On Monday, I felt quite secure after a great cervical measurement of 4. But, on Wednesday night, I wiped after going to the bathroom and saw a bit of blood. Peter and I immediately rushed to our hospital, 45 minutes away, and although we heard our precious boy's heartbeat, the physical exam showed that my cervix had dilated to 2. We were admitted but, since they couldn't get a hold of our doctor, the resident told me that I could go to the bathroom, etc. The next morning, our doctor revoked those orders, and put us in "Tburg" (inversion) and bedpan only. To our shock, an ultrasound showed that part of my water bag and little Alexander's legs were in my vagina (even though the bag hadn't broken). We were advised to start labor, but just couldnt do it. Our little snugglebug's heart was so strong and he was moving around, even as we were terrified. We decided to maintain bedrest and that, if he came, it was his time to be born. The doctors told us that we probably wouldnt make it through the night.
From our Bradley classes, we'd learned that pelvic tilts on hands and knees help move babies into better positions. Deciding we had nothing to lose (and still in inversion), we did a few minutes of tilts each hour. Thursday night, as I was preparing to use the bedpan, I sneezed and my water broke, sending a huge spray all over the floor and bed. Amazingly, Peter and I were calm. A sense of peace filled the room. Labor didn't start and we prayed for his sack to reform and his fluid to replenish, even though the doctors warned that there was an almost 0% chance. We were told to wait for labor to begin any time. But still... no labor.
Friday morning, an ultrasound showed little Alexander completely in the uterus and in an (albeit smaller) bag of fluid. We were concerned because we wanted more fluid, but we were just so grateful that there was a bag of fluid around him! We were still advised that the chances weren't great but were told that there was no harm in waiting and seeing a repeat u/s on Monday, to check fluid, bag, etc.
Saturday night, we went to bed in our inverted hospital bed (yes, my sweet husband stayed and slept with me, even though I can only imagine how uncomfy it must have been for him being so tall), and he rubbed my back until I fell asleep. About an hour or so later, at around 11:30pm, we woke up, me with a funny pelvic pain and him to blood- all over his underwear, my underwear, and the bed. Being the sweetie that he is, he responded to my request and got me as cleaned up the best he could before calling the nurses. I was terrified when I removed my underwear and found large blood clots and the nurses were quite concerned as well. The OB on call was sent in and, after a doppler failed to locate Alexander's heartbeat, the doctor used an ultrasound to do so. Little Alex was doing very well, good HB, and movement. But there was blood everywhere in the uterus, a sure fire sign of placental abruption. The doctor advised us to induce labor, since there was nothing they could do.
We had already decided that we would let Alexander's labor play out on his terms as much as we could. We had prayed for miracles, and had received them, granting us more days than doctors had told us were possible. Peter explained that we would follow Alexander's labor pattern and proceed with the natural labor we had prepared for (even though we'd hoped to use it in months). He politely told the nurses that we wouldn't call them until after Alexander was born, and they all were very understanding of our feelings.
We slowly changed the bed over the next hour from inversion to an almost seated position, and yet, still no baby (although plenty of blood and clots, accompanied by contractions). One of the nurses, who knew we were Catholic, offered to call a priest, and at 1am, a priest from a local parish arrived. He was so kind and prayed a beautiful prayer over all of us, especially Alexander, and then gave the Anointing of the Sick. I'm convinced that this all really did help with labor. After he and the nurse left, Peter and I felt such a sense of peace that we decided to take a nap together as a family. Around 3:30am, I woke up to a contraction, wrapped up in Peter's arms, and I woke him, telling him I felt it was time. In a mostly quiet labor, full of kisses and loving words from my sweet husband, I used the breathing tips we had learned and pushed out our beautiful son. Nathaniel Alexander was born at 3:45am, at 17w, weighing 3.9 oz. and measuring 7 inches in length. He came out kicking like the soccer player he was in the womb- and feet first! It took three pushes to get him completely into his father's arms, where he continued his feast of movement, much to our joy. We called the nurse, whom we'd already told we wanted to baptize him first and get his vitals second. We knew that we'd only have mere moments most likely and wanted to be able to have some very special moments. The nurse was very kind and immediately baptized little Alexander, who squirmed during the Sacrament, however by the time she was complete and he was in a blanket, she couldnt find a heartbeat and his little legs and arms had settled down, with him sucking his thumb.
It took almost another hour and a half to push out the placenta, which was harder than pushing Alexander out, but we still continued our plan of drug free labor. Peter held our beautiful little boy, who even after his spirit had left his body, still cuddled up to us, no matter what position he was in. After labor was complete, we went to bed as a family and slept, our baby nestled against my chest in his little blanket (so lovingly wrapped by his daddy), with Peter spooned up against me and holding our little one by reaching his (long) arms around me completely. I can only imagine the beautiful image. It was so beautiful to me.
We kept our son with us and our day was uneventful, save me getting out of bed long term, which included some vomiting from the change in position and dizziness, along with two pass outs as I walked to the bathroom and back. Apparently, I was quite pale, but thankfully blood tests confirmed that I hadn't lost as much blood as was feared, since I was bleeding all night, and physically, I was fine, just drained. By 11am, I was able to shower on my own and move around.
Peter and I spent a beautiful morning with our son, holding him, dancing with him, singing to him. We napped with him and kept him close. We also took a lot of pics (which I'll post to my blog once they are uploaded), and Peter's parents came to the hospital and spent an hour with their grandson. It was wonderful spending the time with him among those who love him so much. Peter handled making calls to my immediate family, as I couldnt find the words. In some ways, he doesn't realize how strong he is. Then, he also called the funeral home that handled the arrangements for Nicholas and Sophia, and arranged for Alexander to be picked up Monday for cremation and his addition to the marble box we had Nicholas and Sophia placed in, which during our hospital stay, sat next to the bed, as it does at home. We made the hard decision to discharge Sunday night and have our beautiful baby boy taken to the morgue. We knew that it was better for his body than staying with us in the warm room, and frankly, I couldnt handle the idea of having him away from me and still being in the hospital. It was either be discharged on Monday and keep him all night, then have the funeral home pick him up on Tuesday, or discharge Sunday and have the funeral home pick him up Monday.
The hardest thing was leaving the hospital again without our beautiful little one in tow. We were so heavily monitored and yet, even that, couldnt save our son. It's such a feeling of powerlessness. Our doctor did say that he would cerclage at 12w in the future, since now they can document my cervix opening early without warning. But, today, I can't think about baby #4. All I can think about is my beautiful baby boy, my cuddlebug, my Alexander.
Please keep Peter and I in your prayers as we face the day without our newest joy, Alexander, and continue to live each moment without our Nicholas and Sophia, events we never expected. We are so grateful for each moment we've had with each of our children, most recently Wed-Sun with our precious baby boy, Alexander. So many prayers were said and we know that they had such a huge impact, helping to both give us the more time we desperately hoped for and the much needed time to prepare.