The Completely Unexpected
My preterm labor scare
*** More info on the Unsplash image I used for this story. The photographer put this info on the image:
Electronic fetal monitor showing the baby's heart rate (top blue), mother's heart rate (middle green), and labor contractions (bottom purple). Baby was born exactly 40 minutes later!
This was similar to the type of image I was looking at during my time at the hospital. Actually, reading what the photographer wrote made me understand more than what I was trying to put together when I was at the hospital not sure exactly what I was looking at.
It was a slow trickle of fluid down my thighs after showering that alerted me about the possible loss of amniotic fluid. I had just dried off and was applying lotion when I had bent over and three streams of white tinted liquid fell down. I dried it off thinking it was odd, that it was just possibly soapy water that I had failed to wash away and dry, but the way and timing when they had fallen was strange. I was about to text my husband about it when I finished getting dressed and instead Googled about losing amniotic fluid. I was approximately 31 weeks and 2 days pregnant, and with a quick search realized I shouldn't be leaking anything until 37 weeks.
I got dressed, and then walked my dog, all the while thinking about if I should call my OB or not. I didn't want to possibly waste anyone's time if it wasn't amniotic fluid, so throughout the whole walk I was distracted. At one point I almost got hit by someone who was pulling into their driveway. I was impatient with my dog as we walked and ended up cutting the walk short. I also felt as if I had to urinate more frequently, which was possibly due to anxiety, but I was also lost as to what to do. When I got back home I quickly got my lunch bag together for work and then took my prenatal and iron supplement before calling my mom for advice and support.
That night my belly had been heavy and my right side hurt. I figured it was just my belly stretching from my baby having a growth spurt of some sort, but it worried me. What if something was wrong? I didn't want to go to work and worry about it all day. I didn't want to regret not going in and getting checked out if something did happen.
I ended up calling my OB's office figuring it would be better to be safe than sorry. My mom supported my decision, but I felt awful I was going through it all when she was 14 hours away and in no way could be there with me. While trying to figure out the number to OBGYN in panic I ended up calling two wrong numbers to other parts of the clinic before I was transferred to the right line.
I realized while waiting for someone to pick up that I didn't know what I was going to say. I didn't want to sound like a confused mess of thoughtless rambling, but when the receptionist picked up I just told her what was going on to which she began to get a little panicked herself. Because she sounded nervous saying that a nurse would get in touch with me because my doctor was busy, I in turn I myself began to get nervous. The nurse then called a few minutes later and then I was transferred to a nurse in Women's Health and was promptly told to go to labor and delivery at the hospital side.
It was all so fast. It was only ten minutes before I usually drove to work for opening, but I had to type out a text to my coworker and explain what was going on. I got overwhelmed for a moment trying to string together words, kicking myself mentally for telling the nurse that I would be there in five minutes. I then quickly drove to the hospital and found my way to labor and delivery which was situated in Women's Health. I took the elevator to the sixth floor not sure what was in store for me. Women's Health was sectioned off with automatic doors that were locked at the entrance side. You had to press a button to call a nurse to buzz you inside. I'm pretty sure I sounded flustered. I didn't know how to explain myself.
"Hi, I'm not sure if I'm in the right place, but I was told to come here." I wanted to facepalm at my words, feeling suddenly self conscious.
"Are you the one with possible rupturing?"
"Uh, I think so?"
The nurse buzzed me in. I followed her to a room with a bed in the center against a wall and a bathroom connected to the right. Across from the bed was a TV, and underneath was a white board with information for delivery written on it and could be filled out. On the left side of the room was all the hospital equipment and computer monitors. The nurse told me to undress and put on a hospital gown as well as take a urine sample before getting into bed. I did as I was told, stepping into the small bathroom. I was a bit caught off guard. I had thought I would be in an exam room, not an "official" looking labor room. The room was also not what I was expecting as inside my head I had imagined a room with windows whenever I went into labor, but it made sense that there wouldn't be any. Little did I know at that time I would be in for a longer ride than I had anticipated.
A device was then strapped around my belly to monitor the baby's heartbeat (and contractions) which filled the room.
"Just because you're so early, if you are leaking amniotic fluid you'll have to be transferred to a larger facility," the nurse explained before she left.
Then I had to wait for the results for the urine test and for my doctor to come in and check my cervix. When I was alone the panicking then began.
I had nothing together. Our nursery was in shambles because we were still renovating the upstairs floor for my studio. I wanted to have my little one's room finished by the end of the month, not expecting the scare of preterm labor. I also didn't have a hospital bag packed in case something like this happened. I was scared and a lot was going through my mind. Was my baby ready to come into the world? To take his very first breath? Was I ready?
With more Googling I was then terrified which was amplified to the screams of a mother in pain in a nearby room. 31 weeks was so early that he would be considered premature. My eyes scanned through article after article, not entirely reading them all, just picking out certain sentences and words such as "95% survival rate". A baby being born at 31 weeks was guaranteed a stay at the NICU as they're not fully developed and barely 4lbs at that point. They also have a bunch of maturing to do such as the further development of their lungs, which is major and they may have jaundice.
I just wanted the best for my baby. I began updating my mother and then my husband. I tried browsing around the internet to calm myself down, but it wasn't helping hearing someone screaming in pain which made me feel even more nervous about labor. In two months would that possibly be me? Or would it happen today? It was stressful and scary. I didn't want to think about gauging my tolerance of pain. I also didn't have a birth plan, and wasn't sure if I wanted to get an epidural or try to go through it all unmedicated.
