Sorry, but this is going to be long, even for me.
When last we left off, things were sinking in and feeling real. I knew from the beginning that I needed to take extra care during this pregnancy because I was considered high risk. Given my own history of high blood pressure, and heart issues (all of which thankfully have been controlled without medicines for at least 5 years) and my Mom's history of miscarriages, and my sister's blood pressure problems during both her pregnancies, I was on the doctors' radar.
We had been cruising along and everything was going well. At 16 weeks we learned that I had a complete placenta previa, meaning that my placenta was completely covering my cervix which makes it impossible for a natural delivery. Luckily for me, it was early enough that there was plenty of time for it to move. By 22 weeks, we were in the clear with that, it had moved completely out of the way, leaving a little tiny tail piece down low. Around this time, I had my hours cut down at work because I was on my feet too much and was having too many Braxton Hicks contractions.
So, I adjusted my hours and took more breaks, put my feet up, and did everything the doctors told me to do. At my last appointment I told the doctor how my husband was worried that the baby was going to come early and that we'd end up down in Seattle. She said, "I don't think so, I've got a good feeling that everything is going to be just fine." I finally felt like I could breathe easier and kind of coast along keeping up the same reduced activity routine.
Any of you ever heard the joke about the guy in the army whose mother died, and his commanding officer had to break the news to him, so during morning formation he says, "All of you whose mothers are still alive take two steps forward, not so fast Jones!" I kind of felt like that on Friday the 6th of July.
I'd worked my 6 hours, went grocery shopping and stocked up on a bunch of stuff, including 5 containers of yogurt (two of which were peach) and that will come back into play later. Then I picked up dinner for Matt and I at Dairy Queen including a Blizzard for each of us. After dinner, I went home to unload groceries. I brought them all in and put away anything that needed to be refrigerated or frozen and left the rest all sitting in their bags on the counter. I'd put my Blizzard in the freezer too planning on eating it a little later, and then I let Lucie drag me to the neighbor's house where they were having their annual 4th of July party, a little later than usual. I hung out there talking with neighbors for an hour or so, watching while they lit their fireworks off, talked to the Chief of Police and assured him that they were done with the fireworks when he responded to the complaints, and then after talking with my neighbor Emily for a few more minutes I decided that it was time for me to go home, maybe put the rest of the groceries away, and then go to bed.
I walked into my house and went straight into the bathroom. I discovered to my horror that I had started bleeding. My phone was in my sweatshirt pocket, and I instantly grabbed it and called the after hours number for the Dr.'s office. They patched me through to the on call Dr and as I was waiting, I went upstairs and changed clothes. He told me to go to the hospital right away. I called Matt and told him I was going. He offered to come home from work right away and take me, but I didn't know what was going to happen, or how long I'd be, and I didn't want to wait even those few extra minutes it would take him to get home, so I said I'd go in and call him when I knew what was going on.
I very calmly drove myself to the hospital, praying the whole way. Once again, as hard as it was, I tried to pray the proper way. Everything in me was screaming about what I wanted, and what I wanted to tell God that He had to do, but instead I just told him that I knew my life and that of the baby were in His hands and I asked for His will to be done. I asked for help to accept whatever came, and if it wasn't His will for this baby to arrive safely at the right time, then I knew He was going to help me through it. I tried to call my parents and my sister both, but wasn't able to get any of them on the phone, but it was after 11:00 by this point.
I got to the Childbirth Center and got checked in, and the nurse took me right back to the triage room. When they realized I was still bleeding, they hooked me up to monitors right away. As soon as I heard the baby's heartbeat on the monitor I relaxed a lot. The hospital doctor came in after a few minutes and asked if I was feeling all the contractions I was having. I had no clue I was even having contractions. After a little while the doctor came back in and gave me some medicine to try to stop the contractions and also did an exam. At this point my calm was starting to crack. I started shaking and doing my best to hold it together. When she said that the bleeding had stopped and my cervix was still closed, I immediately stopped shaking and was able to relax. From that moment on, I was nothing but calm and at peace. It turns out that that little tail piece of placenta that had remained down low had broken loose, a small abruption, and that had caused the bleeding.
