It seemed like the minute I found out I was pregnant, my stomach grew, and I looked large. Everyone kept telling me that it was normal for second pregnancies. In my gut, however, I felt that it was something more. Even at my 8 week visit my OB was shocked by how my I was showing. That made me worry a bit.
The next several months went by. I was pushing down my unfounded worries. I looked to be about 8 months pregnant. The 20 week ultrasound came and went. No one called me to say something was wrong, so I thought everything was perfect. Gazing at my unborn child (who we found out was a boy) in the ultrasound pictures, I noticed something about them. I ran to get my first born child's ultrasound pictures for comparison. Sure enough, my unborn baby had a lot more fluid around him than my daughter did. I didn't think anything was wrong with that. I just thought it was interesting.
At my 22 week visit, I casually mentioned my son's ultrasound picture and how much more fluid there seemed to be around him. The OB just said that the fluid levels change all the time and not to worry. I wasn't worried at all.
At 25 weeks I began to have some crampy feelings. I didn't worry that much. I had them with both pregnancies off and on. But, these cramps ended up being much more constant. I did everything I could - rested, drank water, rested, and drank MORE WATER. An hour later I continued to feel crampy. I called my doctor. The nurse told me to go get evaluated.
This is where my pregnant life changed. They also thought I looked way too large for the gestation. They ordered a detailed ultrasound with who would become my perinatologist for the next several months. The ultrasound showed two things. 1) My baby boy was healthy but very large. 2) I had way too much amniotic fluid. Then the information started flowing through my foggy brain. The too much amniotic fluid is a condition called polyhydramnios. It usually indicates a fetal abnormality when the onset is so early. And the combination between the fluid and the large baby, I was going into preterm labor. My body in essence had the same stress of one carrying twins. (Hence, the large tummy!)
So at 25 weeks pregnant, bedrest and Terbutaline began. At first, my bedrest was only part time. I needed to work in order for my family to survive. So, I was permitted to work only four hours a day if the rest of the time I was down. I could do this as long as there was no other change in my cervix. It was hard. I felt good. I had a 3 year old running around. I needed to be up. I tried not to. At first I was a good girl and did as I was supposed to. As the weeks went by and my cervix didn't change (I had weekly cervical checks) I started to cheat on my bedrest. If I started to have lots of contractions, I'd just take more medication. In my mind I was thinking, "Well, the meds will let me be up more. When I'm up, I contract. Then I take the meds and it goes away. So, I'll just take the meds regularly and I can be up! Right?"
Wrong! At my 31 week checkup, my cervix had changed. It was almost 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced. The OB sent me to the hospital. By the time I got there, I was a little over 2cm dilated, 80% effaced, and the bag of waters was bulging. I was in labor and didn't know it. My uterus now measured that of someone overdue. My body was tired of carrying this weight.
In a flurry of doctors talking to me and things I didn't really understand, I just concentrated on my baby and tried to focus on each heartbeat I heard from the monitor. Things like "Magnesium something", "Terbutaline injections", "Steroids to mature the baby's lungs", and "Amniocentesis" were being tossed around by hospital staff. I knew everything would be okay.
They were. My stay in the hospital proved that Terbutaline (pills and injections) and total bedrest stopped my labor.
No more work for me. I was to totally be on bedrest until I was at least 36 weeks along. I missed work. I missed cooking dinners. I even missed cleaning my own house! All of the things that I seemed to always complain about having to do seemed special. I longed to get up and do them. The hardest thing was not being able to be the kind of mom I wanted to to my daughter. Did she understand? Would she have a grudge against her brother already?
The only way I survived all of my 11 weeks of bedrest was to accept help. Anyone who offered, I accepted. There was no more of the polite, "Oh, we'll be okay. But thank you anyway." My aunt came over every two weeks and cleaned my house. My church delivered meals every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. My husband became, in sorts, a single parent to my daughter. The laptop computer my husband borrowed was my link to the world. I joined some online support groups. I got some friends who have been in similar situations to email me and check in on me regularly. I gathered as many things near me that I could do with my daughter while being down - puzzles, coloring, books, laundry basket basketball, playdoh, etc. Anything to be able to spend some quality time with her. I watched a lot of TV. (I think I saw every episode of "A Baby Story" at least 3 times.)
The weeks were hard, but they passed. My cervix didn't progress passed 3 cm. The bag no longer bulged. And with the complete bedrest, even my fluid began to lessen. I still had the constant worry, however, if my son was normal. He looked normal according to the ultrasounds, but they said that they couldn't rule everything out until after he was born (chromosonal disorders, swallowing difficulties, etc.) This became my biggest worry.
36 weeks came. I was ready to have this child and be done with this difficult pregnancy. I was released from bedrest. I walked everywhere! I pushed my daughter in her stroller through the mall, around the zoo, and parks that had lots of hills! Guess what? No contractions. None. No labor. No baby yet.
I began to grow impatient. I had prepared myself to have a premature infant. At 36 weeks, I felt overdue. My OB told me that if I went to 38 weeks that she would induce me. But, she doubted I would go that long.
I did. I was induced at 38 weeks 2 days. My body was definitely ready! From the minute the pitocin was hooked up I delivered an 8 lb. 5 oz baby a very short three hours later!
Our beautiful, perfectly normal and healthy son was born. His birth ended the chapter of worry, stress, bedrest, hospital stays, and medications. It began the wonderful, rewarding chapter of our son - Joshua Stewart - and celebrating his life.