On Tuesday, March 23, 1999, my husband Scott and I (seven months pregnant), along with our 18-month-old son, Joel, left our home in Abbotsford, BC, Canada for Tucson, Arizona to visit with Scott's grandma. We were there for nine days and had a great visit. We took Joel to the zoo and saw a few other "touristy" things. We were supposed to leave on Saturday, April 3.
On Friday morning I started getting some contractions, which I thought were Braxton Hicks. I hadn't had these with my first pregnancy, but this whole pregnancy was completely different, so I figured that's all it was. After a couple of hours, I could no longer sleep through them and I woke Scott. Then I discovered a small amount of bleeding, so we decided to go to the hospital to check things out.
When we arrived I was 2 cm dilated. They put me on an IV of Magnesium Sulfate to stop the contractions, and I had an ultrasound which detected a tear in the upper part of my placenta. They said once the contractions were under control I'd still be on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy. I was given a shot of beta cortisone, a steroid that speeds the development of the baby's lungs, although the hope was that she'd get comfy and decide to stay there a bit longer.
By that night the contractions had slowed down, and by Saturday afternoon all the contractions stopped and the doctor had slowly reduced the amount of drip I was getting through the IV to eventually nothing. But we realized we wouldn't be heading home Saturday after all. Everything stayed normal, no contractions Saturday night or all day Sunday. They were going to send me home on Monday.
At 4am Monday morning I started getting some cramps and called the nurse. She hooked me up to the monitor but said it wasn't detecting anything. She and the other nurse monitored me for about an hour and I started getting more contractions that they still couldn't see on the monitor, so we weren't too sure what was happening. Finally at about 5:30am the head nurse came and decided to see if I was dilating. I was 10cm! Fully effaced and she felt the baby's head. Well that sure got their attention!
They called Scott, who was staying at his grandma's about 10 minutes away, and called the doctor. Scott beat the doctor there by a minute or two, arriving around 5:40am or so. After three good pushes, Alisha Dawn was born at 5:53am, April 5 - surprising us all by arriving 8 weeks early! Everything happened in under two hours, so it's a good thing I was already in the hospital! I turned to the nurse and said "I told you I was feeling contractions!"
Alisha weighed 4 pounds, 5 ounces, and was breathing well on her own; she never had to go on a respirator. For the first few hours she was under an "oxygen hood" which just gave her a bit more oxygen, but it was not a complete oxygen mask.
There was no apparent reason for the premature birth. Every aspect of my pregnancy was healthy and normal, and my son was born two weeks late at 8 pounds, 11 ounces.
Alisha was born Monday, April 5. The following Wednesday the doctor said she could get a medical transport safely, which we really wanted because here she is in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) which cost us about $2000 a day. The problem with the medical transport is that we had to have it paid for in full before they would take us. It cost $12,000, but it was better than paying $2000/day for three weeks in the hospital there! Because of my three days before and two days after, and Alisha's stay in addition to that, our hospital bill was already up to $20,000. We're talking serious medical expenses that we were NOT expecting! But with the support of our family we were able to pay for the med-evac flight. Alisha and I, along with two nurses and two pilots, left that afternoon and flew from Tucson to Abbotsford. An ambulance picked us up at the Abbotsford Airport and brought us to MSA Hospital, across the street from our house. Scott and our son Joel took the commercial flight (they still had our return tickets), and arrived home Thursday night.
Thankfully, Alisha was here in the Abbotsford hospital, not at Vancouver Children's, which is where we thought she might have to be at first. We just live across the street from the hospital here, so I could walk across to see her.
It was so hard to leave our baby girl in the hospital each night -- I wanted so much to bring her home! But she still had to gain some weight and the ability to eat on her own.
She was there for almost a full month, coming home on May 3, 1999, weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces.
You can visit our web site and see pictures at http://www.aciservices.com/newsletter/alisha.htm