When 22-year-old Ally Opfer from Cleveland, Ohio, woke up on a cold morning in December, she had no idea that her life was about to change completely. “I woke up in the morning of December 21, and felt very normal, not knowing what I was about to go through,” she recalls. “A few hours later I started to feel slight cramps but I put them away as nothing. It gradually became a little more painful throughout the day, so I figured it was that time of the month for me, because I also started bleeding a little. I just went on with my day and ignored the pain that was getting worse.” Little did she know that it was much more than just menstrual pain… Continue reading below.
A Busy Day of Coaching
Ally worked as a coach and that day she coached her high school cheerleaders to a basketball game at Q in downtown Cleveland. Despite the pain, she went on with her five-hour all-star cheer workout. After she returned home the pain had gotten a lot worse. The ibuprofen and heating pads weren’t working anymore and although she was exhausted, she was in too much pain and couldn’t fall asleep. “I stayed awake all night curling up in a fetal position, wondering why my cramps were getting so bad… I never felt such severe cramps before.”
The next morning, on December 22nd, after her mother woke up, Ally told her that she was having terrible cramps, that nothing was helping and that she was in pain all night. Her mom told her to take it easy that day and left for work. “I had no appetite and just hid in my room from the pain. At the point when my mom finally came back home from work, I was crying in pain and knew something was wrong.” Ally knew that it was more than just menstrual pain. She tried taking more painkillers but that didn’t help at all. “My mom made me dinner and I stood in the kitchen crying and screaming between each bite I took as I was hit by a “cramp”.” She then decided to take a pregnancy test – just to be sure…
Ally did the pregnancy test but it turned out negative. “Because I was so exhausted and just wanted to sleep, we went upstairs to lie in bed so I could rest. When I lay down and my mom went out of my room, I started screaming at the top of my lungs.” Her dad had jumped up from his chair and ran upstairs to see what was going on. After the “cramp” was over, Ally seemed to be doing fine and her parents left her room again. It was only a few minutes later before Ally was screaming in pain again.
Awake for Almost 48 Hours
After hours of realizing that it hurts even more when she laid down, and with the cramps getting more and more painful and frequent, her mom asked if she wanted to go to the hospital – but she refused. “I thought they would tell me I was suffering from menstrual cramps and just let me go home with ibuprofen.” Besides that, it was already 11:00 pm and she was way too exhausted to leave the house. At this point, Ally hadn’t slept for almost 48 hours. Then another “cramp” hit her…
Going to the Hospital
This time it was too much. She looked at her mother and said, “We have to go. Something is really wrong with my body and the cramps need to go away”. While getting ready to leave the house, the cramping passed and Ally felt once again fine. She told her mom that she was OK and that they didn’t have to go. However, just a minute later, the cramps came back. “I knew we really had to get there now if I wanted to get through it. I felt deep down inside that I had to go before something terrible happened to me…”
A Terrible Road Trip
Ally was scared. She was in so much pain and had no idea what was going on, saying “I seriously thought I was going to die.” Ally quickly put on a pair of sweatpants and got into the car – though she had to stop several times to go through the cramps before she finally made it to the car. The trip to the hospital felt like the slowest and worst road trip ever. “I sat in the passenger seat of my dad’s little Mustang, with one hand on the roof of the car and the other on the window, screaming in pain as my mom remained calm and kept driving.” When they finally drove into the emergency room, she jumped out of the car.
Screaming in Pain
Ally ran through the doors to the check-in desk. She was desperately trying to write her name on the check-in form while screaming. “The lady at the front desk asked me what my symptoms were, as I tried my best not to scream as loudly as possible. This ER was very quiet until I walked in and I’m sure I scared everyone who was standing there waiting to be picked up.” Ally then sat down in the corner far away from everyone, screaming as her mother walked through the doors after parking. Luckily Ally didn’t need to wait long before her turn came. Continue reading on the next page.
“They immediately took care of me in front of everyone because there was obviously something bad going on with me. I remember the nurse holding me and helping me back to the room when I started having cramps again. She had me sit on the bed and asked all the basic questions they ask when you go to the hospital. Then she took my vitals. My blood pressure, of course, was exaggerated. At the same time, they decided to do some blood tests.” Ally nervously waited for the results to come.
“They put me on an IV and gave me morphine, for the pain, which of course did not relieve me. They also gave me magnesium sulfate to prevent me from having convulsions.” At that point she started showing symptoms of contractions, but she told them that she already had taken a pregnancy test and it was negative. After all, Ally did not look pregnant so the nurses didn’t second guess her. The nurses continued to perform tests and researching her, but they couldn’t understand what was going on. Then the nurse asked Ally’s mom to keep track of her “cramps.”
