A man and his pregnant wife hold hands and a mom watches tearfully as her newborn is treated in the hospital.

‘I screamed out, ‘I can’t lose my baby!’, with tears streaming down my face. But deep down I knew.’

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“I had the perfect pregnancy. Typical nausea but not over the top. A couple of food items that the baby didn’t like that found their way back up. Peeing constantly throughout the night waking up in the morning, dog tired. But otherwise, perfect. I loved being pregnant. I loved watching my belly grow. I had wanted this baby for so long. I treasured each and every moment.

A man and his pregnant wife hold hands and look at each others. She is wearing an orange shirt and he is wearing plaid.
Courtesy Taylar Hough

The weeks seemed to speed by but they all stopped on June 11th, 2015. I was 21 weeks, 6 days pregnant. I had no reason to believe anything was wrong. It was a typical day, my belly was still growing, I was hungrier than ever, felt great. And then later that night while walking to my bedroom after my shower, my water broke. I screamed for my husband,’Something is leaking out of me! I don’t know what’s happening!’ but deep down I knew. He said the words I was afraid to hear… ‘Your water just broke’. As my husband who turned pale white quickly put away our dogs I began to sob hysterically not knowing anything like this could even happen. I couldn’t even fathom that it was in fact amniotic fluid. There’s no way, right? What even was preterm labor? Thoughts began racing through my mind about what I had done lately to possibly cause this to happen… Did I pick up something too heavy? Did I eat something too spicy? Will my baby be okay? The quick 4 minute drive to the emergency room was a blur. I remember sobbing as my husband ran to my side of the car and opened the door to help me get out.

I sobbed even harder when I felt gushes of water leave me with every step as I tried to inch closer to the ER doors. I finally sat in a wheelchair and answered the ER front desk nurse’s questions. I started shaking. It felt like it took him a lifetime to finally get me into labor & delivery. As soon as we entered the L&D wing, I saw the nurses faces. It was the first time in my life I could see fear in someone else’s eyes for me. A pity and sadness I hadn’t experienced before. When I finally got taken to my room, they did some tests to confirm it was amniotic fluid. They said I would most likely go into labor within the next 48 hours. They also told me if this were to happen, Colt wasn’t at the age of viability which meant there was nothing they could do to save my first child. They didn’t have a NICU unit either so I’d be lucky to be able to hold him alive for a couple of minutes after birth. At that moment, the world came crashing down. I began shaking and screamed out in an unrecognizable voice, ‘I can’t lose my baby!’, with tears streaming down my face. This was just a dream. This couldn’t be happening to me…. my world had stopped. My heart was literally ripping from my body and I felt like it was my fault. You can never prepare yourself for losing a child, let alone a child in your 2nd trimester of your pregnancy when everything felt like it was going so right. I felt attacked by my own body, ashamed that I wasn’t able to do the one thing a pregnant woman should be able to do… protect her baby. To keep my baby safe, inside me, to full term like every other pregnant woman I had known up to that point.

That first night my family laid on couches, cots, chairs in the hall, and anything else they could to stay close by my side. I learned just how hard bed rest could be. I felt humiliated in every way possible. Maybe if I kept my legs squeezed just a little bit tighter, the ripped amniotic sac might not leak as much. Maybe if I drank more water then maybe, just maybe I’ll get my baby more fluid to grow in. The only way they could get me to sleep though was by giving me sleep aids through my IV. How do you sleep when you feel like you’ve failed as a mother not knowing if you’re baby will make it? Thoughts shot through my head at a million miles a minute. The first night came and went. I met some wonderful nurses that kept smiles on my face when I was so tore up. Then I made it to the second night, and third, and so on… After several days in the Labor and Delivery, they made the decision to discharge me to go home. They didn’t want to risk me getting an infection. If I was able to stay pregnant, they gave Colt a 1% chance of survival. It was an extremely scary moment and I bawled as I got into my mom’s car to leave. ‘I just have to make it a couple more weeks’, I told myself. Every bump on the way home set me in panic mode, but we finally made it.

Every day on bed rest at my parents was just as nerve wracking as at the hospital, but even more so without the comfort of having a nurse nearby constantly reassuring me I could do this. On my husband’s birthday I started feeling minor back pain. We saw this as a quick opportunity to get me to a hospital with a level 3 NICU to hopefully be able to save our baby if I were to go into labor. The 30 minute drive there I kept praying to God, ‘Please let them take me in whether it be because they had to, or pity, or anything that would allow me to stay.’ When I arrived they put me in a wheelchair and escorted me to an empty room to change. They had 3 doctors talk to me about how at less than 24 weeks, my baby would have little chance to survive and if he did, he’d have lifelong complications. Every day, the doctors had to come in and ask me if I still felt the same way about saving my child’s life, and every day I had to remind them I did. It was a hard time to hear the risks, complications, and the likely fate for my baby day in and day out but I wanted my son whether he had complications or not.

