About five days ago, I was texting my friend Maggie. We were joking about how our husband’s don’t seem to notice when we buy new decorative items around the house. “I bought a lamp, a runner for the garage door, and a giant rug for the bathroom today. The lamp is beside his spot on the couch and he has walked on BOTH rugs. Nothing. HOW DO YOU MISS A LAMP?!” I texted. Maggie said, “Lol…Sorry, boo. If you want him to notice, tell him. Or you’ll have to get over it.” A few emoticons and “husbands don’t notice things we could buy a car” later, I read this: “I just gushed water. Should I be worried?”
Obviously, Maggie knew she should be worried, but being only 22 weeks pregnant, it’s kind of hard to comprehend that your water just broke. That is not supposed to happen, but it did. Ten minutes later, Tyler and Maggie are on their way to the ER.
Wait. What? She must have peed. That dummy done peed her pants and thinks her water broke. We were just talking about our husbands and alphabetized DVD collections and I was just sending her a picture of how I look as pregnant as she does because I’ve gained too much weight since the move. We were JUST laughing. There is no way her water really broke. What can they do? What will they do? Can they stitch it up? Can they give her fake amniotic fluid? Can they keep Rowan in there? Maybe it’s just a small leak. Maybe they’ll just put her on bedrest until it reseals on its own. I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS.
It seemed like hours, but it wasn’t. In less than an hour, it was confirmed. Maggie’s water had broken and she had lost a lot of fluids, but she wasn’t in labor. The doctor wanted Maggie to stay in the hospital and hold Rowan in there for 10 more weeks. It sounded so simple. Just sit there. Just sit there and wait for 10 weeks. That’s the plan. Got it. I had to work this week so I got to Maggie a few days later on Friday. The plan was to watch Netflix and color all weekend. Maggie and my entire relationship is based on our common interest of doing nothing. We were made for bedrest. This would be easy. Maggie’s friends had already started talking about a schedule to keep her entertained for the next ten weeks. The doctor said that’s the plan, so we’re going with it. I would take this weekend.
Day one wasn’t too shabby. I got to the hospital and Maggie looked pretty good. Tyler walked in the room wearing his hilarious overalls he wears to build his beautiful tables. He seemed anxious, but honestly, Tyler always seems a little anxious. He’s one of those people who just has to DO something. He is NOT good at doing nothing. That’s why I’m here. I knew all my nothing would come in handy one day. You’re welcome, guys. Maggie and I colored and talked and mindlessly watched Third Rock From The Sun and The Emperor’s New Groove (which shockingly, she hadn’t seen in its entirety). We couldn’t decide if we enjoyed coloring or not. It seemed a little too much like work. Maggie didn’t like the pressure of choosing the correct colors. She even googled Gryffindor’s official uniform online. “I made Dumbledore’s beard too gray.” she said, truly disappointed in herself.
The next morning appeared uneventful. Maggie was having some cramps, but they weren’t contractions. Because she lost so much fluid, it made sense that when Rowan moved, it would cause cramping. There was nothing to cushion her from the muscle that held her. I went to Panera Bread. There was no free parking, so I asked the guy charging a $6 flat rate if I could just go buy him a Coke and run into the restaurant real quick. He was super cool about it. I felt like a true city girl bartering. I ordered lunch for the gang and forgot the Coke. “It’s okay.”, the cashier said handing me a cup, “I hope your friend gets better.” Rushing back to the hospital, Maggie had already eaten her lunch. Luckily, she wanted more. Right after lunch is when her cramps took a turn. She was reacting way too instensly for them to be normal. They put her on the monitor. She was having contractions.
The weird thing about this situation is that no one REALLY tells you anything. “We’re going to see if you’re dilated.” “We’re going to give you Magnesium Oxide for nerve development.” “You can’t have Fentanyl without going back to check dilation again.” “You’re bleeding? I’ll tell the doctor.” THEN WHAT?! WHAT IS THE PLAN?! Why do you have to do this? What if this doesn’t work? Does this usually work? What about the bleeding? What did the doctor say? What I quickly learned from the “sometimes it work, sometimes it doesn’t” responses we were getting is that nobody has any idea what’s going to happen. They think you’re probably going into labor and they don’t want to freak you out. They think you’ve passed the point of no return, but they’ve seen people make a quick random turn around. They really can’t tell you anything. They can monitor. They can assess. They can report. Everything else is up to God.
