Monday, May 16, 2011

Fighting to stay pregnant...

Week 34, and what a week it's been.

Saturday (5/14) started like any other - I worked, came home and puttered around a bit waiting for Jeremy to get home. Early in the evening, I noticed that I was having a few more Braxton-Hicks contractions than is usual for me. Later, I just so happened to glance at the clock when one hit - 9:13 pm.

When the next one came at 9:21 pm, I knew something was up. I waited for a few more to come to make sure they weren't erratic, and when they came at consistent, 8 minute intervals I decided to call Labor & Delivery (9:40 pm). My OB, Dr. W., happened to already be at the hospital delivering a baby, so the nurse was able to consult her. Their advice was to lie down, drink lots of water and to continue timing the contractions, keeping a log, for one hour and to call again if they did not subside. In one hour at exactly 10:40 pm I called again-- the length of time between the contractions had shortened to 5 minutes, despite following their directions. The nurse told us to head in, so we grabbed the hospital bag (packed a mere few hours prior to my contractions starting), hopped in the Blazer and hit the road.

The ride over was difficult - it was only about 15 minutes from our house to the hospital, but I had 3 contractions and at that point they were beginning to intensify. With each contraction my lower back began to get more and more sore, a constant dull pain that would later be identified as back labor.

I sat through a few more contractions at registration while the guy that was working admissions took down some information - I had to pause while I made it through each contraction at that point.

A nursing assistant came down with a wheelchair to get me and wheeled me up to the birthing center. She asked a few questions on the way up, how long I'd been feeling the abdominal pain, if I was dehydrated, etc. She seemed a little skeptical that there was really anything the matter - I think to her I was just another panicked first time mom. She mentioned when we got to the room that she thought I might just have a UTI, told me to change into a gown and that a nurse would be in to put monitors on me in a few minutes.

After changing, getting into the bed and being hooked up to a fetal heart monitor and monitor to track contractions, the nurses informed me that Dr. W. would be watching the reports from her station. Because I'd been busy getting settled in I wasn't exactly sure how close my contractions were together, just that they were lasting longer and getting more painful as they went.

Jeremy and I sat alone in the birthing room for about 10 minutes, watching numbers rise and fall on the monitors until two nurses rushed in.

"Your contractions are 2 minutes apart. Things are going to start happening really fast - I need your verbal permission to provide you treatment for preterm labor, we'll bring you a consent form in a little while."

I gave my assent and true to her word, things began moving really quickly. Jeremy was relegated to a spectator's spot as both nurses started working. I was hooked up to an IV and they started pushing fluids as fast as they could, they procured specimens to test for possible infections or fetal fibronectin and they checked my cervix, determining I was dilated to 1 cm. The day before, at my OB visit, it was thick and tightly closed with just a little softening. One thing that really stuck in my mind after was the bright light that they turned on right above me - the one that they turn on just before delivery so the doctors and nurses are able to see what they're doing.

I was given a dose of a medication called Procardia. It's actually a blood pressure medication,but it has the added side effect of relaxing the smooth muscle of the uterus and can be effective in stopping contractions. I had to take one every 15 minutes for an hour in the hopes that it would slow labor. Dr. W came in to speak with me a little while after the nurses finished their tasks. She explained that because the hospital did not have a NICU if their intervention failed I would transferred to a hospital about an hour and a half away to deliver. She did not feel that it would be necessary to do steroid shots if the fetal fibronectin test was negative because Carys is right on the cusp of being old enough to not need them. She said if the fFn test was positive, however, she would administer steroids and that I'd probably be taking the trip down the mountain.

Luckily, after laboring for 3 hours they were able to slow my contractions and stop active labor. The fFn test was negative but they decided to keep me overnight for observation. It was a long, sleepless night for the two of us - Carys is so active that every 15-20 minutes or so the heart monitor would 'lose' her and a nurse would have to come in and find her again. In the morning, although things had calmed down considerably, my uterus was still having some erratic contraction-like activity- the nurses described it as 'irritable'.

Dr. W made the decision to discharge me that afternoon with instructions to not return to work until at least 36 weeks, and a prescription for the Procardia. She told me that she does not expect Carys to make it to 40 weeks, but wants to shoot for at least 2 more.

After 36 I will stop taking the Procardia, and if my squirmy little girl wants to be born, we're going to let her. I've really got my heart set on Dr. W delivering Carys and if she's going to be able to do that, we've got to make it at least one more week to 35. At that point they will allow me to deliver in the local hospital instead of making the trek to the one with the NICU. Dr. W told us that although she would probably be okay if she were born right now, she could really use the next couple of weeks to put on weight and continue lung development. Birth at 34 weeks isn't ideal for the health of the baby although there are babies that are born that early and thrive.

My baby shower was Sunday afternoon, three hours after I was discharged from the hospital (Dr. W agreed to allow me to attend as long as I didn't "dance, jump, or play any crazy pregnancy games"). Neither Jeremy or myself had any sleep before then, we went home, ate lunch, he helped me paint my toenails (did a pretty good job for an amateur) and get dressed, and he dropped me off at the shower.

I really enjoyed it - it was touching to the outpouring of love for Jeremy and I and our child- Carys has a lot of people that care for her already. I was exhausted, though, and by the end I was starting to have contractions again so as soon as we finished the festivities, Jeremy's uncle gave me a ride back to the house and Jeremy came up to the fellowship hall to pick up Carys' gifts. We were so blessed - so many of our needs were met, and even some wants that I wouldn't have been able to buy yet because of having to stop working.

She got a really nice travel system, tons of clothes, beautiful handmade blankets, hats and booties, diapers and wipes, an adorable diaper bag (much, MUCH cuter than the one I had on my registry!), a precious, tiny pearl bracelet with a silver cross from her great great grandmother, the crib set that I wanted so badly that has been sold out/on back-order in every store I could find it in for months (her Granna really pulled a rabbit out of a hat- I couldn't believe my eyes), a beautiful glider for her nursery, the list goes on and on. It was nice to have the experience of so many mothers - there were many things included that I wouldn't have thought about needing that I'm glad we have now.

On the agenda for the next week -

1. Stay pregnant despite Carys' apparent wishes to be free.

2. Do nothing that isn't absolutely necessary (This doesn't seem like it would be a chore, but the nesting instinct is kicking in like crazy and it's all that I can do to not go wild cleaning and organizing her nursery).

Here's hoping for one more week.

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