Motherhood + Marriage

Dillon Ravi Chaulk: A Birth Story

Where do I even begin with this post? If you aren’t following me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably haven’t kept up with my pregnancy/pre-term labor journey [read about it here + here]. It’s crazy to think that I should just be turning 32 weeks pregnant this week, but our son has been here for 9 days already! On September 17th, at 6:26AM, our lives were forever changed when our son, Dillon Ravi, was born. He weighed a small but mighty 3 lbs 2 oz and was 15 inches and was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen. But let me back up.

On Friday, September 16th, I started feeling a little off. When Mike showed up to see me after work, as he always did, I told him I wasn’t feeling great. I had a headache and my stomach had been turning. The night before, I had noticed some blood when I went to the bathroom, which I hadn’t really seen thus far. It freaked me out so I didn’t sleep well that previous night, so I was thinking maybe I was just exhausted after that. I asked my nurse for some headache relief after we had done my nightly tracing [where they monitor the baby’s heartbeat for 20 minutes] and prayed that I could just sleep this funny feeling away. Mike went home to let our dog out after the tracing and planned to come back in the morning with breakfast. But, our son had other plans. I slept pretty well until about midnight, when I woke up to go to the bathroom and noticed my stomach still hurt. Well, those were contractions. I had been so afraid while on bed rest that I wouldn’t know the difference between Braxton-Hicks and real contractions, but boy did I feel the difference. I told the nurse and she told me that if I felt more than 5 in an hour to call her back in. I tried to go back to sleep and at around 4AM I woke up to use the bathroom again. This time the contractions were more noticeable and definitely more frequent. By 4:45AM, I had had 6. I knew something was wrong. I called the nurse in and she hooked me up to the monitor where we watched for 20 minutes to see what was going on. In those 20 minutes, I had 3 more contractions. And these ones HURT. She called in the resident who checked to see if I was dilated. That hurt even worse! I’ll never forget her words. “You’re about 4cm dilated, and there’s a foot trying to come out, so it’s time”. My heart started racing. Mike wasn’t even there and he wasn’t answering his phone! All of a sudden 3 nurses flooded in with a ton of needles as they tried to get my IV going to wheel me into surgery. They couldn’t find a good vein and I couldn’t get Mike on the phone! True chaos. I finally called one of our neighbors to go knock on the door to wake Mike up. He’s a heavy sleeper and I knew he wasn’t going to answer the phone if he hadn’t already. By that time, they were wheeling me down to surgery.

Getting into the operating room is a bit of a blur. I was so panicked after they told me there was a foot in the birthing canal and my husband wasn’t even there yet! They started to prep me for surgery and the anesthesia team had to try and find my veins since the nurses couldn’t. Once that happened, they started my epidural. I was terrified that I’d be able to feel the c-section once they started since I wasn’t going to be fully under. There were some other things that transpired that are fuzzy to me, but all I know is Mike entered the room just in the nick of time. I couldn’t feel anything below my rib cage and knew in a few short moments our son would be here. In those final moments, I remember feeling terrified that he’d come out and something would be terribly wrong with him. I was only 30.5 weeks pregnant! I was still supposed to be on bed rest for 3.5 weeks. But here we were, ready for our son’s arrival. Mike sat next to me behind the curtain but he rose up a few times to watch what was happening. He says his legs came out first, but they were having a hard time getting his head out, so they had to cut me further. Thank God I didn’t really realize what was going on! And soon enough, we heard a little cry, and Dillon was here. They rushed him to the NICU but told us that he was fine and breathing. I looked at Mike with tears in my eyes, and oh gosh, I’m crying now just typing this. As scary as it was, it is something I’ll never, ever forget. We were parents and our baby was here.

Because he was so small, they rushed him off to the NICU right away, but Mike got to hold him for a brief moment first. They then wheeled me out where Mike and I sat for about an hour as they got me situated and Dillon his space in the NICU. A few hours later, they wheeled me to the NICU where I got to really see our son for the first time. I even got to hold him! We felt so lucky because we know all preemie parents are not as fortunate and are unable to hold their babies right away. They told us that he was going to be on CPAP to help his little lungs out, but it was on the lowest setting and he was doing great. His foot was a little turned out due to his positioning on his way out, but physical therapy would work on that with him. We just felt so grateful that he was breathing and crying and seemed ok. He was also over 3 lbs, which with me being ruptured for 7.5 weeks was amazing at only 30 weeks. The NICU requirement to go home is 4 lbs, so we were so happy he was less than a lb away from that “goal” weight. After we got to see him in the NICU for a bit, they wheeled me back up to mom/baby where we would settle in for the next 48 hours.

The initial pain from the c-section was severe. It was so hard, though, because I just wanted to be downstairs in the NICU with Dillon. We spent the next 2 days going back and forth to the NICU and me spending time with the lactation consultations trying to figure out how to pump enough breast milk to give him while he’s in the NICU. Honestly, it was kind of a blur. But, by Monday, I was walking and felt well enough to go home. After spending 7.5 weeks on bed rest, I was ready to go home. But my heart hurt so bad leaving Dillon. I knew he was in great care and with him only being on CPAP, we weren’t under any immediate emergency. So, we packed up the room, said goodbye to Dillon (where I SOBBED), and I got in a car for the first time in almost 8 weeks. We ended up coming back in a few hours to see him, but that car ride was the most bittersweet feeling. After 15 weeks of hyperemesis, 7.5 weeks of hospital bed rest, and an emergency c-section, my pregnancy journey was over and our son was here.

Next up was the NICU journey, which now that we’re 9 days in, I can truly say is a rollercoaster. Dillon has been doing awesome (his nurses all call him a rockstar) but every little thing can seem so scary. We’re hoping he only has 5-7 weeks in the NICU, but we’re taking it day by day. We’re thankful for every good moment, and try to take every bad one in stride. I’m so proud of him and how strong he is. He’s such a little fighter and I know he’s going to continue to thrive in there so he can come home soon. Every day without him here is heartbreaking, but I know he’s doing what he needs to get big and strong so he can be with us every day forever. It took a year to get pregnant and 7.5 months to carry him. After all that, I am so grateful that I get to spend my life as his mom.

Thanks for following along and feel free to email me [pgchaulk@gmail.com] or leave a comment if you have any questions! Thank you also for all the sweet messages and prayers for baby Dillon. They were surely heard.

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