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Michele and Jenna
Ante-partum hospitalization, pre-term labor, emergency c-section

Two weeks before my husband would be leaving for deployment to Bosnia, we found out we were expecting our third child. This was quite a shock for us, but otherwise we were excited about a new baby.

My pregnancy was pretty uneventful until the last couple of months. Due to a stomach virus, I was hospitalized twice for dehydration at 28 weeks and 30 weeks.

At 32 weeks, I started experiencing more contractions and was hospitalized a third time and was given Brethine to stop my contractions. The day after I was discharged with a prescription of Brethine and bed rest until 36 weeks, I developed another migraine headache and started having irregular contractions. (I started having migraines with the virus and dehydration episodes.)

My doctor advised for me to go back to Labor and Delivery for another shot of Demerol. They decided to check my cervix to make sure the contractions were not making any changes. Not one but two nurses checked me before they called my doctor. Apparently, I was dilated two centimeters and 50% effaced. My doctor quickly came over from the office and also checked me. He confirmed what the nurses found in their examination.

Then he broke the bad news to me. I would be hospitalized for several days and they would have to stop the contractions, since I was only 32 weeks. If I continued to contract or my cervix changed any more, I would be sent to a high-risk hospital to deliver the baby.

I was admitted again to the hospital, the fourth time in less than a month. By this time, my poor body was completely worn out. I just had spent the last two days at the hospital and was looking at another five or six days of magnesium sulfate therapy to stop the contractions and dilation.

The magnesium sulfate therapy was very difficult to handle. While I was in the hospital, my grandparents were coming to pick up my other two children to take them to Indiana for a summer visit. I was not allowed visitors, due to the risk of stress-induced labor and the problems that surround the magnesium sulfate therapy. At first this was hard, but after five days of not having a bath, severe migraines, no muscle control, mood swings, collapsing and hardening veins from the magnesium sulfate, hooked up to the fetal monitors 24/7, a severe back ache from not being able to get out of bed for seven days straight, daily cervix checks, sometimes two and three times a day, and hot flashes. I was glad for the restrictions.

I was also scared to death. I desperately needed my husband to come home, but knew that was next to impossible. He had been advised that requesting emergency leave and having it granted would take an act of congress. But they would allow him to schedule R&R leave around the time I was scheduled for my c-section.

We followed the correct protocol and had my doctor submit information to the Red Cross to send an emergency request for him to come home. After the message was sent, I did not hear from husband for three days. Apparently, he never knew I was in the hospital. They told him I was having the baby and they were requesting his regular leave to be changed. He thought the doctor went ahead and scheduled the c-section. No one told him I was in the hospital.

After not hearing from me for three days, he decided to call his sister and check in on me. He was not happy when he found out I was in the hospital and could be delivering the baby any day. Several attempts were made to get him home, but they all failed. We would just have to pray for the best and hoped that nothing would go wrong.

I was sent home on complete bed rest and the continuation of Brethine until I reached 36 weeks. All went well a few days before my husband was scheduled to come home. I had my normal visit to my obstetrician and he was concerned my husband may not be here for the birth since his leave would only be from 36 weeks until 38 weeks. My doctor had scheduled my c-section for 39 weeks. He suggested we do an amniocentesis to check for lung development. If the lungs were mature, he would do the c-section while my husband was home on leave.

I was not sure about doing the amniocentesis; I was afraid something would go wrong or there would be a negative result saying the lungs were not mature. The change would put my c-section four days before he was to return to Bosnia. I wouldn't even be released from the hospital when he had to return. I also realized my main support of help would be on vacation the week the original c-section was scheduled. Depression quickly set in. I could not handle it anymore. It was like I just snapped. I knew I needed help after not sleeping or eating for 48 hours. I ended up spending another two days in the hospital.

We went ahead and consented to the amniocentesis. It was scheduled the morning of July 3rd, exactly 37 weeks. My husband and I were both nervous. The amniocentesis wasn't as easy as we thought. It took my doctor three tries before extracting the amount of fluid needed for the test.

Given my track record and the distance we lived from the hospital, my doctor decided to do an NST to make sure the baby handled the procedure. We were only supposed to stay for about 20 minutes, but I ended up laying in one spot for four hours because I started to have some cramping and the baby's heart rate dropped off the monitors twice.

My doctor is very cautious and decided to take the baby by emergency c-section. He came in around two o'clock and said he would schedule it after his next surgery, and we would have our baby in about an hour. Well that hour turned in to seven more hours of lying in the exact same spot before they could get an operating room and him free from other deliveries. Apparently there was a rush of deliveries that day.

We were so excited when the anesthesiologist finally came in to prep me for my spinal. We were sad to find out that he could not perform the spinal due to problems he encountered with my spine and I would require general anesthesia. My husband could not be in the operating room, and this would be the second birth where he would have to wait in the hall.

Jenna Marie was born at 37 weeks, at 9:58 P.M., July 3, 2001, weighing in at 6 pounds and 6 oz and 18 inches long.

When I went back for my six-week postpartum check up, my doctor laughed and told me, "Well the baby's lungs are mature."

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