For those who didn’t know: I did not know I was pregnant. I found out I was pregnant 30 minutes before Oliver was born.
I woke up the morning of December 21, 2016, feeling absolutely normal, not knowing what I was about to go through. Just a couple hours later, I started feeling some minor cramping and brushed it off as nothing. It gradually became a little more painful throughout the day, so I figured it was that time of the month for me, as I had started bleeding a bit too.
I went on with my day as normal and ignored the cramps that seemed to get a little stronger.
That day, I had a busy day of coaching. I coached my high school cheerleaders at a basketball game at the Q in downtown Cleveland and then went straight to my five hours of coaching all-star cheer practice after, despite being in pain (labor). That night, the pain got worse. Ibuprofen and heating pads were not working and I was in too much pain to get any sleep, despite being exhausted. I stayed up all night curled up in the fetal position, wondering why my cramps were getting so bad. I never [had] cramps nearly that bad before.
The next morning, December 22, after my mom woke up, I told her I had some horrible cramps, [that] nothing was helping and that I was up all night in pain.
Still just brushing it off as me just being a wimp, I helped my dad move a couch from the basement to the upstairs living room, ignoring what turned out to be some serious contractions.
I had no appetite and just hid in my room, in pain. My mom came home from work and, by then, I was crying in pain and knew something wasn’t quite right. These were way more than menstrual cramps. We tried more pain meds which of course did absolutely nothing. My mom made me dinner and I stood in the kitchen, crying and screaming between each bite I took when a "cramp" would hit.
We decided I’d take a pregnancy test just to be sure, and it came back negative.
Since I was so exhausted and just wanted to sleep, we went upstairs to get me comfortable in bed, so I could rest. As soon as I laid down and my mom walked out, I started screaming at the top of my lungs, and my dad came rushing upstairs to see what was wrong. The "cramp" passed, and they left my room. A few minutes later, there I was, screaming in pain. After hours of realizing it hurt even more when I would lay down, and with the "cramps" getting more painful and closer together, my mom asked if I wanted to go to the hospital and I refused.
I thought for sure they’d just tell me I’m having bad menstrual cramps, and to just go home and take ibuprofen. Plus, it was like 11:00 p.m. at that point and I was way too exhausted to leave the house after not sleeping for nearly 48 hours.
Then another "cramp" hit. I looked at my mom and said, "We need to go. Something is seriously wrong here."
[Then] the cramp was over, and I then I was fine and said we didn’t need to go. Another hit, just a minute later. I knew we really needed to go right then and there, if I wanted to make it to the hospital before something happened to me. I was in so much pain and not knowing what was happening, I thought I was seriously going to die. I threw on sweatpants and got in the car. (I had to stop multiple times to get through contractions before actually making it to the car.)
That car ride was the WORST car ride and seemed to be the slowest car ride ever. We originally were going to go all the way to Hillcrest near Cleveland (a 40-minute drive), but thankfully my mom decided to go to UH Geauga, which was a smaller, closer hospital. I sat in the passenger seat of my dad’s tiny little Mustang with one hand pressing on the roof of the car and the other on the window, just screaming in pain while my mom somehow remained calm and kept driving.
We finally pulled up to the ER and I jumped out of the car, walked through the doors to the check-in counter and screamed as I desperately tried to write my name on the sign-in sheet. The lady at the check-in desk asked me what my symptoms were as I was trying my very best to not scream as loud as I could.
That ER was very quiet until I walked in, and I’m sure I scared everyone else who was there waiting. I sat in the corner away from everyone else, screaming, as my mom walked through the doors after parking. They immediately took me back, ahead of everyone else, as I obviously had something serious going on. They probably had seen plenty of women in labor and knew what was really going on with me.
Obviously, I did not.
I remember the nurse holding me and helping me walk back to the room as I was going through another "cramp." She sat me down on the bed, asked all the basic questions they do when you go to the hospital, and took my vitals. My blood pressure was, of course, through the roof and they decided to do some blood work. They got me started on an IV and gave me morphine for the pain, which gave me no relief, as well as magnesium sulfate to keep me from seizing.
At this point, I had symptoms of labor but we had told them I took a pregnancy test and it came back negative. I obviously didn’t look pregnant, so there was just no way I was pregnant. The nurse wanted my mom to keep track of my "cramps" to see how long they lasted and how far apart they were ... you know, because they seemed like contractions.
Then, my nurse and doctor came back in and said my white blood cell count was high, meaning I had some sort of infection. It seemed like I had kidney stones.
