Baby Zion a 24 weeker - Birth story {Part 1}

I Follow this mom on Instagram and she and her family are inspiring! Her story gives me chills. Gives me hope. Gives me joy! She sees the good every step of the way and this little boy Zion is a true miracle! Please read her story and stick around for the next 3 parts! This one is amazing!

Check out her blog at nicuzion.wordpress.com and follow her Instagram at @_chelseawatkins

Okay, first of all. I have to say the reason behind this blog is to give glory to God for the miracles He has done in the life of our family these past couple months. He gets all of the glory, the honour and the praise for every recovery and good report!!! My husband Josh and I are incredibly thankful for every person who has supported us in any way during this journey. We couldn’t have done it without you!!!!

Second of all. I am NOT a blogger. Sorry I don’t have all the fancy “about me” tabs and all that. I just thought this would be easier than doing a massive Facebook post haha! So no judging of my non-bloggy skills! Haha!

There’s nothing quite like the first time you see that positive pregnancy test. “THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!” is all I could think when I first saw those two beautiful lines. A baby. We were going to have a BABY! Telling Josh the news will forever be one of my favourite moments.

Things went by quick. Just having moved a few months earlier to Manitoba, we didn’t have a family doctor. So Josh and I went into the Walmart walk-in clinic (fancy, I know) and got the verification that yes, we were actually pregnant! I think I freaked out the doctor at how excited I was haha! From there they referred us to a nice old doctor who would see me throughout my pregnancy. In reality, I only ended up seeing him 3 times.

Dr K. was awesome. He was an old man and felt like a grandpa in a weird way. But we trusted him because, I mean, he’s old! Older doctors are better, right?! He must have delivered a ton of babies in his career! I looked him up on ratemds.com and saw he had a pretty good review, which made me feel even better. Everyone said that he is really calm in the delivery room and likes to do things the natural way. “That’s totally how my delivery is going to be – calm and natural.” Ha! Oh my poor little naive self. I think it’s a good thing we don’t know what the future holds, or we would be to scared to go through with it all!

I had a really good pregnancy. No issues with blood pressure, extra weight gain or other abnormalities. Josh and I were overly cautious and ate extremely healthy. I made sure I was drinking a minimum of 10 cups of water a day. Logging my food everyday to make sure I got the calories and nutrition I needed to grow a baby. We checked every pack of gum, hoping to find one WITHOUT aspartame to help cure my morning sickness (its impossible. TicTacs are the way to go). I didn’t even have a sip of coffee! I worked from home, and had the luxury of being able to have naps during my lunch break. Josh and I took long walks at night and dreamt about what our life will look like with this mysterious little person. And what my perfect birth experience would be like.

Okay, can I just say, where on earth do we get this idea that we will have a “perfect” birthing story?! I think everyone has something in each birth story that was less than ideal. Baby overdue, unplanned c-section, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes. Seriously. There is SO much that the movies don’t talk about when it comes to pregnancy!!! And my picture of a beautiful short labour with my mom on one side and Josh on the other, with my perfectly packed hospital bag, well there wasn’t even an ounce of that fantasy that happened in my actual delivery! Haha!! I feel like Pinterest and Netflix didn’t prepare me for real life!

Things started to feel a little off about 3 months in. I had the strangest pain in my side that wouldn’t go away. I asked my mom if it was normal, and she said just to check with my doctor in my next appointment. Next time I saw Dr. K. I asked him about it, and he assured me it was just ligaments stretching. Huh. Again, he’s the old expert doctor who (in my head) has seen it all and must know. The pains would go away and come back, and I continued to ask him in each of my following appointments, but he dismissed them as growing pains. But hey, it’s my first pregnancy! How am I suppose to know what to feel. So we went with that. “Growing pains.”

Now let’s really fast forward. To the beginning of my 5th month of pregnancy and we had just found out we were having a boy. Oh dear little Chelsea, thinking she had so far to go still! Little did I know that a week later I would meet that baby boy…

We had a family wedding in Regina coming up at the end of July and my clothes were just starting to get a little tight. As we started the 6hr drive, Josh convinced me it was time to get some pregnancy clothes. I’ll be living in them for the next 4 months after all! We stopped by the mall and did a mini shopping spree. Oh my gosh did those pregnancy jeans feel like heaven!

