Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our 24 Week Pregnancy Scare

 First off I want to say thank you to everyone for all the prayers, texts, messages, etc that Jason and I received last week. We appreciate it more than you know. It really helps calm you down during such a scary time when you know so many people out there are saying prayers for you and your little ones.

Last Wednesday, December 19th,  I had a scheduled 24 week appointment with my OB doctor. They started the appointment (as they usually do) with a cervical ultrasound to monitor how well it is holding up with the pressure of two babies. Right away I knew something was wrong. You could tell from the ultrasound screen that it appeared much shorter and was funneling (or opening) at the top where Mason's head was pushed up against it. We were informed that it was in fact funneling and since my 20 week appointment (where my cervix measured 5.5 cm long) it was now measuring 2.4 cm long. I was so disappointed. I knew this was something that often happened in a twin pregnancy, I just didn't think it would be happening to me this soon. Every appointment up until this point we left with such high praises from the doctor, being told to keep up the good work and everything looked perfect!
This time the doctor told us to go home and pack a bag and head to the hospital. They wanted to monitor if I was having contractions that can sometimes cause this shortening and funneling. I laughed! NO WAY was I having contractions. I mean sure I sometimes felt a twinge of pain here and there and was often uncomfortable after a long day, but no contractions! I mean I have TWO babies growing inside me. I didn't expect to feel fantastic all the time. Hearing the doctor say he wanted to know if I was having contractions seemed ridiculous to me.

So we ran home and packed a few bags "just in case" and headed to the hospital. They hooked me up to a heartbeat monitor for each baby and a contraction monitor. Sure enough the screen showed contractions. They registered about every 4 minutes or so. I was still in disbelief. How was this possible?? I didn't feel a thing! They then hooked me up to an IV just to get some fluids in me. By that time my mom had joined Jason and I at the hospital. I think I was still in denial that anything was happening. Mainly because I FELT FINE! About 3 hours later things began to change. The contractions were becoming more frequent (every two minutes) and lasting much longer on the screen (about 40 seconds). They started me with a shot of Terbutaline. After about an hour they realized this wasn't working so they started an IV of Magnesium Sulfate. This was interesting. My chest felt tight,  the room felt as though it was 200 degrees, my muscles felt like jello, and I felt like I was in a complete fog. Jason later told me I kept asking strange questions over and over again. And since the medicine has such weird side effects and obviously due to the contractions I was banned to the bed. No getting up or sitting up......lovely. Catheters and bed baths anyone? Yep...lots of fun stuff.  A little later the nurse came in and asked if I was feeling anything then. I said I was starting to feel a little crampy, almost like menstrual cramps. But nothing painful. I told her that if I was up and moving around like normal I probably wouldn't even notice them. She then had me put my hands on my stomach and feel. Right away I felt a twinge of slight pain and my stomach ball up into a hard knot. That's when I got scared. This was for real. Now I knew having these babies this early was a possibility.




I stayed the night at the hospital and didn't get a wink of sleep. The doctor came in a few times to see if I was dilating. I was not, thank God. But even with the large amounts of Magnesium Sulfate I was on, the contractions wouldn't stop. Then next morning I was told they would be transferring me to St. Louis . This was quite the ordeal. Stupid me thought, ok Jason get the car lets go. Nope it was either ambulance or helicopter. The weather that day in St. Louis was pretty bad. It was sleeting and snowing so they decided an ambulance was the safer choice. So I had to wait for Barnes Hospital to send their own ambulance and OB nurses down, pick me up, and head up to St. Louis. This was the most uncomfortable two hours of my life! Sure lets send the pregnant lady who we are trying to keep from going into labor on the bumpiest ride of her life! Makes sense to me.... I was convinced this ride was going to either break my water or make my contractions worse.

The ambulance ride. Yes I took pictures..... I had to do something to keep my mind off of how scary this whole situation was. I'll admit I did feel a little ripped off that they didn't turn the sirens on. ha! 
By the time I finally made it to St. Louis surprisingly my contractions had slowed but not stopped. Doctors were in and out. They again checked to see if the contractions were causing me to dilate. Thankfully, I never did dilate. My cervix still showed the same funneling and shortening but it had not gotten worse, so this was a good sign. A neonatalogist from Children's Hospital came in to talk to us about viability at 24 weeks and beyond. This was a very frightening and eye opening 20 minutes. At 24 weeks the babies had a 60% survival rate. This rate increased by about 10% every week with about 96% survival rate when we hit 28 weeks. She encouraged us to set short term goals for this pregnancy. She along with the other doctors were fairly confident at this point that I was not going to be delivering the babies within the next few days since my contractions were slowing and were not causing me to dilate. So she said 25 weeks would be our next goal, then 28 weeks. At 28 weeks she said we could relax a little bit. That if for some reason I went into labor the babies would spend a very long time in the NICU but probably in the end would be ok. Obviously the closer we can make it to 36 weeks the better, however we must take it week by week. So that's our plan....to do everything we can to make it to 28 weeks, then take it week by week so that we can hopefully make it to 36 weeks if not longer! I did receive two rounds of steroid injections to help mature the babies lungs just in case they decide to make their appearance early. This gives their little immature lungs a better chance.

