Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hospital Field Trip

Tuesday, true to form, was another 'bad' day for contractions. It seems like every Tuesday I have more than any other day (my guess is that it's because I get my progesterone injections on Wednesdays, and the medicine has worn off by Tuesday, but I could be completely wrong), and this week was no exception. I started having contractions before I even got out of bed that morning, around 7am, and they continued all day. I'd get a break, and have an hour or two with maybe 15 minutes in between, but for most of the day they had been about 5-8 minutes apart. I waited until Superman and Little Miss got home from dance class, and headed to the hospital.

I was finally admitted around 5:40. I was expecting the same thing as the past two visits - possibly another Fetal Fibronectin test, an internal check by the dr or a nurse, a Procardia pill to slow down/stop contractions, and a few hours hooked up to the monitor to watch contractions and baby's heart rate. When all of that happened, and the dr hadn't come in, I figured he wasn't too worried, and they'd just send me home (again) with instructions to call or come back if I started having more issues.

Around 10:30, the nurse came in and told me they were going to admit me for the night, give me more Procardia every 6 hours, give me the Betamethasone (steroid) injections, and keep the baby and contractions on the monitor all night, then do an ultrasound in the morning and go from there. Not too happy, but not incredibly surprised, either, I called Superman and we figured out what we would do with the kids the next day, since he's in a class and he can't miss too much time without having to repeat the whole thing.

They moved me from triage (which is just one big room with 4 beds, separated by curtains) into a regular room, and came in around 11:30 with the shot. Let me just say, these are THE most painful shots I've ever gotten. They burn SO BAD when they're going in. I had to laugh so I didn't cry.

They had to try to keep the baby on the monitor, which meant a LOT of interruptions, since he's so small still that he's got a lot of room to swim around, so he kept moving off the monitor, and the nurse had to keep coming in to adjust it. Then I was due for vitals and another Procardia around 1:30, so they woke me up for that, and I really didn't sleep much that night. At all. The bed, even with the extra pad to make it 'comfy', was so hard, and the constant beeping of the monitor, combined with the glow from the computer screen, the sound of the baby's heartbeat, and the noises the monitor made whenever the baby moved, and the noise from the hall, didn't help much either.

Finally, around 7:30, I gave up trying to sleep. I had to take another Procardia, and they had ordered an ultrasound, so I had to get up for that anyway. I was hoping Superman would make it to the hospital in time for my ultrasound, since he hasn't been able to make it to one yet this pregnancy, but he got there as I was finishing up and heading back to my room. The baby looked great - he's measuring perfectly (they moved me back to my original due date of January 19), and was moving like crazy. It's always amazing to see what's going on inside, when all I usually get to see is the bumps and movement from the outside. He had the hiccups, which was really cute to see. His heart and other organs are perfect, as is the placenta and the amount of amniotic fluid. And, for some reason, I've been paranoid that it's not a boy, that somehow the first ultrasound was wrong, so I had her double check, and he definitely is a he.

When I got back to my room, Superman, Little Miss, and a friend who was going to watch her today were there. The dr came in to talk to me, and basically said what I was expecting - baby is perfect, but way too early - if he were to come now, he'd have about a 55% chance of surviving, and even then, likely with a lot of medical problems. I'm not dilated, really, more than I was the week before when I was at the hospital for monitoring. The Fetal Fibronectin test was positive (meaning that there was about a 50% chance of true labor in the next two weeks), and I was still on strict bed rest and pelvic rest until my next appointment. He also said that if I continued to have issues, and if I started dilating more, even being on strict bed rest, they would likely send me to Tucson to be admitted, since they have an actual NICU there, and only a level II nursery here, so they can't care for a baby born before 34 weeks. He also said that they were going to keep me until about 11pm, so they could give me the second dose of Betamethasone (they have to be about 24 hours apart), and then, if everything looked good, they'd send me home. He also ordered intermittent monitoring, only when I was having contractions closer than 10 minutes, rather than having me hooked up 24/7.

It was one of the most boring days ever. At least at home I have the distraction of the kids, and the dogs, and I can change positions on the couch, or move to my bed. Superman had a normal day at work (opposed to getting off between 3-4 most of the past few weeks), and he picked up the kiddos and headed over after they had dinner. It was so nice to see my babies! It had been just over 24 hours since I'd seen them, but it felt like forever. They were a bit crazy, but it was good to get a few minutes of cuddles.

The dr came back in after they left, and just reiterated everything he'd said that morning. I can sit up for a little while, but I'm supposed to be mostly reclined to keep pressure off my cervix. I can get up to use the bathroom, and I can have a 5-minute shower every day. That's it. Of course, he wants the baby to stay in as long as possible, but the earliest he can deliver without sending me to Tucson is 34 weeks... 9 1/2 weeks from now. This is going to be HARD if I'm on bed rest for the next 9 1/2 weeks. But I would MUCH rather be here, on the couch or in bed, than in Tucson, in the NICU, with a preemie, worried about his health.

