bed rest, cervical incompetence, cervix, depression, fetal fibronectin, neonatologist, perinatologist, pregnancy complications, premature labor, progesterone suppositories, salisbury steak, shitty hospital food
So I’ve started composing this post in my head dozens of times but I haven’t really felt like writing it. Sometimes it’s because I can’t really have a sense of humor about it and if I am unable to be sarcastic about something I don’t know how to be about it, and sometimes it’s because even I wonder how much is too much to share in this world of “look at me look at ME!!!” – but, writing is supposedly therapeutic or what have you so I guess maybe I should. Fair warning: This post is all about my cervix and other female things that could cause discomfort in the modest or squeamish.
I know it has been a while but when I last wrote I mentioned that once again my short cervix was causing trouble. Six weeks ago I went to have it checked by a perinatologist, thinking that it would be like it was during my last pregnancy – a tiny bit shorter than normal but no cause for alarm (just cause for irritation at having to go to the doctor twice as often as a pregnant woman with a normal cervix). Alas, my cervix was so short as to be barely measurable, which puts me at risk for premature labor. So the doctor put me on bed rest and gave me a prescription for progesterone suppositories (which help reduce that risk), and asked to see me back in a week.
A week later my cervix had become even shorter and had even started showing signs of funneling which is even more cause for alarm because it can cause the bag of waters to break and that is sort of the point of no return. He also did a fetal fibronectin test which I would later find out came back positive which, according to one doctor, means there is a 70% chance of going into labor within two weeks (that was five weeks ago, however, and here I still sit with a baby in my belly). He admitted me to the hospital where I could be constantly monitored and kept pregnant.
So here I am and here I have been for five weeks. Five long weeks away from my baby and husband. Because little Louisa had never been in daycare I didn’t want to simultaneously disappear from her life AND shove her in daycare so we worked out a calendar of babysitting with all of our relatives. Someone has been here every week since then, taking care of her and helping my husband with grocery shopping and household chores. I am officially not a part of my own life. And it’s depressing. And guilt-inducing. And a lot of other things. Then there’s the constant fear that the baby is going to be born early and what that all entails. And while logically I know that none of this is my fault, there is the part of me that blames myself. Every Saturday when I’m another week pregnant the pressure lifts a little but honestly sometimes it feels like the weight of the world is resting on my insufficient cervix.
I can cope with most things – the terror that my baby will be born horribly prematurely and thus have some sort of ongoing health problem (such as permanent brain damage, cerebral palsy, mental retardation – the list goes on and on, according to the neonatologist who visited me upon my arrival – gee thanks, sir, for that encouraging speech), being trapped in a hospital room, eating shitty hospital food etc, but being away from my daughter has been so terrible. Sometimes I miss her so much it is a physical pain in my chest. My husband (whom I also miss terribly) brings her over on the weekends and usually for one visit during the middle of the week but other than that I am effectively not a part of her life. It’s rough. I’ve been gone for five weeks and in that time she has grown taller, learned a bunch of new words, gotten a few more teeth, and has had more than one very rough day most likely caused both by her missing me and by her reaching that age where everything is dramatic and requires a screaming tantrum. Last Thursday evening when she came to visit me she screamed and cried for roughly 40 minutes. Her nap had been short that day and she doesn’t really like riding in the car and I guess the combination of both was just too much for her. I was so sick of all of this that I told my husband I was going to call the doctor and force him to release me. I didn’t. But still. After they left I had a mini breakdown and cried in my bathroom, the only private place I really have here (someone is ALWAYS walking in to check my blood pressure, ask if I’m having contractions or cramps or bleeding, query when my last bowel movement was or just check to see that I’m all right). Mostly I try to remain positive and concentrate on keeping the little dude in as long as possible, but I have one of these mini breakdowns at least once a week, usually on Sunday after my family leaves and I’m staring down another week of total isolation.
The good news/silver lining/reason I’m finally ready to write about all of this is that as of last Saturday I am 30 weeks pregnant, a huge milestone according to the doctors. When I got here the baby’s chance of survival was 75% and the risk of long-term health problems was pretty high. Now his chance of survival is in the high 90s and there’s only a 5% chance of complications/permanent health problems. And I’m still pregnant which is excellent because every day/week is that much better. So things will most likely be okay. Now I just have to survive the salisbury steak (seriously, the effing food here is killing me – thank God people keep bringing me treats and on the weekends Jason brings food), the middle-of-the-night blood pressure checks, the calf-massaging apparatus to help ward off DVTs, the injections/pills/suppositories etc. And it will all be worth it once I get to take my sweet little guy home and everything gets back to normal.