‘Oh god, did I just pee myself?!’ I watched the midwife’s face suddenly drop. ‘I am SO sorry, but your amniotic sac has broken.’ I was only 18 weeks pregnant.’: Mom births warrior 1-pound baby, ‘I’m holding a living, breathing miracle’

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“My husband and I live in a beautiful town in Massachusetts. He is a Police officer and I am a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse. We love our town and are active members of the community. We have two beautiful children aged 2 and 4 who keep us on our toes! We live in a cute house on an acre of land. We have our health, our family, our friends, We are what many people would call fortunate.

Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to people like us.

Courtesy of Rene Baker

My husband and I decided to start trying for our third and final baby in January of 2020. We were so excited to get pregnant again; this time would feel even sweeter because we knew it would be our last. We tried for a few months until COVID-19 struck in March. Being essential personnel, we decided to stop trying until the pandemic was ‘under control.’ Little did we know!

In true fashion, the minute we stopped trying, I found out I was pregnant! Pregnant during a pandemic seemed daunting, but we were excited nonetheless. We did the cute announcements, told our friends and family, and started planning. As a NICU Nurse, I am all about having a plan! I chose my doctors, planned my maternity leave, even started rearranging the kids’ rooms because one of them would be sharing a room with their new little brother.

Courtesy of Rene Baker

Here’s what I didn’t plan for: my water to break at only 18 weeks pregnant.

I had been at work and was on my way home after a long 12-hour shift. My commute home is about an hour. I was sitting in the driver’s seat and started feeling really uncomfortable. Suddenly my underwear and pants felt wet. Of course being only 18 weeks pregnant my first thought was, ‘Oh god, did I just pee myself?!’ I was only about 10 minutes from home, so I hurried down the street. The minute I stepped out of the car I knew something was wrong. I ran into the house and told my husband I needed to go to labor and delivery.

Because of the pandemic, the labor and delivery department wasn’t allowing spouses into the hospital unless you were giving birth. So alone I went up to the 3rd floor. I was checked in at the front desk and brought into an exam room. I waited in my hospital gown for what seemed like forever. Finally, a midwife came into the room. She was smiling and said, ‘I’m sure everything is fine! You probably just lost control of your bladder. But you’re here, so let’s just take a look.’

Courtesy of Rene Baker

She had me lay back. She lifted my gown and I watched as her face suddenly dropped. She turned around and made a phone call. Suddenly two more doctors were in the room examining me. They spoke quietly to each other and then one of them turned around to look at me. ‘I am SO sorry, but your amniotic sac that surrounds the baby has broken. Your water broke. You’re going to miscarry. You can let it happen naturally or we can induce you tonight.’

Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to people like us.

The doctors gave me pitiful looks and left the room. I sat there, alone, stunned. Miscarry?! Was that even a term they used at 18 weeks pregnant?! My baby had a heartbeat. My baby was a little boy whose name we hadn’t decided yet. I put my hand on my stomach; I could feel little flutters in my stomach. No, I thought. I’m not miscarrying. Not today.

Being a level 3 NICU Nurse, I knew if I could keep this baby in until at least 24 weeks, he’d have a fighting chance. I called the doctor back into the room. ‘I want you to transfer me to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.’ I blurted out. ‘NOW.’ Honestly, I had no idea why I chose that hospital – I just faintly remembered seeing somewhere they would attempt to save a baby born as young as 22 weeks.

The doctors once again looked at me pitifully. They explained being transferred was pointless; the doctors there would say the same thing they had. I told them I didn’t care. So they loaded me up in the ambulance and brought me to The Brigham.

Courtesy of Rene Baker

My husband followed the ambulance, but was yet again asked to remain outside of the hospital. ‘When they induce you, they will let him inside,’ the paramedic said. I was quickly brought into a room in the Labor and Delivery department at The Brigham. The unit was huge; the lights were bright and the machines beeped around me. Almost immediately a female doctor with kind eyes came into my room. She introduced herself as Doctor Easter; she sat down next to my bed, and started to talk. We went over pros and cons, bad outcomes and good outcomes. She spoke to me not only like I was a mother, but like I was a fellow colleague.

