It's been almost 2,500 days since my daughter was born and I can still distinctly hear the slow soft beep coming from her incubator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I would say it haunts me, but it let me know my daughter was alive. I can recall almost every detail about my daughter's unanticipated arrival, and it's those beeping sounds and memories of staring at my helpless 4-pound baby through glass that scared me off having another child.
My daughter was conceived three months after my husband and I got married. She wasn't planned but we weren't being careful either. We talked about not having children at all, and at the most, having two children. We wanted to wait it out and see where our lives would take us.
When I found out I was pregnant, my first call was to my mom and dad. I got a hold of my dad first and we cried on the phone. Our families were excited — it would be the first grandchild for my parents — and the thought of starting a family brought my husband and I a newfound joy and adventure.
My excitement quickly dissolved under extreme morning sickness. I guess it would be the first sign that my daughter's birth would not be "typical." My OB-GYN monitored me but my gut told me that something was off.
I was about 20 or so weeks pregnant when I noticed I had started bleeding. I did not have any bleeding previously and my heart sank. I remember dropping to my knees, bawling, thinking the worst — that I was losing my child.
I was positive that I would not reach my due date since I was having a difficult pregnancy.
My husband and I rushed to the hospital. I felt the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders when the nurse said my baby still had a heart beat. I was put on bed rest and I had occasional spotting. My OB-GYN could not determine what the cause of this was, but reassured me everything appeared to be fine with my baby.
The problem was I didn't feel fine. I was terrified of losing my child. I went to the bathroom constantly to make sure I wasn't heavily bleeding. I still could not keep down food and I felt like a horrible mother already for not providing my baby with proper nutrients.
As I was approaching my due date, I made sure to plan my baby shower early. I also packed my hospital bag early. I was positive that I would not reach my due date since I was having a difficult pregnancy.
And sure enough, my intuition was right.
On a Saturday evening after I had dinner with my parents, I went home with my husband and tried to go to sleep. I was having pain in my lower stomach and back. I thought the dinner I ate wasn't settling right in my stomach but when I eventually went to the bathroom I found what I later learned was my mucus plug.
My husband and I then went to what turned into our second home, the hospital. I learned I was already 3 centimeters dilated so I was automatically admitted. Shortly after, my water broke.
I was given medicine to prolong my labor. I was miserable. The medicine made me feel like I had the flu. I was sweating and nauseous. My back was in an indescribable amount of pain, which I later learned was from my daughter being "sunny side up," her face pointed toward my belly instead of my back.
After I got an epidural I was able to take in what was happening. I was 33 weeks and six days along, and my baby's fate was unknown. I tried to stay positive but the nurses warned me my daughter would go straight to the NICU after being born. I remember taking a tour of the hospital and feeling terrible for the parents in the NICU, and now I would be one of them.
Every second of the day I thought about my baby, about when I could visit her again.
After my daughter was born, she was whisked into an isolette. I didn't get to hold her let alone look at her. I had mixed emotions. I was thankful she was alive but at the same time I was upset that I couldn't touch her or have that special bonding moment. I wanted to see with my owns eyes that she was OK.
I didn't feel like a mother yet.
My husband and I endured 13 days of our daughter being in the NICU. She had ups and downs while she was there, but the best day was taking her home. Before she was home, I was depressed and struggling to produce breast milk. Every second of the day I thought about my baby, about when I could visit her again.
I know there are many parents who have babies that endure a longer stay in the NICU. It's torture and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. But it does make you stronger as a person and a parent.
When I saw my OB-GYN for my six-week postpartum checkup, he told me that if I got pregnant again I would have to get progesterone shots to prevent me from going into early labor.
The overwhelming thought of getting constant shots and having another difficult pregnancy and traumatizing birth was enough for me to decide one child was enough for me.
I am fortunate that my daughter is now a happy and healthy almost 7-year-old. She loves drawing, dancing and dolls. I would go through this all over again just to have her — but only her.