A few days ago, my nurse wheeled me from my hospital room to my perinatologist appointment upstairs. Every week, I have an ultrasound so they can see how the ole' cervix is holding up. I was feeling good and confident. I'd had no contractions and no other obvious symptoms of preterm labor, and at the prior week's appointment, it actually looked like things were improving. I strongly suspected that they would send me home after this one. I had a home bed rest plan all figured out: I would put the Zifty.com guy to work and stay off my feet. I wouldn't climb the stairs more than once a day. I'd explain to Vivi that I couldn't walk her to her bedroom for story time. I wouldn't cheat AT ALL on the home bed rest protocol.
I just knew they were going to let me out of here to continue my routine at home and wait out the birth of the boys. Then I saw the ultrasound screen.
"What's that big gaping thing?" I asked.
"That would be your cervix opening," the tech replied.
"And does that number up there mean what I think it means?"
"Yes, I'm afraid so." the tech answered. "I'm so sorry, honey."
Seeing that I was fighting not to cry, she handed me a box of tissues. As mortified as I was to be sniffling in front of her, I couldn't help it—a mixture of hormones and raw disappointment were having their way with me. Until this week, I've taken great pride in my no-tear track record with all of my nurses and doctors. Now, my record's gone all to hell.
The news worsened. I was 4 centimeters dilated, and I could expect to stay here for the remainder of my pregnancy. Within an hour of the news, they sent a neonatal doctor in my hospital room to brief me on all of the complications that could potentially arise with the premature births of my boys.
"We're not saying that these things will happen to your babies," he semi-assured me. "We just need to make sure that you're prepared in case they do."
I looked down at the notes I took from our conversation. Possible intubation due to respiratory issues. Airway tubes. Potential need for blood transfusions. Issues with sucking and swallowing. Neurological risks. I wasn't having a good day at all. My thought process rapidly morphed from obsessing about going home to fixating on keeping these boys safe.
Yet that's the most agonizing part: I have no control. I've laid in a hospital bed for nearly a month now...and still dilated two centimeters more over the last two weeks. There's nothing else I can do—nothing but wait and hope.
Yesterday, due to my perinatologist's nagging—er, urging—I finally agreed to tour the Labor and Delivery NICU. I procrastinated it for two weeks, afraid that I wouldn't be able to handle seeing all of the premature babies. No surprises here: it was as difficult and as affecting as I'd envisioned. Most of the babies were concealed in their isolettes, but 3 or 4 were exposed, and they were so tiny—so very, very tiny. They had tubes and wires emerging from their little bodies. Even their cries sounded miniscule. I know that the chances of our babies spending some amount of time in the NICU are probably in the 99% range, and I know that it was right and proper for me to be there in order to manage my expectations. Still, I couldn't leave fast enough.
The "intermediate" room was our next stop on the tour, and it was much less disturbing. Intermediate care is the last stop for premature babies before they can go home—they often refer to it as the area for "feeders and growers", because most of the babies are past any respiratory issues and are waiting to get to the point where their swallow and suck abilities mature.
The longer these babies can stay inside of me, the faster they'll get to the feeding and growing room. According to the docs, just one day of keeping the babies inside of me subtracts 2-3 days off of their NICU stay.
On a positive note, Jeff had a follow up visit to his cardiologist and he's improved considerably. I'm so grateful for this—at least I know that he's nearly back to normal despite (or maybe thanks to) the arsenal of drugs his doctors have him on. He loads Vivienne in his truck and comes here every day, which is no small feat considering how busy he is with work. Their visits—along with calls and drop-ins from family and friends—are getting me through this time.
I'm really proud of Jeff—in a matter of weeks he's embraced the single Dad role as he simultaneously runs a business. Our nanny helps out as well, but he's still inundated with plenty of dirty diapers, potty training, play dates, bedtime and bath time. I know he gets frustrated and overwhelmed, but he rarely shows it.
I think we're both just keeping our eyes on the prize(s): two healthy, happy baby boys.