As of today I am 25 weeks. As of this past Thursday I was placed on hospital rest.
A little over a week ago I went in for a routine ultrasound. I was 23 weeks 5 days. Apparently my cervix seem to be dialated internally; the external portion was still closed, so effectively I was funneling more than I had previously.
While talking to the doctor, who was quite concerned, I was asked one of the first difficult questions I’ve been presented with along this journey. I was asked if I were to deliver within the next few days would I want to resuscitate the babies. My first thought was what kind of question was that? Of course I would want to resuscitate them! But, thinking about it logically I understood what she was getting at with the question. Given the number of issues a child born at barely 24 weeks could face some folks might be inclined to let the baby pass. Thinking about the mortality of these babies was so hard, given that I have been hoping to make it to 24 weeks, that this was the point where they would definitely have a chance, and realizing just that – that it is a chance, not a certainty.
Upon confirming that I would want them resuscitated, the doctor said I then needed to receive the steroid shot to help the babies lungs develop so they’d have a better chance of surviving if I delivered. So, I got sent to another wing to have the shot administered. I was told that I’d be hooked up to the monitor for 20 minutes to check heartbeats and for contractions after being given the shots, and that this was routine. However, when I got on the monitor everyone’s routine demeanor changed when they saw that I was contracting regularly, five within the span of ten minutes. The interesting thing was that I couldn’t feel anything, no contractions, none of the tightening, which surprised everyone.
The next day was a whirlwind. Everyone thought I was going to deliver. I was given magnesium sulfate for 24 hours to protect the babies’ brains and hopefully slow the contractions. After a miserable 24 hours, because that stuff makes you feel terrible and woozy, things seemed to have settled down. Fewer contractions, and I still couldn’t feel them.
The doctor in charge of the NICU came to talk to me, just to give me an idea of what it would mean to have babies at 24 weeks, and what happens in the NICU for babies younger than 28 weeks. While the conversation was informative, it was also terrifying. I do think it helped me, having that knowledge of what to expect, it was just overwhelming and heavy. So heavy.
When I made it officially to 24 weeks all the doctors were so happy. They were saying it was a legit miracle that I’d made it this far. I found out that the doctors hadn’t thought I’d make it that far after seeing what they saw at 16 weeks.
I thought I was in the clear, as well as some of the doctors, and was ready to go home. But one of the doctors, the one in charge wasn’t comfortable letting me go home, and was going to have me stay in the hospital a few more days, just to make absolutely sure.
And it’s good that she made that decision.
This past Tuesday, after describing some odd pain and pressure near my bowels I had a cervix check and it turns out I was 100% effaced and 4cm dilated. Also, after being put back on the monitors it was discovered that I was contracting regularly again, but again, I could not feel them. Once again, everyone thought I was going to deliver. The NICU was called, I was moved back to labor and delivery (as I’d been moved to the less urgent ante-partum wing). I went back on the magnesium, their thinking that this might get me at least another 12 hours before I delivered. I called my support people, thinking I was going to deliver soon. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more nervous and scared. The docs asked questions about how I wanted to deliver and what their recommendations were (c-section, but vertical given the early stage of the of the pregnancy, meaning the likelihood of ever delivering vaginally in the future would pretty much be impossible, or heavily discouraged).
Amazingly, the magnesium, which they decided to keep me on for almost 24 hours instead of 12, worked. Contractions slowed to a stop, and no more weird sensations in the lower abdomen.
After this event, the doctors all agreed that I could not go home, that at this point, I would need to stay in the hospital until I delivered the babies. The next goal was to make it to 25 weeks.
Today, at 25 weeks exactly, I am a mix of emotions. I made it another week. I am happy but anxious. Every day I stay pregnant is a victory. But everyday I wake up wondering if this is it, if this is the day. I’m focusing on the future, focusing on full term, but it is hard. Every new or random sensation makes me anxious and paranoid. Being in the hospital indefinitely, which I know is the best for all of us, is hard. I’m obviously willing to do whatever it takes for these babies to make it into the world safely, whatever it takes to give these babies a fighting chance. But I also have to acknowledge that this is hard.
I will say that I’m happy I’ve made it to 25 weeks, and I hope for many more weeks. I’m happy the babies consistently seem to be doing well. That they are both a good weight, above average even. I try to focus on these things when I can’t get sleep because of all the monitoring and vitals checks, all the poking, all the food issues (accommodating a vegan is apparently quite challenging). I try to focus on the the babies when things are hard.
Coincidentally, this past week I got random messages from a number of people I haven’t talked to in awhile. Folks just checking in to see how I was doing, or to say they were thinking of me. It’s as if the universe alerted them to the difficult week. I also learned that many folks in my family have been praying for me. They say this is why I have made it this far and will continue to make it. We may differ in our modes of faith, but I was/am so touched by all the support from them, their collective effort. I still can’t quite put it into words, but I was/am grateful.
I have come to accept that the future is unknown, that anything can happen with the start of every new day. I think I’ve made peace with that. Again, this doesn’t make it easy, but accepting this uncertainty does help. At this point I just have to take things one day at a time.
So here’s to another day.