Sunday, September 14, 2014

Caris Noelle: Birthstory of a Micropreemie

My baby girl was due December 25. Christmas day. I was sure she would be born late, in January.

After experiencing 6 years of infertility, I was aching to hold my little one. I think God felt my ache to become a mother; He gave me my daughter much earlier than I expected.

Around September 10 (2013), I started to have mild contractions and light spotting. I was cautious, but this being my first pregnancy, I was convinced I was having Braxton Hicks contractions--a normal symptom.

As the week progressed, the contractions became more painful, and were about 10 minutes apart. The worry kicked in. I began to feel like this was not normal.

Fast forward to September 17--I was 25 weeks and 6 days pregnant. I did not sleep well the night before due to the pain. I got out of bed at 6 am and began to have heavy bleeding. The fear kicked in.

My husband Colin woke up. My contractions were now just 5 minutes apart, and I was feeling pain in my upper legs as well. Colin was very concerned. Somehow, I was sure I would still be going to work that day. Colin insisted on calling my hospital to see if we needed to go to the ER. He spoke with a triage nurse at 8 am, who told us to go immediately to the ER.

We arrived at 8:45 am. I was crying. The tears would not stop.

Nurses did a check-up and then I was finally able to see my doctor. She said I was not dilated, but was 7 mm effaced. I was started on IV fluids to get hydrated, procardia pills to slow down contractions, and betamethasone steroids to help my baby's lungs strengthen and mature, in case she were to be born.

My contractions began to slow down. This was a relief. I did not want to believe my baby could be born this early.

A belly and a vaginal ultrasound were done. Everything about my baby appeared healthy. She was head down and belly down. I happened to notice on the ultrasound that my baby's head appeared very low, right at my cervix. This frightened me.

My doctor explained that there was a chance my baby could be born within 48 hours, and that the hospital did not have medical equipment/teams to support micropreemies. She told me she wanted me to be transferred to a different hospital that specialized in micropreemies, as a precaution.

At 1:45 pm, I took my very first helicopter ride. This was a little frightening. I was laying on a stretcher in a tight enclosed space. Thankfully I had no contractions on the 15 minute flight.

We arrived to my hospital and I was wheeled on my stretcher to room 369. My contractions returned. I was given more pills and magnesium. A machine was monitoring my contractions and my baby girl's heartrate. She kept swimming around and kicking the probes off. I was thankful she was so active. She made me smile.

The pills worked to reduce my contractions. My nurse told me that if the pills continued working, the goal would be to send me home in about 48 hours with more pills. This was hopeful. I was feeling good with that goal.

At 6 pm, a doctor arrived. She did an ultrasound and confirmed my baby's head was very low. She did an internal exam, and sent for my nurse to get a speculum.

(Unbeknownst to me, my doctor held up 10 fingers to my nurse and mouthed, "She's a 10!")

My doctor used the speculum to examine me further.

Then, the most fearful moment in all of my life happened. My doctor revealed to me that I was fully dilated at 10 centimeters. She told me we would be having our baby.

Instant tears. Uncontrollable sobbing. Panic.

The only thing holding my baby girl in was the water sac. I cried so hard for my baby girl. I was devastated that I could not keep my baby in my belly any longer. I prayed so hard. I feared for both of our lives.

At 6:28 pm, I was wheeled into room 359. Nurses were piling into the room. It was the middle of a shift change, so both shifts of people were there to help. It felt chaotic with people, yet they seemed relaxed and cheerful--this both perplexed and calmed me.

Colin held my hand at the left side of my bed. A nurse asked us if we had a name picked out. I became speechless and looked at Colin. He started crying (and I restarted crying) and he said, "Caris". We hadn't yet solidified a name, but we knew it was the one. Caris means 'love'. Caris Noelle. The nurse wrote in on a whiteboard.

The doctor broke the water sac.

She warned us that we would likely not hear a cry, because our little girl's lungs would not yet be fully developed.

I started pushing in sets of 3. I hadn't prepared for this. I never got to take birthing classes. On the second set, I cried out in pain as Caris arrived. 6:40 pm.

She cried. A tiny little voice that showed her strength.

The nurses immediately took her to the other side of the room to assess her.

I was too frightened to look.

I was told her left eye opened a little bit. She scored 9/9 on the Apgar test.

A nurse held her up to us for a brief second, and then she was whisked away from me to the NICU.

Caris weighed 1 lb 13.6 oz., and was 13 inches long.

To be continued....


  1. A year later, and thousands of miles away, I am in tears. So many moments of fear redeemed by love. You are amazing!

  2. Wow. I read this through tears. This made me so emotional. I'm
    Glad your beautiful girl is with you now one year old! What a story. You guys are blessed!

  3. WOW!!! Just wow!!! I am in tears reading your emotional journey! I am so glad that I know the ending and Caris is healthy and happy - I don't think I could take the suspense otherwise. :)
    I'm so glad for an update!!! Your picture on the blog page is SO adorable! <3