Before it gets all fuzzy in my memory and I get all wrapped up in Christmas fun, I want to take a few minutes to jot down Maggie's story. I love to journal and I always like to read other people's stories, so I'll share here, but be warned: this post will include things like vomit, urine, needles, surgery, catheters, dilation, amniotic fluid, breastfeeding, pumping, etc. If you don't want to read about those things, no problem! Just click that little x in the top corner and have a nice day! :) For the rest of you, this is not a short story and I am known to be a detailed story teller, so...settle in! ;)
It all started almost 3 weeks ago. It was Thursday afternoon and I was feeling queasy. For those who don't know, I was sick throughout most of my pregnancy. I ended up in the hospital dehydrated from vomiting at 10 weeks and was put on zofran, an anti-nausea medicine. I kind of hated some of the side effects and tried to decrease my dosage as often as possible, but wasn't able to quit taking it completely until 28 weeks. Even after that, about once every week or so I would have a day that would leave me feeling disgusting and lead me to take a zofran in order to be functional. All that said, that Thursday afternoon didn't seem too extraordinary. I took a zofran in the hopes of feeling well enough to attend book club that evening. I went, felt pretty lousy, but enjoyed the distraction of friends and conversation for a couple hours.
Upon returning home I just kept feeling worse. I went to bed thinking, "I would probably feel better if I could just throw up." I woke up several times thinking that I was going to be sick and finally just after midnight, I began throwing up. I went back to bed and hoped to finally get some sleep. However, sleep was not to be had for me for several more days. I woke up about 30 minutes later to get sick some more and during that time the hard contractions began. I was in shock. I was only 34 weeks pregnant. I should not be having contractions like this. They were coming fast--3-4 minutes apart. So, I tried to wake Pete, which took at least 5 minutes, every one of which felt like an eternity! He came in and immediately decided we were going to the hospital. By this point the contractions were only 2-3 minutes apart. He called the doctor, our parents, and a sweet friend who came to stay with the boys. I kept throwing up and trying to breath between contractions.
At the hospital, they checked me in and hooked me up to monitors. I was only 1 cm dilated and she was still up pretty high. Her heart rate looked great, but my contractions were very intense and 2 minutes apart. They gave me a shot of something to slow the contractions and tried to find a vein to start an IV. After several attempts they ended up putting a very thin needle into the inside of my forearm for lack of any better options. I was put on an IV of fluid because I was dehydrated and another bag of magnesium sulfate was added to weaken my muscles and stop the contractions. I just need to say that stuff is weird. It makes all of your muscles weak, including your heart, which as a result has to work harder to pump the needed blood for your body. As a result, my body felt achy and weak, but my heart was racing. My resting heart rate, laying in the hospital bed, was 115. It was bizarre.
The goal at this point in the game was to stop the contractions, or at least slow them drastically. Then I could switch to an oral medicine that keep the contractions away and they would send me home to be on bed rest for 2-3 weeks. They gave me a steroid shot for Maggie's lung development just in case they couldn't stop things. It took until late Friday night to get the contractions further than 5 minutes apart. Then throughout the night as they continued to pump me full of fluids, and the magnesium made me extremely thirsty, I was up to go to the bathroom every hour and a half to two hours--and I am not exaggerating! Between the potty breaks and the nurses checking my vitals, I don't think I slept for more than 45 minutes at a time that night. The next day, the contractions were 9-10 minutes apart at dawn. They gave me a second steroid shot, just in case. By 10am, I was only contracting once every hour or two. They switched me to the oral medication at 11 am and around 12:30, I had only had one contraction in the past two hours. I called Pete to tell him that they were working on my discharge papers. He took the boys to get a Christmas tree, while my mom stayed at the house with Will.
This is where the plan changes. I got up to go to the restroom--which I had been doing SO often. On the way back to my bed I felt a trickle down my leg. My water had never broken with any of the boys. I tried to excuse it away--maybe I just have so much fluid in my system? Then I sat down in the bed, Maggie gave a kick and more liquid came out. I called for the nurse. She got the nurse practitioner from my OB office, who happened to be on the floor, to come in right away. She took a sample to see if it was amniotic fluid, and explained that if it was I would be having this baby in the next 12-24 hours. Let me tell you, I have never hoped that I had peed myself before, but I did that afternoon. I called Pete to update him. He brought the boys and came straight from the tree farm. (Let me interrupt this program to give a shout out to Big Tree Plantation, the owners of which are a part of our homeschool co-op and had been praying for us, upon realizing who Pete was gave us our tree for free! Crazy-sweet people! We already loved going there after a great experience last year, but now we will never go anywhere else! And now, back to the story;) The sample was indeed amniotic fluid and my doctor was called in since I was only 34 weeks. She explained that they would obviously discontinue the meds that were stopping the contractions and then later that night we would start pitocin to get labor going again and that since it was my fourth baby, things would likely progress quickly and we'd have a baby before midnight.
I wish it had been that simple.
We started the pitocin around 9 pm. They increased it pretty quickly and when the contractions got more intense and more frequent, Maggie's heart rate would dip. It was scary. After monitoring things for a bit, we discussed options. A c-section was an option, but the doctor was trying to avoid that. At that point, we decided to back off the pitocin and see what happened when my body labored on it's own. Maggie handled that better, but I wasn't progressing. So, they gradually increased the pitocin and she was handling that better, but every few contractions her heart rate would drop. By 5 am, the doctor checked me and I had only progressed to 3 cm and Maggie was still pretty high. At that point, after watching her heart rate all night, when the doctor recommended a c-section, it was easy to agree. In came the anesthesiologist and he got me hooked up with some amazing drugs that made me pretty much numb from my chest down. By a little before 6am, they were wheeling me into the OR and by 6:25 am, I heard my little girl cry out and the tears flowed. I got a quick glimpse of her and then they took her to the special care nursery. Pete went with her, while they stitched me up.
for a 34 week old baby. Her breathing was a little rough at first, but within a few hours she was sounding great. She was maintaining her body temperature on her own. They began telling us what we could expect and at that point I don't think I really caught all they were saying, but they were very patient and told me again later. :)
I could go on and on about my recovery and about the following two weeks, but I need to feed a little one and get some sleep, so I'll just wrap things up. In the 12 days that followed, Maggie would have an NG tube put in to supplement her bottles because eating wore her out. By 7 days, she was eating more than half of her feedings by the bottle. And by day 10, she pulled out the tube and proceeded to eat the rest of the time from bottles, plus one feeding a day she was able to nurse. She's been home with us for 5 days now. She's gained over 8 ounces since she came home and is doing wonderfully. She is very sleepy, but nurses 3 times a day now and eats over 60 ml when she takes her bottles. She is adored by her brothers and her dad and I. We are eternally grateful for the wonderful nurses and staff at Bethesda North who took such good care of her. And even more thankful for the God who sustained her and continues to do so. He is so kind to us and we pray that she will never know a day that she doesn't hear about His love for her and that she will grow to serve Him.