Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Phone Call at 4:00 AM

Last night, while Lyndsay and I were texting back and forth about books and guessing when Baby A will finally make her appearance into the world, I realized I hadn't written a blog entry in awhile. I've always been pretty clear about the fact that I wouldn't blog about nothing, so if nothing was happening, nothing would be written. But it's been about two weeks and I really felt like I needed to keep you all in the loop somehow. So, before I went to sleep, I planned on using today's New Jersey snow day to write a blog entry called, "Uneventful" to gush over how happy I am that I don't have anything to write about.

That was before the phone call.

Buzz! Buzz!

I opened my eyes to see the darkness of my bedroom. I know I have a tendency to sleep pretty late when I have no reason to wake up. The blizzard had started at about midnight and the boys were spending the night at their dad's house. I hadn't set an alarm so I had no idea what time it was. But the blackness told me the sun hadn't started it's glowing ascent yet. Why am I awake?

Buzz! Buzz!

Why is my phone ringing? What time is it?

Buzz! Buzz!

I propped myself up on my hands and stretch over to my nightstand, where the light on my vibrating phone alerted me that Lyndsay was calling…at 4:00 AM. It took my mind about three seconds to register the obvious fact that, unless she wanted to chat about swollen ankles in the wee hours of the morning, obviously, something was very wrong.

I cleared my throat and tried to shake the sleep from my cloudy head.

"Hello?" I croaked.
"Suzanne? It's Lyndsay," she said, sounded firm, yet calm.
"What wrong?" I asked, not really sure if I wanted to know the answer.
"I'm in the hospital."

My heart sank down deep into my chest.

She continued, "I started bleeding last night and they have me on a monitor now. I'm having some slight contractions and…"

I couldn't focus. All I knew, at that moment, was that my daughter seemed to be in trouble and I needed to get to her as quickly as possible.

Shit! Shit! Shit!

I had briefly forgotten about the Nor'easter that was currently dumping 16 inches of snow all over New Jersey, making all methods of traveling to Minnesota impossible.

"Is the baby ok?" I tried to keep my voice from quivering.
"She seems ok now. They had some trouble finding a heartbeat at first, but I have the monitor on now and her heart is good. They're measuring contractions, too, and they checked my cervix. It seems to be closed."

I guess that was mostly good news.

"They told me if her heart rate starts to dip I'll have to deliver so they gave me a steroid shot to help her lungs mature, just in case."

Ok, THAT wasn't good. I looked over at Jimmi, who was in and out of sleep, and figured I'd explain after I hung up. He'd only be able to hear my side of the conversation anyway.

I didn't know what to say, "I'm stuck here in a blizzard," was all I could get out. And then, "Was there a lot of blood?"
Lyndsay was still calm, which was so helpful because if she freaked out, I would've freaked out, too, "It was at first. I woke up with my underwear completely wet with blood. Now it's just a smear or two when I wipe."

I know people can "spot" when they're pregnant, but completely bloody underwear didn't give me the warm fuzzies.

"And you're having contractions?" I asked.
"Yeah, small ones," Lyndsay confirmed.

I quickly calculated Baby A's gestational age in my head. Sunday will be 27 weeks, which makes today 26 weeks and 4 days. She's viable outside the womb, but she'd have a long and difficult road ahead if she were to be born now. Unfortunately, I know all too well what we'd be in for at a 26+ week delivery because my friend in California had her baby 48 days ago, at about 26 weeks. I've been following her progress through a Caring Bridge journal and, while she's mostly doing well, it's a scary and very hard situation for everyone involved. Tubes and monitors and nurses and doctors and being told when we can and can't hold our own baby are not part of my ideal birth plan.

"So what now?" I asked Lyndsay.
"They said I'll be here for at least the next six hours for monitoring. I'm so sorry I called so early but, if it were me, I'd want to know what was going on."

She's apologizing to me? Is she kidding?

"Don't apologize! I'm glad you called. Keep me posted."

I hung up the phone and it was too quiet. I turned to Jimmi, who was still only half awake, and attempted to keep the tears at bay, "Lyndsay's bleeding. She's in the hospital. I want to go there and we can't!" My husband put his arms around me, "Don't worry. Everything will be ok," he managed before slipping back into dreamland.

But sleep never found me again, as much as I tried. I tossed and turned and tried to ignore the agonizing pounding in my chest. My palms were sweating and my heart was breaking. What will I do if my baby is born and I can't get to her for days? What if she doesn't make it? What if I never have the chance to feel her warm, little body in my arms? What if…

Oh, shit!

