Monday, August 16, 2010

98 Days and Thankful

Sorry, friends and family. This post is long overdue. It's just that since I got off of bed rest I have stayed busy trying to bring some order back to our lives.

I officially started bed rest on April 16 following what should have been a routine appointment with our OB at 19.5 weeks. You all know what happened--my cervix had suddenly and dramatically shortened, and the doctor was quite concerned about the future of my pregnancy. I officially ended bed rest on July 23 at 34 weeks. While 34 weeks is not full-term, my doctor uses it as the benchmark for when he would no longer aggressively try to stop labor. It was explained to me that babies born at 34 weeks will likely spend time in the NICU, but very rarely will they have any long-term side effects of prematurity.

When I first started my bed resting journey, I had to think week-by-week. Thinking about 3 1/2 months was just too overwhelming. I remember calculating that I needed to make it to almost August before I'd be allowed to be "free", and I couldn't even wrap my brain around what that would be like. I couldn't imagine what that would look like for us as a family.

I really dislike exposing my true emotions--makes me feel way too vulnerable. However, I also want to have a record of how I have truly been feeling this summer, so here goes...

The beginning of this journey was very dark for me emotionally. I was so scared of losing this baby. I hated feeling that things were beyond my control. I would spend my nights thinking about what might happen. I wondered in those first weeks if the baby would live for even a few minutes if she was born that early. I tried to mentally prepare myself for what it would be like if she did--or didn't. I tried to prepare myself for what she would look like. I wondered if we would have a funeral, and if so, where we would have our daughter buried. When Brian had to travel for work, I was a nervous wreck. What if I went into labor, and they couldn't stop it? What if our daughter only survived for moments, and he wasn't there?

And of course, the pregnant body is a crazy thing--constant twinges, aches and pains. I analyzed everything--sure that everything I felt meant that pre-term labor was inevitable.

At the appointment where I was placed on bed rest, I remember surprising my OB when I said, "Okay, so we have to make it to 24 weeks--that's just over 4 weeks from now." My OB looked at me like I had grown two heads, and said something about needing to make it much longer than 24 weeks. For me, however, knowing that our baby had a fighting chance at survival meant everything. Once we hit the all-important 24 week mark, I started to relax somewhat. (Of course, prior to that, I had scoured the internet for stories of babies born between 22-24 weeks who had survived). Each week after that was a bonus. I knew making it to 28 weeks was another big milestone. After that, the weeks seemed to fly by in a way.

Yesterday I hit the 37 week mark. That is officially full-term. And I am thankful. This process has definitely changed me, though. I am so thankful to God that we have made it to this point, and that I will most likely deliver a healthy baby in the near future. Yet, I wonder why we are the lucky ones when so many others have devastating outcomes. I am so thankful for our families and friends who made it possible for me to obey the doctor's orders (that is a whole other post!). Yet, I have spent time thinking about women who simply cannot obey a doctor's orders to be on complete bed rest because they have to work to support their family or they have no one to help with other children. I don't know why we were chosen for this particular journey. But I am thankful.

On a less serious note, I have to use all of these deep thoughts to keep myself grounded and thankful because reaching the 37 week mark has brought the bad with the good. I'm exhausted as a result of bed rest + being really pregnant. My muscles and joints are completely out of whack again due to the combination of being on bed rest for so long + being really pregnant. My back hurts so badly when I get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night (at least 4 times, mind you), that I usually limp the first several steps until things loosen up a little. And last, I ITCH ALL OVER. A dangerous condition called cholestasis of pregnancy has been ruled out. And I am thankful. However, I'm fairly sure I have PUPP. Look it up at your own risk. It's icky--and itchy. And there's not a darn thing to be done except delivering the baby. I'm going to ask my doctor to confirm at my next appointment on Tuesday, but all the symptoms are a match. All the itching has led to very little sleeping. Itching + sleepless nights + trying to get back in the swing of being the primary care provider for a very active toddler + being really pregnant + being in the midst of 16 days of 100+ degree temperatures with no end in sight...

I can honestly say that I am so thankful to be at this point in this pregnancy, but a girl can only take so much. I'm ready to have this baby. Of course, after all the drama, who wants to bet I'll carry her past my due date? Sigh.