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MAMA: Marissa

I’ve always been a pretty laid back person. I assume that nothing scary will happen to me because nothing really ever had. Most of my pregnancy was no different. I even bought a house 2 hours away from my job in my 8th month of pregnancy to live near family because it seemed manageable. I’d just switch OBGYNs and birthing hospitals for my last trimester and commute to work for a bit. No biggie

That was until I was 34 weeks and diagnosed with moderate polyhydraminos, which is a fancy word for excess amniotic fluid. My heart started to race when the doctor told me that I would need to come in for weekly ultrasounds because my pregnancy was considered “high risk”. It beat a little bit faster when she said “you’ll be induced at 39 because if your water breaks on it’s own you could have a stillbirth” I replayed that word over and over again. I googled constantly and set myself down a rabbit hole of anxiety with my condition.

Fast forward to 39 weeks, we were moved into our home in RI but my birthing hospital was still in Newburyport, MA because I had a planned induction date. I had nightmares that my water would break in RI and I’d have to deliver at a different hospital because I couldn’t drive two hours with a broken water with my risky pregnancy.

We made it to 39 weeks. Thank Goodness! We walked into the hospital 2/15 at 9:00 am and my induction started at 9:15 am. Everyone was pleasant and I was so excited. After laboring naturally for about 20 hours, I was in a significant amount of pain contracting and I pleaded for the epidural. Whoever invented the epidural deserves a medal..I felt great. Phew. The worst was over. Or so I thought…

Around 11:00 am 2/16 my nurse came rushing in and asked me to move in multiple positions because the baby was still in distress. I moved in at least 5 different positions but it wasn’t helping.. “umm .. ok I’ll be right back I need the doctor “ she said with a nervous look on her face. All the sudden a feeling of panic came over me.. something was wrong. The doctor came in and examined me for a second and immediately screamed CODE WHITE ! She looked terrified. She pressed this button which signaled about 20 staff to my bedside. I remember looking over at my husband and yelling “I’m so scared “with tears in my eyes. The doctors were yelling “we need to get this baby out now” one nurse had her hand all the way inside me holding my baby’s head up because the umbilical cord was prolapsed. They rushed me away from my husband for an emergency C section. My support system was left in the room with tears in his eyes because there was no time to get him in the operating room. I was going to do this alone and with staff screaming scary things at each other. I remember looking up at the ceiling and telling myself I had to just shut off my brain and lie there motionless. After about 15 minutes of pulling and tugging at my body, I heard a nurse say “time off birth is 12:11” and from the corner of my eye I saw him. There was no cry. I must have asked the doctors a million times if he was ok but they didn’t answer me. In that moment I was numb. I remember thinking that If he doesn’t pull through this I won’t survive it. Turns out he didn’t breathe on his own for over 3 minutes. Once they could get him to breathe, he was put on me for one second then rushed in an ambulance to Boston Children’s Hospital. The baby that I carried for nine months was taken from me to see if he had neurological damage while I was getting sewed back up. I was terrified. My baby went with my husband and I stayed behind. Alone. The doctors came into my room to debrief with me but I was crying uncontrollably and shaking so vigorously that I couldn’t process their words. I called my dad and he came to the hospital to stay with me so I wasn’t alone. That was the most horrific night of my life. My dad and I cried together all night long.

The next day, I got the call from Nick that he didn’t have neurological damage and that he was coming back to my hospital with Leo. I was wheeled into the NICU to hold my baby for the first time and I literally went through an entire box of tissues. I was a mama to the most perfect, beautiful baby boy. For the first time during this process I felt joy.

Just when I thought we were out of the woods , doctors said that he needed to stay in the NICU until his breathing was regulated because he had oxygen saturation dips. That was 10 days of watching my newborn baby hooked up to monitors and being told negative then some positive news like a horrible roller coaster that you can’t escape. Fortunately we were able to board at the hospital because our home was so far away and I needed to stay with my newborn. I truly feel so much stronger after this experience and truly feel like I can endure anything.

Although we had a traumatic start, I am head over heels for my son and I would honestly do it all over again a million times to have him. He’s the light of my life and has brought immense joy to everyone who meets him. I had intense postpartum anxiety up until Leo was about 8 weeks and since then it has slowly gotten better.

Mom support groups truly helped me process my emotions and connected me with woman who had similar stories. Knowing I wasn’t alone made me feel relief.

I also joined the polyhydraminos support group on Facebook which helped me understand my condition and supported my mental health.

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