A new thought entered my already cluttered brain. In December, the last time we were in Minnesota, we spoke to the social worker who had made it clear that she wanted our legal paperwork in order and in her office by the time Lyndsay reached 24 weeks, just in case of an early delivery. The paperwork, to which she was referring, is our Declaration of Parentage. It's basically the magical document telling the world that, legally and biologically, Jimmi and I are Baby A's parents. All decisions regarding the baby, medical and otherwise, will be made by us. It also allows me to be known as "Mommy," even though Lyndsay will be the one giving birth. I had started hounding my attorney to get on top of things upon our return from Minnesota, which would've been almost the 20 week mark. I had e-mailed her every week following to check on her progress, which she insisted was on track. At week 24, I reminded her that the paperwork was requested promptly and she insisted everything was fine. Now, here we are at 26 weeks and 4 days, and it's not fine. If Baby A is born now, we will legally be considered strangers.

I attempted to push the anger aside and closed my eyes again. But it was no use. I kept my phone in my hand as I watched my bedroom shades go from black to brown to outlined in a ring of light. At about 8:50 AM, I texted Lyndsay for an update:

"How's everything?"
"Just heard from a doc, finally. I'm going for an ultrasound at 9 (10:00 in NJ). After that I will know more."
"Still bleeding?"
"I don't have it like I did. Just some when I wipe."
"And her heartbeat is still strong?"
"Yep. Baby is all good! They said whatever is going on isn't affecting the baby."
"Ok. Are you ok?"
"Yeah. I'm ready to go home."
"I'm sure. Let's hope everything is OK and they'll let you do that. Still having contractions?"
"No. That has gone away."
"Ok. Maybe it's just a fluke thing and she felt like giving us a little scare to keep us on our toes. She's grounded!"
"Poor girl. Not even born and grounded already!"
"Thank you so much for taking such good care of my baby."
"It's my job," she wrote back, followed by a smiley face.

I decided it was time to let my mom know what was going on. I considered calling her at 4:00 AM, but what would that have accomplished? Then she'd also be awake, scared and feeling helpless. Letting her get some sleep seemed like a more appropriate decision.

My dad answered the phone and I could no longer hold back the tears, "Lyndsay's in the hospital! She's bleeding!" I cried. I could hear the concern in my father's voice as he answered, "Oh, no. Let me get your mother."

"What happened?" my mom's voice was steady but scared.
"She's bleeding and they don't know why," I whimpered. "She called me at four o'clock and I've been up since then. I can't get there!"
"Why didn't you call me?" my mom asked.
"Because you wouldn't have been able to do anything and then you just would've been awake and worried, too." I answered reasonably.
"At least I could've tried to comfort you," she said with the same concern for her baby as I had for mine. "And I can't even get to you now," she added with a pained sigh.

Who would've thought the snow in New Jersey, and not Minnesota, would be such a problem?

"So, what's happening now?" she questioned.
"Just waiting for an ultrasound in a little while and we'll hopefully know more."

My mom instructed me to keep her posted and we ended the conversation. My hand was still on my cell phone, ready to pounce on any call or text from Lyndsay.

I figured I should send my attorney and Tina at The Surrogacy Experience emails to let them know about the situation. Tina had already heard from Lyndsay and assured me that other carriers have had the same issues and, with a little rest, were back on their way to complete their healthy pregnancies. My lawyer skipped the return email and jumped straight to a phone call, which I appreciated, since Lyndsay had just texted me to let me know the social worker had paid her a visit to confirm my fears that, without a court ordered Declaration of Parentage, she would have full control over the life-saving decisions if Baby A were to be born now.

"Hi Suzanne," she said in her New York City, power-tone. "I got your e-mail and I'm going to prepare a document that will give you and Jimmi power of attorney if the baby is born before we can petition the court to have you recognized as the parents. That will allow you to make medical decisions for your daughter. Does she have a name? I'd like to put it in the paperwork." I wasn't sure why that was necessary, but I answered her question, "Aria. A-R-I-A." She paused a moment, then repeated my baby's name back to me, "Aria. That's beautiful." I smiled at the thought of my little fighter and then she asked, "Is there a middle name?" I nodded, though she couldn't see me, "Eileen. E-I-L-E-E-N." I heard her entering the information I had given her then she continued, "Ok, so, Lyndsay will need to sign the document, which will give you and Jimmi the power to make decisions for Aria's healthcare, but it won't actually recognize you as the parents yet." Yeah, that was the part I was waiting to hear. She explained what I already knew, "Luckily, we can have Lyndsay attest to the fact that Jimmi is the father and her husband can sign off that he is not the father, so at least you'll have that much. But, because you're not the one giving birth, they won't consider you the mother without a court order."


