To be honest, I've been dreaming of writing this post for weeks. What's funny about that is I've only done one true bumpdate this entire pregnancy! I did the pregnancy tag right after we announced and then did a 16 week update, but that's it! At 20 weeks, I shared about our gender reveal/baby-q, and then meant to do a 24 week bumpdate, but everything changed at 23 weeks. If you haven't been following along on my Facebook or Instagram, you may not know exactly what I'm talking about, so I wanted to take today's post to talk about where we've been the last 5 weeks and where we hope to go. Please excuse if this post gets a little rambly/emotional, but frankly, that's who I am these days!
On Monday, July 25th, I started experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions. I had heard that around 20 weeks+ they can start happening, so I didn't think too much of it. It was really hot out and I had had a really busy weekend, so I just chalked it up to that. I knew they were a little more frequent and more painful than I had read that they should be, but I was scheduled for my monthly checkup that Tuesday anyhow, so figured I'd just bring it up to my doctor then. On Tuesday, I told my Dr (who is pregnant with twins!) and she told me that around that time is when she started feeling them, too, and that I was fine. She checked my cervix and it was still nice and closed so she sent me on my merry way. That night, I had a work dinner, so even though I wasn't feeling great, I headed out for that. I was feeling those contractions the whole time and went home and crashed after dinner. I had a huge work presentation that Wednesday morning, and while I was getting ready I was on the phone with my best friend telling her how much this kid was giving me a run for my money with these pains! But, I felt OK so I headed out to my meeting. After my meeting, my team and I went to lunch and then we headed out to look at some stores. We went to one store and I was kicking myself for wearing heels and realized how much I had to go to to the bathroom. We were about to head to the next store (15 miles south of where we were) so I just figured I'd go once we got there. I pull up to the store, get out of my car, and realize there is fluid gushing down my legs. When I say gushing, I mean GUSHING. Filling my shoes gushing. I'm wearing a dress so it takes me a minute to realize what's happening. I tell my boss I need to make a phone call and immediately call my doctor. I wasn't even sure what to think at that point! Was I peeing myself?! I didn't know. I told the doctors office what was going on and they told me they wanted me to come in, but weren't sure if I should go to the doctor's office or the hospital. All I knew was that I was 25 miles south of my doctors office, and 30 miles south of the hospital. So, I just started driving north. Not before my gas light came on, though! So, I'm standing at the gas pump with fluid rushing down my legs. I get in the car and start driving and call my sister. She calms me down and tells me if they're not having me call 911 it can't be that serious and to just head toward the hospital (which the Dr eventually calls back and tells me to do, too). I call Mike and he laughs and says I probably peed myself. So, I drive the 30 miles to the hospital and waddle up to triage with tissue between my legs as I"m still leaking. Then the excitement really begins.
I walk up to triage which ends up being a long dark hallway with hardly anyone around. A nurse finally tells me to go pee in a cup and sit in a room and change into a gown. I'm still leaking heavily at this point, so she has me lay on a pad. I'm not kidding when I say an hour goes by before anyone even comes to check on me. Mike is calling and texting asking if he should come to the hospital, and I'm not sure what to tell him, half thinking I'm just peeing. If no one is coming to see me, it can't be that serious, right?! WRONG. All of a sudden, 4 doctors bust into my room, and Mike shows up just in the nick of time. They do a speculum test to see if the fluid is really amniotic or just pee/discharge. Within minutes, they confirm I'm in pre-term labor due to pPROM and that I may be having this baby tonight. Mike and I look at each other with tears in our eyes, not sure what we've just heard. They start pumping me with an IV and antibiotics (to ward off infection, which can be really bad if you've ruptured early) and give me a shot in my thigh of steroids to help develop little guy's lungs in case I deliver early. They tell me the hospital is going to be my home now, but that they're going to transfer me to a different hospital with a better NICU, one that is prepared to deliver and care for babies that small. Babies that small?! We couldn't believe it. I was only 23 weeks along! They tell me I could deliver that night, or it could be in 11 weeks, when I reach 34 weeks which is when they'd induce me. After 34 weeks, it becomes more dangerous to me/him to keep him in, so they'd want to bring him out by then. So, Mike heads home to get me some clothes/toiletries, while I wait 2 hours for an ambulance to come take me to my new home.
