The Birth Story of My 28-Week Preemie {Part 1}

Today this sweet, energetic fella' with the ready smile and spiky hair is turning eight!  And it's hard to even write that because it's making me feel ooooold. =)

I've written Caleb's birth story before, only it was the short version. This time I decided that I needed to write out the whole thing.  It's a long story and there's a lot of details that I've finally, finally written down.  

And without those details, specifics that bring glory to God, his premature birth would seem tragic.  Maybe it would make some think that perhaps God isn't as good as we say He is.  But when you put all the puzzle pieces together you realize how very awesome God truly is and that this birth, this untimely premature birth, was really an amazing gift.

I will tell you that having a baby in the NICU for the long haul is tough stuff.  It's a roller coaster ride with slow progress that is always, always, two steps forward, and more like three steps back.  Twice we've been there...first when Lydia was born with complex heart defects requiring open heart surgery at 10 days old, and then with Caleb.  

But God did such a work in my heart through all of it that I, in all honesty, can say, "Thank you" for allowing my son to be born premature.  The Scripture is so true when it says that He will give you "peace of God which passeth all understanding."  It envelops you.  The peace of God keeps your heart and mind enabling you to still enjoy life, even in the midst of a crisis. What allows your marriage to still thrive and you to have a smile on your face.

If you know anything of Caleb's whole story, you could testify with me that Caleb's premature birth at 28 weeks was nothing short of a miracle from God. 

I started bleeding one Sunday morning at 13 weeks.  I was sitting at the table eating breakfast with my little family, and all of a sudden I felt this sharp pain and a gush. 

It was blood.  And it was a lot.  The cycle continued.  Sharp pain...gush.  Again and again.  

We went to the emergency room where once in a room, I was greeted by a slammed door and the cynical remarks of "So, you know the drill.  What number is this for you?" from a man in a white coat.

This unbelievably uncaring doctor assumed I was a mother used to loss and the pain of miscarriage.  As politely as I could, I demanded that they check the heartbeat.  It was good and strong!

Two weeks go by and I'm doing ok, trying to rest and not do too much. I don't remember the details of where I was and what I was doing when I began to bleed the second time.  But it started the same way.  Sharp pain...gush.

But this time it wasn't just a gush.  The bleeding didn't stop.  I just kept contracting and bleeding more and more.  I can't even explain the feeling of losing that much blood and feeling like my life was draining away.  It was terrifying.

It was 15 minutes before a friend was at our house to care for Lydia and we could make our way to the emergency room.  I put on three overnight pads, and put a thick towel folded up several times under me to sit on.  After our horrible experience at the other hospital, we decided to go to the hospital in the big city.  Usually it takes 30 minutes, but we got there in 20.  (Thankfully, we didn't get pulled over!)

By the time we got to the hospital, my blood had soaked through everything, and was now soaking into the front seat of the car.

The doctor was so, so kind and tried to comfort us and tell us that I was undoubtedly losing my baby.  That with this kind of bleeding it was highly improbable that he still had a heartbeat.  I still remember looking at Steven and neither of us were crying. We were both so calm and I don't think either one of us believed him.  God had given us so much peace at that moment.

They came with the doppler and immediately a strong heartbeat was heard.  I cried then!  He sounded absolutely fine with no signs of distress.  

The bleeding finally stopped and it was later discovered that I had a massive blood clot surrounding the amniotic sac, called a "subchorionic hematoma."  It didn't just cover part of the sac, it completely and entirely engulfed it.

We saw a perinatologist, whom we had seen many, many times when I was expecting Lydia, and he stated that this was the worst case he had ever seen of this condition in his career. The prognosis for this pregnancy was not good and I was told that with the size of this clot, there was just no way we'd make it much farther than the 15 weeks I was currently at.  

In a nutshell, I was told to expect a miscarriage any day.  The idea of making it to even 23-24 weeks when survival was possible, was seen as an impossibility. Let me tell you, every week was a celebration!!  

But then on Memorial Day night, my water spontaneously broke at 28 weeks.  While we were scared, the blessings were so evident!  God had brought us a month farther than what even the doctors had deemed "impossible."  

After my water broke I immediately went into labor.  The 30-minute ride to the hospital seemed to take forever as we knew the inevitable: one of us was going to be there for a very long time.

Those days in the hospital after my water broke were the sickest I have ever been in my life. Magnesium sulfate is an evil drug!  Yes, it does do good things like help stop preterm labor and save momma's who's blood pressure's are soaring sky high.  But the side effects are so horrendous.   When it goes in your arm, you literally feel like you are burning on the inside.  Not just that rush from an IV in your arm.  No.  It's like your entire body is on fire.

And you are sick.  Super sick.  Head spinning, double vision, restless sick.  It's impossible to do anything.  Reading, watching television or even looking at someone talking to you is out of the question.  You just lay there, listening to the clock tick, counting the hours by how many times the nurses come to check on you and take your vitals.  Even if you could eat, you aren't allowed.

I remember Tuesday night, while on the phone with my husband,  having a complete meltdown.  He was home with Lydia.  I was alone.  I had reached the point that I didn't even know what to pray for.  Being in the hospital away from my family was torture as Lydia was only 20 months old.  But then Caleb needed every day extra in utero possible to grow and get stronger.  We prayed together on the phone and just submitted to whatever the Lord thought best.

On Wednesday afternoon, after Lydia and Steven left from spending most of the morning with me, the doctors moved me into the high risk unit because labor had just about ceased.  I thought God had just given us the answer...I was to remain camped out as long as possible on complete bed-rest, unable to get up or even allowed to sit up.  But that was okay.  If this was what was best, I was okay with that.  They even gave me the room with the best view since they knew I would be there for quite some time.

Lydia had fun playing in a wheelchair that day!
Around 5:00 pm on Wednesday evening, I began to have contractions again.  Strong contractions.  I started watching the clock.  Five minutes apart.  Not good.  Then I really started paying attention.  After a little while they were 3-4 minutes apart.  I called the nurse.  The first thing the nurse did was take my temperature.  I had a fever...a sure sign that infection had set in.  The doctor came and told me Caleb was better off outside than inside at this point.  Back I went to Labor and Delivery.

The pain from contractions was so strange because of the large clot in my uterus.  It was a like a sharp stab every time I contracted. Then at one point, I think it was about 10:30 pm, a nurse rushed in the room almost yelling at me and asking if I was awake and if I could see her.  I didn't understand what she was so upset about until she said, "You're blood pressure is way, way too low!  I thought you'd be passed out.  I'm getting the doctor!"

Hubby looked at the monitor...my blood pressure was 50/23.  It's only of the Lord's mercy that I was awake and coherent.  Nobody knew yet that I was bleeding internally......


I've split this story up into two parts since it's long.  You can read part 2 here.


  1. Cliffhanger! I'm so encouraged by your trust and faith in God. Can't wait to hear more!

  2. U can't leave us hanging! But i know ur a busy mama. Give Caleb an extra hug tonight!!

  3. what a miracle you and caleb are. :)
    looking forward to part 2.


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