She finished her explanation, "If the baby is born now, we'll have to petition the court in Minnesota to name you as the legal mother. I have a signed affidavit from the doctor and all the documentation to prove that, so it shouldn't be a problem. But if, for some reason, the judge won't allow it, you'll just complete an adoption in New Jersey."

No! That's what I was trying to avoid when I insisted on this paperwork getting done early. I do NOT want to have to adopt my own daughter!

I wanted to be clear about what she was saying, "So, I'll have to adopt her but Jimmi won't?" She was very matter-of-fact, "Yes, that's right. But, don't worry! It's an easy process. They'll wave the home study, in this case. You'll just have to be fingerprinted." Was that supposed to make me feel better or worse? This is MY baby! I've been after her for MONTHS to get this document in to the hospital in Minnesota just, in case something like this were to happen. Now I might have to take a backseat to Jimmi and Lyndsay, who would be considered Aria's parents, until the New Jersey courts checked my background to make sure I'm qualified to parent my own daughter? Ridiculous! But, "Ok," was all that passed through my stressed and saddened lips.

Time was ticking by and I still hadn't heard from Lyndsay about the results of the ultrasound. It had been over an hour since our last text, which informed me that she'll need to stay overnight, no matter what, because the doctor wanted to get a second dose of steroids into her, just in case, and a half an hour since the scan was supposed to begin. I was still gripping my phone, the only line I had to my baby, tightly in my hand. I saw 10:30 pass, then 11:00. At 11:19 I texted my mom, "It's taking too long." To which she replied, "Hang in there." From past experiences with tests and scans, I know all too well that, when they take longer than expected it could be because something is very wrong. Finally, at 11:22, Lyndsay texted me asking to call her in her hospital room. My heart was beating so loudly I wasn't sure I'd even be able to hear what she had to say.

"Hello?" she answered.
"Hi, it's Suzanne," but she already knew that.
She got right down to it, "The ultrasound looked fine. The baby is ok, the placenta is fine and they said my cervix it closed up tighter than Fort Knox."
I giggled and she went on, "They really don't know what's causing the bleeding but it's turning brown so they think that means it's stopping. It's possible that I was a little dehydrated from being sick this week so they gave me IV fluids. It's also possible that one percent of my placenta might have gotten bruised and broken off, causing the bleeding. But they really can't tell because everything looks fine now."
This was all good news but I couldn't put my mind completely at ease without a real reason to attach to the bleeding.
"Oh," Lyndsay remembered something else, "the tech said her femur bone is really long. I asked if that was a problem and she told me it means she's gonna be a tall baby."
Great. I can see her now as a leggy blonde! Jimmi's definitely being punished for his past indiscretions.
"So, anyway," Lyndsay finished, "I just have to hang out here so I can get the steroids for her lungs at five in the morning and then, hopefully, I'll get to go home. They're gonna move me from Labor and Delivery into a Postpartum room in a little while. They said it'll be quieter. I'll let you know where I am as soon as they do." And that was where the conversation ended.

I'm not gonna lie. As much as it sucks that Lyndsay has to spend her day or two off from work in the hospital, I'm happy that she's being closely monitored and the doctors aren't taking any unnecessary chances with my daughter's life.

Then I thought about Lyndsay's husband, Josh. He had rushed her to the hospital in the middle of the night, stayed with her until the early hours of the morning until he had to drive 30 minutes back home to relieve his mother-in-law, who was watching the kids. Then he got the kids ready and off to school  and he was planning to pick them up and bring them to the hospital to see Lyndsay afterward. I understand that this is what a good husband is expected to do, but this man deserves some extra recognition for the fact that he is doing all of this for his wife, who isn't even carrying his baby. I texted Josh, "Thank you so much for everything." His reply, much like Lyndsay's, was completely oblivious to the incredible and unbelievable thing he and his wife are doing for us, "No problem. That's my job!"

It's almost 7:30 PM, now, in the snow-pocalypse that was once New Jersey. I just heard from Lyndsay, and everything seems to be status quo. Hopefully we'll have an uneventful night and go back to our uneventful pregnancy, followed by an uneventful birth, sometime around May 18th.


  1. I'm so grateful that your baby is in such loving hands (read: womb). We'll all sleep a little more soundly tonight knowing that this episode is over... xoxo

  2. Oh boy! At least they are very cautious and proactive about little Aria. ♥♥♥