This story was thoughtfully shared by Stacy, one of our readers.
We found out we were pregnant with our 1st 2 months after we got married. It was an easy pregnancy, I worked all the way through, I had a lot of “braxton hicks” but that’s it. I even played volleyball the day before I had her at 39wks. 5lbs 10oz little baby girl, the nurse did say that during labor i seemed to have a band of scar tissue keeping my cervix at a 4 til they broke my water, but that it shouldn’t be an issue next time since the scar tissue had been broken up. Haylie was 11mo when we found out we were pregnant with our 2nd.
I was sicker this time around but didn’t have any initial issues. At 22wks I had gone into the OB office because I thought I had a yeast infection and was going out of town for a few days so I wanted to treat it. I had already been experiencing “braxton hicks” but nothing different than last time. She (my OB) saw my stomach contracting while I was in her office and sent me next door to the hospital to be monitored for an hour. I ended up staying over night because I was contracting pretty regularly and it took a couple doses of terbudaline to stop them and I was dilated to a 1.
I went home the next day and followed up a few weeks later and everything seemed fine. At 27ish weeks I was sure I had lost my mucus plug and phoned the OB on call. I was told it was no big deal and that it would grow back if it was in fact my plug. At 31 weeks one evening I had a lot of contracting in one hour. I think 15 contractions, but I wanted to wait and make sure I needed to call after what had happened last time I called. Well I fell asleep before I got through the 2nd hour so I figured it was a fluke. The next night while bathing I felt something odd while cleaning myself and was pretty sure it was my amniotic sac bulging ( I remembered them describing it while in labor with my 1st) I was told by my insurance’s nurse advice line to go to the hospital (didn’t want to call the on call OB again) I was contracting a lot on the monitors, dilated to a 4, given a steroid shot, terb then mag for 48 hours to get past the steroid window.
I had a few ups and downs (my mom was also in the same hospital having major abdominal surgery up stairs, and I had close calls with delivering again). Ashtyn was born exactly one week after I was admitted. I’d only had 3 painful contractions, called my nurse, was at a 9 and my water broke. She was footling breech so I had an emergency c-section. She was 32wks, 3lbs 12oz and 16.5in; in the NICU 4weeks exactly. Never needed O2, she HATED the bottle and eventually came home exclusively breast fed for that exact reason.
Ashtyn was 16 months when we found out we were having our 3rd, 5 days later I told my mom I was expecting and she was elated, She slipped into a coma shortly after and died that night (she was diagnosed with cancer when Ashtyn was in the NICU). We already had plans for this pregnancy to help prevent another preemie. We monitored my cervical length weekly starting at 14wks and if it got shorter than 2.5 I would get a cerclage. If I got past 24 weeks bed rest would be the route we would take. Everything was normal until I started getting the 17P shots at 17wks. I started contracting a lot around that time. (the nurse who gave me the shot told me never to assume they are braxton hicks and that it was an awful term) I went to the hospital after talking to my OB office (fully hydrated, peeing clear, ugh) only to be told I was just dehydrated, given fluids and sent home.
Lesson learned, they don’t do anything for pregnant women who are contracting until 20wks and even that is a stretch. My cervical U/S at about 20wks showed funneling when I contracted. I was sent to the hospital immediately to be given a cerclage. I was contracting and every time they would get them stopped and plan my cerclage they would start again, this happened for 2 days when my OB said all the contracting made it unsafe to do the procedure and although I had funneling the contracting showed I exhibited symptoms of preterm labor and a cerclage doesn’t help with that. The plan was weekly OB visits and cervical u/s along with at home monitoring and continuing the 17P shots, moderate bed rest (as much as I could with 2 toddlers).
The week after being discharged we moved in with my in-laws while we were looking for another house, which turned out to be a blessing since I was sent to the hospital either by my OB or home monitoring 5 more times, admitted 4 times (for 3days+ each admission), put on a terb pump and had mag during 3 of the admissions. I was sent to a high risk hospital at 25wks (3rd admission) because I was dilated a one and they thought I was progressing. My cervical length was still long, like a 3 so the maternal fetal specialist discontinued my terb pump and home monitoring, only restricted me to light duty and sent me home to follow up with my OB. Just over a week later I was at an appointment, I had been bleeding and was contracting a lot. I has progressed to a 2 and was monitored in office for a couple hours then went to the hospital when they had a room ready, didn’t even stop in triage. I was given a 2nd round of steroids and they tried to avoid mag but I was contracting every 2-3mins. I was discharged on a Friday at 27wks+1.
Saturday night I felt awful, couldn’t sleep and was bleeding but thought it might still be from being checked the day I was discharged. I called my OB at about 4am, feeling dumb because I hadn’t called during this pregnancy but I felt awful and something just didn’t feel right. She told me to go to the hospital (again!, ugh) and that she would be on call til 7am and the next night as well. I was admitted for contracting every 2-3mins that hardly reacted to any meds (it would ease up after a shot but then start up again after about 8-10mins) but wasn’t progressing. They did an ultrasound, checked baby’s size, about 2.4 and fluid looked good but my cervix was a lot shorter than last u/s. My contractions had slowed around 4 or so and my husband and older daughter were going to come eat dinner with me after church. About 5 I knew they would be there soon so I went to the rest room, felt a lot of pressure than my bag of water bulged like a balloon between my legs. it freaked me out, I called the nurse and like 3 came rushing in. My water broke before they could get me off the toilet and to my bed. I was still only dilated to a 3, but when my OB checked there was blood and placenta and baby wasn’t responding well after my water broke so I was put under general for an emergency c-section. Melany was born @ 27wks + 3days, 2lbs 4oz, 13.5 in. She was crying when being assessed. She had the same first nurse her sister did and the exact same bed space.
Melany was in the NICU for 67days. She was on O2 for most of her stay and intubated at 12 days when she got a staph infection, she was taken off after 48hrs. She had a small PDA (still does) and a VSD that cleared up on it’s own. I couldn’t go to the NICU nearly as much as I wanted because I had 2 other kids at home and my husband had to work. I knew a baby could come home nursing so that was our goal for Melany. She did ok with the the bottle but didn’t love it. At 2mo old they did a follow up head ultrasound and found evidence of a level 4 brain bleed that had healed. We were shocked since 90% of bleeds occur within the first 10days. We were prepared to look for developmental delays on one side of her body. They did an MRI the day after we had the meeting with the NICU staff to see the extent of the damage. There was a lot of fasting and prayer on her behalf and ours that day. She came home EBFing at 37wks weighing 4lbs 6.5oz. the following day. We found out the results a week after discharge and were blessed with a miracle, there was NO evidence of the bleed in the scan and no explanation as to why even after 2 radiologists.
She has been doing amazingly well at home. And it may not make sense but we feel very strongly that she came early for a reason, it didn’t seem like there was any stopping her when it was time. She is 2mo. old adjusted age now and is just like any other newborn. We are so blessed to have had two children that started out a lot earlier than planned doing so well. When asked if we plan on having any more children we tell the truth, absolutely, we knew before we got pregnant with Melany that there would be more after her, we don’t know how many, 1 for sure. While a cerclage may only delay preterm labor we are doing one right away with my next pregnancy and will take it as it goes from there. Melany is only 5 months old so it is a ways a way but we know it will happen and hope for a much longer pregnancy next time.
We were also very blessed by an amazing OB and NICU staff through our experiences.