Welcome to Part Three of our incredible story!
When we landed on the roof of the hospital, I was whisked out of the helicopter still strapped to the backboard.
As soon as I was set down in the trauma bay, a team of people transferred me off of the backboard and onto a bed.
The pain of landing on my back again took my breath away.
There it is again – what is that?! Why wasn’t that there before?
Almost immediately, I heard them bring my mom into the adjoining trauma bay. By this time her adrenaline must have worn off, too, because she was screaming in agony.
My heart was breaking as she moaned and yelled and begged for something to make the pain go away.
At the same time that they were cutting all of my clothes off to assess my injuries, it became apparent that my mom was delirious from the pain. She was yelling frantically for “Kate and the baby.”
Maybe that’s not my mom. Who’s Kate?
No, that’s definitely her.
Oh wait, I think maybe I’m Kate? Why does she think I’m Kate?
I began overhearing hushed conversation from her side of the curtain.
“We might need restraints. We can’t look at that foot. She won’t hold it still long enough for us to get a good look.”
From my bed I shouted, “Mom! I’m right here! I’m on the other side of the curtain, can you hear me?”
Through the hustle and bustle of both of our medical teams, I heard her call out to me, “Kate! Are you okay? What happened? Where are we?”
My clothes finally having been cut off, the nurses rolled me from side to side rattling off all kinds of information. With tears streaming down my face, I yelled back, “Mom, we were in an accident, and everything is going to be okay. You need to calm down. They need to look at your foot. Which one hurts the most?”
When she answered with only a deep moan, I grabbed the closest nurse by the arm and asked her to please make sure that they gave my mom some pain medication. She wasn’t in her right mind.
As they began hooking me up to all of the various monitoring equipment, they placed the familiar transducers to my stomach to monitor the baby’s heartbeat. My heart fell as I anticipated silence on the other end of the monitor.
This is it.
What happens when they don’t hear anything? Do I deliver right away?
Oh Jesus, these are things I just never thought I’d consider. What do we do now? Please make me strong for this. I don’t know how to do this.
Until that moment, the best sound I’d ever heard had been Noah laughing in the ambulance. It was quickly joined by the slow, strong heartbeat that rang out through the trauma bay like a steady symphony of hope.
“Mom! Mom! Do you hear that? That’s the baby! Mom, we’re gonna be okay. Do you hear his heartbeat? He’s okay, Mom. I’m okay. We’re okay. We’re all going to be okay!”
Strangled and unintelligible words came from the other side of the curtain as acknowledgement.
As soon as I was stabilized and hooked up to what seemed to be 7,000 monitors, I was wheeled to a private maternity room, and my mom was taken to her own room on another floor.
It was determined that I had broken three ribs on my left side, and had bruised my left lung.
My left ankle was broken, as I suspected.
The seatbelt that had been across my lap and left shoulder caused several injuries to my shoulder, as well as bruising all over my stomach.
Most significantly, though, was that the seatbelt had caused a placental abruption – my placenta had torn away from the uterine wall – and I was experiencing significant contractions.
The baby was still alive, but now I was in danger of delivering immediately.
Over the next couple of hours, my doctors discussed with me the importance of staying pregnant for as long as possible, even if it was just for a couple more days. I was a little over 23 weeks pregnant. If I was able to make it to 24 weeks, the baby’s chances of survival jumped from 20% to 80% with the steroids he’d be given in the meantime.
I was asked to lie on my left side to slow the contractions. The side with the broken ribs. The side with the bruised lung that made breathing difficult and painful.
The broken side.
As I lay on my side, holding myself up by the handles of the hospital bed, news began to spread. People started arriving. Friends, more family. My dad was driving down from their home in Colorado. My friend from high school flew in that afternoon.
Ty arrived from the other hospital, having been with Noah all morning. He brought me videos and pictures of Noah to assure me that he was okay and on his way home.
After MRIs, CT scans, and a thorough examination, it was determined that Noah’s only injury was a scrape on his chin from hitting the car seat chest buckle.
Shortly after Ty arrived, a doctor came into the room and handed us some paperwork to fill out. He said that we needed to discuss what we would like to do should it come down to making a decision. We needed to sign them within the hour.
A decision about what? Just fix us all. Help us save our baby. Bottom line.
It turns out we just needed to answer the question:
“If we can only save one of you, do we save you or the baby?”
Keep looking for part 4 – the last part of this series!