I just sat down a hot searing pain shot through my right lower abdomen. It wasn’t the same kind of pain I’d been having throughout the pregnancy. This pain was making me sweat. Within a few minutes of the onset of pain I began having contractions Oh, no. This baby can’t be coming already, it’s way too early. I called my ob/gyn and she was out-of-town. The nurse said the doctor on call would be getting back to me as soon as possible. Great! I’ve had the same ob/gyn for all of my children and had yet delivered one. Why? Because she was always out-of-town. I knew then, that this baby would most likely be coming tonight, after all, its tradition to deliver when my doctor is vacationing. I curled up on the couch, lying on my left side just like I was told to do. The pain subsided some and the contractions lessened.
A couple of hours later I managed to get up and cook some spaghetti for the girls. The contractions returned, stronger and faster. I looked over at the clock. Jim would be home any minute and I was seriously considering going to the hospital. I painfully walked up the stairs and took a shower. I counted the contractions on the shower tile using my kids bath crayons. I had 10 in the fifteen minutes I was in there. It was time to go. I got out of the shower and nervously started to gather up the last few things I’d need for the hospital and Jim walked in.
“What are you doing?
“I’m getting ready to go.” I said in urgent way. I didn’t have to tell him where we were going, the look on my face said it all.
“Oh my God! Are you serious?”
“Yes, Jim! I’m serious! Please call Bebe and see if it’s okay to drop off the girls and then call your parents and let them know we are on our way to the hospital. I’ve gotta find my damn chap stick and call my parents.”
I have a tendency to focus on non-important issues such as chap stick when things start to get hairy. I manage to go through the motions and accomplish what I need to without becoming overwhelmed by life.
I called Hoag Hospital and asked for the doctor on call. She seemed annoyed that another 33 weeker was thinking she was in labor. Hesitantly, she told me I’d better go to the hospital and confirm whether or not my instincts were correct.
Bebe gave me a great big giant hug, our bellies bumping each other as she was as pregnant as I was. The girls were dropped off and safe and we were on our way. My parents were at home. I imagine my mom was going nuts. I told her I’d call once we arrived at the hospital and found out what the next step would be. I knew that I was in labor. I also knew that this pain was not normal. She was worried that they’d take me off to delivery and I wouldn’t be able to call her. She was talking a mile a minute and kept repeating herself. When mom starts repeating herself you know she’s nervous. Vicki and Karl were also on edge awaiting the call. We promised everyone that we’d be in contact as soon as we knew something.
“We don’t deliver 33 week babies just because the mother is uncomfortable…”
“I understand. But I’m not just uncomfortable, I’m in pain.” I wanted to punch the nurses lights out.
“We’ll have to see what the urine tests say before I page the doctor.”
Seriously? This wasn’t my first rodeo. This was my fourth delivery. I understand that pregnancy in itself is painful, labor is painful, but this pain was not normal. It was a constant throbbing in my lower abdomen that did not stop once the contractions did. This was different. I had a raging headache and had developed a bad case of the squirts since arriving at the hospital. This baby was coming.
“Let me retake your blood pressure.”
“Please do…” I still wanted to knock her out. My blood pressure was 180/90. Contractions were every three minutes and getting stronger with each passing minute. The nurse left the room to read the results of my urine test. She confirmed that I had protein in my urine, not good. From experience, I knew once there was protein, the baby would be coming out.
“I’m going to page the doctor now.”
“Please do…and hurry!” I was terrified. It was 7:00 and happy to learn that the nurses were having a shift change. Another nurse came in and introduced herself. She was kind and caring and could see that I was visibly upset about the early delivery. There had been a lot of questions about the due date and it had been changed a few times. Right now, I was worried that this baby would have breathing problems and all the scary stuff that goes along with preemies.
“So, what’s your story?” The ob/gyn asked as she took her car keys and stuffed them into her purse. It was very obvious I was interrupting her Friday night. I proceeded to tell her about the pain in my lower belly. She began poking around and then I realized that my right upper quadrant was more tender than the lower. She suspected my liver was enlarged and abruptly told me she was going to go scrub up. The baby needed to be delivered before the hour was up.
I called my parents, Kim, Jeanae and Duane and Jim called Vicki, Karl and Bebe. I really wanted to see my girls before I went into surgery. I was scared that something bad might happen. I really needed to see them and tell them I loved them, just in case.
