Many don’t know or fully understand what all it took for our little Elijah to make it here.
In my pregnancy with Aaliyah, we had unforeseen complications in which my water had broken way too early in the 2nd trimester. We never had a solid answer from doctors as for why it happened. I was so heartbroken not only that we had just lost our little girl, but I was also utterly disappointed in the care that we received from my OB/GYN as well as the hospital. I felt like they had failed us in that there was a complete lack of support and they were severely lacking in our care. I don’t fare to go into details, but we were treated horribly and I was fed up.
I decided to switch my care to another system entirely. I actually terminated my insurance and went with another provider just to get away from the other practice. And to this day, I thank God that He gave me the wisdom to do that.
I was eventually recommended to go to a fertility specialist since at this point I had lost 3 babies (Nov 2019). I was set to have an HSG done (to check for abnormalities in my uterus and Fallopian tubes). They didn’t find anything. Praise God! So the next step was completing the RPL (recurrent pregnancy loss) bloodwork panel. Again, they didn’t find much of anything that was of concern. The specialist’s only recommendation was to start taking daily baby aspirin because it was found that I was borderline positive for a blood clotting disorder. I just barely missed the mark, but I did. Again, praise God! The specialist also recommended 2x daily progesterone suppositories. Not fun.
I was happy of course to find that nothing was found to be wrong with me, but at the same time – why on earth did I keep having losses?
Fast forward – At my new OB office, I was completely over the moon that I had found not only an African-American doctor who I liked, but he was also very sympathetic toward our TTC (trying to conceive) journey. He expressed that he not only understood the amount of pain we had endured, but that he would also do everything in his power to help us achieve the goal of starting a family.
Surgery? No thanks.
He suggested a preventative cerclage – a stitch placed on the cervix in order to keep it closed during pregnancy. At 36-37 weeks, the cerclage would be removed so that that patient would be able to go into labor spontaneously without damage being done to the cervix.
Surgery. This was the absolute last thing I thought I would ever have to go through to have a baby. The thought of surgery completely terrified me. My mind started racing with negative thoughts – “Why do I have to take all of these extra steps just to have a baby?” “Why can’t I just be normal?” “Why is my body broken?”
Fast forward – I got pregnant again and found out in February. The ironic thing was that I was due in the same month I was due with my first pregnancy in 2019. This terrified me even more, that it would just be a repeat of last year.
I started bleeding around 5 weeks pregnant. At that point I started praying. “God you said. . .” “God your prophets said. . .” “God you promised. . .” The bleeding eventually stopped. I made it to my first appointment, and there he was, the size of a jellybean. A jellybean with a beautiful beating heart.
Fast forward – at 14 weeks, I went in for the surgery. I had the covid test done, which actually sent me over the edge. I literally started crying – I did NOT want to have this surgery and I definitely didn’t enjoy that covid test.
It was painful. I was in pain for the next week or so.
2nd Trimester Contractions
Right around that point (around 12-13 weeks pregnant), I started having BHs (Braxton Hicks) contractions just like I had with Aaliyah. Obviously even though everything was going well, my mind started racing yet again.
The contractions were not painful, but definitely uncomfortable. I started questioning why this was happening again. “Terrified” does not begin to explain the way I felt.
I made it to my anatomy scan which was a milestone in itself considering that the “anatomy scan” I had with Aaliyah was just to confirm that my water had indeed broken. We confirmed that we were having a boy (though we found out earlier through the sneak peak blood test).
When I made it to viability (24 weeks pregnant), I started to feel like more and more we would bring this boy home. Viability is the point in a pregnancy when a baby has a chance to live outside the womb if born early.
Each week was a milestone. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that each week I googled “survival chances” just to reassure myself that this boy was coming home alive. It really is a bleak way to live, and even morbid if you will. But that was my reality especially given our track record of pregnancies that didn’t result in a living child.
The Gender Reveal
Around 24 weeks pregnant, we decided to do a gender reveal. Around that time was also Aaliyah’s “angelversary” (the day she became an angel, her birth-day). So isntead of a traditional reveal, we decided to honor her in a special way. I was so incredibly happy with the way it turned out.
Fast forward –
At my 27 week growth scan, my doctors made a chilling discovery – my cervix was funneling to my stitch. Not just funneling, but U-shaped funneling, which was 1 step from becoming V-shaped funneling which usually indicates labor is near.
You’re probably wondering, “What the heck does funneling even mean?” It means that the cervix is beginning to thin out and open up, to prepare for labor. At only 27 weeks, that’s a scary thing to be enduring.