After a long afternoon, evening, and night of no food and painful contractions, we commoners have figured out that once this Magnesium is turned off, Rowan is coming. Not one of us (Maggie, Tyler or myself) actually said that out loud, but we knew. Within 10 minutes of turning off the Magnesium, Maggie’s contractions came full force. She was 5 CM dilated and sent to PACU. Only 30 minutes after that, her doctor checked her again. “Send for NICU he said calmly.” Poof! The room suddenly had 14 more people in it, ready for a baby. Maggie was in so much pain. All night and all morning. In that moment, with all of these people calmly standing by and waiting for Rowan, I finally cried. It takes 14 people to save Rowan. FOURTEEN PEOPLE had to be present for the birth of this child. She must be royalty.
It was calm and beautiful, just like any other birth. Maggie pushed, Tyler held her hand, and I melted into the wall. I saw her come out. Her tiny little head and body looked just like any other newborn, but was only a pound and a half. They held her to let her get some last minute blood from the umbilical cord. For a minute an a half, they held her and we could see her before they attached her to numerous medical devices. She was beautiful. She looked so much like Cannon, just smaller. She moved. Her little arms and legs moved and she had good color and I thought, “She might just be alright.” Maggie was able to hold Rowan’s hand in the incubator before she was swept away to NICU. It was the most surreal moment of my life. It was scary and sad and beautiful. After a few phone calls and nurse checks, Maggie was moved to a mother and baby room, without her baby.
I feel like I would be telling the story wrong if I didn’t mention the tears. There were tears. Lots of tears, but that’s not really want anyone wants to focus on right now.
Maggie and Tyler were allowed to see Rowan after being in the room for about an hour and a half so Maggie got to eat. We all walked down to NICU and I waited outside. While the nurse was giving information to Maggie, I think it really hit her. This is a bad situation. This is scary. That’s my daughter. She was overwhelmed. She needed to go back to the room and get some rest. She’d been awake for way too long. It was too much. After all this, it was finally just too much.
I went in with Tyler for a quick second just to see Rowan before I had to drive home. She looked just like Mr Magoo. Maggie had always said that about Cannon. We know that Rowan is going to be beautiful because Cannon looked like Mr. Magoo also. She has the tiniest IV’s I’ve ever seen going into her umbilical cord. Other than the strange machinery and the fact that she’s in a clear plastic box, she really did look good. She looked like a healthy newborn who had gone through Willy Wonka’s shrinking room.
Leaving Maggie was hard. I felt like I was abandoning her at her weakest moment. Labor was hard, but the difficult part has just begun. We have no idea what God’s plans are for Rowan. Every day, there will be more information on her status. There are some glorious stories out there that give Maggie and Tyler so much hope, but there is also reality. Rowan is medically called an “extreme preemie”. Many things could go wrong, but as we’ve learned from this experience so far, the doctors really don’t know. They don’t know if she’s going to decline or be totally okay. Each day will be a struggle for Rowan and her parents. I am so glad I got to see her come into the world. There were never more loving and deserving parents. All we can do now is wait and pray. I love you, Rowan. As the nurse said, “You’re a spunky one.” and that HAS to be good.
4 thoughts on “Rowan-The Spunky Preemie”
Well that made me cry!! I’ll be praying for Maggie, Tyler, Rowan and big brother Cannon! You’re an exceptional writer Becca,
Becca, this has to be the best piece you have written–the exact right balance of humor and sobriety.
WOW, that was powerful. I found myself shaking and crying as I read the account of Rowan’s birth. Prayers for her and her family.
More tears here too. And I don’t even have kids yet! Thanks for telling this story, Becca. We’ll be thinking of this family in the journey ahead.
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