I have always wanted to be a mom. I am also a sensible person and believe in doing things in order. I had a master plan. I met my husband during my freshman year of college. I declared I wouldn’t get married until I was 25 so we waited. Engaged 15 days before my 24th birthday and married in August 2010 at a gorgeous castle wedding. I was 25…all was going according to plan.
Though we were emotionally ready to have a baby, I wanted to plan it so that I would be done with my masters degree before having to take care of an infant. So we waited. Meanwhile my husband got a new, fabulous job and we bought a house! In June 2011, we started trying. After some issues with regulating my thyroid hormone (I already had hypothyroidism, but I wasn’t taking enough replacement hormone so my cycles were off), we found out we were pregnant on November 16th, 2011. I remember that day so well. I couldn’t believe the time had finally come. I would finish my masters in March of 2012 and little baby boo (that’s what we called her while in utero) would arrive in July, about 4 weeks after the school year ended. Everything was perfect and everything was going according to plan.
Ten days after finding out I was pregnant, my grandfather died. He was 88 and had been very sick. It was a great loss for our family and I was so sad that he wouldn’t get to meet his first great grandchild. I asked him to look after our little boo and keep her safe during my pregnancy.
I would call my pregnancy easy. Early on, I had one adjustment of my thyroid hormone and then it was smooth sailing. Every blood test was normal, every ultrasound was great, every appointment was quick and simple: blood pressure normal, heartbeat sounds great. Despite having a history of severe anxiety, I was fine. I stayed busy, finished my masters, worked hard and did everything in my power to take care of myself. I loved feeling boo kick and dance in my belly. I was uncomfortable and the heat was tough to deal with but as time went on, I knew it would end soon and my baby would be in my arms.
On Thursday, June 14th, I woke up with cramps. I was 34 weeks, 4 days pregnant. I figured it was another new discomfort of being pregnant and went to work. I felt like crap all day. The pain lingered and my lower back was hurting too. I had my 35 week growth scan that afternoon and a doctor’s appointment, so I knew I could just bring it up then. I barely made it through the day and then went to the doctor. The ultrasound was normal, boo looked great and then we met with the doctor. He told us boo was 6 pounds, 5 ounces and looked great. I brought up my pain and he wasn’t concerned. He said the baby was dropping and I wasn’t in labor. I left feeling reassured and managed to get a good night’s sleep.
On Friday, June 15th, I woke up still crampy and the back pain was worse. I still went to work. I sat at my desk and was pretty useless but I got some paper work done. When I got home, I laid down and the pain didn’t go away. When my husband got home from work, he suggested we get out of the house so I could get my mind off things. The glider we wanted had been discontinued and there was one store that had one left in stock about 40 minutes away. After picking up the glider and a few other baby things, we decided we needed dinner. I told my husband I couldn’t sit in a restaurant so we needed to get something that we could bring home. We went to Panera and after we ordered I went to the bathroom where I discovered I had lost my mucous plug. I decided to call the doctor.
When we got in the car, I called the doctor and she said we should come in. I wanted to go home first and eat my dinner but she said we had to come right in. When we got there, the monitors were put on. The heartbeat was good and I was indeed having contractions. The doctor checked me and I was 2 cm dilated. I was a little freaked out because I was early and still had another week of school left. They decided to monitor me over night, even though the doctor was confident that I was not going to have the baby in the next 2 days. The pain never went away and I was so uncomfortable all night. Every time I moved to a different side, the monitors had to be re-adjusted.
At 5 AM on Saturday the 16th, the doctor came back in. She decided to admit me. I asked if I could get out of the bed and she said I could take a shower. The shower felt great but as soon as I got out of the shower, the pain was way worse. I felt like I was being stabbed in the back. I was moved into another room and the doctor knew immediately that something had changed. She checked me and I had progressed to 3 cm. As soon as she was done checking me, my water broke. That was it… I was having a baby that day. I panicked because we weren’t ready and I was in so much pain. I had initially wanted to have a natural birth, but with no sleep and consistent back labor, there was no way that was going to happen. I got an epidural and rested.
My doctor had to leave so another doctor came in. I progressed very quickly and by 10:45 I was ready to push. This part is very blurry. I never felt an urge to push and every time I tried my upper back and shoulder blades seared with pain. The nurse tried everything to make me more comfortable, but I was so tired, hungry, and uncomfortable that nothing was working. At 11:45, the doctor came in and said she was going to use forceps to get the baby out. I later learned that Maya was in distress at that point. She tried one tug with the forceps and it didn’t work… Maya was stuck.
