I woke up at 5 AM, same as usual. We were going to go to the gym. It had been a typical stressful week for me; I failed both my gestational diabetes tests by a little bit on Monday and Tuesday and had just figured out how to use a glucometer.
Then there was the voting fiasco for Colors Day at school. I was tired, but not exhausted, but all of that changed when I got up to go to the bathroom. There was some old blood in my underwear. I called for Chris and we decided to call and ask someone. He couldn’t get ahold of my doctor’s office, so I called my insurance nurse line, and as I was on the phone, there was more blood, fresh blood.
We had to go in.
We had known with my low-lying placenta that this could be a thing; that I could wake up to 1-2 cups (!!) of blood and things might not be lost. Luckily, it wasn’t that much, but it was enough to be concerning. I was 28 weeks and 2 days pregnant.
In the ER, they changed my clothes, took my vitals, and hooked me up to monitors while they waited on ultrasound to arrive. Apparently I was having contractions 1-2 minutes apart and had no idea. Eventually ultrasound arrived, and although the baby looked great, the fibroid had migrated upward, and my cervix was still nice and long and unchanged, my placenta previa was complete; the placenta was over the cervix entirely. I heard varying opinions on why I had started bleeding; the bleeding caused contractions or the contractions caused bleeding (clearly a chicken and egg scenario), but what was clear was that I was going to be admitted for 48 hours to try and stop the contractions.
They admitted me, gave me a steroid shot for baby’s lungs just in case, and immediately started the high doses of intravenous magnesium. It was awful. The catheter was awful. Just as they suggested, it felt like I was getting the flu. I wasn’t comfortable enough to sleep, I felt hot, loopy, and gross. The only encouragement was that slowly over the course of the day, the contractions slowed down.
My friends from school sent me flowers. Chris was there most of the day, and friends stopped in around dinner to check in on me. I wasn’t allowed to eat while having contractions, so I subsisted on ice chips and popsicles, watching TV because my eyes couldn’t focus well enough to read.
Chris stayed with me that night and suffered through the repeated vitals checks and all the beeping when the machines malfunctioned from my attempts to sleep and I had to call the nurse to reset them. He was supposed to have left Friday at noon to go see his brother before speaking at a conference. He canceled his flights and opted to drive out to Atlanta on Monday so he’d have the flexibility of being able to drive back whenever needed. I felt so awful about it, but he told me to stop apologizing.
I slept fitfully Friday night. The night nurse was awesome and even switched my IV when it was hurting me at 3 AM. Apparently it was the magnesium and my bony arms. I slept a little more after that.
Early in the morning on Saturday, I felt particularly crummy. I was having a hard time catching my breath, feeling dizzy and nauseous and drugged. I couldn’t sleep because it felt like my muscles were crushing themselves, and I had pain in the middle of my upper back. I only felt comfortable sitting up, so I tried to wait it out for about 45 minutes. Chris was still sleeping, and I knew shift change was soon, so I thought they’d be there soon.
I finally called the nurse. She was amazing. My friend who works as a nurse in the same unit came to visit me at the end of my shift about that time too. Apparently she was worried because I didn’t seem like myself and wasn’t making sense to her. They temporarily stopped my magnesium and went to get ahold of the doctor. My vitals still looked great, but it was clear that I was struggling, so they suspected magnesium toxicity and decided to be proactive and do my bloodwork before the doctor arrived. My friend was hesitant about leaving, but I told her to go home to her kid and some rest and that Chris would stay. They also gave me the second steroid shot at that point.
I did not have magnesium toxicity, but the doctor said that if I wasn’t contracting, I didn’t need to be on the magnesium (apparently 48 hours is standard treatment, but I was taken off of it before the 24 hour mark). They kept monitoring me, and I felt so much better in a couple of hours. I was still having random contractions, maybe one per hour, but nothing to even notify the doctor about. They started letting me eat, so I had meals to look forward to. I passed quite a bit of old blood which freaked me out, but I was assured that it was okay because it was old and was to be expected. I was again glad I had gone in.
I sent Chris home that night because I was feeling better and I wanted him to get some sleep. Sunday was pretty uneventful. They took off more of my monitors and the catheter so I could shower. I was told we’d go to monitoring once per shift. Baby was a champ every time, usually finding the monitor so he could kick it before running away. His other favorite move was using the monitors as a hiccup microphone. It was comforting to hear him all the time and feel good that he was still there and still active.
I wondered what would happen when they did let me go home, although no one had a clear answer of what or when: just wait and see.
Monday morning Chris stopped by before picking up the rental and leaving for Atlanta. We still didn’t know what was going to happen with me, but I had a ride lined up to take me home and another friend to stay the night just in case I’d be by myself while Chris was gone.
My OB stopped in and finally gave me some answers: No more gym. No more work. No more being alone overnight in case of emergency. I was being placed on modified bed rest until delivery. I told her we weren’t sure about Chris’s planned research trip out of the country, but that we had friends and family lined up to stay with me. She said that was okay. She wanted to talk to the high risk doctor about putting me on medication prophylactically to prevent contractions. I said okay.
A couple of hours later, they decided no medication for now, and discharged me.
I have been scared, frustrated, overwhelmed, and optimistic in turns since then. I know all the positives: each day he stays in saves 3 in the NICU, I’m lucky it was caught early, it’s better to be home than in the hospital, everything else looks great, he’s measuring ahead, so that is on our side….
But I’m also trying to see what God wants to reveal through these disappointments. Are we being saved from greater heartache? Is Chris putting off his research trip saving us somehow? Will better opportunities be presented for him? Why is it better that I will be on unpaid leave longer than I wanted? Maybe I’ll avoid the flu?
It’s impossible to really speculate. I’m so worried that this will hurt us, but I don’t know why God would bring us this far only to fail. I’m trusting that the answer is there, regardless of my knowledge or ability to see it. Trust. Trust. Trust. That is all I’m hearing.
We picked out a life verse for our boy:
1Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
We have been praying that he would have a long and beautiful life, that he would find favor with God and man, and that he would use this favor to positively advocate for the marginalized. We pray that just like his physical heart has always been strong, he would be strong in spirit, a protector to many.
I hope he’s all those things and handsome for all the trouble so far! Maybe he’ll be an incredibly wonderful child because he’s getting the rough part over with now.