November is Prematurity Awareness Month. RiverDog Prints supports one cause or charity a month and this one rests very close to home. I will be posting once a week in November, retelling my story of prematurity. I warn you before you read that some details are a bit graphic and personal, but anyone who has gone through this experience will know, that the details count for so much. You can support the March of Dimes by clicking the banner below, but first, read on for part two of my personal preemie story.
Bedrest during pregnancy. Not uncommon, but for anyone who has been doomed to it, knows that it is not easy. It sounds great, right? You don’t have to clean or cook or work, but you watch your house become cluttered and dirty and you can’t pick up your little ones when they ask. A three-year-old boy doesn’t understand bedrest because of a brother he hasn’t seen yet. And this was 2005, before Hulu, before on-demand video and before I owned a laptop.
My journey continued in bed and I was very good about resting. The only problem was my motility problem – the nicest way I can think of writing severe constipation. It’s not something you can stop doing – it’s something you have to fix. And no one was taking it seriously. I guess the assumption in the medical community was that I was just complaining about a typical side effect of pregnancy. It was very painful and never gave my body a chance to heal. This common side effect ended up putting my unborn child at severe risk.
I hung in at home for another few weeks. At the 25th week of gestation, I had another severe bleed. Back to the hospital we went and this time, I was admitted. Now, my baby was viable. Viable – what a strange word. I guess it should have put me little at ease because now they would do everything medically possible to save him. The doctor’s from the NICU (or more properly, neonatologists) visited with my husband and I to go over any questions and to suggest shots of antenatal steroids to help the baby’s lungs develop quickly in case of delivery. The neonatologists were honest and direct about all our questions and left us scared. Crazy scared. I had the shot of steroids within the hour and they found me a bed on the high-risk maternity ward.
For the next week and a half, I ate more regularly than I had in my whole life and had more needle sticks than I ever want to have again. And I’ve never been so bored, isolated and anxious. My husband would visit with Boo when he could, but he was working on and off, trying to save up his vacation time for when our family really needed him. Plus, my son was not yet three and was having a very hard time adjusting to me in the hospital. Must have been so scary for him. I kept complaining about my motility problem to every person in the never-ending stream of medical personnel that entered my room. Suggestions of more water, more fiber, excessive amounts of prune juice (I will NEVER drink that again), but no real remedy. It seems so ridiculous to me now. Why didn’t anyone put me on magnesium, as in Milk of? If I could go back, I would kick some serious medical tail!
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
Hadn’t had a shower for many days and the nurses allowed me to take one that morning. Yippee! But had another rough bout with motility and didn’t feel right most of the day. By evening, I really felt like I was beginning labor. Had an awful Resident, who was not listening to what I was actually describing to her. Thankfully, I had an awesome nurse, who realized that I was having very mild contractions, and guided the Resident into giving me IV fluids. This can help stop them and it did… for a few hours.
It was late, about midnight. The contractions came back and they were stronger this time. I was wheeled to the maternity ward to be given magnesium to stop the contractions for good. As the burning meds went into my arm, I called our home voicemail and left a message of what was up, so I wouldn’t wake my husband or Boo. The contractions did stop and I tried to get some rest. I think I slept for a few hours on my side, listening to the sounds of the monitors. That kid inside me was happy as could be. He really didn’t want to go anywhere.
In my morning, there was more blood than I had ever seen before and it was vibrant in color. Soon after, my husband was in the room and we were waiting for the doctor to discuss our options. In the meantime, I began to feel very weird – lightheaded and nauseous. Another savvy nurse realized my BP was super-low (50 over 30) and tipped the bed, so my head was lower than my feet. Not sure how I didn’t pass out – maybe just sheer Mommy willpower. I was NOT going to be out of it before we had made some decisions. As my blood pressure normalized, the doctor arrived and suggested we deliver as soon as possible. The bleeding seemed too severe and the steroid shots I had had a week and a half before should help our son do his best on the outside. My husband and I had been going back and forth on baby names. I remember him looking at me and saying, “So, his name will be Eli.” It was the name I had wanted. And there it was… our son was to be born.