On 11/11 the twins chose to celebrate Veterans Day by making another break for it. (Next time they should try a rock hammer and a Rita Hayworth poster.) I noticed a few contractions (which is normal), and laid down to watch Top Chef and see if there were any more. They were occurring every 8 minutes which is problematic because when they're at a regular interval they could lead to labor. Mark and I grabbed our things. By now I really should have a travel bag ready instead of my usual tactic of dumping a camera, magazines, and a diabetes kit in a plastic Target bag. Mark predicted we'd be at the hospital for 2 1/2 hours. I said 7. The correct answer will be 255 by noon this Sunday morning.
As usual I felt like it took Kaiser forever to process me, have a nurse see me, set me up on contraction and fetal heart monitors, and finally see a doctor. The whole time I worried that the longer it took them the more likely I was to dilate further and go into labor. So, chop chop, people! The doctor (sorry - not the zombie gynecologist, whom I haven't seen all week) apologized for her cold speculum (as though that's the uncomfortable part of the exam). She determined I was 3.5 cm dilated, compared to 1 cm just a week before. Two days later another doctor said I was dilated 3 cm, but I think it's just variation among doctors - the cervix is measured with the fingers so the process is inherently imprecise. It's highly unlikely it's another case of the incredible shrinking cervix. (I can't decide if that would be the best or worst Nancy Drew book ever.)
Just replace "mansion" with cervix.
I was given a shot of terbutaline like last time. It's pretty much the only thing that can stop the contractions (apart from the nifedipine I was already taking), but if you go into active labor it won't do anything. The side effects are not unlike drinking a Jolt Soda. I also received steroid injections again to strengthen the babies' lungs and hearts. They gave me an IV because I couldn't have food in my system if I were to go into labor. I had that IV until 2:30 p.m. the next day. You might think you'd feel full while on an IV, but not true - I was starving.
The first day was pretty scary - contractions seemed to die down and then start up again. After I was stabilized I had a couple scary moments here and there like the time I had a lot more contractions than usual (they were at regular intervals, too), and was then hooked up to fetal heart rate and contraction machines all night. (I got to sleep at 6:30 a.m.) For the most part, however, it was nowhere near as scary as my pre-term labor scare at 26 weeks, mostly because the expected outcome of a delivery at 32 weeks is much much better.
Mark made me a new sign and posted it in my hospital room a few days ago when I made it to 33 weeks. He's added a new star every week since week 29. I now have a 5 star uterus! Also, note Mark's new pregnancy beard. It's the longest it's ever been - he guesses it's four weeks of growth, but I think five. (You can see it in its early stages here.) Whether or not he'll keep it until the babies are born is still a mystery...
The prognosis when I arrived was that I would probably go to 34 weeks, maybe 35. If you go into labor at 34 weeks the doctors generally don't try to stop it, but the babies would spend some time in the ICU. 35 weeks would mean the twins could probably stay in my room (with maybe a day in the ICU), and go home with us. 36 weeks is considered full term for twins (moms just run out of belly space). One thing in my favor is that at my last ultrasound appointment two weeks ago, Twin A (the boy) was estimated to be 3 lbs, 9 oz. and Twin B (the girl) was 3 lbs., 11 oz. Those are 49th and 57th percentiles respectively, on the same scale used for singletons, which means they're quite big for twins. Gestational age is the best predictor of fetal health, followed by weight. Apparently it's unusual for Twin B's to be bigger because Twin A's usually have the "better" placentas.
When I'm unable to blow dry my hair and have to lie down on a pillow after washing my hair, after a few hours I look like Russell Brand (hopefully sans facial hair).
Part II: Kathy vs. Beef Ragout, Mark vs. Curtains