33 Weeks and Counting

Well, here I sit in the same hospital bed I was in only 3 short weeks ago wondering if this time I’ll be going home pregnant or not.  At this point I’m betting on still pregnant but really – who knows?!

It’s nothing that’s new and exciting at this point – more of the same old threatened preterm labor.  My cervix seems to be slowly changing and getting ready for labor – keyword “slowly” so honestly I don’t think it’s going to happen right away.  If I were anyone else I would have been sent home to wait it out.

I came in Saturday because I had some lower abdominal pain that was new and hadn’t gone away in 18 hours.  Then I became crampy and had the criteria of 6 contractions per hour for two consecutive hours.  Honestly had it not been for the new pain I would have stayed home with those contractions because they were so irregular and didn’t feel much different than anything else I had previously.  I came in reluctantly – at this point the “better safe than sorry” mantra only convinces me so much because I get here and things ALWAYS settle down.  Yet I came in anyways.

They hooked me up and could see some uterine activity and they checked me and my cervix was still pretty long but now dilated at the top.  At first they were going to send me home if they checked in two hours and nothing changed but then decided that because I was still having contractions that they weren’t comfortable with that plan and they would admit me.  They did recheck and nothing had changed thankfully.  That night was pretty uneventful but the next day I was really crampy and having contractions so they checked again and my cervix had shortened and softened but remained at 1 cm.  Due to the shortening and softening they kept me another night and here I am today playing the waiting game (and doing A LOT of knitting!).

Last night I was checked once more and there has been “no change” but here’s the very frustrating part of having several different people sticking their fingers in ungodly places – no one has the same perception or finger size of the other! One persons long is another’s short.  One persons open is another’s closed.  So really who the heck knows what’s going on down there really! This morning I had a couple hours of crazy cramping and lots of contractions but they’ve settled and so they haven’t checked me again but are keeping me another night at least.  If I can go the evening/night/morning with no crazy contractions they’ll send me home tomorrow.

The thing is – because of my previous silent labor with my son and because my delivery is not straightforward they don’t want to send me home without being absolutely 100% sure I am definitely not in any silent labor.  They would rather me be here and have a heads up and time to arrange for my c-section than me come in super dilated and have to rush me to an OR.  The only thing they can give to slow contractions is a blood pressure medication but my blood pressure is super low and I’m already on a beta-blocker as it is so it’s not a safe option for me.

I get it and to be honest I’m no longer as stressed out as I was with previous admissions.  I am now 33 weeks and I feel great about that.  I would love to make it even farther but if we don’t I know that we will only face a few weeks in NICU and baby will be just fine.  Since being sent home after my admission three weeks ago I’ve been noticing subtle hints (and not so subtle) that my body is preparing to deliver.  I’ve had far more bad days then good – just generally not feeling good.  Lots of nausea, cramping, contractions.  I’ve just been waiting for the more clear signs.  Honestly I would be so thankful if my water just broke because then I would KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that this was it.  Instead I’m hanging in limbo, waiting, guessing and over analyzing every single little thing.  It’s quite frustrating really.

Am I ready to have a baby? Heck no! In all this craziness I think I’m still not mentally prepared to be bringing a life into this world and to not be pregnant anymore.  This being our last baby I’m having all sorts of emotions about the end of pregnancy for my life.  Yet delivery is imminent and there’s not much I can do to delay it so I guess I’ll just have to adjust!

Since I didn’t get a 32 week update up in time here’s last weeks pic.

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Preparing for a Preemie

 

dsc_0022Nothing is ever guaranteed in pregnancy – this is a theme that’s been prevalent in my current pregnancy.  I went into it knowing it was going to be difficult but thinking that I’d be able to power through.  I had dreams of working to at least 34 weeks and working on the floor as a nurse.  As I had to make more and more adaptations to my work I was more and more discouraged with just how hard this pregnancy was right from the start.  All my dreams of being an active healthy pregnant lady went down the drain.  Then with my admission in early December I got a huge wake up call – it was time to wake up to reality and start really playing it safe.  All my fears came rushing to the surface – not working (monetary stress and fear) and a probable preemie.  Although nothing is guaranteed there is a HUGE probability that I am going to deliver this little one early.

