Some of you may know that I am currently hanging out at the hospital, trying to keep my legs crossed and keep the babies from spraying out alien-style. For those of you who do not know that – I am in the hospital on bed rest and trying NOT to give birth.
And here is how this came to be.
I’ve been warned against trying to find all of the things that I could’ve, would’ve or should’ve done to avoid finding myself in this current situation. It’s hard, as the primary care giver for your little ones, to not go down that path. So hopefully, without too much self-blame, I can relate the story of how I came to be sitting in the mother-baby unit, still attached to both of my babies.
Since last Sunday, I’d been getting up way more frequently in the middle of the night, noticing that my stomach was very hard. A few times, I was even up every 30 to 45 minutes, which was kind of concerning. I realized by Tuesday night that the reason I was waking up so much was not necessarily to use the facilities as much as it was because I was experiencing abdominal discomfort.
Wednesday at work was fine – I put my feet up at my desk and cranked on some projects. By Wednesday night when I arrived home, I was noticing that same tightness in my abdomen. I told Frank to feel my stomach and he noticed it was really tight too. So we sat on the couch for an hour and counted about 4 or 5 “contractions”. They didn’t hurt, so I figured it was normal – after all, my uterus was measuring full term for a singleton baby.
Wednesday night was horrible. I was up very frequently and had a hard time sleeping. I eventually gave up and took a shower at 4:30 ish in the morning, with the intent of going into work early. The shower seemed to calm things down, though, and I took a little bit of a nap. Considering the tightness and how much I was up, I decided it was probably appropriate to see the doctor just to be sure that everything was OK.
I called the doctor, expecting an afternoon appointment, but instead, they wanted to see me as soon as I could get in. Completely believing that it was just the usual case of neurosis for me, I decided to wait until 10 a.m. to go in so that I could get a few things taken care of at work.
The visit to the doctor’s office was pretty uneventful. They hooked me up to the monitors and naturally, I didn’t have any contractions while I was sitting there (not surprising – mornings have been pretty quiet for me) and the babies seemed to be having a grand old time bouncing around. The doctor did a fetal fibronectin test which predicts with 99% accuracy whether or not a patient will go into pre-term labor within the next two weeks. She also checked my cervix and noted that while it was still long, I was dilated to 1 cm. Hrm, I thought. That’s kind of surprising.
Back to work I went. I decided earlier that week to do all of my maternity leave debriefs a bit early, just because I am having twins. Who knew that Thursday afternoon would be my last day in the office??
While I was sitting in my office, I noticed a few more “hard stomach” moments, but nothing crazy. I went home to Frank and had some dinner. Then he went out to visit with a friend and I settled down on the couch to write thank-you notes and watch TV.
Within a few minutes of writing the notes, I noticed that my stomach was getting hard at regular intervals. I logged on to contraction master and decided to just keep track of how many times I was contracting and for how long. After two hours of writing thank-you notes and watching HGTV, I had a very consistent pattern of contractions/tightness every 4-5 minutes, with a few instances of less than 3 minutes. The tightness was lasting 30-45 seconds, sometimes longer. My doctor had told me if it went on for longer than an hour, to call… at two hours of contracting, I figured I finally had to face the music.
See, I hate calling my doctor. Loathe it. It seems like every time something like this happens, it’s after hours. Blah. I told the nurse about the situation and she said she would talk to the doctor and get back to me.
Thinking it would be a while, I called Frank to tell him the scoop and advise him that he should probably start coming home. By the time I hung up with him, the nurse already called back and told me to head to Labor and Delivery immediately.
And of course, the only thing I hate more than calling my doctor is actually going to the hospital, especially when I’m not 100% sure that this “tightness” I was feeling was really “contractions” or just “typical twin pregnancy stuff.” Ugh. I mean, my uterus was measuring full term for just one baby – perhaps this was just all part of the joy of twins!
We didn’t pack anything because, really, I didn’t think I had to pack for an overnight stay. I figured I’d go in, they’d tell me I was nuts, and we’d be home in time for the 10 p.m. news.
On the way to the hospital, I had a few more “tightness” situations. We got to the hospital and of course, just like when you take your car to the mechanic, everything started feeling better. By the time they sat me down in the bed in Labor in Delivery (in the ridiculous gown that opens in the back) and hooked me up to the fetal monitors, I was 100% sure that they were going to tell me not to come back until the babies were crowning.
I actually said that to Frank: “They aren’t going to let me come back until the babies are crowning.”
While I was sitting in the bed, feeling ridiculous, I was having contractions 3 minutes apart. The OB on staff came in and did a cervical exam and announced that I was 3 cm dilated with a bulging sac.
I looked over at Frank and just said, “Well, that’s not very good.” And Frank knew that wasn’t very good because we already took the class and because he’s a good husband, he remembered what effacement was and what dilation meant and well, a bulging sac just never sounds good. So he looked back at me with wide eyes and nodded and we just sort of sat there, taking it in.
And then that’s when the craziness started. IVs were brought in, I was unceremoniously turned over and given a steroid shot in my tush. Then they started the magnesium and the contractions got worse. They were, at some points less than 2 minutes apart. The doctors wanted me to try to sleep and let the magnesium drip take affect, so they gave me an ambien, but the pain was pretty bad still and I definitely couldn’t sleep through it, so they gave me some pain medication.
I don’t remember sleeping a lot, but I think I got a few hours in. At 7 a.m., the contractions were still 5 minutes apart. We were getting nervous and still had four more hours until the next steroid shot could be administered to help mature the babies’ lungs.
Around 8 a.m., the contractions finally started to space out and we were able to breathe a sigh of relief for the moment. They kept the magnesium going and finally, everything seemed to be moving in the right direction.
So let me tell you about magnesium sulfate. It works because it relaxes your uterus – and everything else, too. Also fondly referred to as “mag”, this delightful concoction makes it harder to breathe, blocks up your sinuses and generally makes you feel like a wet noodle. Oh, and when mixed with Ambien, it causes hallucinations.
At 10 a.m., the perinatologist and OB came in to assess the damage. They wanted to keep me on the mag drip until I had my second round of steroids to mature the babies’ lungs. Then things kind of get foggy and blurry. At some point, I tried to go to sleep for the night, but was having a hard time sleeping because I was so hot (another mag side effect) and I couldn’t breathe. So they brought me a cool wash cloth and an Ambien. Hello, hallucinations. I woke up several times that night trying to get out of my bed, unsure if I was pregnant and wondering if the monitors I was wearing were guns or … monitors? I doused myself with a washcloth full of water, threw pillows on the floor and asked the nurse if I broke my water. I also asked the nurse if I was having triplets.
The nurse thought I was hilarious.
On Saturday morning, the perinatologist and OB had a pow-wow and determined the side effects of the mag were far worse than going into pre-term labor and so they stopped the drip. And then we started waiting again. Over the course of the next few hours, the nurses slowly disconnected me from the catheter, IV drips, etc. By Sunday, I was completely wireless and essentially contraction-free!
Since then, it’s just been a waiting game. The doctors feel that we’ve cleared a major hurdle and probably have at least another week before the babies make their grand entrance. This will let the babies’ mature further and spend less time in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU).
We’ve been so blessed with so many of our friends and family praying for us and thinking about us – it’s been such a boost! While this whole situation isn’t ideal and has both of us a little bit ragged, we are both keeping positive attitudes. Our doctors and nurses have been great and everyone has been very impressed with the babies’ activity levels and heart rates. And if these babies miraculously stay in until 34 weeks, I’ll get to go home because the doctors will no longer try to stop labor if it starts again.