I have just three very special stories of the journey into motherhood left for you. This one is important to my heart as it details the extra joys and challenges of growing into motherhood when one’s child is born prematurely (and any of you who have been reading this blog for some time know the heart I have for families who have premature babies and why!). Without further ado, here is the story of Sarah S for your inspiration in parenting and life:
I have always been a planner. When my husband and I wanted to start a family I hoped that we would be able to coincide our little one’s arrival with my summer vacation (as I worked with the Head Start program which follows our school district schedule). This would enable me to spend the summer plus an additional 3 months) at home. I felt good about being able to spend hopefully 5-6 months with our child before returning to work. I hoped that at some point I would be able to stay home (perhaps after the birth of another child in the future).
Getting pregnant was the easy part. The rest of the pregnancy could be described as eventful, nerve wracking and lastly, horrible. It pains me in a way to describe it as such, but it is the honest, if brutal truth. At first there were a few common issues that often do not interfere with a healthy pregnancy. But as the pregnancy progressed so did the problems – growth scans were ordered, frequent ultrasounds. We began to dread ultrasounds, which had once been such a cause for excitement and wonder were now a source of fear and anxiety, “What would they find next…”
At one point we met with one of the perinatologists (who was not our usual provider) and left that appointment with paperwork in hand about suspected skeletal dysplasia. When asked for more time to meet with the doctor (after meeting with the geneticist) we were hastily told by her that she had a schedule to keep and could not fall behind. This was a small breaking point for us. The next day after that dreadful appointment with the guest perinatologist my fluid started leaking or so I thought. Back to the doctors, then Labor and Delivery – four visits in 3 days overall. All said that the baby was low resting on my bladder; there was no rupture of membranes. I called my usual perinatologist and he disputed the “skeletal dysplasia” suspicion, he felt the baby was just small (basing this on my stature, I am 5’1”). He was calm and reassuring, but scheduled me for a two week follow-up. In the interim I continued working, had a wonderful visit from my mom and trusted my doctors. This is my one regret – I should have walked everyday into the doctor’s office and asked to be examined, I truly felt that this all couldn’t be normal.
At this next appointment I was 24.5 weeks pregnant. The ultrasound lasted for about one minute before the technician left the room to speak with the doctor. At this point our panic has skyrocketed. The doctor (our perinatologist) entered the room and told us that I had little fluid due to PROM (premature rupture of membrane). He told us he was sending us to the University Hospital in the nearest city (about 30 minutes away) to be admitted. WHAT? We teetered between anger, betrayal, frustration and despair. This whole appointment felt surreal. I remember the next minutes thinking about Monopoly and that card where you cannot pass go, cannot collect $200 – you have to go straight to jail. I know a weird analogy, but I could not go back to work to closeout any current projects, I could not go home to collect my things. It was not that the hospital was jail, but what was shocking was the absolute loss of control and any sense of normalcy. Thankfully I do remember the kindness and gentleness of my doctor as this new plan unfolded and he promised to meet us at the hospital at the end of the day.
Within an hour we were being admitted to the University Hospital on indefinite bedrest. What would follow was two weeks of lying in bed with ridiculous “moonboots” as I called them to help prevent blood clots. I had frequent monitoring sometimes in my hospital room and sometimes on the Labor and Delivery Floor. The irony of it all is that this “antepartum” group that I was a member of (although I never met any of these other ladies) shared the same floor as the “postpartum” group. The hospital did their best to keep “us” from being to near the newly expanded celebrating families but we often heard the jubilant gatherings of new moms, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents. The nurses were kind and wonderful and we started a calendar countdown with the hope of getting to at least 32 weeks.
The emotions of this experience were such a range of both positive and negative. Continue reading