I have always been told that being paralyzed should not affect my ability to bear a child. But that always came with the caveat that I’m probably at higher risk for complications and there will be some ambiguity towards the end. Well, here we are at the end and there have been some complications and ambiguity!
One of the biggest issues is that because I can’t feel below my level of injury (around my sternum), the doctor’s worry that I could go into labor without feeling the contractions. I have this fear of delivering a baby in bed at home because contractions never woke me up over night! Back on March 30, at 33 and 1/2 weeks pregnant, I had a few concerning symptoms similar to when I had minor complications in January, so I called my doctor. They had me go to the hospital to get checked out. Little did I know not only would they admit me, but they would keep me for the rest of my pregnancy.
The first shock came when we went to “triage” (which is where they send pregnant women who come in either to assess for the start of labor or other issues) and they told us I would probably be admitted. I think they tried to ease me into everything because they didn’t tell me how long I would be here at first, then they said maybe 72 hours. This was especially a shock because we had one of our biggest Kelly Brush Foundation fundraisers of the year, Inspire!Boston, in 24 hours!
Over the next couple of days that timeframe changed to 7 days, not because there were issues that were continuing, but because that is standard for someone with the type of bleeding I had, especially considering it was the second instance of bleeding in my pregnancy. The good news all along was that I was feeling well and the baby was looking good. They continuously monitoring her heart rate and movement for the first 24 hours, and have every 4 hours since, with everything looking normal.
7 days later, with no new problems, we were ready to go home and they were preparing the discharge papers. Zeke was packing the bag and folding the blanket we brought in. They wanted to do one final exam before I left to make sure there were no changes. Turns out, I had gone from 1cm dilated when I got there to 3cm. Basically: “you’re not going home and you’re here until you deliver”. The issue is that over that week I dilated more but had not experienced any of the indications that normally accompany it, nor did they know whether the dilation had come recently or earlier in the week. As I mentioned earlier, the biggest fear for both me and, I suspect, my doctors is that I could go into labor at home and never know it.
The emotional swings since first coming to the hospital have been tough. First, it was shocking to realize they were going to admit me, then that it was going to be for a week. Then after a week and the anticipation of getting home – I literally had the thought “it feels like Christmas morning” because I was so excited to go home. Then the huge let down that not only would I not be going home that day, but I likely have several more weeks of being in the hospital. Zeke and the doctors keep reminding me that we are doing what is best for the baby and me. I get it and completely agree, but my heart is sad for the small luxuries of home – sleeping in my own bed, sitting on the couch, making dinner, cuddling with our dog. I decided I’m allowed to have a few “down” moments but for the most part I’m feeling really good – I’ve cried a couple times which I’m also blaming on pregnancy hormones! I know the baby is healthy (she weighs 4lb 13oz now!), I’m still doing well, and in just a few short weeks we are going to have a beautiful baby girl! All of these are good things! Besides, I’ve done long stays in a hospital before. 10 years ago today I was in the middle of a 3-month hospital stretch!
So now we wait! Yesterday afternoon they checked me again and I’m now 4cm dilated. I’ve had a few contractions here and there (according to the monitor and me feeling with my hands that my belly tightens) but nothing consistent. I could have the baby in the next few days or it could still be a few weeks. Before all this, the plan was to induce labor for me at 39 weeks. Now they’ve moved that up to 37 weeks (April 22nd), assuming, of course, I haven’t gone into labor before then. The reason is a combination of the two episodes of bleeding and all of the changes that I’m having at this point. There is no way of knowing or predicting if I’ll go sooner than 37 weeks though.
As we wait, they continue to make sure the baby is doing well, and we try to get as much sleep as we can before the baby comes (which is more difficult in the hospital!). We’re writing thank-you letters, reviewing grant applications, and Zeke is mostly running the KBF out of my hospital room (which means he’s putting me to work!). Thank you all for the well wishes on Facebook and texts or calls. We’ll keep you all updated!