Our Birth Story

I’m a planner. My type A personality thrives on organization and plans and so I plan out everything. Sometimes I write it down, sometimes it’s only in my head, sometimes I have a plan to make a plan. But I always have a plan. Always. Like, for example, how I was planning on packing my hospital bag when I reached 28 weeks pregnant because I knew my baby would come prematurely. I was planning on alerting the dog walker and planning on taking a couple maternity pictures with my new camera and planning on having more time. But, sometimes, plans just don’t go accordingly. Sometimes all the planning you do has to just get thrown out the window because life has a different plan for us.

Due to lots of pregnancy complications and a shortened cervix, I knew our little man was coming early… I just couldn’t have anticipated how early. In my mind, I thought we’d make it to at least 28 weeks because that “milestone” decreases the chances of many long term complications for premature babies. My doctor didn’t put me on bedrest but told me I needed to “take it easy.” I wasn’t able to work like I used to, I wasn’t able to exercise, I wasn’t able to be on my feet for long periods of time. For someone who is so active (and a bit of a busy body), I had a hard time adjusting to this semi-helpless lifestyle. But I knew it was what I needed to do to maintain my pregnancy as long as possible so I did as I was told.

I had been having some Braxton Hicks contractions for a few weeks but on Monday and Tuesday night (August 23 and 24) they started waking me up from sleep. Tuesday night I thought about waking my husband up and calling the doctor but held off and when I woke up the contractions were much better. I went to work Wednesday but still decided to call my doctor to let her know what was going on and she recommended coming in for a labor check. I left work telling my colleague I’d be back in a hour or two because there was no way this was actual labor.

Off I went to the hospital and, after hooking me up to all the monitors, they told me I was still having small contractions and dilated 3 centimeters. They weren’t sure if I was in active labor and decided to admit me for monitoring and some medications. They gave me steroid injections to mature my baby’s lungs and magnesium to help with brain development in case I did go into active labor. They also gave me a medicine called Nifedipine which helps to prolong labor. The intent was to prolong labor for at least 72 hours which would give me time to get all the steroid doses. It was a whirlwind of medications, blood draws and people coming to talk to me the first day. The anesthesiologist came to speak to me because my baby was breech and I would need a cesarean section. The NICU came to speak to me because if my baby was born he would be needing to go there. Other doctors came to explain the expected course.

On Thursday morning, I was still only 3 centimeters dilated which was reassuring and my contractions had settled down. I talked to my doctor and, although things were looking stable, she recommended staying in the hospital for the weekend for monitoring, just in case.

Around 3am Saturday morning I started having contractions again that were waking me up from sleep. I called my nurse in the room who connected me back up to monitors to watch how our baby’s heartrate was responding to the contractions. He had a few decelerations which were a little concerning but the more concerning part was that I started to feel pressure down below. The doctor came in to check my cervix and this time I was 8 centimeters dilated with a baby that was still breech. This, apparently was cause for alarm.

The doctor stayed at my bedside and began instructing everyone on what to do. “Notify the operating room and anesthesia.” “Bring in supplies for a bedside delivery” (in case baby decided to come before we made it to the OR). They hooked me up to fluids and medications. It was slightly chaotic but, for someone used to emergency situations, I felt like it was well organized and controlled. In a matter of probably 30 minutes, I was rolled into the operating room.

The operating room was just as hectic. So many people preparing for my c-section. I had an epidural, my belly was cleaned, drapes were hung, more medications were given and finally my husband was able to come sit with me. After so much pulling and pressure (enough to make me rather nauseous), our little miracle entered this world. Jackson Ryder. I was able to see him briefly through an opening in the drape before he was whisked away to the NICU team. While my doctors finished my surgery, the NICU team connected our baby boy to oxygen, monitors and medications and wheeled his incubator over to me where I was able to touch his little hand for a moment before he was taken up to the NICU.

My husband was able to go to the NICU with Jackson and then came back downstairs to be with me while he was settled in by the nurses. In the recovery room, we were able to hold our twin that we lost, Brantley, and say our goodbyes. It was a very emotional time but gave us the closure we desperately needed. We know Brantley is soaring amongst the angels, watching over his brother Jackson.

Jackson Ryder was born on his Daddy’s birthday, August 28th. We are about a month into our NICU journey and he continues to prove his strength and resilience everyday. I’ve learned along the way that, although my plans may not go as I anticipated or hoped, things work out exactly as they are supposed to. Jackson is perfect in every way and more loved than he will ever know.

Love, Jessica

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