Sunday, August 30, 2009

Our Story

I'm really good at getting pregnant.

I suck at staying pregnant.

I've had 3 pregnancies. The first ended at 6 weeks in a natural miscarriage. I got pregnant again the first cycle after the miscarriage (not recommended by most doctors, by the way!) and carried that pregnancy to 26 weeks exactly, when I went into preterm labor. By the time I was admitted to a hospital competent enough to know that I was actually in preterm labor and not having Braxton Hicks contractions (long story that I don't plan to cover here), I was dilated 8 cm with the baby at +2 station. The only option was to deliver! So deliver I did - the most beautiful baby girl. She was 1 lb 15 oz, 13 inches long. Tons of hair. She let out a tiny cry, but was immediately intubated and taken to - where else?! - the NICU!

Our time there was a blur to say the least. I pumped every 2 hours around the clock, and visited her in between. We had the most amazing NICU nurses. I really had no idea what had just hit us, and they made sure we took lots of pictures and allowed us to have a few special moments with our baby girl. Unfortunately, 46 hours after her birth, she took a turn for the worst, and started bleeding in her lungs. She passed away gently in our arms. (For more about baby Gabriella and pregnancy/infant loss, visit my loss blog,

Three months later, I had the okay from my obstetrician to start TTC again. Being the getting pregnant superstar that I am, I got pregnant right away. Immediately I was terrified and had no idea what I had been thinking, wanting to get pregnant again. I lived in constant worry during the first trimester, inspecting the toilet paper meticulously each time I used the restroom, as all moms with previous miscarriages do. But miraculously, I made it through! I had a great plan with my OB to get 17P shots every week, and get an ultrasound of my cervix every 2 weeks, both starting at 15 weeks gestation. We decided not to do a cerclage, since my labor seemed to have been true preterm labor.

Ha. We were dead wrong. One day, when I was 23 weeks along, I was having an unusual amount of Braxton Hicks contractions. I thought it was weird, so I went to lay down on my left side and drink water - the cure for everything that ails you in pregnancy. After an hour or so, it wasn't working. I wasn't too worried, since my cervix had been beautifully long and closed at my last ultrasound. And it's normal to have Braxton Hicks, anyway. But just to be safe, I called the answering service at my OB's office, who put me through to the doctor on call that night. She said she wasn't worried, but because of my history encouraged me to come in so I could get some sleep that night. I agreed, and once my hubby got off work, we trotted over to Labor and Delivery.

I was a centimeter and a half dilated.

So I was admitted and put on strict bed rest. I had an ultrasound the next day that showed a dynamic, funneling cervix(apretty sure sign that my problem was Incompetent Cervix). After a few days, when they couldn't get my irritable uterus to calm down, and my cervix still looked crappy, they chickened out and sent me across town to a hospital with a Level III NICU.

And there I stayed. For 5 weeks. Only getting up to go to the bathroom, and to shower every other day. Once a week I got to be wheeled over to my ultrasound appointments. It was really the highlight of my week.

But one day... my irritable uterus felt different. I was feeling crampy as opposed to just tightening, Braxton Hicks-ish feelings. When it didn't quit, my wonderful nurse Patsy got the doctor in to check me. Sure enough, I was 3 cm dilated.

So I left Antepartum for the last time, and went to Labor and Delivery to be put on the dreaded magnesium sulfate. After about 2 hours on that, I was still contracting and I was checked again. 6 centimeters. The doctor gently told me that tonight was the night.. I was going to deliver another preemie. I hadn't expected to carry to term, of course, but I had been hoping to get closer than 28 weeks, 6 days. I tried to prepare myself for another preemie (ha!) as they shut off the mag, and waited to progress.

About an hour after the mag was stopped.. I stopped contracting so often. I was only contracting every twenty minutes. Painfully, but only every twenty minutes. I was checked again a few hours later... and I was still at 6 centimeters.

The next morning my doctor assured me that my water would break, or contractions would pick up, and I would deliver within 48 hours. So my husband called his work to let them know, and we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I was contracting every 20 minutes in Labor and Delivery for four days. Between 4pm and 11pm, I would start contracting every 2-3 minutes.. but right at 11.. they would just fizzle out.

I was so happy that the baby got more time in my tummy. But come on. In Labor and Delivery for four days?! What kind of joke is this? Not a funny one.

On the fourth day, I woke up after a good night's rest, thanks to Ambien. I was contracting! Every 5 minutes or so, it seemed. How odd. I didn't let it trouble me though. I was sure it was going to stop. But it just got worse, so finally I told my nurse when she came in to get my vitals. She let the doctor know, and he ordered a shot of terbutaline. While I was in active labor. After my OB and perinatologist had both agreed that we would not stop labor but not encourage it either, as being 6 cm dilated with membranes bulging carries significant risk of infection. Anyway, it did nothing but make me shaky and irritable. Three hours later, I knew it was time. I told my husband to tell the nurse that I felt like pushing, and it might be nice if someone could check me. Sure enough, I was 9 1/2 centimeters.

The doctor came, NICU came, and my baby boy was born weighing 3 lbs 6 ounces, and screaming his little tiny head off! It was the most beautiful noise I had ever heard. He was not intubated other than to give surfactant. They whisked him away to the NICU, and we were Living the NICU Life. Again.