The next hour of my life was the most traumatic I’ve ever had. I was quickly rushed in for an emergency c-section. I was awake and my husband sat next to me. There were at least a dozen people in the OR and I was so scared. The doctor seemed to struggle to get her out and had to have the nurse push her up out of the birth canal. My husband and I didn’t even know she had been born as she had been immediately handed to the pediatric team. I realized the painful pulling and tugging had stopped and then looked over at the incubator. At least six people were around my baby and there were no cries. I asked if we had a boy or a girl (we wanted it to be a surprise). I told my husband to go and look. When he came back and said “it’s a girl”, I was over the moon. My whole pregnancy, we had been convinced that we were having a boy.
I watched as doctors shook their head no and nurses did chest compressions. I wanted so badly to know what was going on. I wanted to know what she looked like. I wanted to hear her cry. I just kept repeating ‘please’ over and over again. More people were brought in. I could see a clock on the incubator that started as soon as she was born. After 27 minutes I heard them say she had a stable heartbeat and her color was looking good. My husband went over and touched her and talked to her. She tried to breathe on her own for him.
After about 50 minutes I was brought into recovery. I told my husband to stay with Maya but they wouldn’t let him. We waited for an update. I watched the clock. We were told that she was being transferred to Children’s Hospital Boston and that there medevac team was on their way. We were told that she had a stable heartbeat and was still getting help breathing. We called our families. My parents were at our house with the dog so they came right to the hospital. With every passing hour, I got more and more nervous. No one would tell me what was going on. I was so scared that she was getting worse. The pediatrician came in and said that she was very concerned. She didn’t know why Maya wasn’t breathing and we would get more answers once she got to Children’s. They kept telling us that the medevac team was almost ready to go with her and would bring her in before they left. It took hours.
Finally, at 4:30 a parade of people came into our room. The team from our hospital and the team from Children’s and my poor helpless baby in an isolate that looked like a spaceship. They brought her right next to my bed. She was wrapped so tightly but I could see her precious face. She had my nose! They opened the side and I was able to touch her hand and talk to her. I told her that she was getting to go in a helicopter her first day of life. She tried to breathe for me and gave me the reassurance I needed to let her go. The head of the medevac team said he was cautiously optimistic. They left and my husband drove to Boston while my parents stayed with me.
An hour later, I was alone in my room. My parents had gone to get some food and my nurse had stepped out. My phone rang, but it was in my bag and I couldn’t move. When the nurse came back in, I asked her to get my phone. My husband had called. I called him back and I knew right away that it wasn’t good. He told me that Maya wasn’t going to make it. I screamed and the nurse grabbed my hand. He couldn’t talk to me and handed the phone to a nurse at Children’s. She tried to explain that Maya was very sick when she arrived. I didn’t understand. The guys said cautiously optimistic… what changed? The nurse on the phone asked to talk to my nurse so I handed the phone off. My parents came in as my husband called them too. My mom held me and I cried. They were making arrangements for me to be transferred to a hospital that connected to Children’s so I could hold my baby. The team at Children’s was going to keep her on life support until I got there.
Another hour passed. My original doctor came back and offered to ride with me in the ambulance. My parents were going to drive. The ambulance ride was very traumatic. I was in a lot of pain and the crying wasn’t helping. When we got to the hospital, the people there didn’t know what room I was going into so we waiting in the hall. I finally got into a room, was checked by the doctors there, and said goodbye to my doctor and nurse. Everything was happening so fast that I felt like I was in the twilight zone. I had to get into a wheelchair because the bed wouldn’t fit in one of the elevators. Miles of hospital hallway later, I finally arrived at the NICU. My family and my husband’s family were all there. They wheeled me right next to Maya’s bed. They were doing chest compressions and breathing for her. Her tiny body was so helpless. The doctor told me she didn’t have much longer. They put a pillow in my lap, put her in my arms, and took the tubes out of her nose and mouth. I held her and cried. The doctors and nurses left us alone. We asked our parents to stay with us. I handed her to my husband and the doctor came back to confirm that she was gone. He explained some things and then gave us more time. I held her again and our moms held her. My husband held her again and then I got her back. I didn’t want to say goodbye but my husband didn’t want to see her become pale. I could have sat there all night. I told little Maya how loved she was and how many people loved her and wanted to meet her. I told her that I was sorry this happened to her and that I couldn’t have protected her longer. We talked about who she looked like and admired her chubby cheeks. The nurse told us she would give her a bath, take her footprints, and take some pictures for us. I kissed her one last time and handed her to the nurse as I was wheeled away. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
We do not know yet why Maya died. We may never have answers.
My precious baby lived for 9 hours. She has touched so many lives. I have learned from her and this experience that time is precious and we must take nothing for granted. Maya will live on through me and will never be forgotten.