Christmas. I gave up a ticket for a girl’s night to see Fortune Feimster because again, I just didn’t want to risk my chances of not making it to Christmas morning with my two big boys. I was trying to be very careful.

His due date was January 22nd, but the C Section was scheduled for December 28th. I was bound and determined to make it to that day. I was going to get through Christmas and then have this sweet boy. Christmas means the world to me. My mom always made it my special and I try so hard to do the same for my boys.

Christmas Eve (of 2021) came and went. We baked cookies for Santa.

We went to church. We read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and then we set out the milk and cookies.

We took our matching family jammies pictures and they went to bed.

Santa went to bed and I was so relieved and relaxed that we were going to make it to Christmas at home together.

Then 2:07 am arrived and Brooks had other plans. I woke up thinking my water had broke. I knew the feeling from a previous pregnancy and I also knew that if it had broke I was in big trouble because of the placenta previa condition. I jumped out of bed and as soon as I stepped down I saw the blood and ran to the bathroom. I was hemorrhaging and there was blood everywhere. The bedroom and bathroom looked like a crime scene and I needed to get to the hospital very quickly. There was blood on the walls. It was so alarming.

My biggest concern wasn’t the hemorrhaging. My biggest concern was making sure my two little boys did not see all this blood. I knew if Easton saw it he would be very sick and Wyatt would be panicked.

In hindsight the last place I should have went was the toilet, but it was where I went as I hemorrhaged and I called Mike from my Apple Watch and thank goodness he heard it and answered. He was sleeping with Easton at the time and Wyatt had been in bed with me when I hemorrhaged. Our kids start every night in their own beds, but rarely do we all end up in those same spots come morning. Mike came in and his face went white. The amount of blood was disturbing. It was scary. I wasn’t sure if I was dying or if I had a bleed that had stopped. I told him to call 911 while I called my sister to get here to be with the boys. Not very many people are awake at 2 am so it took several phone calls to get ahold of Meg, who always stays up late to watch TV. On her way over she called my sister. By the time Mike was able to leave home my brother in law and Meg had arrived to both keep the boys calm and away from the bedroom and also start cleaning. We owe them BIG time for all they did on Christmas morning and those days to follow.

I realized after sitting on the toilet that I needed to move myself to the shower so the EMTs could gauge how much blood was lost. I also desperately wanted to shower because I was covered in blood. Mike was on the phone with the EMTs and Easton had woken up. Mike told him not to get out of bed and thank goodness he listened. Wyatt slept peacefully in my bed next to quite a mess until Meg or Brandon moved him later. He even slept as the EMTs came to take me out.

I remember sobbing and yelling at God. I just wanted to make it to Christmas Day and seeing my babies open their presents. I was so angry. Then I was feeling overwhelmingly guilty for not being joyful at my newest babies arrival. I was a mom torn and heartbroken at missing those core memories and big moments in life and not being present in the moment of the biggest moment of our newest babe’s life.

The EMT’s arrived and couldn’t bring the stretcher in through our house with our. narrow halls so I had to waddle my way through the kitchen to load up for the ambulance. I stopped in to kiss Easton and tell him I had to run to the doctor to check the baby. To this day the only thing he knows is that I got sick and Brooks needed to be born. He also assumes the mess that Unkie B and Meg were cleaning in the room was puke because as I said earlier – he cannot handle blood… all.

When I left poor Mike was so shook. He couldn’t leave with me because Meg wasn’t there yet. I was able to remain calm. The bleeding had stopped for now and I wasn’t panicked. Or, was I? I felt eerily calm almost in shock. I reminded him that the boys could not see the bedroom no matter what. That was my biggest concern. As the ambulance left Meg arrived and shortly (or before?) was my BIL, Brandon. Together they worked to get Mikey packed and on his way to the hospital. They cared for the boys and began clean up in the bedroom. The mattress was ruined. Blood was everywhere. Blankets and rugs covered. I never imagined it would have been like that. My doctor kept warning me but I just had clue that hemorrhaging would have looked anything like it did.

I arrived sometime around 3 am at the hospital, Community North. The entire ride to the hospital in the ambulance was quiet and the poor EMT kept telling me how many babies he had delivered and I kept telling him that it would be life threatening to deliver this baby because of my placenta previa. Poor guy was clueless. He didn’t seem to understand the depth of my condition and how impossible it would be for me to deliver this baby and things go well. He also had a very hard time getting an IV in my hand and after 4 attempts gave up. My hands were bruised for days.

