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!


Crystal & Stephen C. said...

Thanks be to God that he is ok! Stephen and I are praying for you and the little man. Bed rest is definitely a sacrifice worth making. Please let me know if we can do ANYTHING for you. I know how hard it is in the 3rd trimester to do everything and especially now that you can't do much. Your writing is always inspiring by the way : )

Brooke said...

Thanks for sharing Heather! I continue to pray for you and Baby Boy. He's lucky to have such a great incubator!!

tea_time said...

He is SO worth it! Thanks for sharing so much with us. I am rejoicing that you are both healthy and that you have such a positive outlook on this challenge.

Counting down the days with excitement as you get one day/week/month closer to his arrival.

Molly Whitmore said...

Praise the Lord! My heart is so joyous for you and your family!
"May the LORD now show you kindness and faithfulness..." (Samuel 2:6) Hang in there, your sacrifice of bed rest will be ALL worth it in the end!

Jeremy and Mindy said...

I haven't been on the board, I'm so thankful you posted this. I'll be praying for you my friend!

Rose-Anne said...

Bed rest has to be tough, but it is so worth it, as you know! I hope he stays put for as long as possible. I'm thinkong of you and praying for you.

Melissa said...

I am so glad your little guy is strong and thriving! You seem to have a great attitude and I know that will help you through the tough days. You continue to amaze me with your hope and strength!

Samantha said...

It is so worth it, Heather. I'll keep your family in my prayers!

Donna said...

Prayers are with you and baby boy and daddy too. I know GOD is taking care of all of you and soon you will be looking back at this whole situation and holding him in your arms. Bed rest isn't all bad, enjoy the down time, once he arrives bed rest will be hard to come by. Hugs to all three of you!

Kristina said...

That must have been so hard to go back to the hospital where Grace was born. I'm glad you got your best case scenario! Hopefully the next few months will fly by. I recommend netflicks on demand.

Kristy said...

Having gone through the same thing just a couple weeks before you, reading your account hits so close to home for me! Keep up the good work as an "incubator!" I'm sending you my best wishes. :)

Shana said...

I'll keep you and the little guy in my prayers. Bed rest has got to be rough, but the ending result will most definitely be worth it. Please keep us updated.