I’m a typical Type A person – I need organization, structure and preparation to feel sane.  Realistically preparing for a baby doesn’t really require as much as some might have you believe.  Make sure you have a place for it to sleep, diapers and a few simple outfits (think onesies and sleepers), a few swaddle blankets and one or two warm blankets, one or two warm hats, a carseat, if you are going to bottle feed – a few bottles.  That’s really it for essentials, if you can’t afford anything else those few items will get you through for a while.  Of course there are other things that will make your life easier – if you are going to breastfeed (or try to) a nursing pillow, nursing bras and tanks, an infant chair/bouncer, a carrier, a stroller, a change table, a baby monitor, a breast pump – and really the list could go on and on.  Although we own most of the essentials I began dreaming of how I would prepare for this babe right from the beginning.  Where will it sleep? Will we transform the nursery? What kind of decor should we get? Are there things that need to be done throughout the house? When should I start stocking the freezer?

Then at 24 weeks I was facing the likelihood of having a premature baby and all my thoughts of preparation changed.  Do I rush to finish my entire to do list? But now I literally can’t do half of it because I’m on modified rest.  Is it necessary to get it all done?  Truthfully whenever this baby is born chances are it’s not coming home until mid-March at the earliest anyways.  So I don’t necessarily need to have everything all set up and ready to go but I WANT to have it all set up and ready to go.

So there are things standing in my way of going all preparation crazy and I’m making myself get used to the idea that it absolutely does not need to all be done now.  In fact some of it would be much easier to do after the baby is born and I am able to be up and moving much more.  It’s just that my Type A personality wants it all done NOW! I’m learning more and more that it’s good for me to have to relax that part of my personality.  Still I want to do something – anything to feel maybe a tiny bit prepared.  I think part of it is a desperation to distract myself from the fear of having a preemie.  Although we are getting farther and farther away from the scary preemie days I know from having a 36 weeker intubated in the NICU that it doesn’t matter when this babe is born the scariness doesn’t leave until that babe is home safe and sound.  So much of my preparation has been mental, emotional and spiritual.  A lot of people comment on how calm I’ve been since this all started and I suppose I am pretty calm about it, for the most part I have a HUGE faith in our medical system and even more than that I have a HUGE faith in my God.  This babe is a miracle in every way possible and this babe has a huge story to tell and it’s unfolding even now in my womb.  More than anything I trust that regardless of what happens there is a testimony of God’s greatness that is wrapped up in this tiny life and I trust that God will bring this babe earthside safely.  Yet in the midst of my calmness, hidden in the deepest parts of my is this huge fear, and it’s not necessarily a fear for my little one’s life but a fear of what life will look like.  How much time will I realistically be able to spend in the NICU with this babe? With Ezekiel I spent almost 12 hours a day at his bedside, but now with him at home as a toddler I know that I can’t do that with this little one.  It’s true I have my mom at home to help with E but my heart will be torn to be away from either of my babies and I know there will be heartache.  I know that while I’m at the NICU I’ll be worried about how Ezekiel is doing.  I also know that while I’m at home I’ll be worried about what’s happening with babe in the NICU.  It just seems like a lose-lose situation and so I’m trying to prepare my heart and mind for the difficulty of it all.

Yet even as I try and prepare my heart and mind I still want to PHYSICALLY prepare for this baby.  Maybe it’s a need to make this all real, to have a physical token that this baby is coming as a preemie or not and so there are a few things I’ve done (and my mom) to prepare.  First I packed a hospital bag – pathetic that I didn’t have it done before but I procrastinated and maybe that’s a bit of denial creeping in.  But a couple hospital stays and multiple misunderstandings of what I needed with my husband and I realized that life would be simpler with a hospital bag.  I’m still working on a couple things but I’ll do a whole post dedicated to my bag – because we all know the internet needs yet another hospital bag post!  Another thing I came up with is asking my mom to make little preemie hats and mittens.  If this baby is born anytime soon it’s not going to be wearing any clothes for a few weeks but it will definitely need hats and mittens.  The NICU will provide those but when my first was in the NICU we would often come in the mornings and find him in pink mittens and hats! I didn’t care so much but my husband still talks about it to this day and it still bothers him, so to guarantee that doesn’t happen again I went and picked out some yarn and my mom is making a few different variations of hats and mittens.  I won’t pack a bag for baby until I hit 35 weeks when the possibility of it being able to come home/wear clothes is bigger.  I will get my pump and pumping accessories sterilized and ready, making sure I have everything necessary for when I come home.  I’m going to try and have some healthy snacks stocked in the freezer to grab and go each day to the NICU.  Beyond that there’s just not much else I can do to prepare right now and as hard as that is, I’m becoming more and more ok with it.

Any tips and tricks for a preemie mom on how to prepare? What about just preparing for a baby in general? I’d love to hear them!

