Wednesday, August 13th
A year ago, on August 13th, I was 23 weeks and 4 days pregnant, which meant that I was closer to 24 weeks than to 23, and 24 was the “magic number.” If I was 24 weeks, they would save my baby no matter what, but at 23 weeks, I had to tell them to try to save her. It seems silly, really, to think that a few extra days were really going to make that much of a difference, but getting to that 24 week mark was so important for me. Before yesterday’s events, I had held onto a hope that this whole thing was a fluke, and that I was going to be discharged home eventually, and then come back to the hospital with a robust 39-week pregnant belly to deliver a chubby newborn baby. Today though, I was sure that was not going to happen. I knew this baby was coming sooner rather than later. Before I dreamed of making it to at least 35 weeks—now 27 weeks seemed like a long shot. To be honest, I can’t really remember much about this day. Sometime in the very early morning, once they deemed me stable enough to be moved off the Labor and Delivery floor, I was wheeled down to my room again. That room on the 6th floor (Anti-partum) had never felt so hopeful. It felt like home and I was so thankful to be there, with a baby still in my belly. That day Esteban didn’t go to work, and we spent the day reading, talking and visiting with family and friends. I was thinking constantly about Abi’s 3rd birthday the next day, and trying to plan from afar how I could make sure she had a fun-filled day of celebrations. That day we also decided we needed to name our daughter. We had had a bunch of names swimming around in our heads for a while, but since we knew this girl was going to make her debut soon, and since we knew it might be fast and unexpected, we knew we needed her to have a name. The problem was that all of the names that we thought we might use (before all this happened) were nice names, but they seemed…trivial. Because I wasn’t sure what the future would hold for our little one, I wanted her to have a name with meaning. A name that said something about the circumstances of her birth. Ironically (or not so ironically), both of the grandmothers had said that she should be named Milagros, which means, “miracle.” Talk about a declaration of faith. We decided that would be her middle name, since it seemed like a God-thing that they both chose that name independently. As we talked about several different names, we tried to think of what we wanted people to know when they heard our daughter’s name. Gloria, we thought, so they will know that the glory belongs to God. Joy, because our joy comes from Him alone. Some names were just practically not an option because it had to be something you could say in both English and Spanish—Faith would have been a disaster in Spanish and would be butchered for the rest of the poor child’s life. What did we want people to see? To know? To remember? And then the words of a song came to us.
Tu gracia es suficiente. That’s what we wanted people to know.
That God is gracious to us.
In the midst of our troubles and our pain. He is gracious.
His grace is sufficient.
This is what we wanted to remember when we look back at this journey.
Ana means “grace.” We decided to go with the Spanish spelling because…well, why not? It fit with our three letter theme at this point. Abi and Ana. (I will say that once we started saying both of those names together, and having to call both children, we sometimes regret this choice. Similar names make for lots of mix-ups!)
So we decided that day to name the wiggly baby girl inside of me Anamaria Milagros Peralta. We knew we wanted Maria because of Esteban’s mom, and we liked giving Ana a little more “flare.” We said it, and we felt at peace. We wrote it on the white board in the hospital and looked at it for awhile, to be sure we still liked it. There’s something about writing a name that makes it so real. And what a strange thing to be choosing someone’s name for the rest of their life—but that is another topic for another day.
That night, we went to bed at peace. We had a name, and we didn’t have a baby today. Every day we were closer to 24 weeks. Hallelujah.
Thursday, August 14th (Part 1) ~ Abigail’s third birthday!
A year ago, on August 14th, I woke up sad. Not being able to be with Abi on her third birthday was hard for me. I guess I’m a little bit of a sentimental person, and in my family, birthdays are a pretty big deal, so not being able to celebrate with her was killing me. I basically forced Esteban to go to work that morning, because we didn’t know how long I was going to be in the hospital at that point, so he might as well be making some money, right? So he went to work, and I begged my parents to send me pictures of Abi waking up on her birthday. They made her pancakes and gave her a birthday crown, and she was all smiles. Kids are so resilient. They are happy with the smallest things—why is that so hard for us as adults?
