Remember how Brandy Erholtz and I were blogging about our pregnancies together as Pregnant New Balance Outdoor Ambassadors? And remember how Brandy was due after I was — but then she had her baby first — and you never got any of the details? Well here is Asher’s birth story. (Hold onto your hats!)
Ironically, Asher’s birth story begins on the day our last blog posted! I had been to the doctor the day before and my appointment was mostly routine—no vaginal exam and the heart beat was still strong. My OB was slightly concerned about my fundal height and about the amount of weight I’d gained since my last appointment, so she scheduled me for an ultrasound, which was supposed to happen on Thursday. I was a bit concerned, but not very since my mom had only gained 13-14 lbs with each pregnancy and Liza had just posted about concern over her fundal height.
I woke up in the middle of the night to pee on Wednesday (9/25)—nothing unusual during pregnancy. I noticed a little cramping, but it felt like menstrual cramps. I thought maybe I was experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions since I hadn’t had any yet. It took me a while, but I fell back to sleep.
I woke up in the morning still feeling the “cramping,” but I wasn’t concerned because it was pretty minor. So I started my usual routine of working from home for a couple of hours and then taking the dogs out for a run. We ran for almost an hour on fairly technical trails at Maxwell Falls. Then we came home, and I continued working. As the morning turned into afternoon, I felt progressively worse—kind of like I had the flu. I wasn’t hungry at lunch, which probably should have been my first red flag. I always have a hearty appetite. I continued to work, but by about 1:00, I decided I really needed to lie down (very unusual for me). I brought my computer with me into the bedroom and tried to continue working. I’d tried calling and emailing my husband but he is a teacher, and it was a block day, so he couldn’t answer his phone, and he didn’t check his email.
At 2:15, I texted the XC coaches, and I told them I didn’t think I would make our 3:30 practice. I told them I thought maybe I was coming down with the flu, but not to worry. At this point, I couldn’t imagine actually running because my “cramps” were getting progressively worse.
At 2:30, my husband called to check on me. I told him I thought he should come home because I wasn’t feeling well. But, again, I didn’t think it was anything too serious. He had to wrap up a few things and told me he would be home shortly. We only live about 2 miles from his school.
He got home somewhere between 2:45-2:55. It was a bit chaotic at our house because the plumber had just shown up to fix our boiler and the water had been shut off. We were also in the middle of a home improvement project—the main bathroom was completely gutted and the contractor was working. Matt made it past these two, and when he came to check on me, I’d just vomited from a “cramp.” This is when I started to freak out — realizing something wasn’t right. I got my watch out. Sure enough, the “cramps” were 3-4 minutes apart. Matt called the hospital and the nurse asked to speak with me. She asked where my pain level was. It had just hit a 7 or 8.
Matt was both calmly collected and freaked out at the same time. He grabbed a few things including the car seat and then we were out the door. The pets were left to fend for themselves. We backed down the driveway just as the UPS guy showed up. Matt asked him to tell the contractors to lock up when they left.
As we headed down the road, Matt realized we only had 28 miles of gas left in his truck. He asked me about the Subaru. I thought it was about on empty as well. We live almost an hour from the hospital (St. Joe’s) where we were supposed to deliver, so Matt kept driving trying to figure out what we should do. I had two terrible contractions and I moaned like a wild animal. I made sounds I have never heard from a human. As Matt decided we’d better pull in for gas, I had another really bad contraction, and then we decided we probably shouldn’t try and make the drive ourselves. So we pulled into a Kaiser Medical Facility (next to gas station)—they didn’t have any OB/GYN services, but we figured it was good to be in a medical facility at least. Matt left me in the truck moaning and groaning and rushed inside. He told them, “I think my wife is in labor and something isn’t right.” Thankfully, (we didn’t know it at the time), the receptionist called the paramedics. A nurse came out with a wheel chair to wheel me in. Sitting was the last thing I wanted to do—I wanted to stand or be on all 4’s. The doctor checked and I was dilated between 8-10cm. Then the paramedics arrived. There was brief discussion about whether we should deliver up here in Evergreen, or head down the hill (Denver). The doctor said I definitely had to get down the hill because they weren’t equipped to deal with a premature baby.
We got in the ambulance. Sirens on. Matt was in the front with the driver—freaking out because other cars were passing us despite the ambulance’s lights and sirens. We were also travelling “down the hill” at the worst possible time as work was getting out. In the back, the paramedic was trying to help me as best he could. At one point, he thought he saw the placenta coming out. This wasn’t good—placentas aren’t supposed to come out before babies. I remember asking if the baby was alive and he couldn’t give me an answer. He told me not to push. He actually put his hands up the birth canal at this point to hold “everything” in. He was also very in tune with my contractions and said I only had to make it through 4-5 more and we’d be at a hospital. Thankfully, this is where the athlete mentality kicked in and I was able to use some of the same strategies I would to get through a tough patch in a race or workout. During this time, they decided there was no way we’d make it to St. Joe’s so we diverted to Lutheran hospital.
Arriving at Lutheran was mostly a blur. I remember thinking I could care less who saw me naked, or pooping, or anything. I just wanted to deliver a healthy baby and get out of pain. I also remember yelling at the doctors to do a c-section if they had to; I just wanted them to get the baby out alive. It was quite scary because we didn’t know if he or she was okay at this point. We could tell everyone was very concerned. As the paramedics were exchanging information about what to do, they put on the delivery bed. A couple of contractions and pushes later, at 4:38, Asher Emmett Erholtz was lying lifeless on the bed — all 2lbs and 15 ounces of him. He was 15.5 inches long. What seemed like eternity was probably only 30 seconds. They took him and worked to resuscitate him. This part was horrible. Matt held Asher’s little hand as I lay on the bed in shock, but full of adrenaline, asking if he was going to be ok. Matt just told me to pray which I did.
Thankfully, Asher had a (or many) guardian angels with him that day and they were able to get the breath of life back in him. The first 24 hours were critical. Asher made it through, and after 48 hours at Lutheran Hospital, our insurance transferred us to the NICU at St. Joe’s (which in itself was scary experience). We spent 29 days total in the NICU and had some amazing doctors and nurses.
I feel blessed every day when I look at my little mister! He’s now 20-weeks old and doing quite well. He’s over 10 lbs, can roll over, and is starting to babble and giggle a lot. His smile melts my heart!
They sent my placenta to pathology and aren’t exactly sure what went wrong. They think it stopped functioning 100% the last few weeks Asher was inside of me and then abrupted. I will forever feel guilt and wonder if it was something I did or didn’t do while pregnant. However, after spending a month in the NICU, I learned I am not alone. Many babies end up there and no one knows why.