He left, and I tried to get some rest, but the nurse surprised me when she came in around 9:00 with my shot. She said he had given permission for me to get it early so I could get home before midnight and get some rest. So I got the shot (ouch!) and another dose of Procardia. They kept me for about 20 minutes to make sure I didn't have a random reaction, had me sign the release paperwork, and sent me on my way. Superman had dropped the car off for me when he came back that evening, so I was able to drive myself home.

I got home, loved on the dogs, who acted like they hadn't seen me in a year, and sat on the couch with Superman for a few minutes. Then we got up and went into the kitchen, because it was Wednesday, which meant time for my Progesterone injection (3 shots in less than 24 hours... lucky me!). While I was standing up in there, my feet and calves swelled up, and my calves turned bright red and got super itchy. I'd been on the same meds for the past 24 hours, so it couldn't have been an allergic reaction... So it was from not using my legs at all for the past day and a half. It was literally 10 steps from my bed to the toilet and back, and anywhere I went they took me in a wheelchair. I had Superman rub my calves and feet, and that helped a ton. I can't believe how quickly your body starts to react to lack of movement and use!

I feel so lucky for all of my blessings. Sure, this situation royally SUCKS, but I could never get through it if I didn't have such an amazing, supportive husband, awesome kids, and a great network of friends and acquaintances through the Army and church. Superman really is super, my babies are so sweet and thoughtful, and we have been getting so much help from the ladies at church. They have brought dinner EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. since I was put on bed rest last week, have been driving my kids to/from school, watching them and taking them for play dates, and this morning a few sweet ladies came over to help clean the house, to give Superman a little break. My friend who watched Little Miss yesterday mopped the house and picked up, and took the kids to the park for a while after Brother Bear got out of school. I was worried when we moved here that it would be hard to meet people, and honestly, it was, until this 'drama' happened. It's truly amazing to see what big hearts people have. It is SO hard for me to accept help - I would rather be the one helping - but I know what a blessing it is to be able to serve others, and who am I to deny someone those blessings, just because I'm proud?

9 1/2 weeks. December 8th. I can do this.

(No matter how sad I am to miss both of my kids' field trips to pumpkin patches, trick or treating, not be able to go out for my birthday, or shop for baby stuff, or probably make my family's first Thanksgiving dinner away from our extended families, or probably go to most of Brother Bear's flag football games, and all of the other fun things... fall is my favorite season! No matter how much all of that bums me out, I have to think about what is best for this baby, and what is best for the rest of my family. We can do this.)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Oh, Pregnancy...

I figured that since I'm on bed rest now, and haven't blogged or journaled at all this entire pregnancy (other than the occasional facebook status), I would start, to fill some of the spare time.

I found out I was pregnant the morning of May 8. I had been starving, and just didn’t have a ton of energy, so I took a test. Positive. After a miscarriage in January, I wasn’t sure I wanted to try again, especially not so soon, and it was an absolute ‘oops.’ It took me a while to be ok with it, even longer to get happy about the fact that I was pregnant.

I had been incredibly sick in the beginning - at one point, I lost over 5lb in less than 5 days. After spending an afternoon in the ER getting fluids and IV meds, and being sent home with a prescription for nausea meds, I was able to eat, and sort of hold food/water down, and I gained the weight back.

It was so frustrating though. I had enrolled in classes at the community college, and was planning on finishing my AA in Photography. Thanks to being so sick all of the time, I was forced to drop the classes.

In the midst of being sick constantly, we also found out that we were moving. We had known for about a year that Superman would be moving to Arizona, but we had been told that due to lack of medical services in the small town where the base was located, the kids and I wouldn’t be authorized to go with him. Since January, we had been trying to get information on whether they would be paying for our housing, in addition to giving him a housing allowance. Seven months later, on July 3, we were told that they would only pay for one home, and that the person/people who told him he wasn’t authorized to take his family didn’t know what they were talking about and didn’t have the authority to make that decision. So he could either move his family with him, or we could pay for his living costs out of pocket. We couldn’t afford that, and he had to report by August 3. So we had less than a month to get the move scheduled and planned, find a house, get everything in order, and move to Arizona.

We got it all figured out, after lots of stress, and we left Colorado on July 31 to head down here. In the car on the way, I thought I was feeling the baby move, but I wasn’t sure. A few days later, though, it was obvious - it was definitely the baby!

Around 16 weeks I started feeling cramping and contractions. I tried to make an appointment with an OB office, but it was difficult to get in. They wanted to do an ultrasound ‘to confirm viability’ (yes, they said that) before I could see a doctor. Even though I was having contractions. I had the ultrasound on August 8th. And it’s a BOY!

