...they induced me after weeks of bedrest at home, finally being admitted due to failing liver and kidneys. I actually had an unusual complication of pre-eclampsia (no one has seen it before): I was so hyper-reflexive I could not even walk without excruciating pain. We think that my blood vessels were going into spasm and cutting off circulation to my legs, but we'll never know. I was at 35 weeks when I got admitted; by then, they were doing weekly amnios to check lung maturity. The research paper on the steroid shots to mature babies' lungs came out from the NIH that summer. In fact, my mom told us about it, we passed it on to my hospital roommate (who, coincidentally was a friend of ours, in for pre-term labor). She was the first person to get the steroid shots at our hospital.
Rebecca was born at 37 weeks after 38 hours of induced labor; after 24 hours, I had a fever and yet still progressed to pushing for two hours before her heart rate started dropping and stayed down. She was born at 7:34 p.m. in a crash c-section, with Apgars of 2,4,5. I stayed in their recovery room (the best they could do for an ICU) on the mag, with my platelets and blood count dropping precipitately, all the while on mag.
At two days of age, I got out of that area, into a room, and they came to tell us that she had developed NEC, even though she was a good size at just over six lbs. She went to surgery that night, they did a colectomy and ileostomy. I got to hold her for about three minutes before they took her to the operating room. It never occurred to me to look at her belly, unscarred, for the first and last time. She had a second surgery at six weeks, went home for two days, came back in at 8 weeks with meningitis.
Now she is: an honor student, featured player in our semi-professional theater group, a good friend, a volunteer from the age of seven, an animal lover, a vegetarian. She does struggle with some learning "issues" that we have not defined but will probably explore in tenth grade. She's a bit shorter than her friends, slender, but eats pretty normally and lives a (mostly) normal life. In fact, in spite of her closeness with her friends, many since pre-school, very few of them know of her beginnings.
We have been very, very fortunate. I know not everyone has been as lucky as we have. As it turned out, Rebecca was born after I'd had an ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, and she came home in time for my 40th birthday. So the idea of a #2 (especially since I do also have a special-needs stepson, three years older) was out of the question. One of the tragedies of her life is not having a younger sibling.
I too have probably paid a price, but then I am an older mother with a history of endometriosis, and a family history of heart disease. I do not have hypertension problems, but my kidneys will never be the same, and neither will my circulation in the legs.
But she's here, and worth it. She's our "half-million dollar baby." Both DH and I work in peds, and that's what the tariff would have been had we not had our particular healthcare system. And she got GOOD care, and timely care, and so did I, and so here we are, fifteen years later!
And although the NICU time was just as traumatic for us as it would be for a non-medical person, the pain of that does fade with time. We live a "new" norm, but most days, it looks just like everyone else's.