Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hospital "Adventures" Continued

There is a fine line between being optimistic and delusional. I tend to lean a bit towards the delusional side. I am 34 weeks pregnant today and had convinced myself that we would be allowed to go home today, but alas, it appears my fantasy will not become a reality.

We have had quite the experience since being airlifted down to Little Rock a week ago. After the doctors were able to put a stop to my preterm labor, we spent several days in the hospital for observation. Everything seemed to be back to normal and I was hopeful we would not have any further complications. The doctors felt confident in releasing us from the hospital, however we couldn't go home. Apparently, once you've been admitted to this hospital, you can't go home until your doctor agrees to take you back into his care.We soon found ourselves in limbo. So we got sent to "camp." This is not your typical camp. There are no crafts or hikes at this camp. Simply boredom and bedrest. Camp is basically a hotel right next to the hospital that they send nomad patients like ourselves. It is actually a pretty neat program as the hospital pays for your stay and provides food. A nurse checks on you once a day and there is a free shuttle so you can get to the hospital quickly should an emergency arise.

All seemed to be going well and I was sure it wouldn't be long until my doctor agreed to take me back. Sunday morning I awoke to very strong and frequent contractions, so back to the hospital we went. (But not before I put on makeup, brushed my teeth, and combed my hair. Just in case this was birth day I wanted to have a presentable picture for the blog.) The contractions were anywhere from 1-5 minutes apart but the babies looked good and I wasn't dialating any further so I wasn't admitted and they sent us back to camp. The doctor said because my uterus is expanded to the size of full term for a normal pregnancy, my body thinks it needs to contract, so it is normal for me to have such frequent contractions throughout the remainder of my pregnancy. Oh goodie!  I'm just loving this chronic contraction business. I was told to come back if I started experiencing stronger pain or had other signs of labor.

Well, Monday morning brought that stronger pain. I woke up to strong contractions, body aches, chills, fever, and nausea. Uh oh, I don't think this is normal. Off to triage we go. "Oh hello, back again?" This time the news wasn't so good. I was running a temperature over 100 degrees, my blood pressure had shot up, I was dilated another centimeter, my heart rate was very high, and most concerning was the babies' heart rates were extremely high as well. I began to worry we would have to deliver that day for the babies' safety. I was so weak and out of it, I was sure there was no way I would be able to push them out! The doctor worried I had some sort of infection, virus, or the flu. They ran a whole battery of tests which included me getting stuck four separate times for blood work (twice because one nurse didn't know the other had already done it. Lucky me) and a nose swab for the flu (pleasant experience). They hooked me up to an iv, gave me meds for reducing the fever, and finally, hours after getting there in terrible pain, gave me the sweet nectar of a narcotic! Relief! Eventually everything came down: fever, heart rate, blood pressure, babies' heart rates. They aren't sure what caused all of it or what really helped, but I'm grateful to be pregnant another day. Besides, I looked absolutely terrible and wouldn't have been able to share a post-birth picture if I delivered yesterday!

34 weeks pregnant and the size of a normal 40 week pregnancy. Is it possible to grow larger?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pre-Term Labor at 33 Weeks

I had my first helicopter ride yesterday. You could say it was not exactly the experience I imagined it would be. On the Bachelor, there are always several dates consisting of a romantic fly over of some fabulous place with talk of how amazing the view is and how special the other person is. Well my experience consisted of me crying while leaving Nate on the helicopter pad, taking in the views to exotic Little Rock, and having conversation such as, "Let me check your urine bag" and "Do you need stockings on your feet?" But I‘m getting way ahead of myself.

I've been having contractions for several weeks now but last week they started occurring much more often. I talked with my doctor about it at my appointment, and he told me if it continued to come in and see him or go to the ER if it was after hours. I had a couple nights that I contemplated going to the hospital, but I didn't want to be a paranoid first time mom. The contractions always went away and I felt better in the morning, so I figured it was nothing. Saturday night, after several hours of pretty regular contractions, I decided to call the ER and speak with the OB doctor on-call. I explained the situation to her and she made me feel like I was overreacting and everything was fine. She told me to wait and see my doctor on Monday or if I REALLY felt it was necessary, I could come in and she would check my cervix if she thought it was necessary. I felt stupid after that conversation and decided not to worry about it.  Sunday night the same thing happened but I didn't call the hospital for fear that it would be the same doctor and she would just dismiss me again. So I decided I would go to my doctor's office first thing Monday morning.

