Monday, May 17, 2010


I broke down and cried this morning. It had been a long time coming.

So much pressure has been building up with this pregnancy, that I hardly realized it until today. I was just reading a book and in it, a dad and his daughter were together eating lasagna in the chill of early autumn. Boring story, right? But tears started flowing down my face and I couldn’t stop. Because they were together, a family, doing something as simple as eating. And I thought how much I just want that simple happiness – I want to eat as a family with my husband and child. I’ve wanted it so long I could burst. I just want to go grocery shopping with my little boy in the front of the cart, swinging his legs, even crying or having a temper tantrum. I just want to go to church with my husband and child, drop him off in Sunday school and kiss him before I go, knowing I’ll see him again in an hour.

There is so much more to bed rest in pregnancy than just “relaxing” when you’ve got a real, scary reason for it. It’s about 90% worry – and praying God will grant you the strength to give the worry up to him – and 9% guilt that you’re not contributing to the family finances (and that you’re actually sucking away everyone else’s time and energy) and 1% resting. I can’t even call the last 1% relaxing.

Much of my day is spent counting kicks and movements of my baby. This baby doesn’t kick and spin around as wildly or as often as Grace did (which is probably a good thing in terms of not getting himself tangled in his cord), so he has me on pins and needles wondering if he’s kicking enough. I’d say most moms don’t spend much time counting baby movements in utero. They might do it late in the third tri, when the doctor tells them to, for maybe an hour a day tops. But when you’ve lost a child at full term, and experienced her lack of movements as a sign of complete and utter doom, counting kicks becomes a critical and stressful part of life. I do it all day long.

But even more, there’s the worry of the reason I’m on bed rest – the placental bleeding. Every time I switch sides or move, I wonder whether I’ve injured the placenta. As a matter of fact, every time I flip sides in the night (which is maybe every two hours), I wait for a kick from the baby to make sure he’s still OK. Sometimes I fully wake myself up, heart pounding through my chest, clock ticking away, until I feel that firm kick. And then there’s the worry about going to the bathroom. I brace myself and pray every time, hoping not to see bleeding. For the first bit of this bed rest, I was bringing my phone with me to the bathroom every time, just in case. I don’t even take my allotted five-minute shower unless Jeff is home, so he could take me to the hospital if I needed to.

So you see – bed rest isn’t fun. (I barely watch TV – actually, I don't at all during the day – and I even have a hard time focusing on a book or any form of reading or distraction.) Bed rest is a job. It’s scary. I'm constantly thinking about what bed rest is trying to prevent – having a baby preterm, and the avalanche of problems that a preemie baby could endure the rest of its life. I don’t even want to list the horrifying things I know can happen to a preemie. I simply want to give my child the best possible start to life. An innocent brand new human being deserves that much.

And I do believe that God is going to bless us with that perfect child. He’s going to bring this child to full term (which I consider 37 weeks, or even 36) and we’re going to get to put him in his car seat and take him home with us from the hospital. And one day, we are going to experience our dream – eating together as a family. And grocery shopping together. And going to church together. If you see us in Whole Foods one day, our grinning little boy in tow, you can know that it’s the best day of my life yet. Who cares if it’s raining, or if we’ve got a flu, or if we haven't slept a solid two hours in a month, or if he’s yelling to the top of his lungs and everyone is giving us a cold stare, or if we’re chasing him down the aisles as he shows his first signs of independence and defiance – we will have a living, breathing, healthy child, and we’ll be living our dream life.

If you pray for us, pray about the worry. I know all of the Bible verses on how not to worry, why not to fear. I breathe them in, soak them up, dwell on them. I know that’s what God wants for us. He wants us to experience JOY. I want to fully enjoy this pregnancy, to fully enjoy this healthy baby kicking inside me, but I will admit that this bed rest has made it challenging. I love being pregnant. I love everything it means. But after being pregnant nine months, and then losing Grace, I feel like I somehow deserve a speedy pregnancy this time. I want the reward at the end of the nine months. I’m so ready for July, so beyond ready to hear my healthy baby’s cry! I have seven weeks until full term, and it is going to be a test of endurance.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why I'm on Bed Rest

As many of you know, I’ve been put on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. I’m still amazed that this has happened – the pregnancy was absolutely perfect until two weeks ago!

I had no negative symptoms, besides my trusty ol’ hot flashes. No swelling, no pain, no discomfort, no heartburn. Blood pressure was actually (and still is) quite low! I had begun exercising more regularly, first for 20 minutes a day, then for 40 minutes a day. I figured since I was in the third trimester, everything was safer now, because if the baby was born early, it was viable and could survive outside the womb. Everything was going so well that my doctors had offered to space my appointments to every six weeks instead of every four!

So I was absolutely shocked when I got up at 6:45 a.m. (at 27 weeks 2 days gestation) to go to the bathroom and saw a terrifying gush of blood!  Because of my loss with Grace, people have told me every pregnancy horror story under the sun (I guess it’s their way of relating to my loss), so I knew several pretty scary reasons that someone might see that amount of blood in their third trimester. My initial thought was placental abruption, where the placenta detaches itself from the uterus and can suffocate the baby within minutes.