As we were driving my lower stomach felt kind of uncomfortable. I figured it was just those ligaments stretching again. Nothing painful. I read on all of my pregnancy apps that now is the time when your body/baby really start to grow. I actually kind of liked the discomfort because it meant that our little boy was growing! I kept thinking, “As if he is already 22 weeks! Over half way there!”

Throughout the weekend we were in Regina I kept having the discomfort in my lower stomach. On Saturday night I woke up in the night 4 times with the most intense pain. I remember telling myself to just breathe and suck it up – labour is going to be the real pain! It’s just ligaments stretching, right?! I figured baby must be going through a REALLY big growth spurt! After waking up the fourth time I finally woke Josh up and asked him to pray for me. “I have no idea what’s going on, but I don’t think it’s normal. Just pray for protection over the baby and peace over my body.” Thank goodness for a husband who knows how to pray.

The next morning I was laughing with my mother in law. She knew I was feeling a little bit off (we left the wedding reception early the day before) and I was telling her about these pains I was having. “I can totally handle labour contractions because these pains are CRAZY!” Little did I know at that point, but I actually was in labour!

All day Josh kept telling me to sit down and put my feet up. I didn’t want to be the “dramatic pregnant woman”! So I’d listen to him every now and then, but convinced myself I was fine. Sure I those intense pains I had in the night were now happening all the time, but that was totally normal. It’s ligaments stretching. Baby is growing. Every woman goes through this. …Right?!…

Sunday night we were playing games and hanging out at Josh’s grandparents house. I was SO hot and pretty sure I drank 6 bottles of water that night. Because I was drinking so much water, I kept going to the bathroom. Something seemed off when I would go, but I didn’t bother telling anyone about it. (I later found out that I lost my mucus plug that night. Just another miracle of God holding Zion in place and protecting him from infection!)

Monday morning we were leaving to drive back to Steinbach. I had no idea what was happening but when I look back I see God’s fingerprints all over it, holding Zi inside of me. While I was showering that morning I had another one of those intense lower abdomen pains and then felt something really strange. Almost like something was in my “birthing canal”. I felt this thing, like a balloon, inside of me. I had that immediate sinking feeling, and I knew something was very wrong. I was so terrified. What on earth is that!? Is it normal?! I don’t remember my pregnancy apps talking about anything like this… I started to pray “God help me, God help me” over and over again. I said, “I don’t know what’s happening but God please protect my baby”. I kept praying in tongues and as soon as I was back in our room I told Josh he had to see what was going on. He told me he didn’t see anything, it’s okay. I made him triple check because I knew what I felt! The balloon feeling was gone and I started to thank God for keeping both me and baby safe, even though I didn’t know what happened.

I called my mom in a panic and asked her if this was normal. I didn’t really know how to describe what was happening with this whole “balloon” thing. She knew about the intense pains I had been having all weekend and she encouraged me to go to emergency once we got back to Steinbach.

Ugh. No thank you. Emergency??? I can handle a few pains here and there, thank you very much. And I’ve never had to go to emergency before, but I’ve heard that you wait for hours and then go home with a little prescription. I told my mom I’d see how I was feeling once we were back home.

We started the 6hr drive back home. Josh was very cautious and drove slow. I clenched my stomach in pain the entire drive, tried to lay down in the back and put my feet up. I think I sat in every position you can in a car!! Nothing helped. Whenever the pains got really strong, Josh would pull over and let me walk around until they went away. How on earth did we not know these were contractions… labour newbies over here!

We got home late and were both exhausted. I think we crawled into bed around midnight. We were laying down for maybe 5 minutes when Josh said “Chels, I really feel like we need to take you in to emergency tonight. This may be nothing, but what if it’s something.”Normally I would be really stubborn and fight Josh on something like that, especially when I’m already in bed! But I agreed, for whatever reason (*ahem* God!). We got dressed and headed to the Steinbach hospital emergency. We were in our comfy sweaters, me without makeup and messy hair because hey, we were only going to be here for a few hours right? I don’t even think I brought my purse!