When I hit 24 weeks we celebrated! Our baby was viable for the doctors! He had done such an amazing job by staying inside me. Everyone kept saying how strong I was and how good I had done by keeping him in so long… I still felt like a failure. I had no more control over how long I could keep him in than I had no control over my water breaking. This was all Colt. He was the strong one. Day in and day out I laid in that bed praying Colt would stay put. My husband helped bathe me, he got me food, the nurses helped me go to the restroom, the IV’s were constant, and the doctors always came in saying, ‘You’re still pregnant!’. I began steroid shots to help Colt’s lungs develop quickly. It was the longest 5 weeks of my life. Laying in bed all day gives you a lot of time to think about all of the hurt you feel inside.

On July 14th, 2015 I began having contractions. They lasted 23 hours. I didn’t want pain medication. It was the one element of my pregnancy I could control. I needed to feel that pain. While everyone slept that night, I tried to not panic about having a baby soon while breathing through each and every contraction. They began my magnesium to help decrease the chances of Colt having brain bleeds. The next morning a little after 10:30 they checked me because I felt something warm between my legs. After preparing me for the OR they wheeled my down the hallway to the OR. I began gushing blood. My placenta had completely detached and I was losing a lot of blood very fast. They told my husband he had to leave then rushed him out of the room. Before I allowed them to put me out, I argued with the anesthesiologist to please pray for my baby. I told him I wouldn’t go to sleep until he promised me he’d pray for Colt. He promised. The meds went in my IV, my mask went on, and that was all I remember of my child’s birth. He was born at 26 weeks 5 days old.

I woke up roughly an hour later terrified to hear if my baby had made it or not. He was born without breathing for 3 minutes and they had to resuscitate. My husband, Andrew, had followed him to the NICU though and they got the breathing machine successfully helping him. I couldn’t be more thankful that we had both made it through it. I was eager to go see my baby, but terrified of what he might look like. He was born exactly 3 months early… I had no idea what to expect, what to feel, how to cope. I was numb yet hurt and felt even more guilt all at the same time. I instantly froze when I saw Colt, as tears began streaming down my face. I didn’t know if he’d survive. He looked so fragile. He looked like he was in pain. IV’s were everywhere, I could see his veins through his skin, the tube down his throat… I wanted to wrap him in my arms and never let him go. He was 10 days old before I could hold him.

A newborn baby lying on a hospital table with wires attached.
Courtesy Taylar Hough

The next year of our life were the most trying of our life. Colt was always the most critical patient. He spent 3 months in a NICU, 6 months in a PICU, and several weeks in a ventilator training program. During that time I was diagnosed with depression, PTSD, anxiety and I began losing my hair and a lot of weight.

A mom watches tearfully as her newborn is treated in the hospital.
Courtesy Taylar Hough

My husband was tough on the outside, but he was broken on the inside as well. My son is the one that got us through it. His strength and resilience never wavered. Even though he was diagnosed with CLD, BPD, pulmonary hypertension, tracheobronchomalacia, PDA, PFO, and craniostynosis, that boy pulled through day in and day out with a smile on his face. He had already been through so much in his short life. He was my inspiration and still is to this day. Life can knock you down, leave you breathless… but sometimes God knocks us to our knees so we experience a sense of thankfulness we never imagined. Sometimes I questioned if God was there, but he was faithful to us and never left our side. After 296 days in the hospital we got to bring our son we nicknamed ‘Tough Hough’ and ‘Texas Tornado’, home for the first time in his life.

A little boy in a yellow shirt bites on his oxygen tube while lying reclined on a rainbow-striped pillow.
Courtesy Taylar Hough

He came home with around the clock nursing care, a trach, ventilator dependent, gtube dependent, and 36 medications. He has proven everyone who doubted him wrong time and time again. Fast forward to today and he’s beginning to eat by mouth, doesn’t require ventilator support, got his trach removed and stoma closed, no longer needs to wear a pulse ox to watch his oxygen levels, down to 4 medications, and even starts Head Start Pre-K this fall. In typical Colt fashion, he’s flourishing and hasn’t looked back once.

A toddler wearing two jackets uses a yellow walker to walk along a sidewalk.
Courtesy Taylar Hough

If you or someone you know is experiencing PPROM, Preterm Premature Rupture Of the Membranes, please join the support group on Facebook, ‘Little Heartbeats – Making Pprom Awareness’ to know your options when your baby is considered not viable. It’s a support group I couldn’t have gotten through this experience without and there needs to be more awareness about PPROM.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Taylar Hough. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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