Bebe was a saint. She got the girls to me just as I was being taken into surgery. My parents arrived about the same time. It’s not an easy thing to kiss the ones you love the most just before you walk into a major surgery like that. The moment I saw my parents I wanted to cry just like when I was five on my first day of kindergarten.
I was curled up in the fetal position, my bum exposed midair, as the anesthesiologist numbed my body just like before. My heart thumped in my chest as the realization that I was about to go through child-birth once again ran through my head. Jim was in the ritualistic daddy suit and by my head in no time. I couldn’t stop the tears. All the calmness I’d had with Amaya’s delivery was a mere stranger and I just couldn’t squish the feeling that something wasn’t right this time.
My head was spinning from the drugs. Jim reassured me as I held my breath and closed my eyes. It seemed I could feel so much more pressure than before. I wasn’t feeling pain necessarily, but was definitely aware of the intense pressure.
“We have a bleeder…”
My heart stopped. I figured I was the bleeder.
“Mrs. Kernell? You have a hole the size of a grapefruit in your uterus. This will be the last baby you will carry. Your body is done, do you understand?”
Well, I sure hope it’s a boy then. I had an agenda. If we didn’t have a boy then the Kernell name would not carry on. Wait…did she say I had a hole? Was she serious? I had a hole? Was that the reason for the shearing pain I felt ravaging my body? You mean I wasn’t being dramatic? My thoughts were scattered and all over the place. I was finding difficult to process that I had a hole. Okay. Everything will be fine. Try to remember to breath. Let’s just get the baby out and not focus on how things could be going very wrong. I was about to give birth to an almost two month premature infant; I wanted to live through this and for everything to be okay.
“We need to stop your bleeding before we can get the baby out.”
The mood in the room was intense. Nobody was talking except for my doctor when she’d ask for a new instrument. All I could hear were the bleeps from the monitors and see smoke spiraling into the air from my wound. My thoughts were conflicting each other; I was terrified to have him come out in fear of the worst but I was terrified to keep him in. The ob/gyn had told the anesthesiologist to be prepared in case I needed to be put completely out. Jim was stroking my hair and kept telling me everything was going to be ok. I knew the risks of delivering a premature baby. There wasn’t a thing a person could say that could convince me that everything was going to be okay. Not until my baby was out and crying.
“The cord is wrapped around the neck twice.”
I wasn’t surprised. All of my kids had practically strangled themselves with their cords. Just get it out and tell me everything is okay. I felt some more weird sensations and finally heard the cry. I took a breath.
“Thank you, God. Thank You, God.” I knew statistically, that if the baby had enough energy to cry, that it was a good thing. Please be okay. My eyes were clenched shut. Not sure if it was to prevent the tears of fear from flowing or the fear of seeing another dead baby.
“Everything looks good so far. You are done having babies. Do you hear me? Your body cannot have any more babies. Your uterus had ruptured and is thin as a water balloon.”
Whatever happened to compassion? My child had barely been ripped from my wound, I wasn’t even closed up yet and I felt like I was being scolded. My body was shaking uncontrollably from the morphine, the same reaction I had after my previous two deliveries. My mind was cloudy but clear enough to grasp the heaviness of the situation.
“What is it?” I could barely find my voice. With all of the commotion around me, nobody told us whether or not the baby was a boy or girl. Everyone was busy cauterizing my gut and tending to the baby to let me know.
“Oh, it’s a boy!”
Josiah James Karl Kernell entered our world weighing 4 lbs. 10 ounces and was 17 inches long. Most importantly, he was breathing great on his own.
Jim was chuckling in my ear and all of the negativity in the room vanished for a moment. He was giddy as a kid in a candy store. Josiah seemed to be doing extremely well for his gestational age. They were taking him away to the nursery for a closer look but was reassure he was doing great. They told me I’d get to see him in about an hour.
I was taken into my own private room to recover. I had a nasty metal taste in my mouth accompanied with the spins. Kim and Vanessa came in and sat with me as I watched the clock tick. it’d been over an hour and I was sad that I was the last person to see him. The rest of our family went home after seeing Josiah through the incubator. Jim came in and reported that Josiah’s body temperature was a little low and the nurses wanted to keep him bundled under the heat lamps for a bit longer.
I kept asking Jim what he looked like. Did he look like the girls? Did he seem to be okay? Was he super tiny? The waiting was killing me. I longed to see and hold him with every ounce of my being.