Monday morning, I was one of the first people in the doctor's office and I was eager to talk to my doctor just to be reassured that everything was ok. Well I didn't even get to see my doctor. They had me talk with one of the nurses. I told her what had been going on and got the same feeling from her as I did the other doctor. I got the distinct impression of being dismissed again. I was told to drink water, lie down, empty my bladder, blah, blah, blah. I'd already done all those things and it hadn't made a bit of difference. Why couldn't I just see my doctor? I was sent away and told to call if I started bleeding or my water broke or something more serious. That was so frustrating to me. Why would I wait until I was actually in labor to get help?!?!? Hello, I'm trying to prevent having these twins too early. Apparently, nobody else thought there was anything wrong, so perhaps I really was paranoid.

I decided to just go about my normal day after that. I went to work, swam laps at the gym, came home and rested, went out to P.F. Chang's with friends. I was having contractions thoughout the day but they weren't super painful and I'd already talked to a doctor and a nurse about it and neither were concerned. The hospital is actually right by the restaurant, so when we left I just had a feeling that I should try one more time to get some help. If I was told it was nothing again, I would let it drop once and for all and stop worrying about it. Nate agreed, and we headed over to the ER. I was admitted, and the nurse hooked me up to some monitors to check the babies' heart rates and see how often my contractions were occuring. I actually felt like they were coming less often and less intense than before we got there, so I was sure I would be discharged and sent on my way. Turns out I was having contractions about every 4 minutes (which I wasn't even realizing half the time) and they decided to start me on magnesium to try and stop the contractions. Finally! Someone was taking me seriously! My nurse was an angel and the doctor on-call was one I'd actually met with when my doctor was out one time, and I felt I could trust him. I believe it was a tender mercy from God that this nurse and doctor were the one's taking care of me. So they started me on magnesium (which sucked), gave me steroid shot in the booty to help the babies' lungs develop (which sucked), and inserted a catheter (which sucked the very most!!!) The magnesium slowed my contractions a bit but not much. By 4:00 AM, the doctor told us we would be transported to the hospital in Little Rock that specializes in premies because there was a good chance these babies were coming.

Now we get to my helicopter ride. Nate wasn't allowed to go with me, so he would be making a 3+ hour drive down there instead. I didn't want to leave him and I was scared the babies would come before he would get there. It was an awful feeling leaving him on the helicopter pad, and I am sure it was just as bad for him helplessly watching me and the babies fly away. I spent the flight doubting myself and blaming myself. Maybe I put too much strain on myself giving Ollie a haircut, I should have stayed home from work and rested, I shouldn't have gone swimming, they say spicy food can cause labor and I should have listened, I got too prideful that my pregnancy was going so well that now I'm being punished. I don't honestly believe I brought this on myself, but at the time I was in a low place.

Nate hurried home to pack some things for us and get everything in order. But what do you do when you don't have any clue how long you will be gone for, when the babies are coming, or what you will need? You get awesome reinforcements from your friends and family, that's what you do. I was so amazed at how quickly word spread and we had people offering to take Ollie, take care of our lawn, check our mail, clean our house, do our laundry etc. I seriously have no words for how grateful I am for everyone who has jumped in to help. Not that there was ever a good time to go into pre-term labor but this was terrible timing. That morning we were supposed to get our carpet replaced, take Ollie to the vet, pick up some friends from the airport, and help them move in to their new place that night. Bryson and Alyssa stepped in to take care of all of that. We left our house in total disarray with all our living room furniture crammed into the kitchen and the carpet ripped out of the living room, but I know when we finally make it back home, everything will be in order thanks to them.

Back to the story. I arrived in Little Rock hours ahead of Nate. It was scary being alone and having to make decisions about what would be best for the babies, but I also felt a sense of peace. I felt I was in the best place possible and everything would be ok. Every time a different nurse or doctor came in, I got a different story: we're not going to delivery these babies today, we're trying for a vaginal delivery, we're doing a c-section, we need to wait until the second steroid shot can be administered and go into effect, your contractions are happening more frequently, your dilated a bit further, your contractions are slowing down. Finally the good news came that the contractions were under control, I wasn't dialating any further, and we were out of the woods for now. They removed the iv's, all the monitors, the catheter, and I was finally allowed to eat and drink and get out of bed for a little bit!

Today has been uneventful which is wonderful. They plan to keep me here indifinitely since things can change so quickly. The babies may come tomorrow or I may hangout here on bedrest for weeks. Who knows? All I know, is we have felt the prayers of so many said on our behalf. Everyday that passes improves the babies' prognosis and will hopefully decrease the time they have to spend in the NICU. I know God is a God of miracles and he is watching out for my little ones. We have faith that He has a plan for us and everything is going to work out for the best. I am so grateful for a loving husband who has been by my side faithfully (except when they made me leave him) and I am so blessed to be married to him. He is going to be a wonderful father! We appreciate continued love, support, and prayers from all of you.

Today they let me take a shower and wear pants!  After lying in my sweat in the same gown for days it felt amazing to shower and put on clean clothes. And my bum doesn't hang out for all the world to see anymore!