Earthy and Expecting: The totally unexpected

The word “expecting” is deceiving.

I don’t care how hysterical or worrisome a person you are, when you or someone you love becomes pregnant, I believe you expect to have a healthy baby. You expect to be pregnant for nine months, to have the morning sickness, the stretch marks, the cravings and the mood swings.

You expect to meet all the milestones, keep all the appointments and check-ups, throw the shower, decorate the nursery and write the birth plan.

You never expect to have to deviate from that plan because to deviate means something is wrong.

Last Thursday, I wrote about trusting your intuition as an expectant mother. That very day, I listened to mine and went to the hospital to talk to my doctor about some mild contractions I was having. All the books said that even that early, it could be Braxton Hicks contractions, so part of me thought I was certainly overreacting.

But I still went. Something like labor pains themselves, my intuition persisted and grew stronger.

A nurse hooked me up to a monitor and I spent a few hours in observation listening to my baby’s heartbeat — always a soothing experience. He moved around a lot, as usual. The nurse gave me lunch, which she didn’t have to do, and we went over some literature on Braxton Hicks. The doctor stopped by and was about to let me leave when she looked at the monitor and frowned.

Just like that, I was staying overnight for further observation. My baby’s heart rate had just dipped seriously low with a very mild contraction, one I almost didn’t even feel.

One ultrasound and a few more contractions later, I was flat on my back in a private room in Labor and Delivery, confined to bed rest and hooked up to a magnesium drip to try to keep me from going into labor.

Despite the wishes of everyone, myself included, that I settle in for a long haul of bed rest, the magnesium worked just long enough for me to receive a round of steroids to strengthen my baby’s lungs in case he came early.

By very early Monday morning, I was in intense labor. Doctors swarmed around me, debating whether they should keep trying to prevent the baby from coming so early or prep me for a Caesarean delivery. They’d just decided on the latter when I began to feel pressure.

Between leaving my room and arriving at the operating room, my son arrived, breech, in the middle of a hurricane, nearly three months earlier than “expected.”

Jon and I got to meet Jackson “Jax” Harrison Moore, 1 lb., 13 ounces and 13¾ inches long, for the first time about an hour later. Doctors assured us of two things: 1) Our baby was in great hands, and 2) If we hadn’t come into the hospital when we did, we’d have lost him.

In the coming months, I plan to write about our experiences as NICU parents (NICU is neonatal intensive care unit, and York Hospital’s is state-of-the-art), and to chronicle the growth of Baby Jax, who, if you can’t already guess, is a determined and strong-willed little guy.

Every day is an education in preemies — or micro-preemies, as babies born before 26 weeks of gestation are called – so I’ll try, in my posts, to construct a timeline of the milestones these babies must meet before being sent home with their parents.

I will continue to write about intuition, which maybe doesn’t seem earthy per se, but with all the ups and downs to come, I can’t imagine what else could keep Jon and I grounded.

Beyond that, I can’t tell you what to expect, but I hope you’ll keep reading because I need to keep writing.

Stacia M. Fleegal

York Daily Record multiplatform journalist. Degrees in creative writing from Lycoming College and Spalding University, and a coupla books with my name on them. Central PA native who came home after floating around for a while, but always grounded by words and the places and people I remember.

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8 Responses

  1. Jackie Shrader says:

    Stacia, just 8 1/2 years ago I learned my first granddaughter was about to make her entrance into the world just as your Jax arrived. He’s at a great facility. Get rested and ready for touching, kangaroo care and storytelling. And don’t forget pictures because in a year’s time you’ll never believe he was so small. All my best wishes to your family.

  2. Thanks, Jackie. Kangaroo care is the BEST, as is the York NICU staff. We couldn’t leave his side if we didn’t trust them implicitly, and we couldn’t bear the time at home without everyone’s support and well-wishes, yours included. :)

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