I think my mom knew how sad I was that I wasn’t with Abi on her birthday, so she decided to come and spend the day with me at the hospital. She brought presents and toys and new videos to watch, and the plan was that we would hang out there until the rest of the family could come later that evening for a pizza party. I was also scheduled to have an ultrasound that day, to check on how baby Ana was doing, but they would just come and get me whenever they were ready for me. My mom arrived with Abi a little before lunch, and she bounded into the room and jumped onto my bed. We played Doc McStuffins and watched a new Veggie Tales DVD. Abi was so excited to get to order room service on her birthday, and she chose cheese pizza and chocolate pudding. A fine choice indeed. I think I felt bad that Abi was just sitting in a hospital room on her birthday, but honestly, she was so happy to be there! She was having a hard time with Mommy and Papi being away for so long. The sleepover at Abuela’s house, as much fun as it was, seemed like it should have ended days ago, and I think she was ready to be home. We were too. Truthfully, I was thankful that she wanted to snuggle up next to me on my bed and watch shows all day.
Abi ordering room service on her birthday.
Sometime right after lunch they came to get me for the ultrasound. I went in a little less nervous this time, and Dr. Young herself was in the room to do the ultrasound. I will never forget the smile that spread across her face as she said, “She’s head down! She flipped!” What? She did? I couldn’t really believe it at first. I had been praying so much for this, and yet I was shocked when it actually happened! She was head down! That meant that a vaginal delivery was much more probable at this point. Everything else looked good. My fluid was pretty low, which was probably why I hardly felt like I looked pregnant anymore, but baby girl was doing well. Dr. Young put away the ultrasound machine away and said “Well, she is ready to come out. She’s going to come any day now.” She told me that she was not on call tonight, but she would be watching if anything happened. It’s funny, I didn’t think much of it at the time, but looking back, I think she knew that Ana would be born very, very soon. Sooner than we could have ever imagined.
I don’t exactly know when they started, but sometime that afternoon I started feeling that familiar tightening in my back again. The first several times I tried to ignore it, but eventually I began to tense up my whole body as they quickly became stronger and stronger. My mom noticed and asked me, “You’re having contractions, aren’t you?”
“I think so,” I responded, wishing with all my heart that this wasn’t true.
I decided I should call the nurse and let her know what was going on. First she told me I should drink more water, because I was probably dehydrated and that was why I was contracting, but then she quickly hooked me up to the contraction monitor. Probably about half an hour later, she came back and said that it didn’t look like I was having any contractions at all, and that I should really drink more water and try to empty my bladder. Both of those things can cause contractions when you have an irritable uterus that wants to keep contracting. I said I would try those things again, but I was sure I was having contractions. I had back labor with Abi, and this is exactly what it felt like. The nurse left for a little while longer, and in that time the contractions started coming one on top of the other, and I was really in a lot of pain. So, as I said before, I have this problem where I don’t always show my pain externally very well, so oftentimes, doctors and other medical professionals don’t believe the level of my discomfort. This happened with Abi’s delivery also. I tried calmly to tell the nurse again that I was 100% sure that I was having contractions and that I was getting very uncomfortable. She called the doctor, who came to do an internal exam. I remember asking my mom to take Abi, because I didn’t want her to see any of the stress and fuss like what happened a couple of days ago. The doctor checked me and told me that I was progressing and that I needed to get up to Labor and Delivery. She said, “I don’t think we have to rush. It’s not an emergency, but we are just going to go up there.” Boy am I thankful for this doctor’s ability to be calm. I was starting to get pretty worried, and probably starting to have some PTSD symptoms from Tuesday’s stress, and I needed someone to tell me that this was not an emergency. I told my mom that we wouldn’t be able to have the party for Abi, and asked her to take her home. I must have told Abi I had to go take care of her baby sister and kissed her goodbye, but I really don’t remember it. I do remember being wheeled up on that fateful elevator once again, begging God to save my baby girl one more time. I called Esteban, telling him he needed to hurry up.
Somehow, I knew that this time was different than the times before…