It's November 2008 now. I've taken off a lot of work by this point for appointments. In the previous 10 years, I had made a career working in corporate America for some of the top named Fortune 500 insurance companies. I had great employer benefits which was the only thing at this point, I was beginning to realize, that I didn't need to worry about.
Being almost 6 month pregnant is exhausting enough, add all the appointments, tests, ultrasounds and waiting in between and this momma was pretty spent. Even though everything pretty much "looked" ok with the baby, I could tell by the increasing frequency of next steps, that there was something the doctors just weren't comfortable with. I have to pause for just a moment to thank God for my mother during this time (and still). She was literally my rock during all of the excitement and the chaos. She came to almost every single appointment. She supported me, calmed my fears, held my hand, rubbed my forehead and kept me grounded in-between every wait for a result. There was such a long period when nobody knew what was going on or why. Since my husband was going in and out of sea from his ships station in VA, he came when he could. A weekend here, a weekend there. That was difficult. To this day, I'm not sure he really understood (by no fault of his own) what I was going through because he wasn't a large part of this pregnancy journey. Anyone who knows anything about how the military works knows his job wasn't one where he could take extended leave to just hold my hand at doctor appointments. There were no real complications or a specific diagnosis other than the IUGR and elevated amniotic fluid, so while I kept him informed, there wasn't really much else he could do from where he was at.
The day before Thanksgiving I remember feeling some strong tightness in my abdomen and moderate cramping. It had been a few hours since I felt the baby move and I remember calling the doctors office. They said to drink a tall glass of milk and lay on my left side, wait 30 minutes and see what happens. I complied and I felt movement. I remember rubbing my bump and saying "There you are babygirl, please don't scare momma like that again", but unfortunately she would. I was more than relieved by her movements, but the tightness and cramping were not easing up. I was now advised to go to the ER for monitoring. I wasn't super concerned because the baby was moving normally after my milk and wait several hours earlier. I was just super uncomfortable and I had not experienced these type of contractions so early in pregnancy before. I knew however, that if I was in premature labor, that there were meds that could slow/stop them.
When I arrived on the Labor and Delivery floor, it was the pretty standard routine for anyone whose given birth or needed to be monitored before. They get you comfortable, place an IV, hang some fluids and draw bloodwork. The nurse or doctor will check you internally for cervical dilation and effacement and then decide the course of treatment (or not) from there. Fortunately, I was not dilated or effaced, which meant I was not about to push this baby out anytime soon, but I was in what they considered pre-term labor. My contractions were consistent and visible. After reviewing my chart, it was obvious they wanted to take extra precautions. I was only about 26 weeks at this point also so regardless of my chart, precautions were understood. This would start by me being given an injection of betamethasoe, which is a steroid. Betamethasone helps the baby's lungs mature, giving her a better chance to do well outside of the womb in the event that for some reason, I had to deliver her anytime before she was considered term. A baby is not considered term typically until 37 weeks. I would also be given another ultrasound and kept at least overnight for continued observation.
I got this!
I had done pretty well with everything that was going on up until this point. Until now, everything was kind of routine, go with the flow and non-invasive. Everything was considered a "precaution measure" and not an identifiable issue. Nothing I had done or went through up until this point was really considered high risk at all. Then the doctors came in. Not a single doctor, but multiple doctors. I don't remember how many, what they looked like, their names, specialties or anything else about them. I just know they were there. After being monitored for several hours, they were there to tell me that the next step was on me, that I actually needed to make a decision. A decision that only I could make and one that could affect the well being of my baby. That was the moment when fear consumed me. When a life is literally in your hands and nobody else's, that is when you pray. I prayed so so so hard that day, so so hard. Once again, I had no idea....no idea of just how many prayers and decisions I would need to make in the next several weeks and months ahead. No idea at all.
I said let's do it.
To be continued.....