The story begins with a doctor sitting next to me on a hospital bed. “You’re pregnant,” he announced. But I didn’t feel joy, I felt fear. I had already been through a horrifying miscarriage just a few years before and the dread that it would happen again was strong.
I walked numbly out of the hospital where my husband, James, was waiting for me in the truck. He kept asking me what was wrong but I could not form the words. As he drove, I finally blurted out that I was pregnant. He almost ran off the road.
The first few months were easy, not much moodiness or morning sickness, however I was always tired. It was right around the fifth month that things got hard. I noticed one day that I was spotting, and by then I knew it was a girl and I was so in love that I could not lose her. I rushed to the doctor.
The pain in my side was being caused by a large gallstone, which was causing stress and bleeding. I was immediately put on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy. I spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital for bleeding and gallstone pain, and in the end it was too much.
My doctor suggested taking the baby a month early. First he would perform an amniocentesis to test for the baby’s lung function, and then he would induce labor.
On a Friday morning in December, I went in for the tests. Within hours I was in a delivery room being hooked up to Pitocin and monitors. Now would come the wait and see. James and I tried to entertain each other, and he never left my side. I had horrible labor pains, but when they checked there was no dilating of the cervix at all.
Sunday, late morning, my baby was in distress. The contractions were just too much and she could not come out. The doctor was called in to perform an emergency C-section as soon as the anesthesiologist was done doing my epidural.
I had never been so scared, I felt sick to my stomach, I could not lose my daughter. James stayed with me during the operation, and within a minute of getting me into the operating room, Hayley was born. I sent James to stay with her while I got stitched up and recovered for a little while. I have never been so happy in my life.
The real terror came later. I was in my hospital room, waiting for them to bring in Hayley so that I could be with my baby. Instead, a pale James stood in the doorway, holding himself up by the door frame.
“She stopped breathing. I tried to give her a bottle and she stopped breathing…”
He choked on the words, and my world fell apart. “Is she alive?”
“She is in the NICU on monitors and a respirator, it may be a week before she can go home.”
My relief that she was alive was enough to revive me. Fresh from a C-section I called the nurse and demanded a wheelchair. I HAD to see my little girl. The nurses weren’t happy, but they complied. And within minutes I met Hayley Rose Schwerdtfeger for the first time.
Now Hayley turns six soon, right before Christmas. She shows no long-term effects of the events after her birth or being born five weeks early. She is smart and loves to imitate grownups every chance she gets. She recently started kindergarten, and this makes her very happy.