Or, how Brandt came to be born nine weeks earlier than expected…
Over the weekend of March 13 and 14, I hadn’t noticed the baby moving much. I was a little worried, but the same thing had happened the previous weekend and then been followed by several days of vigorous movements. I thought maybe I just wasn’t as aware of baby on weekends, being more active myself on Saturdays and Sundays. So I waited for Monday morning to see if the flutters and kicks picked up again.
By mid-morning on Monday, I hadn’t felt any baby movements. I called my OB’s office and spoke with a nurse, who instructed me to drink a big glass of water, lay down for an hour, and do nothing but count kicks. When the nurse called me back after an hour, I reported that I still felt nothing that I could definitely attribute to the baby. She told me to head to labor and delivery for a non-stress test, just to be on the safe side.
As I grabbed my purse and got ready to go the car, I called Aaron to let him know I was going in to have the baby checked out. While I drove to the hospital, I called my friend Katie to ask her to pray and to pass the word on to a few other ladies. At this point, I was nervous but assuming that the test would most likely provide reassurance; I didn’t want to give in to fear or imagine worst-case scenarios. Katie offered to meet me at the hospital; I said I’d let her know once I got there if I wanted company or not.
I arrived at the hospital shortly after 1 p.m. After I registered with labor and delivery, they brought me to an examination room. A nurse hooked me up to a heartbeat monitor, and I heard baby’s heartbeat right away, much to my relief. The nurse stepped out of the room, and I called Aaron to let him know everything was fine. Then I got a text from Katie saying she had decided to come on ahead to the hospital and would be there with me soon. Right after that, the nurse came back into the room.
“Where’s your husband?” she asked.
“At work,” I replied, and I told her that he worked about an hour away.
“You might want to call him and tell him to come to the hospital. There’s an outside chance that we might deliver this baby today.”
Completely surprised, I called Aaron again to tell him that my first report was wrong and that he needed to make his way to join me at labor and delivery. Still, I took that phrase, “outside chance,” to heart and hoped that everything would be fine, just a false alarm.
The nurse explained that the pattern of the heartbeat indicated that baby was either sleeping or under some stress, so an ultrasound had been ordered. She then put an oxygen mask on me, to see if extra oxygen would wake baby up. Katie arrived around that time; I was so glad she hadn’t waited for my okay and had simply come! My doctor came in and began the ultrasound. She had done a few minutes of scanning when an ultrasound specialist got there and continued the examination.
My doctor told me they were using the ultrasound to do a biophysical profile. They would spend 30 minutes looking for fetal movement, fetal tone (muscle flexing), and practice breaths. During that half-hour, we saw one or two movements but nothing else. At the end of the scan, the sonographer said that she thought the movements were actually reflex reactions to how hard she was pushing with the ultrasound probe, not voluntary movements from baby. There was no tone or practice breathing, and there seemed to be restricted blood flow through the placenta and umbilical cord. My doctor said that the baby needed to be delivered right away. Tears flooded my eyes; I was so scared for my baby.
Suddenly, I was surrounded by a crowd of medical personnel, putting an IV in my hand, taking information for anesthesia, sliding on compression stockings, swabbing me with iodine for my imminent C-section. Katie called Aaron to let him know I was being rushed into the operating room for baby’s birth and found out that he was ten minutes away. She held the phone up to my ear, and Aaron and I cried together for a few moments before I had to be wheeled out.
In the OR, the nurse who had been with me from the start helped to calm me down for the spinal anesthesia. Then they laid me on the operating table and put the curtain up. The doctor had just made the incision when Aaron arrived and came straight to my side. A few minutes later, at 3:16 p.m., our baby was born.
“It’s a boy,” I heard someone on the other side of the curtain say.
“A boy,” we repeated.
A doctor from NICU immediately began working with our baby boy. I heard two short cries; blessed sounds! Shortly after that, they brought the baby for me to see; they flashed him at me briefly (he had one deep blue eye open) and then rushed him to NICU.
Meanwhile, my C-section was being completed and I was being stitched up. My upper body was shaking pretty uncontrollably, from fright and adrenaline and reaction to the anesthesia. I was taken to recovery, where we were told we’d have news about our baby in an hour. While my anesthesia wore off, Aaron went to update friends and family who had gathered in the hospital waiting room. My shakiness very gradually subsided.
When Aaron rejoined me, we asked for a report on our baby. The nurse went to see if she could find someone from NICU. She came back and beckoned Aaron into the hallway. In that moment, I feared she was breaking bad news to Aaron. Then, I heard him laugh a bit and say, “All right!” My anxiety dissipated a bit. He came back into the room, followed shortly by a NICU doctor who apologized for the delayed report (a mix-up during shift change). She told us that our baby boy was doing okay and that we could come see him. As they brought me from recovery to the mother/baby ward where I would stay for the rest of the week, they wheeled my hospital bed into the NICU to briefly see my darling boy. I wouldn’t get to see him again until the next afternoon, but Aaron visited him later that evening and took some pictures.
I can’t recall exactly when we named him. It was sometime in the OR, perhaps right after they announced he was a boy, perhaps right after we got to see him. Brandt is my maiden name, and Hilleary is Aaron’s middle name (after his great grandfather).
So there’s the story of little Brandt’s dramatic entrance. We certainly didn’t expect him so soon, but we’re so glad he’s here. He’s alive. He’s ours.