On Monday I will be 29 weeks pregnant, and this is making me a little nervous. Due to having a bicornuate uterus, both Ariana and Brady were born premature. Ariana was born at 32 1/2 weeks and Brady was born at 31 weeks. With Ariana, I spent about two weeks in and out of the hospital stopping my labor only to have it start again not long after being released from the hospital. Brady decided to move a little quicker and my water broke before we even left for the hospital, and arrived three days later after I luckily received the two shots of steroids necessary to mature his lungs. Sooooooo, it seems my “be on the watch out for labor” time is 30 1/2 weeks.
Obviously the condition wasn’t found until Ariana was delivered via c-section and afterwards I was told that pre-term labor may or may not happen again, and that one factor could be time and growth (I was 19 when I had Ariana). When I became pregnant with Brady 11 years later with a new ob/gyn, I told him about my previous pregnancy and was told that “we would keep an eye on it”, but not to worry too much. I continued that pregnancy with no worries, did not make any arrangements for an early delivery and found myself in complete shock waking up around 2 a.m. the day after Christmas in labor. I had just had my 30 week check up right before Christmas and there were no red flags.
My current pregnancy has been a little different. I started with the same doctor that I was seeing when I was pregnant with Brady (I can’t say the doctor that delivered Brady because I was transferred out of the hospital he delivers at because Brady was going to need a higher level NICU), and he laid out his plan of treatment for this pregnancy which included progesterone shots starting at 26 weeks and steroid shots at 28 weeks. I love my doctor, but I began researching on the internet (which he jokingly told me was bad for my health and causes cancer – that’s just his sense of humor and one of the reasons I love him) and became that paranoid pregnant woman at my appointments asking why I wasn’t starting the progesterone shots at 16 weeks like all the literature suggests, and asking about seeing a perinatologist in conjunction with him. I wanted to see the perinatologist because if I went into labor before 34 weeks, I would once again have to go to a different hospital and have a different doctor for the delivery, but they also call in a perinatologist when you are having preterm labor. I wanted someone that I was familiar with and that was familiar with me if that was the case, hence the perinatologist request. My doctor was fine with that, but the perinatologist would only see me with a doctor referral, and my doctor couldn’t refer me to him because he was at a different hospital. So my doctor suggested I see his old partner that now delivered at the hospital that I would possibly have to go to.
It took a lot for me to make the decision to switch doctors. I really liked my doctor, he is such a sweet guy and I’m normally laughing most of my appointments with him, but he wasn’t quite as proactive as I was hoping for with this pregnancy. I had already heard all of the “Well, next time I would do this and that differently” after Brady was born, and I didn’t want to hear it again, nor did I want to feel the guilt that I could have done things differently. I also knew that it was going to be a small, tiny chance that he would even be able to deliver this baby because of his hospital’s NICU not being a high enough level. I REALLY wanted one normal pregnancy and delivery. You kind of feel robbed when you have your baby prematurely. There really isn’t happy visitors beating down your door at the hospital to see the new baby and congratulate you, they pretty much so keep their distance. My daughter couldn’t even meet her brother until he came home 6 weeks after being born because of NICU rules; how surreal must that have been for her. And the hardest thing to do is leave your baby at the hospital when you are released and I have had to do it twice.
After researching the new ob, I learned she specialized in high risk pregnancies, and I made the appointment for a consult to hear her plan for my pregnancy. Brett and I went to the appointment, and she was definitely proactive. She wanted to start the progesterone shots as soon as possible (I was 17 weeks pregnant at the time) and she would monitor me by checking my cervix length every two weeks up until 29 weeks and then switch to every week (or if I wanted to start the weekly checks sooner it was my call). Another MAJOR plus was that the hospital she works out of has a level 3 NICU and it was much closer than where I was transferred to have Brady. Could it be that I might actually know the doctor that delivers my baby this time around?! Neither Ariana nor Brady was delivered by my doctor at the time. With Brady, I had a different doctor every day and EVERY day I had to tell them why I was having pre-term labor and even then, when I was in the recovery room, the doctor came in and said, “Well, you were having pre-term labor because you have a bicornuate uterus”. Ummmmmm, yeah, I just told you that when I met you before my delivery.
My progesterone shots began pretty quickly after that. I have a nurse that comes to my house once a week to give them to me and check my blood pressure, and chit chat with me about how I’m doing and what is going on with my doctor appointments. I even get to hear the baby every week because she checks the heart rate; Brady gets excited when she gets to our house and says, “Baby” and sits next to me to listen to his little sister’s heart beat. It is too cute.
Around 20 weeks, I was having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions, so I had to go in for a Fetal Fibronectin test along with my cervical length check and both were fine. So far, I have steadily had a cervical length of over 4 cm and my doctor is really pleased with both that and how everything else looks (fluid and such), and the Braxton Hicks contractions lessened after that one week.
The plan at this point, is to keep watching the cervical length every week, and if it begins shortening, another Fetal Fibronectin test will be performed and the steroid shots will be started along with other precautions like bed rest.
I’m trying to have a positive outlook and not get too stressed out about the possibility of pre-term labor, but I’m also being realistic. Do I know what date I hit 30 weeks – I sure do, it’s July 9th. I am making my arrangements, knowing there is the chance of bed rest at home, bed rest in the hospital, or having the baby early, but hoping that my hospital bag will collect dust until I at least make it to 37 weeks. Hopefully, this baby will be the stubborn pain-in-the-butt youngest child 😉 and keep us all waiting.