Christmas Eve early morning was pretty quiet in the hospital. The midwife who was working explained that my bleeding had stopped but she’d be touching base with my doctor to suggest an emergency C Section as soon as possible. I was moved into a room of my own and found out I’d be having this sweet boy around 7:30 am pending no more bleeding.

Dr. Henderzahs came in after waking his own children for an early Christmas (I felt bad and had to ask if I’d disrupted his Christmas plans). He was an amazing doctor and genuinely cared for me. I was a nervous wreck to have a C Section, something I’d never experienced before. I was ready to meet our baby, but I was terrified about the road to get there. The room was freezing. Everyone seemed to be working an extremely fast pace. It made me feel like this emergency C Section was urgent and I was terrified that something wouldn’t go well.

For the record, I would take a vaginal delivery over a C Section anyday. The pain of that surgery, the scar, the itching a year later, none of it is pleasant. It’s a far more difficult recovery.

At 8:22 am we met our beautiful little boy, Brooks Alynn. Our Christmas miracle. The boy who scared us all early Christmas morning.

We spent the rest of the day snuggling and loving our new boy and watching his sugar levels very closely. We worked on breastfeeding and we adored him. We FaceTimed our big boys to see how Christmas had gone. I cried. I cried a lot. I missed Christmas with my big boys and I was devastated. I wanted to be able to enjoy this new life yet I was torn at being away from the lives of my other babies. Our people covered it all. They videoed the boys opening all the presents. (I’ve still been unable to watch it). They took pictures. They cleaned the house and organized everything. I was just heartbroken and I cried every time I realized what we were missing. I wanted to get us all home so we could all be together again.

At 3 am on December 26th the nurse woke us to let us know we were headed to the NICU with Brooks “just for a little bit” to get his sugar levels figured out. They had tried two rounds of glucose and his sugar was still too low. Again, I was hopeful. She said “just for a little bit” so surely we wouldn’t be there long. They’d monitor him and get his sugar up and then we’d be ready to head home.

By the afternoon an IV had to be inserted because his levels were dropping again. We were using donor milk because my milk had not come in. We snuggled and continued nursing that day.

On December 27th I continued to pump to get my milk to come in and nurse as often as possible. Each time we got a little more successful with nursing. He was just a preemie with “little white boy” syndrome they called it. I learned in the NICU that little white boys don’t try real hard so his behavior was typical, but I was still very frustrated!

The next few days were almost as traumatic as the delivery. I desperately wanted my baby to be healthy and at home because I had two other boys at home who desperately needed me as well. I realized after day one in the NICU that he wasn’t going to just be there “for a little bit” and I was heartbroken. I saw families going in and out where we scrubbed in. I met mom’s in the NICU family lounge that had been there for weeks and months. I somehow knew we probably weren’t going to be here that long, but what if we were? How were these women doing it? How were these families holding up?

The glucose levels went up and the bilirubin went up – slowly but surely. Eventually the IV came out and nursing got better. Unfortunately he had issues with spitting up so he’d eat so well and then we’d take two steps back. I spent my days in the NICU. Id’ arrive as early as I could get there and stay as late as I could and come home and cry myself to sleep feeling torn between my boys at home and my baby in the hospital. I was a wreck. Between the hormones post pregnancy and my heart in two places, it was just entirely too much. My SIL told me “you’ll look back on this and it will be such a tiny piece of time in the grand scheme of it all.” I would tell myself that over and over just to get through the days. Looking back, she was right. I knew she would be. It helped to think about that. The days just seem so long when your heart is in two places and you physically can only be in one.

One doctor would say we might go home the next day and another doctor would say we weren’t. It was back and forth for 9 days. Brooks had trouble gaining weight because nursing is such a huge exercise for a little guy so he was burning more calories than he was taking in. It was weird to come home for rest on New Year’s Eve and “celebrate” when I felt like there was nothing to celebrate. I felt like a horrible mother leaving my baby in the hospital and a horrible mother spending my days away from my big kids in the NICU with the baby. My heart had never been so torn and I could not figure out how to do it all and be mentally okay.

On January 3rd after fortifying and supplementing and weight gain issues we were finally able to bring Brooks Alynn home.

We surprised the boys when. they came home from school with their new brother.

For a year I’ve dwelled on this experience. I’ve shed tears. I’ve smiled. I’ve learned lessons.

For a year I’ve worried about every single decision I made during that time….and was it the right one?

For a year I’ve had some terrible nightmares where things don’t end in me living to tell about this.

For a year we’ve loved this little boy and brought him into our family so grateful for him blessing us with his grand appearance on Christmas Day in 2021.

Life presents challenges, sometimes so big you don’t think you can overcome them. Somehow, we always do.

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