One week ago on Thursday, September 18th we gave birth to our second son, Hawkins Mills Murdock. He was born at 9:07 a.m. and despite being 4.5 weeks early, he weighed 6 lbs 9.7 oz and was 18.5 inches long. We had no idea that we would meet him that day, and we definitely did not know the miracles that were in store for us.
After waiting for test results all afternoon on Tuesday and all day on Wednesday with no word from the doctor, we assumed that no news was good news. So I went to the grocery store and ran other errands while Ash rested trying to keep her blood pressure down. I was unloading groceries when I received a phone call at 6.43 p.m. It was Dr. Locke and as soon as I heard his voice I knew what it meant. Sure enough, the tests confirmed other symptoms of preeclampsia and he felt it was safer for everyone if he induced labor that night. He asked us to check into the hospital no later than 8:30 that night.
So here we go. Everything changed. We were not having an October baby. Baby Murdock was coming now. So we quickly began getting everything together, packing bags, calling family members, and trying to remain calm. Not an easy task. Some amazing friends were taking care of our other son so we headed to the hospital. We checked in at 8:30 p.m. and they started the process.
Up to this point everything was familiar since it was just like our first experience on the Labor and Delivery floor. However things began to change. Slight reactions to medicines, high blood pressure, contractions, and other small issues characterized our Wednesday night. Nothing major happened, but several small things that seemed to preview things to come. I never told Ashleigh, but as the hours went by I had seemed to have an uneasy feeling about the day ahead. I am not sure what it was, but things just did not seem to be going smoothly like our first delivery.
Ash was progressing very well and dilating right on schedule. Dr. Locke came in around 7:45 a.m. on Thursday for a routine check. Everything was going well and he asked the nurse to check again at 9:00 a.m. Our Labor and Delivery nurse was Lindsey and she was absolutely amazing. We had no idea at the time, but God put her in that room with us that day.
Lindsey came in a few minutes early around 8:53 a.m. Ashleigh told her that she thought that her water had broken, which was a good sign. So the nurse gets ready to check for that as well as determine the stage of dilation. Nurse Lindsey began to check her and immediately confirmed that Ash’s water had broken. We had seen numerous checks like this in the past and it became evident that this one was taking longer than usual. Ash’s face began to change as we knew something seemed off. She asked Lindsey if something was wrong and her response was something along the lines of “I’m not sure. Something just doesn’t feel right.” As I try to reassure Ash that everything is going to be fine, the seconds click away and still no good news. Then Lindsey said, “I’m feeling something that shouldn’t be there.” At this point I am thinking that she is feeling a hand or an arm. I had no clue what it could have been. Then she said that it felt like cord.
She asked us to push the call button for another nurse. When they answered Lindsey said “I need some help in here.” At this point the tension in the room really began to rise. I continued to reassure Ash that everything was going to be fine. At that point I really did not understand what was happening and obviously did not comprehend the severity of the situation. When the other nurse entered the room, Lindsey said “I think I have cord.” I cannot remember exactly what the nurse said, but her reaction made it obvious that things were getting very serious. This was the point that I knew something was very wrong. Ash and I tried to remain calm, but it was clear that something was serious.
Lindsey changed her position and suddenly the baby’s heart rate began to plummet. I watched the monitor as his heart rate fell from 150 to 130…120…100…and then 70. Lindsey reacted immediately and his rate began to rise again. That confirmed her fear that part of the umbilical cord was exiting the birth canal before the baby. As his head dropped into the birth canal, it squeezed the cord cutting off his blood flow. This is referred to as “umbilical cord prolapse,” and happens in approximately 1 in 300 deliveries.
At that point Lindsey asked us to hit the call button again as she began to climb onto the bed. She told them that she had cord and that she needed some help in there. Ash asked her what that meant and asked if she would have to have a C-section. Lindsey explained the situation and said that they had to get the baby out. Lindsey made the call that it would be a C-section and they made the call to Dr. Locke at 8:57 a.m. As we tried to comprehend what was happening, nurses began to flood the room. It was incredible because it was extremely chaotic, but everyone knew what to do and they knew their roles. Nurses began to unhook the IV bags, move cables, and jump to action. By that time Lindsey had crawled onto the bed while nurses began to prep her by putting on her hair net and mask. We did not understand at the time, but Lindsey was literally pushing the baby’s head back into the birth canal and lifting it up off of the umbilical cord. All of the contractions and natural motions were trying to get the baby out, but Lindsey had to do everything that she could to hold him back to keep him from pressing on the cord.
She had one hand on the baby and the other hand on the heartbeat monitor. There was a period where she lost the heartbeat, which sent a shockwave through Ash and me. After a few seconds that felt like an eternity she was able to locate his heartbeat. Things were moving very rapidly at this point and Lindsey was absolutely amazing. She commanded the room keeping everything moving. Other nurses would ask about different procedures and she would tell them “We don’t have time for that.” While she is commanding the room, she is keeping her eyes on Ashleigh. She just kept saying, “Listen, do you hear that? That is his heartbeat,” referring to the heart beat monitor. Her job was to get everyone into the operating room as soon as possible while keeping Ash calm and she did both beautifully.
