This past Sunday/Father’s Day Chet was 34 weeks and 5 days along, the exact gestation Ginny was when she passed away. Chet moved a lot for me that day which gave me such peace of mind. God did comfort me on that day as he promised (RE: Waiting).
Tuesday I was 35 weeks and officially more pregnant than I have ever been. It felt good to hit that milestone…. then I started having contractions at around 6:30pm. Seriously!? I tracked them for a couple hours. They were painless but coming pretty consistently at between 7 and 12 minutes, so we called the after-hours line. The doctor told me to come in to be monitored since I’m only 35 weeks and high-risk. She said to be sure to bring the hospital bags. I thought to myself, “Well I made it one day further.”
Daniel and I arrived at the hospital around 9:30pm. Thankfully we were both allowed in since I was going to Labor and Delivery Unit. They screened us, took our temperatures, and gave me a mask. Daniel kept his homemade mask. We made our way up to the Labor and Delivery floor where we hadn’t been since giving birth to Ginny. It looked the same except for a new wall of plexiglass.
They took us into a triage room and started monitoring my contractions and Chet’s heart rate. It was clear I was having contractions every few minutes. Chet’s heartbeat looked great! My cervix was checked for dilation while they took swabs to check for any infection that could cause preterm labor. I was 2 cm dilated! Daniel and I looked at each other in shock behind the masks. They told me to drink a bunch of water and they would come back to check again in a couple hours. Two hours later, I was 3cm dilated! They decided to admit me to the antepartum unit.
Prior to being admitted, I had to test negative for COVID-19. I was given one of those nasty nasal swabs. It was unpleasant but didn’t last long. It does feel like it touches your brain! Unsurprisingly my test came back negative. That meant that we don’t have to wear masks in the hospital room when we were by ourselves, but once a person comes in, we had to put masks back on.
I was given an IV and quickly pumped with fluids. I was given one of two steroid shots to help Chet’s lungs mature in case he is on his way early. The next would be given in 24 hours, so we knew we would be at the hospital at least that much longer. We then moved to the antepartum unit. Chet and I continued to be monitored. I was checked again at 2am and had thankfully stayed at 3cm. I didn’t sleep much at all. Contractions kept coming, more intense but less consistent. Was Baby Chet coming today? Would my labor stop, and we’d be sent home? Would I be in limbo being monitored there for days?
In the morning, I was taken to get an ultrasound. Daniel couldn’t come with me. It was surreal to walk the halls of the hospital to the ultrasound clinic where we found out Ginny had died… in a gown and socks. The waiting room and halls were dark as it was still before normal hours. Everything was just different enough to keep from triggering anxiety. I tried not to think too hard about where I was. A sweet sonographer brought me into the room. I got to see Chet’s cute face again. The sonographer pointed out that he has lots of hair! We saw him squirm and take practice breaths. She measured him as well as the fluid around him. She said he is measuring an estimated 7.5 lbs! The average baby at 35 weeks measures around 5 lbs. He’s continuing to grow A LOT!
I returned to the room and got to bring Daniel a couple of cute profile pictures. Before long, a team of MFM doctors came to our room. Since UNC is a teaching hospital, there was an attending doctor, a fellow, a resident, and an intern – all women. They explained that Chet looks great on the ultrasound and that he is indeed a big baby. They also explained that my amniotic fluid levels had increased even more from my ultrasound 3 weeks ago. They suspected that, even though I passed my glucose test several weeks earlier, I may have developed late gestational diabetes. This would explain Chet’s big size and the extra fluid. They would be monitoring my blood sugar after each meal. They explained that if Chet was born at 35 weeks, he would likely not have long term health problems but may have trouble with blood sugar and jaundice, both treatable. He may have to spend a little time in the NICU. They said they’d come back later to check my cervix again to see if labor was progressing. If labor stops progressing, they would send me home the next day after I get my second steroid shot. As the doctors were leaving, I told them that because of our loss, my mind is always trying to evaluate whether Chet is safer inside or outside. They said that they were doing the same thing, weighing all the risks.
Throughout the day I felt nervous not knowing whether we would get to meet our boy sooner or later. Again, I have to hand over my need for control, my need to know everything, and my need to plan. I’m just not in control.
My cervix remained unchanged and contractions became fewer and less predictable. It seemed that the IV fluids were working to help calm my body down. My blood sugar tests came back good, so gestational diabetes is not the cause of too much amniotic fluid. We still don’t know what the cause of there being excess fluid. We are praying that there is no actual problem and that Chet will be born healthy. I was then given the second steroid shot. On Thursday morning we saw the doctors again who said that Chet looks great on the monitor and they would send me home. I will be having some extra doctor appointments for the rest of the pregnancy, starting on Monday.
I feel good that we got so much monitoring and Chet is doing great. I am also reassured that I got the steroid shots to strengthen his lungs if he does come early. I am happy to be home and to give Chet a little more time to mature.
Having said that, I feel more than ever that holding my baby still feels at an arms reach. Even after having had contractions and gone to the hospital, it is hard to believe this will actually happen. We left the hospital with him still in my belly. We keep getting closer and closer but not actually getting there. I know we will get there; it just feels hard to believe sometimes. I fight my unbelief to hope for the day (maybe soon?) when we bring Chet home from the hospital. I can’t wait!