That evening, we settle into the new hospital and are flooded with timelines, milestones, scary statistics from neonatal doctors, and an incredibly overwhelming feeling of uncertainty. The doctors tell us that our little guy has less than a 20% chance of surviving at that point since I'm only 23 weeks. We get an ultrasound which shows that, surprisingly, I have some fluid left and that he weighs 623 grams! 500 grams is considered viability at that point in a pregnancy. So, that confirms that the hospital will be my new home indefinitely. They tell us that majority of women who rupture so early deliver within the first 24 hours, the rest within 72, and nearly all within the first week. They desperately want me to make it to the next day so I can get the next round of steroid shots so he has a fighting chance at breathing on his own. That begins my new normal. Every Monday I'd get ultrasounds to see how my fluid levels and cervix are looking and every other Wednesday I'd get a growth scan to see how the little guy is growing. The doctors weren't even sure I'd make it to that Monday, though, let alone any following Mondays. That first week is a terrifying blur. I remember looking at the clock just hoping for each incremental hour to pass. My parents arrived that Friday, which was both so needed and so scary. I could tell they were terrified for their grandchild. Fast forward, and days turned into a week, and I made it to the first BIG milestone - 24 weeks. The doctors told me that was a huge milestone and that if I could keep going and make it to 28, he'd have an incredibly better shot at survival. Those 7 days had felt like a lifetime, how could I do another month?! Let alone another 6 weeks after that! But here I am. After countless flower deliveries, visitors, prayers, and I'm sure what can't be anything other than luck, we're here. We've made it to 28 weeks. The doctors here all call me their "lucky one" and hope I can go even a few more weeks.
Over the last 5 weeks, I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about pregnancy, including BPP, decels and excels, IUGR, and all sorts of other terminology and tests. I'm hooked up to a monitor twice a day where we listen to his heartbeat and watch for contractions. I have my weekly ultrasounds and bi-weekly growth scans. Other than that, I'm stuck in this bed with only bathroom privileges. Mike and I are so grateful we've made it this far, and would be thrilled with even a few more weeks, but as always, anything can happen at any time. Literally. As difficult as bed rest has been for me, I know this is the easy part. Delivery and the impending NICU time are going to be the real test. First off, he's breech, which means a likely c-section, and a classical, at that. Depending when he decides to come, we could be looking at months in the NICU, full of scary things like brain bleeds, blood transfusions, NEC, and the list goes on and on. We're trying to stay positive and just remember that for each day I stay pregnant, it's 2 potential less days he'll need in the NICU. I spend my days and nights reading preemie success stories and find a little sliver of hope in each narrative of an under 2 lb baby who's now in college. I realize this is absolutely my longest blog post ever, but I've been wanting to share our story for so long, but always felt so scared to. But, we've made it this far and can only hope to go a bit farther. This pregnancy has certainly been an adventure since day one. In fact, I almost feel guilt for hating life so much when I was suffering from hyperemesis, as I'd gladly take that back over what we're going through now. But I would do anything for my son, including spend 11 weeks in this bed if I have to. If I didn't feel like a mom before, I sure do now. Mike and I so badly want our baby to come into this world healthy and happy and we desperately pray every day that that can become our reality. While the next 6 weeks, heck, even 6 months, are uncertain, we're hopeful.
WHEW! That was about ten mouthfuls. But now that all that has been said, I did want to answer a few standard bumpdate questions before I go.
Name: We finally have it! We won't be sharing til he's here, but it feels good to be able to refer to him as something other than "he" :)
Movement: All the ultrasound techs here joke that our little guy is a "mover and groover". He moves so much! He's breech, so I can feel his little legs kicking my pelvis/bladder all the time. He especially loves to party at night, which doesn't help the fact that I already can't sleep well!! But, we're grateful he moves so much because it's a reassuring sign at his gestational age/size.
Size: At our 27 week growth scan, he was measuring in the 38th percentile overall, at an estimated weight of 2 lbs. At the 25 week growth scan, he was looking a little small, so they were worried about IUGR, but he seems to look more on track now so we only can hope he'll continue to grow! I'll get another growth scan at 29 weeks and we hope he'll be closer to 2.5 lbs by then. Because he's breech, it makes getting the measurements really difficult, so these numbers can be understated (which we hope they are)! Babies over 2 lbs tend to have a little better luck in the NICU, so we're glad he's at least in that ballpark.
Cravings/Aversions: I've been a little nauseous the last few days and really hope my hyperemesis isn't rearing it's ugly head. But, I've been really trying to up my protein intake for the little guy so I've been eating a lot of peanut butter, greek yogurt, chicken, and eggs. I've also started drinking a lot of coconut water, which is supposedly good for rebuilding amniotic fluid. I've been obsessed with these. As far as aversions, it's really mostly non-food smells, like strong perfumes!
Weight gain: I lost 23 lbs with my hyperemesis, and have since gained 10 of those back, putting me at about 12-13 lbs under my pre-pregnancy weight. I've gained 4 of those 10 back since I've been in the hospital. I'm hoping to gain it all back before I deliver if it means the little guy is growing!
Nursery: It's getting there! God love Mike. He's spent practically every weekend since I've been in here working on it, assembling furniture, hanging pictures, etc. While it makes me so sad we can't do this together, he's actually loving that it's one of the few dad things he's getting to do for now. Luckily we had had the room painted the weekend before I got in here, so it's just been a matter of ordering furniture and what not. While it won't be exactly what we had in mind, it's coming along quite nicely!