I was told that had I not had this cerclage, we very well might have lost this baby early on like we lost Aaliyah. It was very likely that I had been having funneling since 16 weeks (which is when my water broken with Aaliyah).
That day was mind-blowing for me. Not only did I finally have an answer for why we lost Aaliyah, but just knowing that the cerclage saved our boy showed me that God’s hand was on him and that we really would be having a live birth this time.
We could’ve lost him too, but God.
Our Baby Shower
A dream come true – I made it to my baby shower. Our shower was compltely beautiful, well thought out and planned by my (adopted) aunt Jackie, my sister/friend LaCarrole, and my mom.
It was originally planned to take place outside, but due to threats of a bad hurricane passing through, we moved the shower indoors and in our garage. Despite everything being changed last minute, the turnout was beautiful. I was pleasantly surprised by how many people showed up to celebrate our baby boy. To say we felt loved is an understatement. I honestly didn’t think many would show up due to covid, but we were proven wrong.
36 weeks – cerclage removal
Fast forward –
Monday October 5th, 36 weeks. The appointment where I finally have the cerclage taken out. I had been doing research on how long after cerclage removal women go into labor. Among my findings was that only 11% of women go into spontaneous labor within 48 hours after having their cerclage removed. I never thought I would be in that 11%.
So I had my mom come over on Tuesday so we could get to the farmers market. So we did, and what I thought were BH contractions were later to be found real contractions.
Every 20 minutes or so, I’d get a painful contraction in my back. I didn’t know any better because I had been having intense BHs since 13 weeks, sometimes only 6 minutes apart.
I walked through them somehow.
Later in the day, they got more and more intense. I convinced myself that I wasn’t in labor, that it couldn’t possibly be the day after the removal.
That night I started timing them. I had them every 5-10 minutes – again, normal for me. But these were actually getting painful. I was in denial until about 1am. I woke up my husband and told him I wasn’t sure I was in labor but something was definitely wrong and that I needed the hospital ASAP.
See, I had been to the hospital I think 3 times prior for false alarms. A few times throughout my late 2nd and early 3rd trimesters, the baby had not been moving for hours, so of course I went in. I was really tired of going to the hospital for no reason other than peace of mind. So I really did not want to go in at this point. But we went anyway.
We get there at 1:30am and husband says that we should take our “go bag” inside. I didn’t want to take all that stuff and this just be another false alarm. But he insisted, so we did. Turns out that was definitely a great idea.
“You’re gonna have a baby tonight!”
Fast forward –
They do a cervical check after I tell them what I had been experiencing. I was apparently already a 5! “You’re gonna have a baby tonight,” is what the nurse said, and I literally bursted into tears. I was going to meet my sweet boy in just a few hours, and I was thinking I still had at least a week before I would get to. The nursery wasn’t even finished (and still isn’t, probably will never be at this point). I felt totally unprepared.
Things started getting real within an hour. My contractions HURT SO BAD. I can’t even describe the pain. I had no idea how I made it to 5cm without going to the hospital sooner. This hurt bad.
At some point my contractions got to be 30 seconds apart. I was in non stop pain. To make matters worse, I was having back labor. Hours later, I reached 8cm – and got stuck there. I was stuck at 8cm for probably 2 hours before I gave in and got the epidural. I couldn’t do it anymore. I legitimately felt like I was going to die.
TMI ahead, skip if you’d rather not read it
I projectile vomited twice from the pain before I got the epidural. It was unbelievable. I couldn’t even hold it in. I think I had to be the loudest woman in the labor and delivery ward.
After they placed the epidural, I was able to nap for about an hour. I woke up around 9:30am, and by 9:35am it was time to push already. In just 10 mins, my sweet boy was born. We eventually heard that sweet cry. I couldn’t help but to cry myself. I was finally an earth-side mom. A mom to a living, breathing baby. Mom to a baby that wasn’t born straight into heaven. This felt like a dream.
He was only 5lb8oz but 19.25in long. He was tiny but healthy and strong. He didn’t need any NICU time despite being born a month early which I thank God for.
We were discharged from the hospital 48 hours later.
These past 6 weeks have been the most magical weeks of our lives. Are we missing out on sleep? Yes. Is life with a newborn hard? Yes. But has it been worth it? Also, yes. I wouldn’t change a thing about our journey. It’s truly humbled us and made us even more appreciative of our healthy little boy.