Keeping Track of the Cramps
The nurse wanted her mom to keep track of the cramps to see how long they lasted and how far apart they were. “They all let me do this because they looked like contractions. Then my nurse and doctor came back and said my white blood cell count was high. Meaning I had some kind of infection. I felt like I had kidney stones.” The nurse told her it looked more like kidney stones than contractions – which Ally thought was good news. But was it really?
The doctor examined her stomach and found exactly what she had found. “He felt a hard lump on one side of my stomach. He told me that if it was kidney stones, I might need emergency surgery to get them out as soon as possible. So he sent me for an ultrasound to see what kind of lump he felt.” As her hospital bed was carried into the ultrasound room, another “cramp” occurred. When the cramp was over, the technician started the ultrasound. Curious of what they found? Continue reading.
During the ultrasound the technician is not allowed to tell what she sees – the doctor is the only one who could tell her what they found. As she was doing the ultrasound, her jaw suddenly dropped. She continued with the ultrasound and her facial expression looked very concerned and just bewildered. Ally could tell from her face that something was going on and that she had found something that was not normal at all. “In my head I was thinking the worst when I saw her do the ultrasound: cancer. The lump we felt on my belly was cancer. So I was going to die.”
Doctors and Nurses Filled the Room
After the ultrasound was done and Ally was back into her room, the nurse tried to calm her down as she went through another one of her excruciating cramps. Then suddenly not only did her doctor came running into her room, but so did 10 other people she hadn’t seen that night. At that point Ally knew that what they had seen on the ultrasound was bad news. “As all these doctors and nurses filled my room, I braced myself for the worst possible news: that I was dying. There were so many doctors and nurses in my room, all with a sense of urgency and an attitude as if I knew what was happening to me was very serious.”
A Complete Shock
The doctor said to her, “Have you ever been pregnant?” Very confused, of course, she replied “no”. He then said, “It looks like you are about 38 weeks pregnant and have ten centimeters of dilation. You need to work hard and we need to get you upstairs now for delivery!”. Ally went into shock. She was not ready to have a baby. She would not be able to have a baby. Her face turned white and she started crying and screaming. “I was terrified!” When they took her up the stairs, Ally screamed and tried to be as calm as possible.
“Is the Baby Okay?”
Once she was in the delivery room, the nurses reminded her that she was in labor and needed to be as calm as possible for the sake of the baby. “Then it hit me… is the baby okay! Does he even have a heartbeat? For nine months I had absolutely no prenatal care. Five days ago I was tumbling and doing backhand jumps. Was I going to have a stillbirth?” The nurses said, “The baby is doing very well! Everything looks top notch!” Unbelievable! It was the best news she had received all night. Her baby was fine – Ally, however, was not…
High Blood Pressure
“My blood pressure was at its highest and they told me they had to give me magnesium sulfate to keep me from having seizures and that I was about to have a stroke. They told me that if I had waited any longer to come to the emergency room, I would be dead. I was very sick. Much sicker than I thought.” In the meantime her mom called her dad to have him come to the hospital as soon as possible because she was going to have a baby. That they were about to become grandparents!
Baby On the Way
As her dad walked through the door of the hospital room, they nurses were just attaching a fetal monitor to Ally and the doctor examined her to see where the baby’s head was. It was really happening! Unfortunately, the baby was breech and she had such terrible pre-eclampsia that they told her that she needed to have an emergency section right away. They called her doctor to come right over. In the meanwhile Ally signed the consent forms and the nurses prepared her for surgery.
“I was taken to the operating room and knew it was serious. I was going to have surgery.” The nurses and doctors needed to get her on the operating table, even though she was having a severe contraction. They waited until it was over before they put her on the table. “I walked to the table and they explained to me what was going to happen to my spine and the anesthesia. I was terrified of getting a needle on my back, but I knew I had to do what they said.”
“I leaned forward as I sat on the table and they prodded my spine.” Another contraction hit and as the anesthetic flowed through her body, all the pain suddenly disappeared and she never felt better in hours. After 42 hours of labor, she was finally relieved of the excruciating pain of childbirth. “I felt so good. I smiled at my doctors and nurses and was so relieved.” Then her mother walked into the operating room and sat down next to her to hold her hand.
