When I was 20 weeks pregnant, my fiancé and I, at my impatient mother’s urging, abandoned our plans to wed the following fall and headed for a whirlwind wedding in Las Vegas. Instead, we discovered an overwhelming ache and fear that we carry with us still.
My pregnancy was plagued with hyperemesis- severe nausea and vomiting that lasts the duration of the pregnancy and usually results in dehydration, malnutrition, and the loss of at least 5 percent (most time 10 percent) of pre-pregnancy weight and constant leaking. Nevertheless, I got the OK to travel, even though I did not want to go to Vegas. As much as I wanted to marry my best friend, I did not want this kind of wedding.
A Grueling Trip
We left Oneonta, New York, on a Friday in February and drove three hours to the New Windsor, New York, where my soon-to-be sister-in-law cut hair. She gave her brother a haircut, then we took her minivan to the Bronx where I got my hair done. It was a long night. It takes forever to do black hair and this time it took even longer because of my frequent trips to the bathroom. When Andrew finally picked me up, I was uncomfortable and extremely tired. We drove to my mother’s house on the other side of the Bronx, where I slept uncomfortably in a green recliner. Little did I know that things would get even more uncomfortable the next day.
The alarm woke us before 6 a.m. I struggled to get dressed, take my anti-nausea medication and eat a granola bar despite knowing that I would not keep it down long. I tried to rush my mother along. She views time as a suggestion and is chronically late for everything and we still had to pick up my aunt before driving the 45 minutes to Laguardia Airport. Once we got to the airport, we had to park the car, check our bags, and make it to our gate in less than 25 minutes. Andrew and I had to run to make the flight.
The flight was extremely turbulent and our seats were way in the back of the plane. I was starving for the first time since the vomiting began a few months back, and except for a few peanuts and crackers, we had nothing to eat for the entire trip. I had planned to buy snacks at the airport because while I rarely had an appetite, I craved all things salty. Unfortunately, there was no time.
I must have gotten up 20 times to pee. I was uncomfortable, achy, tired, and hungry. It was a horrible flight and an awful landing. I just wanted to get to the hotel, shower, eat, and rest. Oh, and buy my wedding dress because our wedding was scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
We checked into Caesar’s Palace and made our way to our room excited, full of life, love, and hope. Once in the room, I peed yet again, changed my clothes, and headed downstairs to eat. We chose a buffet just off the lobby and I nibbled as much as a girl with hyperemesis could. Next, we decided to explore the shops and look for a dress, but I was too tired and my bladder felt full yet again. We headed back to our room instead.
As I stepped into the room there was a “burst” and then a puddle. I ran to the bathroom.
“I’m calling the midwives,” Andrew said.
“My baby!” was all that I could mutter.
Then the pain started. Cramps shot through my abdomen and my lower back. My body was stiff and I collapsed onto the bed pinning my knees together in an effort to keep everything inside. Deep down I think that I knew what was happening but I was determined not to allow it to continue.
Then there were ambulances. I was being rolled out of Caesar’s Palace through the casino and past the construction for Celine Dion’s new show. There were lights and smoke and whispers and cramps and tears and pain. And fear.
In the ambulance, the paramedic wanted to cut my pants off, but I refused to unclench my legs.
“Look, if you are in labor, it’s not viable.”
Then I was on a gurney in the hallway of the hospital, where I spent the next six hours. It took some loud demands from my mother, who demanded professional courtesy as she was a nurse in New York, to get me wheeled into an exam room. The emergency room doctor sent me to have an ultrasound where the tech said nothing. I was sent back to the examination room and the emergency room doctor said, “Everything looks good!”
Within a few hours I was wheeled up to a room and told that the doctor would see us in a bit. I was being admitted. Andrew and I assumed it was for observation.
The Awful News
The on-call doctor sat in the chair at the foot of my bed and explained that I would be given Pitocin to induce labor and that I would have to deliver my baby due to “fetal demise.” Andrew and I cut her off in unison with a “What the F&%*!”
I struggled through the night to deliver my baby. Andrew was by my side as was a mutual friend. The nurses kept me drugged but I was alert enough to know when I had in fact delivered my very small baby. I did not get to see her. I did not get to hold her. They took her away and barely told me anything about her. They took away a piece of my heart too.
Still, the ordeal was not over. I had trouble delivering the placenta and had to have a D&C shortly after. The head of the OBGYN department at Sunrise cut his vacation short to perform the surgery. He was still wearing his shorts and sandals. When it was over, he came to my room and assured us that I would be OK and that there was no damage to my reproductive system.
When I was discharged, Andrew informed me that Caesar’s Palace extended our reservation for a discounted price. In the confusion, no one informed them that our wedding did not take place and they left us a gift with a message that said, “Congratulations!” We took it to mean congratulations that we had survived.
No Returning to Vegas
It’s been six years, but I still feel like I left a piece of myself in Vegas. We never did get married there, and I still regret that I was not able to bury my baby, but I wasn’t ready. It would be five long years before I would muster up the courage to fly again when Disney selected me to attend their first African-American Mom Blogger Weekend.
We now have a beautiful baby girl. Andrew finally boarded a plane with our daughter and me this May to attend his nephew’s college graduation in West Palm Beach.
Neither of us has had the courage to visit Vegas.