Then, since they’re based in Tucson and just come down to Sierra Vista twice a week, I had to be seen IN Tucson for my first appointment, meaning I could either take my kids out of school during their first week in, or I could wait two weeks to be seen. They also only deliver in Tucson. I wasn’t too worried, just frustrated. Then, the contractions started getting a lot worse, and they were incredibly rude, telling me that there was nothing they could/would do if I was contracting this early (not true), and that I was probably just going to miscarry, so just hang out, and go to the ER if I was really that worried.

I promptly changed doctors to another OB who is local, and delivers here in Sierra Vista. They were able to get me in the next morning to see the PA. She was HORRIBLE! Didn’t make eye contact more than twice the entire visit, didn’t smile once, NO bedside manner, no manners, period. Definitely NOT someone who should be working with nervous pregnant women. I also asked her about starting Progesterone injections, which  my OB from Colorado (whom I absolutely LOVED) had wanted to start around 14 weeks, to try to prevent preterm labor, but didn’t start because I was moving. She told me that they wouldn’t start until after 20 weeks.

Three weeks later, on August 28, I was finally able to see the OB. He said I should have started the injections earlier (obviously). I wasn’t dilating at all, so contractions weren’t doing anything, thank goodness.

I had been having contractions a lot. The ‘protocol’ for contractions is more than 6 an hour, you’re supposed to call the dr’s office, and they usually send you in to be monitored, but since I’d had the same issues with Brother Bear and Little Miss, I didn’t get too concerned unless I’d been having them more than 6 minutes apart for a few hours. Finally, on September 10, I decided to call. It had been a pretty rough day, contraction-wise, and I was starting to get concerned. They sent me to L&D to be monitored, and, of course, as soon as I got there, the contractions slowed down a lot. Plus, they didn’t have the monitors set up right, so the contractions I WAS having weren’t even showing up. They told me to go home, take it easy, basically modified bed rest - lie down as much as possible, and call with any issues.

I had an appt the next week (September 18), and they did a cervical ultrasound. My cervix had shortened since my last ultrasound, but it was still in the ‘normal’ range, so the dr wasn’t too concerned. He said we’d do another one at my next appointment and to call with any issues. I was measuring at 23cm, which, for almost 23 weeks, is perfect.

Then, on September 24, I went back to L&D. I had been having contractions all day, which wasn’t abnormal, but nothing was making them stop, and they were getting more and more painful. I was on the monitor for a few hours, contracting ever 6-8 minutes. They weren’t incredibly strong, but they were consistent. They gave me a pill that’s used to stop contractions, and it worked to slow them down to about 15 minutes apart. They also did a Fetal Fibronectin test (which is basically a swab for the protein that binds the amniotic sac to the inside of the uterus). The test isn’t absolute - and a negative result is a lot more important than a positive result. If it’s negative, the chances of going into labor/delivering in the next two weeks is less than 5%. If positive, the chances are about 50%. So, obviously, they’re hoping for a negative. It was positive. The nurse checked for dilation, and I was starting to dilate… So the result of that is… Bed Rest. Until my next appointment, on October 16th. Three weeks.

The earliest they will deliver a baby in the hospital here is 34 weeks. Obviously, the closer to 40 weeks, the better. Brother Bear was born at 37, Little Miss was born at 35. I’m hoping this time, to just get far enough to not have to go to Tucson to deliver, and  not have the baby have to be transferred to the NICU in Tucson.

As of today, I am 24 weeks and 2 days, and on day 5 of bed rest. It is the hardest thing to stay down. There is so much that needs to be done, boxes that need to be unpacked, a house that needs to be cleaned… And I feel SO guilty. Guilty for not being able to play with the kids, or help them really do much of anything. Guilty for them having to basically fend for themselves after school (and Little Miss, before school). Guilty for Superman having to get up at 4:30am to go to PT early, so he can come home, help get Brother Bear ready for school, make lunches for him and Brother Bear , drop him off at school, and get to work on time. Guilty for Superman having to work all day, then come home, feed the kids, clean the house, bathe and get the kids ready for bed, and then work on whatever homework he has. Guilty for having to ask him to do EVERYTHING for me - from getting me snacks, filling up  my water bottle, washing the laundry. Guilty for not being able to help, literally, at all. (even sitting up for more than 15 minutes to fold laundry causes contractions). Guilty for having people from church bringing meals to us every day. Guilty for having to ask people to pick my kids up from school. Incredibly guilty for not being able to go with Little Miss on her first field trip ever. Logically, I know that I’m doing what I have to do to keep this baby healthy and growing, and that it’s less stressful to be in bed than it would be to have to be in Tucson at the NICU for months with a preemie… But it’s hard for me to let people help.

I am so thankful for the amazing help we’ve been getting… I just can’t wait to be able to help myself, and actually be a mom to my kids, instead of a lump on the couch.