Let me start by saying words alone can not express all the events, feelings, emotions, heartache and stress that encompassed us during the first few weeks of Ronan’s life. More importantly, I could never adequately describe the overwhelming presence of God that enveloped us every moment of the way. Furthermore, this is all still very real and daily present in my life, walking down memory lane is still very painful as it brings back many raw and real emotions. For that reason, these posts will be more matter of fact. Trying to work through the emotional side of this event is still an ongoing battle. One day when I’m ready to share that side of this I will, but for now; “Just the facts ma’am.”
The first 24 hours...
Eight days overdue, I was determined to schedule a repeat c-section at my appointment that day and just forget the whole idea of attempting a VBAC. But after talking to our midwife, and seeing that the baby was doing just fine after a non-stress test, we decided to wait the weekend to see if anything would happen. If not, we were scheduled to be induced the following Tuesday.
Even though I tried every natural labor inducer possible, the weekend came and went with no signs of a baby. Tuesday also came and went, and we couldn’t get into the hospital because there were no rooms available. Pretty much the last thing you want to hear when you’re 10 days overdue. Each time we called we were told to call back in a few hours, yet every time we did the answer was the same, “call back later.” Stressed, tired, emotional and uncomfortable we waited…
Finally on Wednesday the 21st we were able to get in. We dropped Nadia off at my parents, made last minute arrangements, and made our way to the hospital. When we arrived I was barely 1 cm dilated, so we knew we had a long way to go. We signed all the paperwork; you know all those papers saying what could happen while assuring you that it only happens to 1 to 3 percent of pregnancies so “you’ll be fine,” but sign anyways, just in case. Then finally the induction process started. A final ultrasound was done to make sure the baby was head down, and he was; I saw it with my own eyes. I was ready, he was ready... at least that’s what we were hoping.
The afternoon was pretty quiet, we talked, we did a devotional together, and watched a few episodes of Downton. After a few hours I was having good consistent contractions that were progressively growing more intense. Around 7pm I asked for an epidural, at that time I was checked again but no progress had been made. They gave me a shot of morphine but that did nothing and contractions were getting stronger so I was ready for the epidural. Once it worked its magic we were able to get some rest.
In the early hours of the morning, probably around 1:30, I woke up to intense pain. Like the pain of contractions on steroids, but it didn’t come and go like contractions do, it was continual. I then quite literally watched my belly do a somersault as my almost 9lb child flipped from being head down to breach. I knew something wasn’t right so I tried to call the nurse but couldn’t find the call button so I woke Ryan up. Before we even found the call button a nurse came in, she came in to adjust my monitor's because, you may have guessed, the baby’s heartbeat had fallen off the monitor. Typically just a position issue, but not in this case. She couldn’t find it! I told her I was pretty sure he flipped but within seconds a crowd of doctors and nurses were in my room with machines, wide eyes, and distressing stares.
Time stood still…no one was saying anything.
After multiple nurses and a doctor tried to find a heartbeat with no success, an ultrasound was done and still nothing. At that point I looked at the Dr. and said, “get him out now!” Of course they had already started preparation for an emergency C-section.
Let me back up a little to give some perspective on this entire situation. When I was about 5 or 6 months pregnant with Ronan I had this feeling that he wasn’t going to live. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it, I just had an awful feeling something was going to happen. Eventually I told Ryan about my fears and he said “you can’t think like that,” but I’m pretty sure I passed my worry on to him. There was always that lingering thought in the back of my mind throughout my pregnancy. So when his heartbeat was lost it was as if I knew this was going to happen. Surprise was one of the emotions I did not feel in those moments.
I was calm. I glanced at Ryan while they were trying to find sounds of life, he was praying. I felt like I was watching a movie. During emergency C-sections, no one, including husbands are allowed to accompany you into the surgery. I was rolled into the operating room alone and told I had two options: be put under during the operation or feel the first 5 minutes of the surgery, there simply wasn’t enough time to let the anesthesia kick in. I didn’t want to be put under, I needed to know if my child was alive especially since Ryan wasn’t there. So those first few minutes were pretty rough to say the least but thankfully, they got him out quickly.
Silence…that’s all I heard.
Life was happening in slow motion I couldn’t see anything happening around me. Every once and while I’d see my nurse running around but that’s it. At some point I realized my uterus had ruptured, no one told me I just knew that’s what had happened. So as I lay there I began to process what was really happening… I didn’t know if my child was alive. I was open on a table while silent doctors worked on me. I could tell they were having trouble as things were much different from my C-section with Nadia. Then I realized they were probably going to have to take my uterus out to keep me alive. Even as the reality of the situation started to hit me I felt calm, I can’t explain it other than it was just God giving me peace. Peace for what was about to come. The thing I wanted most in that moment was for them to let Ryan in the room. It was a struggle to keep my eyes open and I wanted to know what was going on. Oddly enough the anistiegiloist was whistling through the entire procedure so that helped.
My midwife came and sat by my head and held my hand. It felt like an eternity has passed but finally someone yelled out that they found a heartbeat. They found his heartbeat! I finally lost it, I cried-well sobbed tears of joy and pretty much demanded that they let Ryan in. My midwife had already gone to get him and at last he was with me. He walked in the operating room saw Ronan and said “come on Ronan you’ve got to fight.” We cried together and he stayed with me through the rest of the surgery. A team of NICU doctors came from Strong Hospital to work on the baby and they did just that. They resuscitated him and rushed him to the children’s hospital down the street. He was hardly alive when they took him out. He had, in fact, totally flipped during my induction and ripped through my uterus. The doctor told me that he was completely out and laying in my abdomen with no protection at all. How he survived is truly miraculous. God’s hand of protection was all over both of us that morning.
When I was rolled into the recovery room the doctor, midwife, and nurses all came around my bed and explained what happened. Ryan and my parents were there too as we listened to the details. To be quite honest I don’t remember much, I was so exhausted (and drugged) I just remember her drawing a sketch of my uterus to show how bad the tear was and telling me more children may not be in our future but she had managed to keep my uterus.
From there my Dad and Ryan went to be with Ronan and my mom stayed back with me until I was able to be transferred to Strong. At this point I still hadn’t even seen Ronan. (After having Ryan proof this post, he informed me I had indeed seen Ronan in the operating room. Apparently they wheeled him over to me on his way out, I unfortunately do not have any recollection of this, which is totally heartbreaking).
We know nothing happens on accident. God has a plan for every moment of our lives. So when we were told there wasn’t room for us to come into the hospital that Tuesday, God knew the best doctors for our situation weren’t there that day. He knew I would need a surgeon that specializes in high risk c-sections. He knew that she would be on call that Thursday morning when we needed her most. He knew she could save my uterus and get our little baby boy out in time for him to live. He knew that the operating room was going to be empty when we needed it. He knew that the midwife on call was actually a member of our church who knew both of our families even though we had never met her. He knew there would be an empty room for me at Strong to be transferred into right away. He knew the team of NICU doctors that came to get Ronan were the best. He had very detail figured out long before we even knew we’d be where we were.
So much happened in those 24 hours I couldn’t possibly cover every detail. Had the circumstances been slightly different we both likely would have died. Everything went wrong, we were the 1 to 3 percent of people they told us about. Yet, through it all it was more than clear that our little Ronan was going to be used of God in a way we never could have dreamed of. This was just the start of Ronan’s story that would change our lives and touch so many others in the weeks to come.