For the past few weeks, my life has been very busy. I had a huge list of things to do such as working with Jaeger to create wills, buying life insurance, and generally making sure everything was ready when Calvin decided to arrive. According to all the stats that I could find, Calvin would most likely be born “late” after his due date (1st time baby, boy, Caucasian, etc). However, I had a weird feeling that he was going to be early so I wanted everything ready by the beginning of March which was when he technically became full-term. Similarly, I was trying to get all my major projects at work finished before March so we could hopefully make a smooth transition to supporting only critical issues.
Last Saturday morning I got up to exercise and then sat down to eat breakfast and surf the Internet. One of my tasks was to figure out how many weeks pregnant I was before showing up to church. Everyone keeps asking me this and it’s very embarrassing not to remember (one person told me I’m not allowed to forget until my second pregnancy). Once I verified that I was officially 32 weeks pregnant, I settled back to read some blogs.
Early in the pregnancy, I had stumbled across the Alpha Mom Pregnancy Calendar. The author is a writer who was experiencing her second pregnancy. I found her entries a lot more snarky and fun than the general week-by-week pregnancy guides. I hadn’t read it for a couple of weeks so I started by reading some back weeks and then came to her entry on week 32. In it, she discusses her first emergency visit to labor and delivery because she was excreting pinkish fluid. It turns out that it was just a UTI. However, she pointed out that if she hadn’t gone to the hospital, she would have been up all night worrying anyway. Later in the comments, a labor and delivery nurse mentioned that while paranoid mothers may be a little annoying at times, they are vastly preferably to those that think something might be wrong but don’t come in till it’s too late to do anything about it and end up with a dead baby.
Following breakfast, I went to church and had my normal stressed experience trying to make sure everything I was involved in ran correctly. This week was especially exciting because for a while, I thought our laptop had disappeared and I wasn’t sure how we were going to show the PowerPoint slides for the music/sermon. Like normal, it all worked out in an end. After church was over, I breathed a big sigh of relief and wandered back home to enjoy the rest of my “day off.” The rest of the afternoon was great. Jaeger and I lounged around together and I basically did a whole lot of nothing.
Around 6pm, I noticed that I appeared to be getting some “Braxton Hicks” contractions again. However, I’ve been having these very frequently for the last month so didn’t think anything of it (I should have paid more attention to this article about them). They seemed a little tighter than normal so I took a bath which my doctor had previously told me would help my body relax faster. It didn’t seem to help but it doesn’t always so I just resigned myself and went to bed. However, after laying down, I started getting a weird dull ache, very much like the beginning of menstrual cramps. I hadn’t specifically noticed these before and wondered if I should perhaps call my doctor. It didn’t hurt very much but after reading the Alpha Mom blog earlier in the day and consulting a pregnancy book about what was considered “normal,” I decided that I should call my doctor even if I did feel silly about it.
I went downstairs and decided to call the hospital first. I figured that staff at the hospital were obviously already working so if it was something extremely silly, they could tell me and I wouldn’t have to bother my doctor. They said I should go ahead and call my doctor so I did. Dr. L said that was I was feeling was probably normal but it didn’t hurt to quickly run to the hospital to get it checked out. I interrupted Jaeger in the midst of watching a TV show, told him was I was feeling was probably nothing but that the doctor suggested I swing by the hospital to get checked out. I felt very silly on the way to the hospital for making a big deal over what was probably nothing. Since it was around 10pm by the time we got to the hospital, we had to go in the emergency entrance. I felt even sillier when the receptionist inquired worriedly if I need to wait for a wheel chair before going up to L&D. I told her I was fine and I’d just walk (though at the time, I didn’t realize what a long trek it was from emergency to the L&D floor). We got to the secured L&D entrance and they buzzed us in. One of the nurses met us and I explained why we were there.
The nurse took us to their triage room and left me with instructions to get into one of the hospital gowns. Both Jaeger and I were flummoxed trying to figure out how to put it on but we eventually managed. The nurse came back and hooked my up to a fetal heart rate monitor and a contraction monitor. This is where our life became much more interesting than I was expecting.
Up to this point, I had been in very little pain so I expect the nurse also thought that we were being a little paranoid. However, once I was hooked up to the monitor, it became apparent that I really was having contractions and they were getting stronger and closer together (about 3-5 minutes apart). I don’t remember when but at some point they also checked my cervix and discovered I was 2 cm dilated. The nurse called my doctor and hoping to slow the contractions down, they gave me a shot (I believe it was Terbutaline) and then sat back to wait a couple of minutes. They also instructed me to drink about 1 L of water in 30 minutes. The shot was having no effect. They gave me another one which was also useless. At this point, the nurse appeared to start getting quite nervous. She called my doctor again and they started me on an IV of magnesium sulfite. My doctor arrived, checked me and discovered I was around 4 cm dilated (though my cervix was still pretty thick).