30 Weeks


Well it’s been exciting going into my 30th week of pregnancy.  I thought I was doing pretty well, coasting along and actually feeling not to bad.  My pain in my joints drastically increased but I’ve been controlling it with a newer medication which has been working fine.  My last ultrasound was great, everything looked good – baby was growing well (although with a jump in abdominal girth which isn’t a huge concern), and my cervix remained the same.  We were even hopeful enough to schedule my section!

Then on Sunday night I went to bed feeling pretty crampy, this isn’t new so I wasn’t really concerned about it.  I woke up at 230 and still felt pretty crampy and wasn’t able to go to sleep.  Then around 3am I began to have contractions – again not new so I didn’t really worry about it but since I was awake I sat up and tracked them.  I had about 15 contractions in the first hour – definitely the most I’ve had in an hour since being home but they have always settled in the second hour.  Then about 15 minutes into my second hour of contractions I hit the “worried” mark of 6 more contractions.  The rule of thumb to go get checked is at least 6 contractions an hour for two consecutive hours.  I didn’t really want to get up and drive the 30 minutes to the hospital if the contractions were just going to settle and I wasn’t convinced it was anything to worry about so I stayed put.  By the end of the second hour I had had about 30 contractions and began to think that I probably should wake my husband to take me in.  I sat there for another 15 minutes trying to will them away, and they did slow a bit but were still coming.  So I got up, got my bag ready (very very poorly I might add – something I’m definitely going to have to work on), washed my face and brushed my teeth.  Then I woke my husband and my mom to let her know that we were heading in.  I grabbed some snacks and we made our coffees and made the drive in.  By the time we arrived to the hospital the contractions were definitely slowing down.  We got there and they hooked me up to the monitor and a doctor came in to check my cervix.  I was expecting to hear “long and closed, you can go home” but instead I heard “it’s still long but open about one cm at the bottom.”  I muttered an expletive and started to get stressed.  She did say that it doesn’t feel like a cervix in labor – it’s still firm and not ripening – good news.  The plan was to stay for a couple hours and recheck and she thought if the contractions and cramping had slowed and there were no cervical changes that I could still go.  Then she left but came back soon after because she had spoken to my regular doctor who thought it was a better idea to administer my second round of steroids and keep me overnight to ensure that nothing was happening.  I was even more concerned at that point – but eventually my doctor came in and we had a long discussion.  She was convinced I wasn’t going to deliver imminently but wasn’t sure that I would make it much farther than 32 weeks so she wanted to ensure I get the steroids now because they are good up to two weeks after administration and it’s more critical to have them now.  I felt reassured after our talk and calmed down significantly.

So I had another hospital stay, but thankfully this one was just one night and very uneventful.  I came home this morning and resumed my normal activity of sitting on the couch.  Ezekiel handled this admission very well and is even napping as I write!! I did try to nap but this little babe in my belly decided to have a dance party instead.

So onwards to 32 weeks! It’s insane to think that we are really getting close to meeting this little one.  It’s now clear that it’s coming sooner than anyone is ready for and that we will have some time in the NICU.  I’m mentally preparing myself for that and wondering how it’s all going to go with a little one at home who NEEDS consistency and a babe in the hospital who I will never want to leave.  It won’t be easy but as long as this one comes home safe and sound I know we are all going to make it through just fine.

The Toddler Challenge

In a lot of ways being on modified rest really isn’t that difficult.  In the beginning it was HARD because I was so symptomatic that I could barely do anything.  I felt incredibly unwell but being at home made me want to jump into everything I would normally be doing.  Now fast forward 5 weeks later and I’m feeling pretty good.  There are days that are bad, but more so they’ve turned into just a few hours at the end of the day.  I’m able to tolerate doing a bit more than I could in the beginning and I have my Dr’s blessing to listen to my body and do what I can but stop when it’s been enough.  So the biggest challenge hasn’t actually been me, but my 3 year old.

This week I felt like I was coming undone with him.  When I first came home he was a complete disaster.  Opposite from what he normally is.  His normal is a sweet, kind, relatively quiet, obedient and rational little one.  His behaviour normally is actually a bit abnormal for the average toddler and I’ve been so grateful for it.  Often I’ve said “I’m just waiting for it all to change” but after three years it didn’t seem like that was happening and he would continue on in his way.  Then enter me being admitted to the hospital for 7 days, him being pulled from dayhome, my mom here to live and help out and my husband on Christmas vacation.  The poor little guys life was completely turned upside down and thrown out the window.  His entire routine and what he knew to be his world was shaken up and not put back together.