Because my body had not yet gone into labor, she agreed to run some tests. For the next few hours, I was poked and prodded. I had an ultrasound and another internal exam. After the ultrasound, she came back into my room. ‘The good news is the baby definitely has enough amniotic fluid around him to survive. You also aren’t in labor yet, which is great. The bad news is it does appear that your amniotic fluid sac, or water bag, has a tear and is leaking.’

Her and I came up with a plan. I would go home and be on strict bedrest. I would come in and see her two times a week until the 24-week mark. If I made it to the 24-week mark, she would admit me to the antepartum (pre-birth) ward and do everything medically in her power to keep my baby inside. She remained honest with me the entire time; she told me only a handful of pregnancies whose water breaks at 18 weeks go on to give birth to a live infant. The more I leaked, the less fluid would be around the baby. Without amniotic fluid, his lungs would never develop.

Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to people like us.

Courtesy of Rene Baker

For the next 6 weeks, I sat around my house doing nothing besides going into Boston for my appointments. My husband was amazing; he waited on me hand and foot while also juggling work and our other two children. Every time I stood up and fluid spilled out of me, I would hold my breath.

Finally the day came – I did it! I made it to 24 weeks! The baby still had a decent amount of fluid around him. Enough that his lungs were starting to grow! I showed up to my 24-week appointment with my bags packed. Doctor Easter admitted me to the floor directly from her office.

Courtesy of Rene Baker

The plan would be to sit in the antepartum unit on hospital bedrest, hooked up to fetal monitors, until I went into labor or until the baby became distressed. This could be days, weeks, or even months. As much as I hated being away from my husband and kids, I hoped for months.

What I ended up getting was 11 days.

Courtesy of Rene Baker

At 25 weeks and 4 days, our son Jameson came into the world via emergency C-section weighing 1 pound, 12 ounces. 11 days after being admitted to the hospital, I developed an infection. Unfortunately, this is a common complication of preterm rupture of membranes. It can be extremely dangerous and deadly for the baby, so we had no choice but to take him out.

Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to people like us.

This thought rang in my head so many times over the next 3 months, as our tiny but mighty son battled one medical complication after the next in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Intubation, numerous types of ventilators, CPAP, heart defects, blood transfusions…

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Jameson is now 36 weeks corrected. He is 3 months old, and is still in the NICU. He has an uphill battle with his lungs, partly due to being a micro-preemie, and partly due to my water breaking so early.

As I sit in the NICU today, holding my very alive 4-pound baby, I can’t help but think back to the day my water broke. I can’t help but imagine the what if’s…what if I had let those doctors induce me that day? What if Doctor Easter hadn’t been the one to pick up my case that night? What if I hadn’t requested the transfer?

Things could have ended very differently for my family. Despite the medical battles my son faces, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I’m holding a living, breathing miracle in my arms.

Courtesy of Rene Baker

Bad things like this DO happen to people like us.

Premature birth affects 1 in 10 pregnancies. You think it will never happen to you, but it can. As my son continues his fight in the NICU, I have started working on building a community for fellow preemie families. My goal is to help as many families as I can navigate NICU and life after NICU. I want other preemie families who are wondering why something like this happened to them to know I see you, I AM you, and I am here for you. I wrote this poem Someday in honor of my son Jameson:

Someday, I’ll be able to hold your hand in mine without it causing you to drop your oxygen levels

Someday, I’ll be able to scoop you up whenever I want, free of tubes and wires

Someday, I’ll be decorating your nursery instead of your hospital walls

Someday, I’ll be able to take my mask off and keep it off, kissing your head whenever I want

Someday, I’ll be able to introduce you to your big brother and sister

Someday, I won’t have to fold your clothes and put them in a hospital bag…someday I’ll fold them and put them in your drawers

Someday, I’ll watch you breathe with ease as you run around and play with your siblings.

But today isn’t that day.

So today I’ll hold your hand through the portal of your isolette. I’ll untangle your cords and wires and hold you tight as alarms ring and your ventilator beeps in the background.

Because someday, this will be behind us. Someday we will put you safely in your car seat and walk out of those NICU doors for good.


Courtesy of Rene Baker
Courtesy of Rene Baker

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rene Baker. You can follow her journey on Instagram here and here, and Jameson’s journey hereSubmit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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