This is the story of Aiden James’ birth.
Eric and I decided to travel to Vancouver for our “baby moon,” a vacation for soon-to-be parents. We wanted a relaxing destination in a beautiful area. I had never visited Canada and Eric had only driven through Vancouver to ski at Whistler. Our plan was to spend four days at a rental home in West Vancouver. We were going to tour the city, ride on a ferry to one of the islands and enjoy the delicious seafood.
Eric realized he didn’t have a passport a week before our trip and had to expedite his renewal. FedEx sorted the package incorrectly and accidentally sent his passport to Calgary, which created a further delay. We thought we had to cancel the trip the night before we left. He was able to pick it up from a local FedEx location two hours before our flight was scheduled to depart – we made it!
We flew to Vancouver on Thursday, April 14th, and drove to our home in Horseshoe Bay to check in. We drove to Shannon Falls, a beautiful waterfall north of where we were staying.
After we drove home I started to feel pressure in my belly, but thought it was a normal pregnancy symptom. We went out to dinner and the feeling came back again. We quickly left dinner and went home. The feeling went away, I felt better and fell asleep quickly.
I woke up at 4 AM on Friday morning to use the restroom, another common pregnancy symptom. When I stood up I realized all was not okay. Eric called 911 and we drove to the closest hospital – Lions Gate. (If you can believe it, I asked Eric if we should jump on the next flight to LA instead of the hospital, just because I had no idea how we could make this work in Canada. He was the voice of reason to tell me no).
The doctor told us I had an incompetent cervix, which means my cervix opened up too soon in my pregnancy. This caused my membrane to turn into an hourglass shape, partly outside of my cervix. She warned us we would be in Vancouver for a long time. She told us we needed to go to the BC Women’s Hospital in the city right away. It was a specialized hospital for pregnant women. Eric and I were scared to death.
Two men in an ambulance arrived and put me on a stretcher. They told me in order to arrive to the hospital quickly, they had to shut down one lane of traffic to drive through Stanley Park and Lion’s Gate bridge. They drove with sirens and lights on. I was in shock, I couldn’t believe anything bad would happen to our son. I had never broken a bone or spent time in the hospital for an illness. Now I was riding in an ambulance.
After arriving to BC Women’s Hospital, we were taken for an ultrasound. Dr. Lim explained we were in a situation where he couldn’t perform surgery to close the cervix because I had complications that were too dangerous for our baby and me. We had to wait and hope I didn’t deliver. Time was not on our side, our baby boy was only 24 weeks and 4 days. The chances of his survival increased significantly if we could make it to 25 weeks and 26 weeks and so on. We heard a lot of statistics that terrified us.
The doctors and nurses monitored us for five days. I was ordered bed rest during this time, which means I could only get up to use the restroom and shower. I was given steroids to help with his lung development. We had a couple scares during this time where I thought I was going to deliver. I kept repeating to myself, “this is in God’s hands.” The new doctor, Dr. Skoll, made the decision to rupture my membrane to manage the concern for infection. I told her she was my favorite doctor – and meant it.
Throughout this time, Eric and I started feverishly researching names. We hadn’t made a decision and realized we would need to pick one sooner than planned. We wanted some kind of tie to Vancouver, Canada. We had two first names picked out, but no middle name.
On Tuesday, April 19th, at 11:35 AM I started to feel small contractions. The nurses monitored me for a while before moving us down to the delivery room. The contractions became worse and worse. I didn’t feel prepared, I had not attended a birthing or breast feeding class, I hadn’t mentally prepared for birth, I wasn’t ready! Luckily, instinct took over.
Eric and I finally decided on a name in the delivery room: Aiden Elliott. Middle name to be determined. His first name means “little fire” which fits him perfectly.
As my contractions worsened, the nurse gave me laughing gas to take the edge off. Eric was (quietly) laughing at my comments and strange voice. I kept moving my hands like a wave in order to go with the pain, I knew I couldn’t fight it and visualized riding the wave of pain until it ended. I signed for an epidural when the pain became unbearable. The nurse told me I had to wait 30 minutes because of the antibiotics – I didn’t know how I was going to make it another 5 minutes!
Fifteen minutes later Dr. Skoll told me I was going to deliver our baby and it was too late for the epidural. Three pushes later and our little baby was born. He arrived at 3:50 PM, weighing 700 grams (1 lb. 9 oz.) and 13″ long. I made it to 25 weeks and 1 day. Aiden wailed as soon as he arrived, which doesn’t happen often with babies born at his gestation age. He was immediately put in the incubator and Eric was back and forth with me and our little Aiden.
They brought him over so I could touch his hand and see him before they took him to the NICU. Eric followed to help care for him. We checked out of the hospital 24 hours after birth. I was ready to get out of the hospital after six days.
My cousin Andy helped us choose a middle name that tied to Vancouver – James for James Cook who claimed what would later be called Vancouver for the UK.
Over the past week since Aiden James Elliott has been born, we hit major milestones. Aiden’s ventilator was removed and he was put on a CPAP. This is a great step forward at such a young age. He started taking my breast milk slowly, which is a work in progress. I was able to change his diaper (of course he peed on me – the nurse said it was good luck), feed him through his breathing tube and move his heart beat sensor.
We will continue to provide updates daily, if possible, so our loved ones can monitor his progress. We will be in Vancouver until Aiden can go home, which is likely early August. Please come visit this beautiful area and our sweet Canadian boy if you can!
Eric and I are incredibly thankful for our family and friends. Whether it’s visiting, calling, texting, praying, sending packages, checking on and caring for our pets at home, telling us we’re strong, laughing with us, crying with us and being our community from afar, we THANK YOU. We don’t know what we would do without all of you. Our hearts are full.