He began to argue, cry over things he normally wouldn’t, wake up in the middle of the night, wake up extremely early, rarely take a nap and all around was completely different.  There were very slight breaks in the cloud but it seemed I was finally getting my threenager and it distressed me.  Where was the little boy so kind and so sweet? The biggest challenge is that his nap times are riddled with yelling and screaming for 2 hours straight, not out of sadness or anger but just “because I like to yell and scream” and although I would try and address it it would continue to happen.  He continued to become more and more sleep deprived and then on Tuesday we had our worst day yet and I felt like I was at the end of my rope.  Everyone keep saying, “maybe he’s growing out of his nap” but in my head and in my heart I know my boy and I know for certain he absolutely needs sleep.  At the very least he needs a time to just be quiet, to wind down but of course sometimes you just can’t force little ones to do what you know they need.   At the beginning of this week I committed to two weeks of solid routine and if at the end of that he didn’t nap at all I would begin to transition to “quiet time” – any and all suggestions on how to do that well are very welcomed!

Yesterday after a good nights sleep he seemed to be back to my sweet and kind little boy.  I had a long appointment in the morning and left him at home with my mom.  When I came home I prepared us lunch and just like we would before this fiasco – we immediately went upstairs for nap time.  He didn’t fight me or cry, we rocked and he drank his milk then I spent about 10 minutes talking through nap time and quiet time with him.  We discussed why it is important to sleep well, why we need rest, why we need to be quiet.  He of course had a rebuttal for every sentence but he was absorbing my words and I knew it.  On Tuesday he lost a lot of privileges because of his yelling and screaming at nap time (that he had been forewarned about) and he could recall them yesterday (thank you rationality!) so we discussed those privileges again yesterday.  I reiterated quite a few times and he acknowledged his understanding.  I put him in bed and he cuddled up with his polar bear and blanket about 2 minutes after I shut the door he made one tiny little squeal and then was silent.  HE FELL ASLEEP!  My momma heart was so relieved.

The real relief came when he woke up and I went in to his room.  He was back to the behaviour I knew to be his.  All evening he was so pleasant and didn’t fight anything all evening, even when he would start he was easily rationalized with and redirected. He could even verbalize and discuss the differences from the two days.  I could have cried after he went to bed I was so happy to have seen my little boy back to normal.

Of course that was just one day and it may all change today but more than ever I’m optimistic that I don’t in fact have a threenager on my hands.  Rather I have a little boy whose world was completely upset and has been struggling to get back to what he knows to be true and normal.  I’m going to try my best to get him back to that place before this baby shows up and throws us all for a loop.

28 Weeks

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Well as of last Sunday I hit the coveted 28 week mark.  Although still VERY early to deliver (and I’m certain I won’t be delivering in the next week or so), hitting the third trimester and getting farther along, closer to 40 weeks the statistics improve drastically.  I’m a stats girl, I like numbers, I like rationalizing through numbers and like looking at odds.  I often browse medical literature related to any and all conditions I have just looking at the numbers and so 28 weeks? I’m liking the numbers more and more.

I remember a few years ago talking to someone who had a premature baby and she was telling me how the week after she gave birth an app on her phone that she hadn’t disabled gave her a notification that said “Congratulations! You’ve hit the third trimester!” She talked about the pure shock and heartbreak that message brought her. I remember thinking how awful that would have been, what a desperate situation.  I can’t imagine being robbed of that much time feeling your baby on the inside and nurturing it like no one else can.

Given that I was so close to a similar situation I am not taking any day, hour or moment for granted.  Sure sitting around sucks, but I’m feeling so much better than I was even a couple weeks ago and can do just a tiny bit more than I could before as well.  I probably push myself a little too much on certain days and definitely pay for it the next day or two but I’m no longer stressing over every contraction or pain.  I’m beginning to learn this new body of mine.  Slowly starting to trust it and trust myself again.  When I initially went to labour and delivery the day I was admitted I had NO clue what was happening and as the hours unfolded that feeling just got worse and worse.  It was so unfamiliar to me, so scary.  I’m extremely aware of my body to the point that when I explain things to doctors it baffles them that I feel how I do and can explain it the way I do.  The things they may stress over I can 100% guarantee are not stress worthy things and sure enough every test will come back negative – they find comfort in that and I only want to say “I told you so.” When I was discharged from the hospital I was still in that scary place of not being able to trust myself with deciphering what my body was telling me and I was terrified to go home.  Today I am closer to being that girl that can listen to her body and know what it’s capable of and when to stop.  Of course, as always I push it’s limits and I probably shouldn’t – I could be playing with fire, but I’m listening and trying to be kind to it.

