We really didn't think this was going to progress into labor, but I grabbed a camera and some magazines just in case. Mark thought I was overreacting...
At the hospital, the doctor did a cervical exam (um, ouch) and told me I was 3 cm dilated. (Ironically at my OB appointment less than a week before, my doctor told me I was 0 cm dilated and said everything looked great and I could cancel the next appointment in two weeks.) The doctor said they were going to start giving me medicine to stop the contractions and give me steroids (shot into my butt a la Jose Canseco) to strengthen the babies' lungs. She told us it was quite likely that I was going to deliver in the next 24 hours. And I would be on strict bed rest at the hospital until the end of my pregnancy.
Mark and I were pretty much in shock.
I was given a room that had a chair in the corner for Mark that folded out into a bed and we were up all night while I was visited by a steady stream of doctors and given various drugs, ultrasounds, and contraction and fetal heart monitors. I was attached to an IV and not allowed solid food in case I was to go into labor. I was given another cervical exam (ouch again - I've never had a doctor brace against me so she could go in as far as possible), and was told I was now 4 cm dilated.
Thankfully, the drugs kicked in and the contractions stopped by the next day.
Mark and his chair-bed. If I had been at Kaiser for a month we joked about how we could save money on rent by having him just move in with me and sublet our place.
Mark and I talked later about how we're glad we didn't know how serious giving birth in my 26th week was. We knew it wasn't good, but the reality didn't hit home for another day. For instance the following morning a perinatology doctor visited and told us that the babies had a very good chance of survival - 90% chance for each. I'm sure she thought she was comforting us, but those odds sounded terrible to me. And I knew if that was the survival rate, the chance of a baby having developmental problems (unhealthy heart and lungs, learning disorders, etc.) must be awfully high. The majority of the doctors seemed to think that I'd be very lucky if I was able to carry the babies another three weeks.
I felt so frustrated because I felt like I had been trying so hard to do everything right with this pregnancy - from my diet to exercise to using natural (read: hippie) products. And now I was failing at doing the one thing I needed to do - keeping them in there cooking to term.
I'd never had flowers delivered to me before. My mother-in-law sent me this beautiful bouquet. Love the Casablanca lilies!
Due to being pregnant and the warmth of having all my limbs touching each other, I had the AC cranked to its highest level and no sheet on me. Meanwhile, Mark would often visit wearing a sweater and he still had to put on the sweatshirt hoodie I was admitted in and, as seen here, a blanket.
Part II: Living in a Hospital for Over a Week
(For anyone who doesn't know how the hospital story concludes, I'm home now on modified bed rest and the babies are continuing to cook inside me. I'm still a pre-term labor risk but if I'm really lucky they'll stay there awhile, maybe even to term.)