When two nurses came in to start an IV, I realized it was time to call Matt in because I figured I was going to be there for awhile. The IV was the worst part of the whole experience. It took three tries to get the IV placed and the first two failed attempts were painful. A few minutes later a new nurse came in and gathered up my stuff and led me (with a sheet wrapped around me to cover the nice gaping gown) down the hall to a room. She got me all settled into bed with the fetal monitor and contraction monitors strapped to me, and my IV lines all hooked up. Matt arrived and brought with him my iPad. I was very thankful for that. I had my phone, and my iPod which was in my purse, and I'd managed to remember to grab a charger and a pair of headphones from my bag when I parked my car.
We settled down for the night, and the hospital Dr, who had been conferring with Dr Mora by phone, came back in and checked on me, told me that Dr Mora would be in before too long, and asked if I wanted something to help me sleep. I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open, so I said, "No thanks, I'll be OK." Now let me tell you, this was the WRONG answer. The answer is ALWAYS "Yes, I would, thank you."
After one more set of vitals, the nurse left me to get some rest. Matt settled in on his bed and actually fell asleep pretty quickly. Try as I might, I could not get to sleep. About 3:00 am Dr Mora came in and talked with me briefly. I don't remember much of the conversation except for him telling me that he was starting me on Betamethazone and asked me if I knew what that was. I didn't, until he started to explain what it did, and then I knew. It is the steroid shot they give to develop the baby's lungs in case he comes early.
About 4:15 am the nurse came in to give the first of the two steroid shots. I was still awake. I fell asleep from about 4:30-5:15 and then was wide awake again. About 6:00 I got another dose of the contraction medicine they'd given me during the night. A little while later I got a shot of something else that I can't spell which was an even stronger contraction medicine because apparently I was contracting every minute and a half. About 7:00 or 8:00 (it's all a blur because of how tired I was) Dr Mallory came in and explained the new medicine they were going to start me on, Magnesium Sulfate, and what it was for and how it could make me feel. He told me that they were going to do an ultrasound and check on a few things. I asked how strict the 24 hour between injections thing was? Was I going to have to come back in at 4:15 the next morning to get the second shot? He said I didn't need to worry about that because I wasn't going to be home at 4:15 the next morning.
That's when it hit me that I was maybe in worse shape than I thought I was. Matt had gone home to get a few more hours of sleep, and I'd gotten in touch with my Mom, and she had arrived at the hospital. They took me down to ultrasound where we would learn my fate. After the ultrasound where they did cervical measurements, we were back to my room to await the news of whether I'd be staying in Bellingham or if I was Seattle bound. My sister arrived while we were waiting, and Matt came back and brought a few things I needed with him. The nurse came in and said, "Seattle says you can stay." We were all very relieved to hear that. Dr Mallory came in and told me that he had spent a long time on the phone with the specialist in Seattle. He started at the very beginning and we all started to get a little nervous that I wasn't staying after all. He went through everything step by step and laid out a plan. The doctor in Seattle wanted me sent down there for at least 6 weeks, and Dr Mallory wanted to keep me in Bellingham. The Seattle doctor said if I stayed in Bellingham then I needed to be in the Childbirth Center until I delivered. On Friday when I arrived at the hospital, I was 28 weeks along. I was starting to get a little worried that I was looking at 12 weeks in the hospital.
As our meeting with Dr Mallory progressed, we all felt a little better about things, even though our situation was a little more precarious than I'd thought. I had made the cut-off for staying in Bellingham by .02 of a centimeter. If my cervix was shorter than 2 cm, I couldn't stay. We got a range of measurements due to the baby's constant movement, but our range was 2.02 cm - 2.6 cm. I was on a clear liquid diet at this point, and I realized that the threat of emergency surgery was still looming over my head.
Through all of this, I remained very calm and relaxed. I'm sure that this was partly due to the massive dose of magnesium sulfate I was receiving which had me basically stoned out of my mind. I couldn't focus my eyes on anything, I could barely lift my head off the pillow. I just lay there all afternoon listening to what was going on, opening my eyes when I could, but mostly just listening. The main reason though for my lack of stress and worry was that I finally understood what "Peace that is past understanding" felt like. I spent the time in the middle of the night that I wasn't sleeping in prayer, I prayed for my friends and family that were going through difficult situations, and lastly I prayed for myself. I also knew that I had a lot of people praying for me and for baby Fireball. That is what got me through and helped me to remain calm in the face of the scariest situation I'd ever been in.
The rest of our hospital stay was very uneventful, I went from being the highest risk patient in the wing, that they had to check on constantly, to the one who was so stable that they hardly ever had to check on me. I was amazed by the fact that I never once felt like I was getting bored or cabin fever, or that I had to get out of there. I was just perfectly content.