So 28 weeks has been a good week and I’m looking forward to 10 more of the same before I meet this precious babe of mine.

 

The Battle

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I’m well into the second week of being on moderately reduced activity and I’ve hit 26 weeks!  It’s both easier and much harder all at the same time.  I’ve been feeling markedly better this week which is awesome and reassuring.  I’ve had far less contractions and no cramping at all.  It makes me really hopeful that I’ll go well into the 30’s (weeks) before delivering.  So in those ways it’s easier – feeling better makes life easier!

It’s also harder because I feel better.  The better I feel the more I want to do.  I want to cook, clean, run errands, lift my kid, move my couch and find those lost toys – all the things.  My brain registers that I’m feeling better because I’m resting and if I don’t rest I won’t feel better.  My heart cries for normalcy and independence.  It’s a constant battle.

Yesterday I had an ultrasound and doctor’s appointment.  Thankfully everything is stable and there’s nothing to be very concerned about right now.  My doctor classifies me as being on “auto pilot” for the time being and has told me to keep doing what I’m doing.  After the appointment I ended up running some errands and doing a bit more than I should have and ended up with some contractions – nothing major but a definite confirmation that I need to be persistent with rest.  Thankfully my mom is here to scold me when I lift Ezekiel, or am on my feet too much – it would be a much different story if she was not.

Christmas is such a hard time to be confined to a couch but I’m so loving this time of year. The lights, the baking, the gift giving – I love it all and I love watching Ezekiel experience it with a whole new level of understanding.

Merry Christmas to you and your family! I’m wishing you a time of peace, love and joy during this season.

At Home on Modified Rest

Well, I’ve been home since Monday and today’s only Friday.  Not even a full week at home and the learning curve to this new temporary life is steep.  I was sent home on “moderately reduced activity” which is a drastic difference to how I was living before being hospitalized, but still has enough freedom that I’m not just laying down all day long.  The guidelines are: resting 3x3hrs/day, 10 minutes or less of walking, less than 20 minutes on feet at one time, light house duties (nothing that involves any type of strain so no lifting laundry or vacuuming etc), limited stair climbing, no looking after toddlers.

Here’s the thing though, although I try my best to follow these guidelines sometimes I find myself wandering the house just “tidying” up and before I know it 45 minutes have passed.  Then I pay for it the rest of the day, I get crampy and start contracting and generally feel terrible.  Even leaving the house is a feat.  On Wednesday I had to drop off some papers for my short term disability, then we went to the library to return some books and let Ezekiel play, then we picked up some groceries (I order online and they shop, bag and deliver to my car while I sit in the car).  Total time on my feet was less than 15 minutes, and total time out of the house was about 1.5hrs and by the time I got home I felt terrible.  It’s discouraging that I no longer am just doing things to be cautious, I’m actually on these restrictions because without them I’d have a micro-premie in the NICU for months.  Earlier in my pregnancy I went off 12 hr shifts and night shifts extremely early (relative to the “norm” on the unit) because it was hard on my body and I was being cautious.  I then went on modified duties and sat at a desk (less than two weeks before being hospitalized), again because I was being cautious but now it’s just plain necessary to be resting for almost the entire day.  A hard pill to swallow.   I think it’s taken this long for me to figure it out.  Of course I knew it but I just had to “get it,” you know?  It’s amazing that 12 days ago I was living normally, cleaning my house, cooking, doing laundry and grocery shopping all in the same day and today I literally can’t do any of those things for more than a few minutes and I’m out for the day.

I’m doing my best to stay out of the hospital, and I’ll have to become more rigid with my time on my feet.  Maybe I’ll have to set a timer every time I get up to do something.  I’m trying to keep myself busy with projects that can be done while sitting.  I’ll write a post about that later on.  Honestly though the days seem to fly, when Ezekiel’s awake it’s all about him.  We read, build with blocks, play music and he dances, we do puzzles, colour and then it’s nap time.  I can’t imagine doing this without my mom here though, she’s doing all the cooking, cleaning, lifting, laundering and anything that’s just too much for me.  Some people don’t have that luxury and it would be a thousand times harder than it is for me.  So I’m trying to stay positive and count my blessings.  It’s really not all that bad, I get an extra 3 months (fingers crossed) at home with my little guy before we have a new addition and his world is turned upside down.  I’m doing my best to make the most of it because I won’t get these days back.

I’ll take all the suggestions for things to do while resting! Also all the prayers that I get to rest for 3 more months!