Then they began to wheel her bed out of the room with Lindsey still on her hands and knees at the foot of the bed. She continued to hold the baby’s head off of the umbilical cord. I followed closely behind as Ash yelled back to me, “I love you.” I yelled back, but she did not hear me. I did not realize at this time that I was not going to be able to accompany her into surgery. As they wheeled her out, another nurse met me at the door. She explained to me that I was not going with her, which was not acceptable. I pleaded with her to let me go. I was completely lost at that moment. There was no way that I was going to sit in the room while my wife is wheeled into major emergency surgery.
The nurse began to walk me around another hallway where I met Dr. Locke. Ash had only left the room seconds before and he was already there. He had been at the Starkville Women’s Clinic office down the street, but left immediately once he received the call. He looked at me calmly and said, “Everything is going to be OK.” I was in complete shock at this point and do not think that I uttered a single word to him.
The nurse walked me around the corner and explained to me that I was going to stand outside of the door so I could hear the baby cry. So there I stood. By myself. With a stranger as my wife and my unborn child were no more than 50 feet away. I stood there staring into the surgery room, which was actually one large room with one or two small rooms inside. I could not see anything other than one small window that looked into the operating room. I could only see the doctors’ heads as they worked. I stared into that small window as the emotions of what had just happened finally caught up with me. I lost it. I stood there and sobbed as the nurse tried to comfort me. There was no way for me to comprehend what had just happened, what was happening, and what the next few minutes held. Things changed so rapidly. Only a few minutes earlier we were in the Labor and Delivery room and everything was normal. Now I am in this surreal moment that came out of nowhere. The image of Lindsey riding out on the foot of the bed while holding my child’s head off of the umbilical cord kept replaying through my mind. The emotions of the moment were too much.
I stood there as the seconds clicked by not knowing what was going to happen. I can honestly say that this was the scariest moment that I had ever experienced. A few minutes later I heard the screaming of a newborn. It is an unmistakable sound. The nurses made sure that I heard it and understood what it meant. They said, “Do you hear that? He is out.” Although I was comforted, I still could not comprehend what was happening. They yelled from the operating room, “Is it a boy or girl? It’s a boy!” Then I saw Lindsey step out of the operating room wiping the tears from her eyes. The screaming seemed to last for several minutes, but I could not see anything. Nurses assured me that everything was fine, but I still could not see the baby or Ash.
Finally, a group of nurses came around the corner holding a tightly wrapped little wrinkly baby boy. I lost it again. Completely relieved, yet overcome with emotions. I held my newborn son in my arms and wept. I questioned the nurses about Ash and they assured me that she was fine. They explained that I could carry the baby to the nursery. This was all so strange. Minutes before we were in a complete emergency situation, but now I am calmly walking down the hallway holding this new baby. It was surreal.
I stood there in the nursery as they weighed and measured him. This part was familiar since I did the same with our first child. They let me hold him up to the window so our family could see him. I found out later that they did not know what had happened at the time. They only knew that we went in for an emergency C-section, but none of the details. After a few minutes I handed him over to the nursery nurse so she could get him warmed up and evaluated.
I was overwhelmed and still in shock. Everything happened so quickly. In fact, from the moment that Lindsey made the final call for the emergency C-section to the moment that Hawkins was born was 12-minutes. Twelve-minutes. From 8:55 a.m. to 9:07 a.m. That is absolutely amazing given everything that had to happen during that time frame. Dr. Locke checked his phone and told me that he received the call at 8:57 a.m. and Hawkins was born at 9:07 a.m. Ten-minutes. He had to leave the clinic, drive to the hospital, get to the 4th floor, prep, operate, and deliver. He did it all in 10-minutes. I still cannot comprehend how that is even possible.
The Labor and Delivery staff at Oktibbeha County Hospital are beyond amazing. Every single member of that team did their job and saved my son’s life that day. I will put them against any staff in the country. Although it took an entire team, which Ash said was at least 20 people (5-6 Labor and Delivery nurses, 2 doctors, 2-3 from the anesthesiologist’s team, and 3-4 nursery nurses), there was one hero that day. Nurse Lindsey orchestrated the entire morning. She made the initial discovery and trusted her training and instincts. She could have lost valuable time seeking a second opinion, but she trusted herself. She made the call for the emergency C-section, which is not a common decision made by nurses. She courageously jumped on that bed and held my son’s head up off of the cord until the doctors’ could pull him from her. She commanded the room while staying focused on Ash and making sure she remained calm. Lindsey’s confidence, skill, and decision-making saved my son’s life. She is a hero. Dr. Locke is also a hero and did an amazing job performing the surgery. He dropped everything that he was doing to rush to the hospital and save our son’s life. He took amazing care of Ash leading up to that day and was there every step of the way. He delivered both of our sons and we would not have it any other way. He is an amazing doctor and we will never forget what he did for us that day.
We were able to see her twice after we were in the recovery room. Each time we all cried as we thanked her for what she did for our family. A “thank you” is not enough. She saved my son’s life and kept our new family of 4 intact.
We are all alright now. Ash is recovering nicely. Hawkins is as healthy as ever. Despite being 4.5 weeks early, he had no health issues other than a little jaundice. We are beyond blessed and thankful. We are enjoying our time with him and Finnley who is an incredible big brother.
It has taken us a long time to get over what happened. Ash and I are still very emotional about that day, but are beyond thankful for the happy ending. God had His hand in every part of that day. We have looked back and seen numerous small little things that He orchestrated.