We waited for about 4 hours until they got us out of the waiting foyer and into a small room where we waited for another 3 hours to see a doctor. I remember being so tired, and wishing they had a comfy chair for Josh to sit on while we waited. The lady who checked me in asked me about my symptoms. I told her the pains weren’t contractions, just intense pains here and there. When the doctor came in to see us, I told him the same thing. I tried telling them about the “balloon” I felt in the morning, but they dismissed that as me being crazy.

It was about 7am and Josh and I were so exhausted. We still didn’t have any real answer from a doctor of what was going on with me. I stood up to go to the washroom and all of a sudden had a huge gush of blood. I looked up at Josh in horror and started to cry. I thought for sure we lost the baby.

Josh ran out and told the nurse and they quickly put me in another examination room. I kept thinking “God has not given me a spirit of fear!”. There are so many terrible thoughts that go through your head in those moments, it’s so important to take them captive and set your mind on God’s word.

We both sat there in shock. The doctor came in and did a quick examination, and then ran out of the room. Josh prayed over me and we waited for them to come back. Longest. Wait. Of. My. Life. The nurse came back and did a quick listen for baby’s heartbeat. I started to happy cry! Baby was alive. That’s all that matters. God’s got this!

The doctor came back and said, “This is all going to happen pretty fast now. When I was examining you, I saw two little feet in your birthing canal. I called a specialist in Winnipeg and she didn’t believe me. She is requesting that you come immediately to the hospital there for further examination. We’ve arranged for an ambulance to take you there within the hour.”

I remember thinking, ‘So that means the baby is okay. Good. Wait, do we have to pay for the ambulance then? Is it bad that I’m actually really excited to be in an ambulance!? Wait, can Josh come with me? This is totally like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy!’ 

While we waited for the paramedics to take me, we had a few moments by ourselves in that little room. Josh prayed and looked and me and said, “It’s going to be okay. God’s got us.” I felt such a peace. I really should’ve been scared, but to be honest, I was just so excited to be in an ambulance!!

Josh later told me that he went to the washroom while we were waiting because he wanted to stay strong in front of me, and had a cry in the washroom. We both had our moments of fear and uncertainty. I’m so thankful for God’s amazing peace that so quickly came to our rescue when we needed it most.

The ambulance came and took me away while Josh went home to pack a few things for us. I told him it was a waste of time, because I’d be home that night. (Little did I know!) He called our families as he was driving into Winnipeg and let them know what was going on and to pray. I’m so thankful we have families who can stand with us in faith.

I was totally at peace in the ambulance, snapchatting the whole thing to Josh and my sister. I read Psalm 91 a few times. The paramedic would record every time I had a contraction.

Once I got to the women’s hospital in Winnipeg they got me into a bed at Triage. Now you have to imagine this. The Triage is a small room to begin with, and then has about 6 smaller little rooms that are closed off with curtains. There’s no real privacy. When I got there, all of the beds were full of women who were starting to go into labour – not the most peaceful noises. Once I was in my little curtained off area, I could hear the nurses at the desk talking about how they needed to get women out of here so they could use their beds for other patients. I immediately felt uncomfortable. You know that feeling where you didn’t do anything wrong, but you know that you’re not wanted where you are? Awkward. Especially when you’re already on edge.

Josh finally got there with a small backpack of stuff. Just in case. We have a blur of doctors, residents and specialists come in and talk to us. “You’re 23 weeks pregnant. Do you know what the mortality rate of a 23 week baby is? Are you prepared to be in the NICU for months? Do you need us to call spiritual services to be with you?” Honestly, I was still getting use to the idea that I was pregnant and now I had to wrap my mind around the fact that the baby was coming possibly in hours. Both of our heads were spinning from all the conversations and facts.

We then had one doctor come in, with 2 students (it’s a teaching hospital). She had a box of tissues in her hand (when is that ever a good sign?!) and sat on my bed and looked at me with the saddest face. She told us our “options” of what we could do, finishing with “Or you can let this baby go, let your body rest and try for another in the future”.

