Friday, July 29, 2011

Pregnancy Journey

It has been a roller coaster of emotions for most of the summer.  I have wrote this a couple of times in my head and then decided against posting but I wanted to get it down so when we are through it all I will have a record of it.  After all, it is an important part of our pregnancy journey.  Just a warning before you start, it is long.

On June 13, I went in to the doctor because I was having some concerns about baby movement.  I had been having some cramps also but they weren't my primarily concern.  The doctor checked for the heartbeat and it was a strong 160.  She was concerned I might have a bladder infection so she put me on some antibiotics.  Also, for safety sake she decided to run a fetal fibronectin (fFN) test.   (Basically this tests for risks of preterm labor, for a more scientific explanation, you can check here).  We were all positive this test would come back negative.  I got a call about 4 hours after my appointment that it was positive and I needed to come into Labor and Delivery to run some tests and discuss options.

Needless to say, this was a very scary phone call to get.  I was 25 weeks and barely showing.  I wasn't prepared for a baby and didn't have any idea what the test really meant.  In fact when the nurse told me over the phone, the first thing out of my mouth was "I don't even know where Labor and Deliver are".

Thankfully my brother and sister-in-law were in visiting and drove me to meet Stephen at work.  He drove me to the hospital.  It was a very surreal experience.    Pushing the button on the elevator and then again on the door to tell labor and delivery I was here by doctor's order was hard.  They put me in a triage room to monitor me  for contractions and the baby's heartbeat .  This was an ordeal in itself because the baby was still so small, they had trouble picking it up with their normal sensors - it actually took 2 nurses and probably 1/2 hour (thankfully i had just heard the heartbeat 5 hours earlier at the doctors office so I wasn't concerned about that).

I was monitored for probably 3-4 hours before my doctor was able to come by (she had to deliver 2 babies and admit a patient from the emergency room before she got to us and she was very apologetic for having to wait).  She explained to us more what the positive result meant and what are options were.  Her recommendation was monitored for 24 hours and a round of steroid shots (at both ends of the monitoring).  I really didn't want to be in the hospital and Stephen really didn't want me to have to stay so he asked her if it would be possible to go home and it was.  I got my first shot that night and came back the next evening for another shot.   They monitored be again at that time and the heartbeat was strong.

After the steroids, I was to take it easy for the rest of the week (meaning no working and staying mostly off my feet) and to come back in the next Monday for another test.  All of this week, I clung to the hope that it was just a false positive (they can happen for many reasons).  Well the next Monday, I got my second positive test (this was followed up by 3 more positives in the next 6 weeks).  It was time to face what it meant.

We talked to the doctor and she said to prevent the onset of labor, I would have to be put on modified bed rest until 34 weeks with some possibility of restrictions being lifted along the way (34 weeks is when research has showed that by a year old, you can't tell the difference between a premature baby and an on time baby).  Being off work this early in my pregnancy was not something I expected and added more stress to an already stressful situation.  Thankfully, my boss has been very understanding.

For the first 2 weeks I was supposed to stay home and do nothing.  This is a lot more boring then it sounds.  Then you add to it that you just sit around and think about the what ifs, it makes for a very long and boring two weeks.

At 27 weeks (2 weeks after first positive test), the doctor lifted my restrictions to allow me to 2 social outings a week as long as they were less than 2 hours, were not walking around (so no shopping) and I was willing to cancel them based on how I felt.  I didn't always feel up to going out twice a week but it was nice to have the option and when I did it was nice to see something besides the walls of my house.

So basically for the past 6 weeks my life has consisted of reading, watched TV and movies, finding the end of the Internet (trust me its out there), and spending a lot of time thinking, worrying, and wondering.  I have had some great friends come by and visit to help me pass the time and I appreciate it more than they have any idea.   I have also had more people praying for our baby then I even probably know.

I have gone to the doctor every Monday since that first test and every time she say has happy she is to see me because it means the baby is still cooking.  At 29 weeks, we talked about what exactly it meant that I hadn't had the baby in the past 4 weeks.  I am thankful I didn't really google to find out because it was easier afterwards to know then before (basically from 25-29 weeks, if I had delivered we would have been looking at survival issues not just preemie issues).  We still have milestones to meet but they aren't as scary as those.

This past Monday, I was 31 weeks and the doctor released me to do more activities.  She still wants me to limit my activities to no more than 1/2 day but the hopes are I will do well and possibly be able to back to work part time next week.  We also discussed what milestones lay ahead.  My goal now is to reach 35 weeks because this means I will be able to deliver in a normal room and our baby won't have to immediately be rushed to NICU.  I am 32 weeks tomorrow and have made it almost 7 weeks since this all started, so this seems easily achievable.

Stephen has been a rock through all of this and a constant source of support.  He is definitely the positive outlooker in our family.  In fact, if you ask him, this kid is going to come right when due.  He has also stepped up and done a ton, since I haven't really been able to do anything.  He has basically done the entire nursery from scratch by himself (with possibly some bossing from me that most likely wasn't needed). I don't have any idea how I would have made it through this summer without him.

So what's to come....I have my first shower this weekend and then another next.  I hope to be able to go back to work at least a little bit next week.  I am hoping to stay an incubator for this kid for at least another 4 weeks and hopefully even longer.  I will be visiting my doctor every Monday until I deliver and hope that she gets to see me a ton more times and is tired of it before it ends.  I plan to blog both the showers and the nursery.

Before ending this post, I want to thank everyone again who has sent good thoughts, visited, called, facebooked, texted, etc.  It has meant a lot to see all the support we have, some of which I didn't even realize was there.  I hope to never have to reach out to that support network again but it is great to know it is there if needed.

And since this was a long boring post with no pictures that go with it.  Here are pictures of my constant company and sometimes entertainment for the summer.

PS: I am impressed if you made it all the way through this.

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