Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pre-Term Labor Scare Part I: The Twins Make a Break for it in my 26th Week

Three and a half weeks ago, late on Sunday night I was laying on my side doing a contraction count. (Because I'm having twins and therefore have a greater pre-term labor risk, I'm supposed to lie down twice a day for an hour and check for any tightening of the belly, which is a Braxton Hicks contraction.) For the first time ever I felt tightening. And then 4 minutes later tightening again. And again. And again. It's normal to have some tightening this far along in a pregnancy but if I feel six contractions in an hour I'm supposed to call the hospital. I called after about 4 contractions since only 20 minutes had passed. The nurse said to keep checking and they'd see how I was doing in 45 minutes. At that time the contractions started to be accompanied by a little pain, and the nurse said to immediately go to the hospital.

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.

Next time...
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.)


  1. I'm glad you and the babies are okay! That's really scary. Hope you're keeping occupied on the bedrest. It can be boring, but soon you will very busy and awake all the time, right? You're already further than they thought possible!
    I had to do mod bedrest for the last two. With Ethan I tested positive for some protein that predicted labor; with Kaiya I had some high blood pressure. I never came close to delivering, but I did get my MIL to buy me flats of Costco chocolate muffins. Um, yeah. Shouldn't have done that.

  2. I was really happy this past week when I made it past 3 weeks - what the doctors told me when I was admitted as the best I could hope for.

    I'm sorry to hear you were on bed rest for your last two. It's too bad I also got diagnosed with gestational diabetes or I'd really enjoy something like chocolate chip muffins. Those sound so good right now.

  3. Hi Kathy,
    I follow your blog because I am also pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl, due Jan. 5 (although we both know that means December, more than likely). Sorry to hear about your pre-term labor scare! I was wondering if something happened because you hadn't posted in so long, but now I'm glad to see that everything is OK. I've been doing pretty well with my pregnancy, no complications, and I hit the 31 week point this coming week. I can't believe that I've made it this far! Right now the boy is 3.5 lbs and the girl is 4 lbs. I can't imagine my stomach stretching anymore, but I'm guessing that it will!
    Good luck!

  4. Wow! Our due dates are only a day apart and we're both expecting a boy and a girl! Do you mind if I ask how you found my blog and what part of the country you live (crossing my fingers for the Bay Area).

    That's great that you've had no complications. Just keep listening to your body and don't push yourself. Your twins sound like they're above average n size I think. That's really really good! I don't see how my stomach can stretch any more either!

  5. Unfortunately I don't live in the Bay Area -- I'm in Connecticut! I think I found your blog by following a link or two from another multiples site... it's been a while so I can't remember. But I do have you on my favorites list so I check in periodically. I do have one daughter, who is now 7 years old, but this pregnancy is so different than a singleton. She was a breeze -- this is much more strenuous to me! Good luck and I'll keep checking in and commenting!