The medical staff were worried about how fast I was progressing and decided that I needed to be sent down to a hospital in Denver immediately as they apparently expected I was going to give birth that night/morning (I later learned that Longmont can’t handle infants younger than 34 weeks). After talking to Jaeger later, it appears that I was the only one that didn’t expect the imminent arrival of Calvin. Perhaps I was so oblivious because I figured there wasn’t much I could do about any of this other than stay calm. My denial also might have been due to still not feeling any specific pains during my contractions. I had it stuck in my head that I couldn’t really be in labor until it started hurting.
It took a while to arrange everything but eventually the helicopter arrived and Jaeger was given directions on how to get to the hospital. They bundled me up onto a narrow bench of a bed and wheeled me through the circuitous Longmont hospital corridors. We got to the helicopter and they lifted up my plank and slid it into a slot designed for it in the helicopter. I was amazed by how small the helicopter was. My bench/bed slid into the front section of the helicopter so I had an amazing view. It was my first helicopter ride and in spite of the situation, it was pretty incredible. The one downside to the ride was that it was pretty windy so the helicopter was constantly rocking back and forth. In my head I kept hearing, “rock-a-bye baby in the tree top, when the bow breaks . . . “
We got to Denver within 10-15 minutes and hovered for a few seconds while the pilot tried to stabilize the helicopter enough to land. Then they had to call the elevator to come up. The elevator rises out of the helicopter pad and apparently at some time in the past someone had sent it up without prior authorization while a Blackhawk helicopter was landing. Unfortunately, it hit the tail and caused major damage to the helicopter. After that, they wait until the people on the helicopter pad request the elevator before sending it up.
I was wheeled through more hospital corridors and ended up in a labor room being transferred to a labor bed. Several nurses made the comment that I was way too chipper for the medication I was on and the state I was suppose to be in. When they checked me again, it appeared that I was holding steady at 4cm. After that, there was a whole lot of hustle and bustle while they tried to stop the labor. At some point, they must have decided that labor wasn’t imminent after all. About an hour later, Jaeger showed up. I had been told that in the next 45min-1 hr (around 3AM) they would wheel me in to get an ultrasound. However, that didn’t happen so Jaeger and I fitfully dozed until 7:00. Just as I was calling to see if I could get a snack (I was starving) the nurses came back into the room and wheeled me out to get my ultrasound.
The ultrasound looked really good. Calvin was head down and my water hadn’t broken (though later they kept referring to my water as “bulging” and made it sound like they expected it to break at any moment). They estimated his weight (4lbs 11 oz apparently) and took a sample of amniotic fluid to check for infection and his lung development. I got wheeled back into my room and Jaeger and I explored the joys of ordering hospital food.
Throughout this time, the medical staff seemed to think I wasn’t exhibiting nearly enough side affects for the amount of magnesium sulfite I was on (Calvin also continued to be way more active than they expected. Throughout this entire experience he was obviously still enjoying himself immensely). They upped the dosage and told me to only drink sparingly to avoid diluting them medication (or something like that). That was really hard for me because my throat was extremely dry and I felt like I was dying of thirst.
We called our mothers to let them know our status and I emailed Susan to let her know that I wouldn’t be coming in to work. Jaeger went back to stock up on some more essentials and then returned for several hours. After discussion, we decided it didn’t make sense for him to skip work since it wasn’t apparent when/if I was going to continue labor so he went back home to sleep.
At midnight I received my second steroid shot. Monday the results from the amniotic fluid came back. Calvins lungs were right on target for his gestational age which unfortunately meant he wasnt ready to be born yet. However, the fluid itself looked very healthy and was free of infection. Later that day I was excited to be taken off the magnesium sulfite and instead started taking Procardia orally. This meant that I had fewer things stick into me though I still had to be on an intermittent IV for my antibiotic in case I was Strep B positive (which I later turned out to be but they switched me to oral medication for that too). As the magnesium cleared out of my system I slowly realized how fuzzy I had been for the past several days. Apparently I was still acting fairly coherent to those around me but once off, I could definitely feel my head clearing up (though being able to sleep some of the previous night probably also helped ).
Since Tuesday I’m been in a holding pattern. Jaeger comes and brings me takeout at night and then goes home to sleep. It’s an exhausting cycle for him I spend my days emailing cancellations to various people, making alternative arrangements for stuff and doing some work. This hospital has excellent internet connection so since Tuesday I’ve been able to work about 2 hrs a day. When I was told that I was going to be on bed rest for the foreseeable future, I thought I would be bored out of my mind. However, strange as it sounds, I don’t really have time to be bored. Every 2-4 hours a nurse will come in, check my vitals and administer various pills. I also have to be on the fetal heart rate and contraction monitors for at least an hour 3 times a day. In between that I will work and nap and suddenly my day is gone and Jaeger has arrived with food.
Yesterday we learned that Longmont officially will take me back at 34 weeks. However, if Calvin has any complications, he would get shipped back here to Denver. So, it sounds like the tentative plan for now is to transfer either back home or to Longmont hospital sometime around 34-35 weeks assuming Calvin hasn’t decided to be born before then. I’m a big planner so taking this one day at a time is hard but I’m trying to stay calm and let things happen as they occur.