Saturday, July 13, 2013

The day things went wrong - again

This week is a big one in the life of my "a year ago today" scheme, so I'm starting early.
Today we look at "about a year ago" (minus two days).

July 15, 2012 It started out quiet.  Steve and the girls went to church. I stayed home. I spent some time on a bulletin board site for other preemie moms.  I'm twenty three weeks and one day pregnant, I thought. "I think in a week I'll start an online registry" I wrote, "to celebrate reaching viability."

And then I went to a baby website and started looking at how to register. I didn't actually register, but I thought about getting set up for it.

Steve came home and started making lunch.  Some friends were doing this music concert thing in the community a few days later and had asked if our girls wanted to make a prayer box for it, for people to put prayer requests in or something.  Steve had said "sure," and so while he made dinner, I talked the girls through the best plan for making the prayer box.  They brought the shoe box into my bed rest room and we talked about how they'd decorate it.  We sized up paper on the box. Then they left to find some scissors and tape and markers and glue, and I went to the restroom.

[WARNING: FROM HERE ON OUT, I go into medical details. You may want to skip the next few days.]

I saw blood.  Not much.  Just a tiny bit, a drop or two really.

I called my MFM (maternal fetal medicine) doctor. I figured it probably wasn't a big deal. It was just a spot. And I'd be seeing them on Tuesday anyway. My OBGYN said that, since I'd be seeing the MFM doctor that week, she'd wait a week to see me. She didn't want me going out too much. But she did ask me to check with them about shots when I went in. I'd be almost viable by Tuesday, so it might be about time to start some sort of shots to help speed lung development and/or stop labor. I'm not really sure which any more. I never actually saw the MFM doctors' outpatient clinic.

The nurse at the office asked me to come in.  Steve grabbed my bags -- we realized by now that packing bags before going to labor & delivery was a good idea. No more going in with just a kindle. Snacks and comfy clothes were a must, as was a laptop.  As Steve collected things, I lay in bed. Contractions had started. Just two, but there had been none before.  I looked at the hippo blackboard.  SE weeks, I day. Or, to translate Ella's five year old backwards writing, 23 weeks, 1 day. (By the estimated due date that had been in my file, 22 weeks and 6 days.  I'm glad I had had them change that date again.) Too soon. Not yet. No, not yet.

We called our friends Dave and Deb and asked them if the girls could hang out with them for the afternoon. They agreed. They had just that morning asked Steve to let them know when they could take a turn at watching our girls.  And they were mostly on the way to the hospital, so they seemed the best bet.  We didn't really have time to think hard about this one.

We headed out. By this time the contractions had started again. They were right to have me come in.

We called Steve's mom. She was packing up to come back from her mother's house anyway.  We let her know we were going back in.

I expected to go back up to the MFM floor of the hospital. But they kept me in labor and delivery. They got a shot in me by 3 pm to help the baby's lungs develop.  They put me on IV liquids and then started pushing magnesium sulfide through my veins. It burns. And since it goes through the veins, pretty soon my whole body burned, but it is supposed to stop contractions.

The first hour or so of that treatment was the worst. I was hot, I was miserable, and my heart was racing. I couldn't breathe. They told me I was breathing fine, my pulse ox read something  just under 100%. But I felt like the world was collapsing in on me, so they gave me oxygen. It helped. I now understand why oxygen bars are so popular. I could think again, I could breathe again. I was still a flushed mess, but I was ok.

After a few hours, the dose of the magnesium sulfate was dropped to a more tolerable drip. I was merely flushed.

They told me not to eat. They worried the baby might come at any time.  It was okay, though. Between the mag sulfate and the contractions and fear, I didn't have much of an appetite.

The contractions got more regular. They didn't want to check to see if the stitches were holding, they didn't want to risk infection or rupture.  An abdominal ultrasound revealed a healthy baby and a cervix that, at the top, was about three to five centimeters dilated.  The circlage looked like it was still holding things shut.

At nine pm, after six to seven hours of labor, my contractions finally started to slow to less than eight an hour.  The doctors started to discuss a plan. One day at a time. Let's keep this baby in as long as possible. I'm only six days from viability. I want to make it through the week at least.  Contractions were slowing. The clock was getting closer to tomorrow. Maybe we'd make it another day.

And then I felt a pop and a warm gush in my vaginal canal.

"My water just broke," I said.

"Are you sure?"


I stayed still. I knew that he needed all the amniotic fluid I could give him. I knew that premature rupture of membranes at this stage didn't necessitate delivery. And I wasn't going to deliver. No. Too early. Don't move.

If I shifted my weight, the gush would come again.

Don't move.

It must have been a high break, because the "don't move" technique seemed to work.

I wasn't getting up at all at this point, anyway. They'd bring me everything I needed, including a bedpan.

By midnight the contractions had slowed to about four an hour. By six am they were down to two or three an hour.

We'd made it through the night.

Note from today, a year later: A few weeks ago the same friend asked if we could make another prayer box for the community event this year.He thought the girls might like it. He didn't know. I politely (I hope) declined. It hurt to even think about doing this activity again. 

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