Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pregnancy and Premature Delivery

My first pregnancy wasn’t exactly planned. Let me rephrase that—it wasn’t unplanned, either—basically we had decided that we were ready to start a family, and so whenever that happened, it would happen. It took about a year.
I was never sick. I was extremely active—I played out the rest of my co-ed soccer season (playing at about 60% capacity), and kept teaching aerobics until I was 5 months pregnant. I walked to and from work, or rode my kick-scooter, about a mile each way. My husband and I traveled, including a trip to Paris when I was 5 months pregnant. There were no obvious defects in any of my doctors visits or ultrasounds—the baby was measuring slightly small, but both my husband and I are small, so there were no worries all around.
We went to Puerto Rico when I was 32 weeks pregnant. I had checked with the doctors beforehand, they said everything would be fine. I didn’t eat or drink anything I wasn’t supposed to. I don’t think this has anything to do with my early delivery, but since it was close, I figured I’d mention it.
A week later, we were at a bar for a friend’s birthday party. I went to the bathroom, feeling “not quite right”, and my underwear was wet, but not much. Still, since I felt kind of nervous, we left and I called my doctor. He said to call if anything changed.
I watched reruns of Law and Order for 3 hours. I had decided I was worrying about nothing, and decided to go to bed. I went to the bathroom one last time, and the wetness was slightly pink. I called the doctor.
I wasn’t exactly scared, b/c we figured, with anything pregnancy-related, things take time. So we just got our shoes on and got in the car. I figured they’d take a sample, send us home, and we’d wait for a couple days before they told us it was nothing. Well, at the bottom of the hill of our housing development, my water broke all over the (new) car. (Forget the “gush or trickle” business the birth class people tell you—if you were like me at 33 weeks, think more “gallons and gallons”.)
I arrived at the ER, having been diagnosed with a “gross hemmorage” of my bag of waters. They placed me in a hospital bed and put monitors on me to decide if I was going to go into labor. They said if I didn’t have contractions, they’d keep me right there and let me make more amniotic fluid, and keep the baby in as long as possible.
My contractions were 5 minutes apart. They strapped me to an ambulance gurney and said I’d be going to another hospital—the one I was in didn’t have a NICU, and I was going to need it.
I was transferred to the University of Virginia hospital. Coincidentally, this is also where I work. It’s a teaching hospital, which has its benefits, but not when you’re giving birth. I spent the normal 12 hours or so laboring, and much to my dismay, drug-free (I was given Stadol once at approx. 3 am to try to help me sleep. I didn’t.) I wanted an epidural, but they refused to give me one as they kept losing my baby’s heart rate and needed me to contort around so they could find it again. I did this a lot, especially nearing the actual delivery. At one time, they lost my baby’s heartbeat for 6 minutes (I didn’t realize this until a year after the delivery). It’s possible she suffered brain damage at this point, but it’s more likely that she was small and in the wrong place for the monitor to pick it up. I owe my strength at delivery time to my husband Jason, who screamed at me the whole time during the birth—and I say that graciously, as everyone was yelling in that room, but he was the only one I was listening to. I gave birth to my baby girl, amid maybe 20 people (mostly students), on April 30th 2005 around noon. The doctor showed her to us, for a couple of seconds—she was all wrapped up, and looked like a little just-born baby to my husband and I. We were so proud! Then, they whisked her away. We didn’t feel that strange about it, b/c we didn’t know that wasn’t the normal way of things, as this was our first birth experience. They finally gave me some drugs, and I slept for a couple of hours.

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