Today is Sunday and I say a silent thank you to the universe for allowing Jay to make it through another night. I have not slept at all well and am totally exhausted. I know that too much chocolate just before bed is to blame for this. I can’t help it, I am addicted to sugar. I make a mental note to get back on track of losing weight. Seriously, I do not want to be a big grand mamma!
I get to Jay around 11am and she announces that yet again, she has been told that the NICU doctors cannot make it to talk to her. They will not allow her to go into the NICU nursery without the doctors having spoken to her and Em first.
I try to explain yet again just how busy they are. It is falling on deaf ears and, frankly, I can’t blame her. This whole preemie thing is consuming my every waking moment, so I can’t imagine what it must be doing for her.
The day takes much the format of yesterday. We sit, we talk. I want to ask some of the big things, but don’t think it is appropriate. I notice a change in Jay. She is more mature, more confident even, especially when the nurses come to chat to her.
I notice Jay is becoming more uncomfortable during the day. We call the nurse a couple of times and they perform a “timing”. They place their hand on her tummy, much in the way Spock performs a mind meld, feeling for any tightening of the tummy that they call, unsurprisingly, tightenings. She has a couple, but nothing notable, they say..
“How will I know if I am in labour, Mum?”
“You will know, love, it’s unmistakable.”
“Actually,” the nurse says, “prem labours present in a different way. We look for pain, yes, but also back ache and the need to go for a bowel movement. You might not have as intense pain as you might have had if you had gone to term and it can happen very quickly. You need to let us know if anything changes.”
Jay looks at me as if to say What the F—?
I smile and mouth you will know.
4pm and I decide that it is time for me to leave. Tee has text me to say that she is arriving later and I know that Em is on his way.
“I don’t want to be on my own.” At times like this, I realize that my Jay is still only a child herself, despite maturity and appearances.
“You won’t be on your own for that long.” I kiss her and say goodbye.
Dee has dinner waiting for me again. Finally by 8pm Dee and I get a chance to watch some TV together. I cuddle up to him.
“I don’t know what I would do without you, you know,” I say to him.
“We make a good team. I make dinner and clean the house, you sit with our daughter and reassure her that all will be okay. It’s good team work.”
I look down and notice my phone is ringing. It is Jay.
“I’m okay mum.” Okay, now I’m worried. “Tee was here and I got a couple of really bad pains. They did a timing and then checked my cervix. Mum, I’m two centimeters dilated, so they are going to take me to the birthing suite.”
I’m up and out of the chair. I look at Dee and tears spring to my eyes. I can’t breathe. “Okay, I need you right now. I need you to tell me it is going to be okay. I need you to calm me down so that by the time I reach Jay I am strong again.”
He runs over to me. Holding me tightly, he tells me that all is going to be okay and that no matter what we will get through this. He tells me to get on my way. I throw some snacks in a bag and drive like the clappers to the hospital.
Jay is in the birthing suite. It is a large room and there is soft music playing in the background. Em is sitting with her. I rush over to her and hug her. “Are you okay? What did they say? What is happening?” So many questions, but I can’t help myself.
“I’m okay, Mum. I got these pains and then they found out I was 2 centimeters dilated. Apparently my membranes are also bulging through.” Baby C’s arrival is obviously imminent.
Tee and Emma arrive. Emma is Em’s 16 year old sister. She and Jay have bonded really well. “How on earth did you make it here so quickly? I’ve just sent you a text to say drive carefully,” Tee says. I smile.
“I had to get here quickly, I didn’t want to miss anything.”
I ask Jay if she wants me to change the music. I like it, but I know it isn’t her taste. She declines saying it is okay.
“The nurse gave me a preemie baby crash course. She basically told me what is going to happen when he comes. There are going to be a lot of doctors in the room taking care of Baby C and a lot of nurses there for me.” I can see she is overwhelmed.
“I’ll be there for you love.” I must seem feeble against an army of medical personnel.
We all talk for a bit amongst a constant stream of doctors coming into the room, each one adding more information.
“Have you thought of the mode of delivery?” the obstetrician asks.
“Yes, I would like a C-section because I think it will be better for the baby.”
“Well, let’s say we will try for a vaginal birth, but if anything is the least bit wrong with the baby, we will do a c-section.”
We discuss the consequences of a c-section and even though Jay is informed that because she is not yet far enough along to do an across cut, she will have what they call and up and down cut and will never be able to have a vaginal delivery for any other babies, she is adamant she wants a c-section. I know I have influenced this decision, and I have been influenced by other people. The OB agrees to do a c-section.
An IV is inserted into Jay’s hand and she is given antibiotics. We are told that this is because the baby’s immune system is practically non-existent and the IV will boost his immune system through her blood. She is also given a course of three tablets called nophetamine which may slow down the labour, although this is not guaranteed.
One of the NICU doctors comes to talk to us. He starts off by announcing that one third of all 26 weekers dies and of those that survive 50% have severe developmental disabilities. By the end of the 20 minute talk, we are all left feeling that if Baby C doesn’t die, then he will be severely disabled and that Jay and Em may be even called upon to decide whether or not to let the baby live or die. The doctor leaves and Jay just burst into tears. Em sits there totally dumb struck. I rush to hug Jay and everyone reassures her. Luckily the midwife is there. She turns to Jay and reassures her that she has worked in the NICU and amazing miracles are performed every day by the staff that work there.
“One thing I know about preemies,” she says, “is that they are tough little fighters.” Jay is not reassured.
We continue to talk, and even laugh throughout the night. The five of us are tired, but we manage to keep our spirits up. Jay’s pains and tightenings have largely subsided, but they decide to keep Jay in the birthing suite as she has fallen into a deep sleep after a temazepam to help her sleep. Em falls asleep on a mattress on the floor and Tee and Emma decide to return home at 2am.
Feeling a bit weird sleeping in the room with Jay and Em, but not prepared to leave Jay, I try, unsuccessfully, to sleep on the chairs in the waiting room.
The whole thing feels so surreal. I cannot believe that my baby girl may give birth to a 26 week old fetus. I rehash the doctor’s talk in my mind and wonder if we are going to lose the baby. I say a silent prayer. Please don’t let Baby C die, but also don’t let him be terribly ill – yes, I want my cake and eat it.
I must have finally fallen asleep because before I know it, it is 5am.