The nurse calmed our nerves and told us it seemed more like kidney stones rather than labor, which to us, was good news. We weren’t ready for a baby.
I went into shock. I was not ready to have a baby. I couldn’t have a baby. My face went white and I started crying and screaming.
The doctor examined my abdomen and found exactly what I had found: He felt a hard lump on one side of my stomach. He told me if it was kidney stones, that I may need emergency surgery to remove it ASAP. So, he sent me for an ultrasound to see what that mass was. Of course, all of us, including the doctor, were expecting to see kidney stones on the ultrasound.
As my hospital bed was wheeled in to the ultrasound room, another "cramp" hit and the poor ultrasound technician looked so concerned as I laid there screaming in pain. After the "cramp" was over, she started the ultrasound. She isn't allowed to say anything to me about what she’s seeing. The doctor is the only person who can tell me what they found. So, as she’s doing the ultrasound, suddenly her jaw drops and she asked, "Are you pregnant?"
And I of course replied with "NO!"
She continued the ultrasound and her facial expression looked very concerned and just astounded. You could tell something was up and that she had found something. In my head, I was thinking the worst as I laid there, watching her do the ultrasound: cancer. The mass we felt on my abdomen was cancer. I was dying.
As we know, it obviously wasn’t cancer. Luckily. But as they wheeled me back to my room and the doctor went over my ultrasound, the nurse came back in and was talking to me, trying to keep me calm as I went through my excruciating "cramps."
Then, all of a sudden, not only did my doctor come flying in the room, but so did literally ten other people who I had yet to see that night. As all these doctors and nurses filled my room, I was preparing myself for the worst news possible — that I was dying.
There were so many doctors and nurses in my room, all with a sense of urgency, that I knew whatever was happening to me was very serious. Then, the doctor said these words to me: "Have you ever been pregnant before?"
I said, "No," very confused.
He said, "Well, it looks like you’re about 38 weeks pregnant and 10 centimeters dilated. You are in full-blown labor and we need to get you upstairs to labor and delivery now!"
WHAT. HOW. NOT POSSIBLE.
I went into shock. I was not ready to have a baby. I couldn’t have a baby. My face went white and I started crying and screaming.
I. Was. Terrified.
This is me, 42 weeks and in labor. Not only did I not show, I didn’t even know!
As they wheeled me upstairs, I had many more contractions. Let me tell you, labor pain is no joke. I was screaming and trying to be as calm as possible. Once I was up in my labor and delivery room, the nurses reminded me that I was in labor and needed to be as calm as possible for the sake of the baby.
Then it dawned on us … is the baby OK? Does it even have a heartbeat? I had absolutely no prenatal care for nine months. I was just tumbling and doing back handsprings five days ago. Was I going to have a stillbirth? The nurses said, "The baby is completely fine! Everything looks great!"
Unbelievable. It was the best news I had received all night.
My baby was just fine. However, I was not. My blood pressure was through the roof. They told me they had to put me on magnesium sulfate to keep me from seizing, that I was on the verge of having a stroke. They told me if I had waited any longer to come to the ER, I would have died. I was very sick. A lot sicker than I knew.
My mom had to make the call to my dad to get to the hospital ASAP because I was having a baby. I don’t know how that conversation went as I was obviously very busy trying to get through contractions.
They strapped a fetal monitor on me and the doctor examined me to see where the baby’s head was. The baby was coming. Unfortunately, the baby was breech and I had such horrible preeclampsia that they told me they had to do an emergency C-section right away. They had called the doctor (who is now my OB) and said that she was on her way. I signed the consent forms and they prepped me for surgery. They couldn’t get me back fast enough.
I was being wheeled into the operating room and I knew it was serious — I was having surgery. A contraction hit right as they needed me to get onto the OR table, so we waited for it to pass. I got over onto the table and they talked me through what was going to happen with my spinal and getting the anesthesia. I was terrified to get a needle in my back but knew I just needed to do what they said.
I hunched over as I sat on the table and they inserted my spinal. Another contraction hit and, as the anesthesia flowed into my body, all the pain was suddenly taken away. I had never felt better.
After being in labor for a whopping 42 hours, I was finally free of that excruciating labor pain. I felt so good. I gave my doctors and nurses a smile and was as ready as I could possibly be.
My mom came in to the OR and sat next to me and held my hand. I kept telling her there was no way they were going to pull a baby out of me. It just wasn’t possible. I still hadn’t accepted the fact that I was having a baby. The whole time, I was just laying there on the OR table in denial.
