a Brush with Death and a Baby Girl

When my water broke, it was nothing like the movies. There was no gush, just an unsettling wetness, a slight trickle that woke me out of a deep sleep with a strong sense that something was not right. I walked through the darkened house past the sleeping shapes of my family, and headed to the basement to throw some baby clothes in the wash, just in case. With the soothing rhythm of the washing machine in motion, I called my obstetrician who spurred me into action.

“Get yourself to the hospital,” she advised, “and don’t dilly dally.” We woke the kids, told them Steve would be back to take them to meet their new baby brother or sister before dinner time, and dispatched them to the neighbors. Then we headed to Prentice Women’s Hospital.

The gush came in the hospital parking lot. This time it was just like the movies, the amniotic fluid that had protected my baby for 8 months was flowing out of me and sloshing on the dirty pavement.

As soon as the nurse confirmed that I was leaking amniotic fluid, I was admitted and mentally prepared to give birth. My body was not as cooperative: it took 12 hours of increasingly large doses of Pitocin to get me ready to give birth. Thanks to an epidural and fun conversations about TV shows and movie stars with the labor and delivery nurse, the only anxiety we had was over finding a babysitter to watch the kids for the evening. We were still texting, coordinating a patchwork of childcare after I was 6 centimeters dilated.

When the time came to push, our little girl came quickly and easily. Soon I got the surprise I’d been waiting for all those months, heard the doctor say, “It’s a girl!” But the real relief came when she cried a few seconds later, pink and glowing with life, showing that although she was early, her lungs were still functioning. The NICU pediatric team was smiling, gathered around her tiny body. Then all hell broke loose.

Blood on the floorMy placenta ripped, part of it had grown into the wall of my uterus and I began to hemorrhage. Suddenly the room was filled with doctors and nurses, barking orders at each other. I felt weaker and weaker, and felt the overwhelming urge to just close my eyes. Our doctor shoved a consent form in my hand, told me to sign, quickly. I heard him talking to Steve, saying terrifying words like hysterectomy and bleeding out. Then I was in a cold room with blinding lights and strangers hands were reaching deep inside me, pushing, prodding, and cutting. Then I really wanted to close my eyes and just go to sleep, but they kept bringing me back, asking me questions that made little sense.

I don’t know how long it lasted. It was probably shorter for me than it was for Steve who was left all alone in a room that looked like a crime scene, wondering whether he was about to become a widower. I woke up in a small room, shaking violently as the anesthetics wore off. Once Steve and the recovery nurse explained that my uterus was still intact and that our little girl was doing well in the NICU, I felt a world better.

Feeding a preemie
We're pumping, supplementing, and trying to get as much good stuff in that tiny little girl as possible.

On our way up to my room, we stopped by to see her again. Sophie Claire Druckman, our teeny tiny daughter, born on Sunday, August 28 at 7:30PM, weighing in at just 5 lbs 1 oz, but coming into the world with a bang.

Tiny Preemie Fingers
Tiny fingers are like the brush of a butterfly wing.

I came home from the hospital yesterday, and we’re hoping Sophie is released tomorrow. Walking out of the hospital without my baby was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Intellectually, I know that this week will soon be a blur amidst a sea of memories, and that she needed these extra days to grow and get stronger, but until she’s home, completing our family, there’s a little hole in my heart.

That empty car seat felt very heavy when we left the hospital yesterday.


41 Responses to a Brush with Death and a Baby Girl

  1. Wow, Vanessa! What a remarkable emotional rollercoaster. I’m looking forward to more happy ending tales with Miss Sophie. Love her name:-) Congratulations!! xo

  2. Vanessa. Wow. I’m so glad that you are ok. That is too scary. 🙁 My Hailey was a preemie. I, too, left the hospital without her and felt like I wouldn’t survive those days until I had her in my arms at home…eight long days I waited. But her homecoming was as sweet as can be. I can’t wait until baby Sophie is at home with her family! Please rest some…that scares me what happened to you.

  3. Omygoodness. I am so glad everything turned out ok. Reading above you had me terrified! Whew! Sophie Claire is beautiful and you look wonderful! Best wishes and congratulations to the whole family!

  4. Wow Vanessa,
    We are in Disney World but I’ve been following everything happening with you guys and am so glad that everything turned out well. How terrifying for you. Sending you and your family all our love and congratulations and best wishes. Miss you!
    Love, Joan

  5. Wow. First off, congrats. Second, I can’t believe you’ve found the energy or mental capacity to put together such a great post.

    My older son was born the same day three years ago. It’s a good day to be born.

    Hope your sweet little girl follows you home soon! Thinking of you.

  6. You both look beautiful, despite the events surrounding her birth.

    Love, love, love her name! Claire was my grandmother’s name and if I ever have a daughter, will be her middle name too.

    Thinking good thoughts for you and hope your little one comes home tomorrow! xox

  7. I’m so sorry you know the heartbreak of leaving the hospital without your baby and that you had quite the scare yourself!
    I’m so so glad that you’re both okay.

    Love from one NICU mama to another. Xoxo

  8. I am so glad to know that despite the events of the day, you and your baby girl are doing well. She looks gorgeous like her mom- that much I can see. Take care of yourselves.

  9. Oh, Vanessa-what a ride! I’m glad you are well enough to share it all with us and that baby girl is as cute as can be.

  10. Congrats to you and your beautiful baby girl. I’m so happy that everyone is now okay and I know it will feel so much better when you walk out of the hospital with your sweet angel.
    My daughter was six weeks premature and came out weighing 5lbs 0oz. She had to stay in the NICU for 2 1/2 weeks, so I know just how you feel–leaving the hospital without your baby. It will be okay. From the sounds of it, you’ve got yourself one strong little angel!!! congrats and enjoy the new life you’ve created.

    Blogfully yours,

  11. Vanessa-

    Congratulations on the birth of Sophie – so happy both of you are okay – what a scare! Take it easy and don’t overdo it! Hope to see you again one of these days!!!


  12. Vanessa… I had no idea it was so serious for you! I am SO glad that your doctors worked so quickly and that you are healing. And now that I know that she is home, all safe and sound, I am truly, truly happy for you all. Take care of yourself and that beautiful baby!

  13. Congrats on your baby girl. What a scary experience.

    My last baby was just over 5lbs as well (being born 6 weeks early) and he is a happy, healthy almost 4 year old now 🙂

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