Saturday, September 19, 2015

False Alarm at 32 weeks 4 days

If only all hospital beds were as nice as on the Mother Baby Unit!
We had a bit of a scare this week! Saturday I was in our church temple when I noted some uncomfortable left sided crampy back pain. It was uncomfortable enough I found myself wishing the two hour session I was sitting through would be over instead of really savoring any kind of spiritual experience I was hoping to have. I felt a bit better throughout the rest of the day until the evening when the discomfort came back. We decided to ride it out and call the doctor if I wasn't feeling better by morning. I took a bath and felt quite a bit better as we watched the BYU football victory on TV.

The next morning I woke to use the bathroom. I got back in bed and noticed the pain in my back had returned. Abe was already gone for a church meeting but he encouraged me to contact my doctor. She happened to be out of town on vacation but texted me back to tell me it was probably nothing but worth checking out. I threw on some comfy clothes, texted Abe, and drove to the hospital after calling Labor and Delivery.

Walking in I realized I felt worse than I thought. It seemed like a long walk from the car. Still, I checked in to Labor and Delivery thinking it was nothing and they would send me home in time for church. I emphasized my sister's issues with HELLP syndrome and how this was caught late so requested they keep that on their radar. They did a cervical exam and noted that my cervix had thinned to about 1.5 cm (our last early on had been 4 cm) and I was dilated to 1cm. They said this wasn't normal but could have been going on for weeks so they wanted to keep me for observation to see if it was actively changing. They checked my blood to rule out HELLP (everything was great and I wasn't even anemic), a urinalysis, and a non-stress test of the babies. They had some concerns about a possible UTI, which can trigger labor. The babies looked great, baby A was still head down and baby B still breech and heart rates very good.

I got settled into a room on the Labor and Delivery Unit. Abe made it home from his meeting not realizing at first I was actually already at the hospital and not waiting for him to take me there. Most importantly, they gave me my first dose of steroid (by an injection in the hip) to accelerate the babies' development. As an old IVF veteran this didn't bother me much. They started an IV (my hand vein has been so huge they didn't even use a tourniquet) to give me precautionary penicillin (not knowing my group B strep results) and nifedipine to help slow down/stop possible contractions. It seemed the back cramping was coming more frequently at this point. They monitored my blood pressure and pulse as they gave me a loading dose of the nifedipine every 15 minutes. I couldn't take the last dose because of nausea, dizziness, and low blood pressure. Abe went back to church for an hour while I waited things out. They resumed the nifedipine every 6 hours which seemed to slow the frequency of the pain.

In the meantime, they checked my cervix two hours after my admission, which they thought had thinned to 1 cm.  So yes, I was in labor. They also had the NICU team come and introduce themselves and answer any questions I had. That made it feel a little more real! I had been feeling pretty calm but even though intellectually I knew that what they were telling me about prognosis rates for 32 weekers was a good thing, I felt a little nervous.

Abe made it back and I continued to rest in bed with monitors on my belly for the babies and contractions. Everyone kept asking me about contractions but they were hard to identify -- again, mostly just left sided low back pain that would last for a long time (20-60 minutes? or longer?). I never felt any abdominal discomfort and it wasn't like what I had heard about timing so I felt unsure what was happening or how I was feeling. I felt hungry and a little nauseated. I hadn't eaten anything except 6 oz of applesauce on my way to the hospital, and it was hard to move with the monitors and the discomfort but the time went by amazingly fast.

Emotionally, I felt surprisingly calm. But I had a few moments of fear. I wasn't ready for the babies yet, we thought we still had weeks. I didn't even pack a hospital bag or bring anything with me, thinking I would have time to still change and make it to church after being checked that morning. I started feeling pangs of guilt and inadequacy for potentially not being able to keep the babies in longer to keep them safe and healthy, for not going in to the hospital early, and even for having a potential UTI (which I think was probably accurate as after I received antibiotics my required trips to the bathroom cut down by 1/2 or more!). I also felt torn because as time went by I was uncomfortable enough and unsure how long this would all take to play out that I was kind of wishing they would "just come" so I could be out of pain and just be excited about the babies. But then that brought more guilt because I knew keeping the babies in place was really the best thing!

By the evening, I had a number of visitors which was nice. The babies and I seemed to be stable so they let me off the monitors for the night and I took a bath in the giant whirlpool tub, I finally got some food, and then we went to bed. I didn't sleep at all until the nurse gave me an ambien at 2:30 am. I woke up at 3:30 am to a clenching pain in my back. I was wimpering in pain and really wanted to get up to use the bathroom but couldn't move. I was hoping Abe would wake up but it took a few minutes and I wasn't in the right state of mind to speak louder or wake him beyond my panting in pain. He finally heard me and he and the nurse helped me get more comfortable. The pain subsided after about 5 minutes and I tried to sleep again. This happened again 3 times about every 45 minutes.

At this point I thought the babies were coming. They increased my nifedipine dose and gave me some morphine (thank you!). I knew the team was getting nervous when they came in with my second steroid shot (this time it was quite painful) for the babies at 7:30 am instead of 11 am like we had initially planned (they like to space it out 24 hours) and we started talking about delivery plans. I thought for sure they must be on their way, but luckily the medication seemed to start working more and the severe contractions I had had calmed down. I was able to get comfortable with tylenol and a warm heating pad. I got off the monitors and took another bath and had a quiet rest of the day. By the evening, I was back off the monitors and they transferred me to the much more comfortable Mother Baby Unit. They switched my nifedipine to as needed and stopped my every four hour dose of penicillin (thank goodness because the horrible burning that caused in my IV was about as bad as the worst of the contractions I had).

I got a wonderful night of sleep and woke up Tuesday feeling pretty good. The doctors seemed happy things held off long enough for the babies to get their two doses of steroids in and that I was mostly feeling better. We did some more monitoring of the babies, I took another bath, and then we got to go home about 3 pm. I dreaded going home to my house which was in a state of disarray but my MIL wonderfully helped clean up and get things ready for us. It was wonderful that Abe was able to take me home and get me settled before heading back to work. I had been lucky that his department had been so flexible with him during my hospital stay! He was off on Sunday, they unassigned him from scheduled patient duties on Monday, and he was pretty available to pop in and out on Tuesday.
Tired after days of pain and poor sleep!

Thank you to all of the wonderful and accommodating staff at the hospital and all the friends and family saying prayers, checking in, bringing meals, and helping me around the house. We are lucky to have such a good support system and a lot of love for these babies already!

A little pampering!  
This picture cracks me up. I have a big smile on my face as I break into my food after not eating for hours!
I'm not sure if that is why I'm smiling or not but it makes me laugh looking at it!

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