A different nurse knocked on the door after a while and introduced herself to me as she walked in, explaining that she was helping the other nurse.
"We've been picking up contractions. Sometimes it just means that you're dehydrated so we're going to give you an IV."
I hadn't even realized I had been having contractions. I had thought the pain I had been feeling had just been my little one moving around and settling in uncomfortable positions. It was painful, but not too bad at that point as they were just in my lower belly.
It was my first time getting an IV so watching the nurse put the catheter in a vein in my hand was interesting. I was a bit stoked to feel better because that's what I had read on the internet.
I ended up feeling much worse.
The contractions were picking up and began to radiate cramping towards my back right after my original nurse had asked me where they were exactly. I was alone and scared while not sure what was going on. I didn't know whether to call my husband and tell him to get there, or to just wait and see. If had known I was going to be in the hospital for a while then I would've asked if he could get off work and come to the hospital the first phone call that morning.
On the other hand, my little one was super active with moving around, his heartbeat getting softer or louder as he moved closer to the surface of my belly or further away. Perhaps he felt my anxiety as I was a mess of nerves. Being a first time mom I was so unsure of everything I was feeling and focused on giving what I felt were the right answers despite being absolutely clueless.
In the middle of it all, my boss luckily got in touch and told me to not worry about coming in to work which was reassuring. I could stop stressing about going to work after, and just try to relax.
I had got a painful contraction right before the doctor came in and the nurse asked me to rate my pain. I was at a 5 at that point. It was extremely uncomfortable as my belly tightened. I had been on the phone with my husband during it and told him that I was hanging up so I could go through it alone. I turned onto my left side, flowing through the contraction as cramping spread to my back on my right side to the middle. I took deep breaths before it finally stopped a minute later.
Finally the doctor came in and checked my cervix and took a swab to test if I had been leaking amniotic fluid. I had been embarrassed beforehand because I had asked if I could go to the bathroom, and my doctor looked as if it would waste a bit of time. Throughout the tests and prodding down there I was scared my bladder was going to erupt at any moment. I didn't pee myself luckily, and everything looked good.
It did suck having to get disconnected from the monitor and lug the IV pole around into the bathroom with me. I felt like I was a burden with having to ask to go to the bathroom, so I tried to wait for the nurse the return before asking.
I then had to wait again for results. But because the contractions were continuing I was given another bag of IV solution and was going to get blood drawn in case there was an infection somewhere. By that time, it was already past 11am. It seemed as if time were flying even though I sat in the room listening to my baby's heartbeat and staring into space for the majority of it. At one point I did hear a baby crying and got super emotional. It gave me hope. But also the cries made me sad.
My blood was drawn and then the nurse came in and explained she was going to give me injectable terbutaline to stop the contractions which was inserted into the upper fatty part of my left arm.
The thirty minutes it took for it to kick in was the worst. I was hungry as I hadn't gotten to eat breakfast that morning and I was exhausted. While waiting for it to kick in I got the side effects faster than anything, which was a fast heartbeat and shaking. I tried closing my eyes after adjusting to my left side, but the feeling of pain and shaking was keeping me from relaxing fully. By the time I had actually began drifting off to sleep, the nurse came in and asked how I was feeling. I then realized that I felt much better than before and the shaking had stopped which indicated that the medication had worked. The nurse then told me that since things were looking better the doctor said I could go home. After I changed back into my clothes, relieved that I was able to go home and rest, I was also given the after visit summary of information on what had been given to me and what had gone on before leaving.
I had gotten to the hospital at late 8 almost 9am that morning, and didn't get discharged until around 1:30pm. Walking outside, the world had transitioned. It had been lightly snowing when I had walked in, so by that time the world was covered in a layer of moist melted precipitation. I stared at a black Tesla Model 3 similar to the one I drove in confusion. I didn't see many black Tesla's around since the two I regularly saw were white and one identical 2018 or 19 that didn't have roof racks. I hadn't parked in that spot either, so I'm pretty sure I looked weird for a moment staring at the person in their car. I ended up finding my car, backing out and going home. I was thankful, and eager for a nap as I scarfed down food and gave update texts to everyone. I undressed, still with all the Band-Aids from the pokes I had gone through and took pictures of my state before I laid down and began watching a Kdrama before falling asleep.
It had been nerve wrecking being under the impression that I was possibly going through preterm labor. It was concerning that even the doctor wasn't sure why I was having contractions when my cervix was closed, and there was no indication of infection from the blood or urine tests. I had been scared about the well being of my child. Scared he was going to come into the world early and be in the NICU for a couple of weeks. That my husband and I's life would be full of worry, of back and forth visits wishing and hoping for our son to grow stronger. It wasn't at all how I expected to meet him, and I am so glad that the contractions were stopped. That night I ended up having a few more for a while, and off and on the next few days, but nothing too major. I am definitely grateful for my doctor and the nurses that helped me out during such a confusing time in my life. I must admit I'm still a bit worried, but this all has taught me to begin preparing for my baby's arrival.
Pregnancy has been hard emotionally for me, though I have considered myself being pretty stable throughout. I do have days where everything gets to be overwhelming and I just break down. Pregnancy has also been super anxiety inducing as well. I also have been struggling with feeling my baby moving around and kicking so I've been having moments of emotion where I want to meet him so badly, while knowing that it's too soon. While it was a bit exciting at the moments that he would possibly be born, it was incredibly worrisome and quite sobering. Who knows what's in store for me the next few days or weeks, but I am hoping all will be well and I will give birth to a healthy baby boy whenever it is time for him to come into this world. ♡