You'll Always Be The First
A Birth Story
It was late morning on Wednesday, August 26th, 2015 when I stepped out the door for a routine prenatal appointment with my midwives. I was 30 weeks and 3 days gestation with our son.
I pet our dog Lola, promising to be back soon since the office was right down the street. Within minutes of me sitting down in the examination room, my midwife was taking my blood pressure and when she looked down to read the cuff, her expression had shifted from one of friendly chatter to one of concern. She explained that my blood pressure level was a possible indicator of a more serious gestational condition and I would need to undergo more testing to make a definitive diagnosis. I figured the best bet was to head straight to the hospital so that I could get same day results, so onward to Mission Hospital I went.
After a few tests upon checking into Labor and Delivery, I was promptly handed over to the specialty doctors of MAHEC and informed that I indeed had a condition called pre-eclampsia and would need to stay in the hospital for more tests. At this point, I still had it in my mind the possibility of going home.
From there everything happened at an accelerated pace. Practically every half an hour after our initial discussion and the results of another test, my status changed. At first it was that I was to stay several weeks in the hospital to be monitored, then several days, and then came the gut wrenching news – my placenta had stopped exchanging blood at a viable level with the baby and my blood pressure was rising at a rapid rate. Even though he wasn’t acting in distress, he was in danger and I was in danger, my diagnosis was severe pre-eclampsia. For him, the placenta could stop giving him blood flow and I could suffer a seizure. I had to deliver within the next couple of hours or the risks were imminent.
My husband was away on business and desperately on his way to get back to us, but I knew I had to make this decision on my own and make it now. As a soon-to-be mother, I knew I couldn’t fall apart in this moment, I could no longer think about my un-medicated water birth plan. It wasn’t about me at all, it was about bringing our child safely into this world.
I was given the stark news that my son had suffered internal growth restriction due to the pre-eclampsia and was severely undersized and underweight for his gestational age. Any attempt at a vaginal birth would put his tiny body at risk of extreme trauma – a cesarean was the only path.
Before my onward journey into the OR, representatives of the entire medical team visited me to explain what would happen next. The most special visit was from Dr. Amber Fort, the neonatologist who would deliver our son. She sat with me and with her genuine nature, she explained everything that would happen with my baby -- delivery and post-delivery. She asked if I desired anything specific and would do the best they could to honor my wishes. I asked for delayed cord clamping if it was possible and safe. She promised she would try her best and I knew she meant it.
With my doula, Paige, by my side, I went into the OR. She held my hand and told me how brave I was as adrenaline shook my body, a side effect of the epidural. The surgical team kept things light to keep me smiling and my worry at bay. I laid there eagerly awaiting my baby’s cry, listening to the soothing Native American Flute music in the background.
Jasper Tauseef Chaudhry was lifted into this world at 12:12am on Thursday, August 27th, 2015. He was born at 2 pounds – 30 weeks and 4 days gestation.
Though he was born so early, he did beautifully. He cried out with his tiny lungs. I got to spend a few moments with him before he had to be whisked away to the NICU. My husband and I joined him there a couple of hours later and were by his side every day of his NICU stay.
Our stay lasted 9 and a half weeks. He was born with a congenital heart condition (bicuspid aeortic valve), but his real challenge was to catch up in growth. He came home right before Halloween in October 2015 and we honored the occasion with a custom-made Superman costume for our little warrior.
Though both our birth and NICU journeys spanned the full range of such an emotional experience, I will always be grateful for the way the doctors and medical staff of Mission hospital supported our family professionally and emotionally to bring Jasper safely into our arms and into our home where he belongs.