I have been hearing from several people with multiples that during pregnancy, things can change in an instant. Now I am a believer. I went to my doctor’s appointment on Monday afternoon fully expecting to be given a pat on the back for what a great job I have been doing and sent home. After all, I had been gaining weight (OK, so truth be told I don’t think I actually get 5000 calories in everyday, but I try hard and I still have good weight gain), the babies seem to be doing all right because I feel them kicking fairly frequently now, and most importantly, I had not been having many contractions. I am supposed to keep the average number of contractions for the week below 3.5, and I had never had more than 2 and usually had 0 or 1 in a single session.
So, no one was more surprised than me when the ultrasound tech looked at my cervix and said, “You are going straight to the hospital. Let me see if we need to call an ambulance or if the friend that brought you can take you.” I was stunned. (And I thought that the whole ambulance thing was a bit overdramatic). They finally decided that my friend, who had brought me to the doctor’s appointment, could take me over for direct admittance into the hospital.
My cervix, which two weeks prior had been about 4 cm in length (and which one ultrasound tech had called the “cervix of steel”) had shortened to 0.7 cm and was 1 cm dilated. The doctors weren’t sure if it has just happened, or if I was in pre-term labor and that’s what was causing it. They hooked me up to a contraction monitor to check things out. At first I was having three contractions per hour. Then I started having them every two minutes (yikes!). They gave me some drugs to stop the contractions and decided I needed a cerclage (a surgical procedure where they sew your cervix closed) as soon as possible.
Well, as luck would have it, Monday was also a full moon, which, for some unknown reason, tends to put women into labor. The labor and delivery area of the hospital was packed and several women required emergency c-sections, which all had to come before my surgery. Finally, at around 10:15 that night, it was my turn. The procedure itself is fairly simple and did not take a long time. They did numb my body from the waist down (similar to an epidural) so that I wouldn’t feel anything, but I was awake for the whole thing. After surgery, they took me to recovery for an hour and I was back in my room about midnight. My sweet aunt was there, along with another friend and two men from our church. They had waited over an hour and a half for me to come back. I got teary-eyed when I saw them because it was so unexpected and so thoughtful. The two men gave me a Priesthood Blessing (see www.mormons.org if you want to learn more about those), which really boosted my spirits and made me feel like everything was going to be okay.
Because the cerclage tends to cause more uterine activity, the doctor decided to put me on Magnesium Sulfate (code name “Mag”). This drug does a great job of limiting contractions, however it has some pretty nasty side effects, including nausea, double vision, overall muscle weakness, shortness of breath, congestion and chest pain. Fortunately I only had to be on it for a day and a half before they decided to take me off and see what happened.
After they took me off the mag, I did pretty well, with minimal contractions and they thought I might be able to go home on Friday. Unfortunately, Thursday night I started having more contractions, so they gave me a shot of tributaline, which calmed the contractions. Because of the increase in contractions, however, they decided to keep me another day. The next night, the same thing happened, so again they decided to keep me for another day. This time, they gave me an oral dose of the tributaline in the early evening to see if it would prevent the contractions from occurring. Happily, this tactic worked and I was released from the hospital this afternoon.
I know that I will likely end up back in the hospital sooner rather than later, but I am truly grateful for whatever time that I can spend at my aunts house on bedrest instead of in the hospital. The doctors and nurses in the hospital were wonderful, but nothing can compare to being surrounded by family.