Within about 2 hours of being in St. Louis they were able to take me off the Magnesium IV. I remained on the monitors the rest of that day until eventually I was having hardly any contractions at all. The kept me that night, all of the following day, and I was finally released on Saturday afternoon. I was told to be off work and take it easy at home until my follow up appointment with my doctor the following week.

I'll admit I was a little impressed with myself on how well I held it together during those 4 days. I was a little tearful when I first felt an actual contraction and it hit me that this wasn't a joke and having these babies right now was an unfortunate possibility. But as soon as we loaded up the car and pulled out of the parking garage to leave the hospital, I lost it. I couldn't stop crying! I think Jason was a little confused. He kept asking what was wrong and saying we are leaving, it's all ok now. When we left it was like I could finally relax a little bit and was unable to bottle up all the fear and emotion I had been holding in those past few days. I lost it again a few days ago when we went to our Christmas eve mass. I knelt down to pray as we entered the church to tell God thank you for watching over us and prayed for His continued help to keep these babies safe and healthy. That's when I lost it again. Yep, I was that person in church with tears streaming down my face. A little embarrassing, but oh well.

Yesterday was my follow up appointment with my OB back home. I was a little nervous about this appointment and didn't really know what to expect. I knew it was going to be decided at this appointment whether or not I was going to be placed on bed rest, or told I had to quit working, or even sent back to the hospital for more monitoring.

Jason and I had been discussing my work situation since we left the hospital. I was really hoping my doctor would allow me to go back to work for at least a few weeks if he performed more frequent cervical length checks, etc. Jason of course was ready to tie me to a bed and not let me up until the babies were safely born 12 weeks later! The doctor checked on the babies who were of course doing great as always. I still had not dilated, thankfully. And he decided I would come in for weekly to biweekly cervical length ultrasounds to monitor the shortening and funneling.

     Then he said what I had been dreading.....no more work. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who just live to work, but at the same time I do like my job and the thought of not working for the next.... who knows how long.... is a little scary! Will they hold my job for me that long? Will I go nuts stuck at home for the next three months? Etc, etc, etc. But when it comes down to it my doctor is right. It's not worth the risk, especially in my career (I'm a physical therapist) where I do have to be fairly active. I am not on bed rest (yet), however I have to pretty much stay at home and take it as easy as possible. No driving, absolutely no lifting, and spend most of my time on the couch with my feet propped up. He wants to hold off on starting any medication for contractions at the moment and see how my new life of leisure works. If medicine needs to be started in the future then we will cross that bridge when we get there. For now it's movies on the couch and weekly cervical ultrasounds. Thankfully I have a wonderful employer who (so far) has been more than understanding with me. (Let's hope they stay this way and I have a job to return to after my maternity leave!) 








So that's the story. Thank you again for everyone's prayers over those 4 scary days. And a big thank you to Jason, who never left my side, my mother who also slept on those uncomfortable recliners next to me each night, and to everyone else who visited and called. Your thoughts and prayers mean so much to us!
Jason taking advantage of an empty bed to sleep on in the hospital room. 


The view from the windows in our living room. If I'm stuck at home now, at least there is a pretty snow covered view! 

5 comments:

  1. Wow girl. I'm tearing up reading your post. I had no idea that was going on. I like everyone else will pray for more time and your health. You are a rockstar and those babies are going to be fine. Take care of yourself and if you need company I am off for several more weeks. Xoxo. Sonja

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    1. Thanks Sonja! It was kind of funny because I got your text saying you and baby just got home right as we were walking into the hospital that Wednesday. Im surprised we didn't pass each other at the hospital doors!

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  2. Ash, I had no idea what happened! You are already a super mommy! So proud of you & all you are going through to get you guys' babies in this world. :) I cried like a baby reading your fertility treatment story & this sent shivers. God is good. Keep that oven cooking, momma.

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    1. Thank you Sami! And I'm going to do everything I can to keep them baking.

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  3. I knew nothing until I read your mom's FB update. Your mom needs to be more detail oriented so people like me won't freak out. I live 16 miles from Barnes so if, God forbid, you end up back here I will be at your beck and call. Heading for Mass at the Cathedral shortly to light a candle for your growing family. God has Mason and Madeline in the palm of His hand. My number is 618 416 4050. Call when you get bored, scared or anything inbetween. Praying for those little sweet buns to bake as long as they can. If God brings you to it, God will bring you through it. Love you!

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