“I kept telling my mom that there was no way they were going to find a baby. It just wasn’t possible.” Ally still hadn’t come to terms with having a baby. All this time she was lying on the operating table in denial. “I just wasn’t ready to accept it all. There is no way that I am really pregnant. It just couldn’t be real.” She started to feel tension everywhere but no pain. Her body trembled a bit when she laid down, and she gave herself over to them. “It was such a strange feeling to be awake during surgery and feel people touching my belly and pulling on it a little.”
“Cry! Please Cry!”
“They told me it was time to take the baby out and that I would feel some pressure.” She said that it felt like forever before they finally told her that the baby was out. Then she heard, “Birth time: 3:31 a.m.” and Ally and her mom looked at each other and just said, “Cry! Please cry! Please start crying little baby”. That way they knew that that the baby was fine and healthy. “Then the baby finally started crying – and so did we.” It was then that Ally finally realized she was in labor and had just given birth.
A Baby Boy
“I lay there crying – tears of joy, of course – and I was in shock, listening to my baby cry. I couldn’t see it, but I could hear it.” Then she realized that they had not told her the gender yet. “They said it was a little boy! My family is a family full of girls. We haven’t had a boy in the family since my uncle was born, which is 43 years ago. The name Opfer would be passed on!” She couldn’t be any happier. “My mom went to see my baby and took pictures and videos while they cleaned and weighed him.”
“She then brought her phone to show me what he looked like. I was impressed. I was still in shock and couldn’t believe it. I thought I was dreaming. Even when I saw his pictures, I couldn’t believe this was my baby.” Her mother then brought the baby to Ally, while the surgeons were stitching her. “My mom held him while I reached out my hand and touched him, kissed him and talked to him.” When Ally was ready to leave the operating room and go back to her room to recover, she wondered what her father was doing and what he was thinking the whole time he was waiting for her.
“They put my baby son on my chest when they took me out of surgery and brought me back to my room. I was shaking so much from the anesthesia that I was afraid that my baby would fall off my chest.” Once they reached her room and her father met with her son for the first time, she was overjoyed. “It was an intense moment.” Her parents then called the entire family to tell them that Ally had a baby. “They were all confused because no one, including myself, knew I was pregnant!”
Meeting the Family
In the morning the entire family came to the hospital to meet Ally’s little miracle baby… all just as shocked as she was herself. “Then we realized we had to find a name for the baby! It’s something that really eluded us after all we’ve been through.” The nurses brought a lot of baby name books, but the birth of the child was just overwhelming. “My sisters, mother and I all threw our favorite baby names on the table and after about 12 hours I signed the birth certificate.” Curious which name Ally picked for her baby?
“Welcome to the world, Oliver David Opfer.” Ally, as well as her mom and sisters, immediately liked the name Oliver. She also decided that his middle name was going to be her father’s. “My whole family was overjoyed at this unexpected and magical gift. This is my parents’ first grandchild. It is the best Christmas gift I can get and give my family.” However, a name was not the only thing the baby needed…
“The next day, on Christmas Eve, we needed a car seat to go home. We had absolutely nothing for our new baby. We sent my dad, sister and brother-in-law to the store to look for a car seat for Oliver. Thanks to FaceTime, I chose one. Fortunately, other family members and close friends also went shopping to buy Oliver’s clothes, diapers and everything else.” Ally then finally texted her close friends and the rest of the family to tell them the crazy news…
“My 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! I myself didn’t believe it at first.” On Christmas Day, two days later, she also announced the arrival of her unexpected little cabbage on social networks. “The overwhelming response of love and support meant the world to me and still does. So many people contacted me and offered to bring Oliver and me all the baby stuff we needed, since we had nothing. I will be eternally grateful for all that everyone has done for us.”
Celebrating Christmas in the Hospital
When the doctor and nurses came into her room, Ally thought she was finally going home – but unfortunately they couldn’t go just yet. “I was so sick and Oliver had jaundice so we had to stay in the hospital longer. We celebrated Christmas in the hospital.” Her family brought the presents and the Christmas dinner to the hospital, and together they ate and opened the gifts. “They even brought enough food for the nurses who had to give up their Christmas to work! It was the most special Christmas ever.”
Time to Go Home
“On December 26, we were finally discharged and it was time to come home. I was so excited to pick up Oliver and show him his house. I was also eager to adjust to my new life. I have had so much help from my whole family. It feels good to become a new mom and it’s an even bigger fit when you don’t expect it.” Ally thanks everyone who had supported and contacted her during this adventure. “I am so grateful to all of you for your love and support during this first year of Oliver’s life. He is the happiest little man and I could never have done it without everyone’s help. Thank you everyone! Oliver and I love you guys.”