Twenty two years ago today, my labor finally truly began for the birth of my son Nicolas. He was over ten days post dates and I didn’t want an induction or another cesarean, which my daughter Alyssa, baby #4, was born by. A dear friend offered to help me stay at home as long as possible to prevent induction. I did a lot of research and lots of birthing affirmations, like “My body knows how to create a perfect, healthy baby and I will let it.” And, “My body knows how to give birth normally and I will let it.”
After bumpy road rides and some other recommended forms of self induction, my contractions finally began right about 2:00 p.m. that day. I called my friend and we began walking around the block. Alternating with sitting outside on the back patio, enjoying the weather which had become cooler finally as a thunderstorm was coming on in.
About 8:00 p.m. the storm got very close and a clap of thunder struck, breaking my waters. Now for me, every birth became longer and more difficult rather than more quickly and easier. Well, all my babies were big, ranging from 8-10 pounds.
We decided to get to the hospital at that time, for there was some meconium in the water. I labored all night long, walking up and down the halls as long as I could, and sneaking juice and crackers whenever the nurses weren’t in the room.
By about 7:00 o’clock in the morning, my doctor came to check me and decided to start IV fluids. A couple hours later they decided to start me on Pitocin. At that point I had been in so much pain for over 24 hours I asked for an epidural, even though I had hoped to have a completely natural birth.
So they did, and I dozed off for quite while. Woke to the urge to push and called the nurse, who checked me and probably figured it would take me hours to push since I had had an epidural. I pushed once and my baby’s head began to crown. So the nurse held his head back for ten minutes until the doctor arrived. Not my doctor, who had agreed to go with my birthing plan, but a doctor I had never meant before. I pushed twice and he was born, experiencing what is called a precipitous birth.
I told the doctor not to cut the life giving cord which would provide him with oxygen while he adjusted to living outside the womb, and he said in a thick Okie accent, “That’s not the way we do it with meconium.” And so he cut the cord and I swear if I had been able to move my legs I would have kicked his hands away. Then they handed my baby to an attendant, who deep suctioned him before giving him a chance to breathe. So during that process, he inhaled meconium and both his lungs burst. And they didn’t notice a thing was wrong with him while they washed him up and checked him out before giving him to me to nurse.
I tried to nurse but he couldn’t. He was breathing but would just back away and I could sense he was distressed, so I asked them to come check him out again. They took him back to the nursery and checked him out again for about twenty minutes and brought him back to me. By this point, he was already beginning to struggle to breathe, and there was no way he was going to be able to nurse. He was fighting for his life. So this time I called them and was adamant that he be checked out more thoroughly immediately, sensing this was a life threatening emergency.
They took him away and wouldn’t talk to me for hours. Every time I called, the only thing they would say was that he was very sick.
My daughter Nina drove the rest of the kids home and lit a candle and prayed, asking God for a sign that her new baby brother was going to be alright. Then she went in the back yard and a thousand birds flew by. And the day before he was born a Monarch butterfly landed on my belly and stayed there (as I sat resting on the patio behind my house in the warm sun) for about half an hour.
Those were both signs from the Heavenly realm. Signs that angels are watching over us, and especially immediately praying for intervention for a close loved one.
It wasn’t until about midnight that the doctor who saved Nick’s life came in and told us what was going on. They had to give him a chest tube twice and when that didn’t work, on a respirator. He also developed hospital acquired Group B strep septicemia, which they found out the next day. It not only got into his blood, it was in his respiratory and urinary systems. So they had him on all kinds of tubes and was strapped down because he kept yanking them out. My baby boy was a true fighter.
They told us not to touch him for it would make him excited but I insisted I must, knowing a mother’s touch can one of the most healing things for a newborn baby. They told me that was okay as long as I didn’t move my hand. So I held my hand on his little arm, or held it on his chest and looked into his hazel eyes and he looked back at me, and his eyes were clear and bright even though they had him sedated so as to not struggle so much and then another medicine to maintain his blood pressure. He told me without words not to worry, not to be afraid, that he would be okay.
His father was very supportive, as was my doctor, who arranged for me to be able to stay in the hospital for three whole days, due to the circumstances. So we stayed with Nick as much as possible, praying the whole time, and then would go to my room where I used a double Medela pump to provide colostrum for my baby. Then we would go to the chapel and weep and pray.
They told us to prepare ourselves for the worst. Fifty percent of babies who only had the Strep died, they said. And Nick was working on healing his lungs. They said the best case scenario would be that he would need to be on a respirator for at least a month.
So we prayed more, our families joining in. And at the end of his third day of life, his father’s sister and husband who is a pastor and their whole congregation were praying for Nick at the same time my mom and a spiritual group of friends were doing the same – one group in Indiana, my mom’s group in Los Angeles. Us in the middle. And right after we got back from the chapel, for we had been praying at that time too, not knowing about the timing of these serendipitous groups of people praying for our son, the nurse came running down to tell us Nicolas was breathing against the respirator, and she had already begun to turn it down. She was so joyous and we burst into tears and rushed to the nursery. His eyes had brightened even more, and we were told we could hold him the next day.
We had to go home that night, but by 5:00 a.m. I was asking if I could return to be with my baby.
The nurses loved us at that point and said yes. And there he was, respirator off, with a little hood for oxygen over him, NG tube pulled out too!
We were both able to hold him that day, and I was able to rock him and give him a bottle of my very own amazing colostrum. And the next day, I was able to finally nurse him. And my milk was already in, thanks to the powerful double Medela pump.
Next time the NICU doctor checked him, I told her we had prayed for a miracle, and she replied, “Well, it certainly worked! He is doing very well, a beautiful baby boy. He’s a fighter.” And she beamed at us.
He was transferred to the regular nursery the next day, but they kept him until he was 9 days old, a joyous day of returning home with our new baby finally. For we had pretty much lived up at the hospital with him until we could take him home.
And now he is an amazing, strong, loving, creative young man, about to turn 22 years old. Out of all of my six kids, only went through this one scary ordeal which turned into a miracle. And even though every baby is a miracle and I love all mine with all my heart, I will always call Nick Nixta Scheid my miracle boy.