There’s no way I was actually pregnant.
It just couldn’t be real.
I could feel some tugging and pulling, but no pain. My body was shaking a bit from them pulling and cutting me open. It was such an odd feeling being awake during surgery and being able to feel like people were just touching my belly and tugging a little. They told me it was time to remove the baby and that I’d feel some pressure.
As I waited for them to tell me the baby was out, it felt like forever. Then I heard, "Time of birth: 3:31 a.m." and my mom and I looked at each other, just saying, "Cry. Please cry. Please start crying, little baby," so we knew the baby was OK and healthy.
He finally started crying and so did we. That’s when it finally hit me that I was actually in labor and I had just given birth. I lay there crying (happy tears) and was in shock, listening to my baby’s cry. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him.
Then we realized they hadn’t told us the gender! They said it was a baby boy! My family is a family full of girls. We haven’t had a boy born into the family since my uncle was born. It had been 43 years. The Opfer name was going to be passed along, after all!
My mom went over to my baby and took pictures and videos while they cleaned him up and weighed him. She then brought her phone over to show me what he looked like. I was amazed. Still in shock that that was my baby. I was so happy. They brought him over to me while they sewed me up. My mom held him while I reached over and touched him and kissed him and talked to him.
I was all stitched up and ready to leave the OR and go back to my room to recover, where my dad was waiting for us.
They set my baby boy on my chest as they wheeled me out of the OR and to my room. I was shaking so bad from the anesthesia (which is normal) that I was scared of him laying on my chest. Then we got to my room and my dad got to meet him too. My parents had called all my family members to tell them I was having a baby (it was the middle of the night, so they were all woken up by this news). Of course they were all confused by it, since no one, including myself, knew that I was pregnant.
My sister was working the night shift at her hospital where she is a nurse [and] drove up to Cleveland to be with us. She eventually made it and we continued to try calling my other sister who had her phone on silent and wouldn’t get our messages until later when she woke up for work.
After everyone woke up, my whole extended family came to the hospital to meet our miracle baby ... all of them just as shocked as we were. Then we realized we needed to come up with a name for him! The nurses brought in a ton of baby name books but it was just overwhelming. My sisters, my mom and I all threw out our favorite baby boy names and after about 12 hours, I decided on Oliver and signed the birth certificate. I knew I wanted to have his middle name be after my father.
Welcome to the world, Oliver David Opfer. My whole family was filled with joy to have this unexpected, magical gift. He’s my parents’ first grandbaby. He’s the most amazing Christmas gift I could ever receive.
The next day, on Christmas Eve, we needed to get a car seat, so we’d be prepared to go home.
We had absolutely nothing for our new baby. We sent my dad, sister and brother-in-law to the store to find a car seat for baby Oliver. Through FaceTime, I picked one out. Luckily, other family members and close friends also went shopping to get Oliver some clothes, diapers and all the essentials.
I had so much help and support. It was truly amazing.
I finally texted my close friends and family on Christmas Eve to announce the crazy news. My very best friend didn’t believe me until I showed her pictures of the two of us and even my hospital bracelet. I don’t blame her — it was the surprise of a lifetime!
On Christmas Day, two days later, I finally announced on social media the arrival of our unexpected bundle of joy. The overwhelming response of love and support meant the world to me, and still does. So many people reached out to me and offered to get Oliver and I all the baby stuff we’d need, as we had nothing. I’ll forever be thankful for everything everyone has done for us.
The doctors and nurses came in and we thought we were going home. Unfortunately, I was so sick, and Oliver had some jaundice, so we had to stay in the hospital longer. We celebrated Christmas in the hospital.
My family brought Christmas dinner along with some presents to the hospital and we all ate dinner and opened gifts in my hospital room. They even brought enough for the nurses who had to give up their Christmas to work! It was the most special Christmas ever.
We were finally discharged on December 26 and it was time to go home.
I was so excited to take Oliver and show him his home and adapt to my new life. I had so much help from all my family members. It’s an adjustment becoming a new mom — and an even bigger adjustment when you aren’t expecting it.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out and supported us through this journey. It means more than you’ll ever know. I’m so thankful for all of you for your love and support throughout this first year of Oliver’s life. He’s the happiest little guy and I couldn’t do it without everyone’s help. Thank you all so much! Oliver and I love you.
This post was written by Ally Opfer and originally reprinted with permission on Mom.me sister site CafeMom.