Friday, June 7, 2013

28 Weeks and Pre-Term Labor

I'll take a bit of time to share a little bit about the latest the sense that this sort of thing could happen to anyone, apparently including this pregnant post-doc!  So, cutting right to the chase, here's the blow-by-blow of the events of the past few days!

Still not fully recovered from the news of last week, I think the stress of it all hit EVERYONE pretty hard.  There is no way of knowing how much of an impact that had on what happened/what is happening...I hate to speculate on that...but it's hard to deny that stress can manifest in physical ways.

At my 24 week check, I reported to the doctor that I was having Braxton Hicks contractions, but they didn't seem regular, and definitely not painful.  Occasionally, I'd have one that would throw me for a loop and stop me in my tracks, but it was less than daily.  Stress levels increased at work last week, and I noticed that I was having the same contractions, but the painful ones turned to once a day, to a couple of times a day.  Frequency picked up on Monday and Tuesday, and I was going through all of the things to try and calm them down (laying down when I could, sitting more, drinking lots of water, etc).  In fact, drinking water was making them WORSE, anecdotally speaking, but everything I was doing was not changing them.  But, at this point, I figured they were just BH contractions, benign and normal practice contractions.

Wednesday I almost looked forward to because I had a meeting with HR to discuss the terms of my departure.  I thought that having answers and a timeline would make me a bit more relaxed (so I could plan for the future).  Instead, no change.  I debated long and hard about just waiting until my 28 week appointment the next day, but decided to call the nurse just to see if there was something I could try to make myself more comfortable (and see if I was just missing out on doing something I should be!).  Instead, they had me come in, just to be on the safe side and be checked.

I had my appointment at 1:30, expected the standard vaginal check and figured I'd get a reassurance that everything was OK.  I wasn't leaking amniotic fluid (I didn't figure that I was, but hey, easy test!), and they were going to do a fetal fibronectin swab just in case (I also expected that to be negative).  Cervical dilation, well, I am a master dilator and when they start the checks usually I'm usually a pro in that department.  I don't know if I was shocked or not that I was, indeed, a cm or so dilated.  So, just because it was available, and possibly convenient, or she wanted a good measure, the doctor sent me to the ultrasound tech.  There, she found that my cervix was about 1.5cm dilated, but also shortening...down to 1cm in length, instead of the usual 3-5cm that they see at that point.  More as a precaution at this point, the doctor sent me with the fFN test to the hospital to get hooked up to contraction monitors and await the results of the test.

As a bit of a breather here, and each of these occurred, I kept thinking that I'd be heading home soon.  I figured I'd go thru triage at the hospital, maybe it'd show the 4 contractions I clocked each hour, mentally, get the test results and then go home.  Maybe it'd earn me a bit of time off of work and orders to take it easy.  Who knew.

Instead...the biggest piece to the puzzle came back, and adding up all of the changes that my body was undergoing earned me a 3 night stay in the hospital.  Fetal fibronectin came back positive.  I was contracting a few more times an hour than I thought.  Cervix dilating.  I was on track to potentially deliver SOON.

At which point, I was prepared for admission...IV started, first shot of steroids, magnesium sulfate to stop contractions.  I went from being uncomfortable from my belly having "false labor" contractions (or so I thought) to being hooked up to wires, tubes and monitors.  I was in pre-term labor...and it was the most serious thing I can ever think of happening to me, possibly in my lifetime.

(to be continued)

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