I had surgery on Tuesday and it went very well. After they had monitored me through the night to be sure the baby and I are OK, they sent me back home for strict bed rest. I’m thrilled to be unhooked from all the wires and freed from the hourly checks and my heart goes out to the women that spend weeks on hospital bed rest.
I should explain more about what’s going on. I’m still hesitant to share too much, since there’s a limit to the amount of medical knowledge that needs to flow here, but the basic idea for preterm labor is that your body stops thinking it needs to hold onto the pregnancy and starts preparing to be finished with it all. To really break it down, there are two things that happen when you have a baby. One is that your muscles contract to push the baby out and the other is that your body allows the baby to be pushed out. In preterm labor, it’s possible that both things may be happening, but for women in my situation, there are no contractions to tell you that your body is doing this. There’s simply a “letting go” and usually the problem isn’t diagnosed until the baby has been born too early. It’s a heartbreaking problem because the common scenario is that you’re just walking around feeling completely healthy and suddenly you have a baby that hasn’t developed enough to survive outside of your body. Most often, it happens in this terrible window of time in which the baby looks perfect and may survive for a few hours, but is just a week or so short of being able to make it. The whole thing is very sad.
In our case, even though the last week has been very difficult, we are potentially looking at a miracle combination of circumstances. As I mentioned in my last post, the reason we found out that my body was doing this is because we returned for a second ultrasound after our baby wouldn’t cooperate during the gender scan. At the time of our first scan, everything was normal and there were absolutely no signs of preterm labor. Under the normal guidelines, I wasn’t due to have any other ultrasounds after that even though ultrasound is the only way to diagnose this condition (called cervical incompetency). If the baby hadn’t been stubborn about letting us see his heart and the doctor hadn’t decided to “treat” us to a whole second scan, we never would have seen that my body wasn’t hanging onto the baby. In fact, I was progressed enough that it’s likely he would have been born at some point in the last week, without any notice or warning. Instead, I’ve had a surgery designed to help support him and I’m on bed rest to keep gravity and pressure from making the problem worse. Instead of tragedy, we have hope.
It’s a time of very mixed feelings. I haven’t had much time to think “why is this happening to us?” because there’s really more reason to think about everything that hasn’t happened to us yet. As I mentioned, this is not how this story usually plays out. When I was seven, my mother gave birth to my brother far too early. She was, in fact, almost exactly at the same place in her pregnancy and one day he just came. More than twenty years have blurred the edges of that memory, but I remember panic, bleeding, a fast drive to the hospital, and a baby who stretched and grasped and turned dark from a lack of oxygen over the short hours that he was alive. When we first saw the problem on the ultrasound a week ago, I didn’t think there was any chance that we’d avoid meeting our son the same way. Everyday since then has been a surprise loosely bound by prayer, outside support, and complete reliance on medical guidance. It’s also been a testament to the fact that I married the right person, since Kyle and I have been together on this through every decision and risk. He’s such a rock. It’s impossible not to feel very lucky in light of our circumstances.
So there we have it: another day, another curve ball. Sorry, this is sort of turning out to be the worst mom blog ever with all of our weird problems and special circumstances. Keep your fingers crossed that I stay bored for a long time. The next big goal is nine weeks away and that’s where my focus is. Suggestions for movies, TV shows, and books are very welcome!