I’m sorry, what?! That’s the moment I started to cry. Like really cry. Obviously we’re not going to let this baby go!! I forget what all happened, I just remember saying that our choice is that we will do whatever it takes to give this baby it’s best chance for a healthy life. She asked me a couple times if I really knew what that meant – the type of c-section I would have to have, the complications that she foresaw with our baby, the financial burden it would be. Yes, this baby is worth whatever the cost.

I had to sign a bunch of forms after that – was I okay using donated breast milk? would I allow my baby to have a blood transfusion? would we allow them to resuscitate our baby if needed? So many things I’ve never thought of.

When we finally got a moment alone, Josh and I just cried. What a low moment it was. There in that Triage curtained off room, with the nurses saying how they needed my bed for another patient. We both had no idea what was going to happen. Josh gave our families an update and my mom texted Josh if she should come visit. I just cried and nodded. I found out a couple hours later that my older sister was coming too. I’ve never needed the two of them more. If I was having this baby today, I wanted them to be there.

After being in Triage for a while, they wheeled me down to another floor for further assessments. I had a couple of in depth ultrasounds with these specialized doctors where they analyzed what was going on. They came to the conclusion that I had an incompetent cervix and it was completely open. They weren’t even able to feel it in the examinations. There was a 4cm diameter bulge inside my “birthing canal” (hello, TOTALLY what I felt in the shower the morning before!! I know God literally pushed Zi back up and held him in place during our 6hr drive!).

Some specialist, who I was told is the best, came in said they were going to have to do a sample of the amniotic fluid to make sure it’s not infected from being exposed. And to do that they’ll have to do an amniocentesis. They basically put a large, thin needle (8cm long) through my abdomen and into my uterus to pull out fluid. Without any freezing. K, I hate needles to begin with, so this was terrible. They made Josh sit back (despite his objecting). Apparently a lot of dads faint during this. The ultrasound technician held my hand as the doctor started the amnio. Oh did I cry. And squeeze that poor girls hand. That was definitely one of the most painful parts of this whole experience. I think he held that needle in for 3 minutes. Josh said it was more like 30 seconds. Every time I cried he would have to restart and it was terrible. Again. Needles. Not my thing. Especially huge ones going through my pregnant belly.

After the ultrasounds and amnio needle thing were done, both the technician (who I guess is a doctor herself) and the doctor sat us down in a separate room and said we have two options. Option A: we can have a cerclage surgery the next morning, where they will try to find the cervix and stitch it together. This has an enormous amount of side effects for both me and baby, most significant was that if they rupture the membrane then the baby comes today as a 23+1 weeker. (23 week old babies have a significantly lower chance of survival than a 24 week old baby) Option B: put me on some meds that stop contractions, a few shots of steroids a day to help baby’s lungs and stay on bedrest until baby decides to come.

After much prayer, Josh and I knew option B was was the way to go. I just knew in my heart that if we tried to do the cerclage the membrane would break and the chances of a 23+1 weeker surviving is so slim. If I could try my hardest to hold him inside of me for even one more day, it would be worth it. We said no to the cerclage and were then taken to a bed in the women’s recovery ward, where we celebrated that our baby was alive and did a big Facebook post asking for prayer in a very uncertain situation.

We got so many texts and messages of encouragement. Even people saying that God put us on their hearts before we told anyone about what was going on. If there is one thing this experience has taught us it is the power of community. We couldn’t go through all of this without friends and family supporting us. On this whirlwind day we didn’t have the capacity to stand in faith in this situation. We knew God had it under control, but we had the blessing of being able to rest in the prayers of others. Suddenly all of those life groups, teams we volunteered with and friends we had at church all jumped to our sides and said “we got you, we’ll do the heavy lifting”. You never know when moments like this will come, and I realize now why it’s so important to have people around you who can pray and support you when those hard times hit.

A huge thank you to every person who sent us a text, Facebook comment/message/like, snapchat, Instagram message or call. We appreciated every word and screen captured it all. Sincerely, thank you.

…part two is on the way!