Somehow, I think pretty level-headedly in worrisome situations, and I knew immediately what I needed to do. I practically flew to my phone and called Jeff and said I was bleeding a lot and told him to come home immediately.  Then I threw myself on the bed, lying on my left side where blood flow to the placenta is best, and called my doctors’ office. They weren’t open yet – duh, I thought – and really started to worry. If the placenta had detached, we had only minutes. I started to sweat and dialed 911.

Call it mother’s intuition (it was probably more a sense of God’s overwhelming peace) but I felt like everything was going to be OK. Jeff said later that he knew from the minute I’d called him that everything was OK.

But heavy bleeding is pretty scary and we both knew the possibility that our baby could be born that day.

The ambulance arrived in 10 minutes and I just asked them repeatedly to get me to the hospital faster. They didn’t have a Doppler to listen to the baby’s heartbeat, so I didn’t know whether my baby was all right.
When we arrived at the hospital, Jeff was standing at the reception desk – we’d both made it there at the same time.

They quickly wheeled me into a labor and delivery room, and once there, I barked at the nurse to get a Doppler! I needed to hear my baby’s heartbeat! She hooked me up and instantly we heard his healthy heart on the monitor. He was even hiccupping, which we could hear loudly as his back would hit the Doppler with each “hic!” My eyes filled with tears of relief!!!

He was alive, and that was all I cared about.

The doctor rushed in and told us reasons that I could be bleeding, and the implications of those… none of which were good. She said it could be a placental abruption, my water might have broken, or I could be dilating and going into labor. All scenarios pointed to emergency c-section to get the baby out right away.  I asked the doctor point blank – “What’s the BEST case scenario? What’s the HAPPY ending?”

She said we had to think about the worst case right now. So she did a test to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid, which so happened to come back positive! But she said sometimes blood will make it falsely positive…

Next they did an ultrasound, but they used old-fashioned technology and you couldn’t see the placenta too well. Baby was doing just dandy, though!

We stayed overnight to monitor the baby’s heart rate, to watch for contractions, and make sure I wasn’t losing too much blood. Bleeding can make the uterus irritable and cause it to start contracting, so we had to watch closely for that. We were made well aware that we might be having a baby at any moment. We were also told that Caucasian male babies don’t do as well as other babies when they’re born early. So I got steroid shots to mature the baby’s lungs. If he could stay inside my womb for 24-48 hours after the shots, his chances for survival if born early would go up significantly!

I wasn’t allowed to eat anything in case of a c–section, so I was starving and on edge all day and all night. I couldn’t sleep as I watched and listened to the monitors with the baby’s heart rate. All I could think about was him.

The next day, I was transferred via ambulance to a better hospital, where a fetal specialist could look at the baby and figure out what had happened to me. It was the hospital where Grace had been born. And of course, as weird as the situation could be, I was wheeled right into the very room where I had delivered her: room 14.

We were trusting in God to keep this baby safe, so the room had an entirely different feeling that it had on November 4, 2008. This time, we felt HOPE. Still, we asked to be moved. It took several hours, but eventually we were moved to a sunny room on the opposite end of the hall – praise the Lord!  There we spent two more days, watching and waiting. And praying.

The third day, we saw the fetal-maternal specialist (called a perinatologist) and got an in-depth ultrasound that we’d been anxiously waiting for. We finally got to see a good picture of the placenta, and sure enough, there were some issues. My placenta was sitting dangerously close to the cervix – it was almost a placenta previa. This alone was cause for concern, but they also saw an area where it looked like blood had come from. So, my diagnosis was that a corner of the placenta had come off the wall of the uterus and bled. Thankfully, it looked like it was already healing, instead of tearing further. We'd gotten our best case scenario.

The baby was also measuring over a week ahead, already showing heart accelerations similar to those of a full-term baby, was head down and face down like a full-term baby, and was breathing in amniotic fluid like a champ. He was healthy just like we’ve always prayed.

But to prevent the placenta from reopening or tearing or bleeding again or anything else that could cause this baby to come earlier than his July due date, the doctor very seriously said that I’d need to go on bed rest. And this is no “working” bed rest. There would be no sitting at the computer, no household chores, no going to church. It was strict: I am to lie down all day long on either my right or left hip, no sitting up, no lying on my back. I can walk downstairs once per day, but not at all if I can avoid it. Showers must be 5 minutes or less. Basically, I am to do nothing but incubate my baby for the rest of my pregnancy! Baby growing is now my full-time job!

My thoughts on all of this: God has continued to shower blessings on us by keeping this baby safe and healthy. It’s amazing that I had this rare fluke happen in my otherwise perfect pregnancy, but I tell you, it will make for some stories to tell my son and his kids and grandkids one day! I had certainly planned a different third trimester than the one I’m living now – I’d planned to decorate baby’s room, decorate our house, work on the many client projects I had going, make money to save – but that’s all been scrapped. I’ve already turned down two big wedding invitation projects (my favorite kind!) and FIVE other major projects. Oh the sacrifices we make for our kids. I’m putting everything on the line for this one’s health. But he’s so worth it!