After five days in the hospital, my husband and I were both relieved to be returning home. My husband was really nervous about the car ride home and made me do a kick count as soon as we walked in the door. After dinner, I tried doing my kick counts again and all was well – 10 movements in an hour. From that day forward I was supposed to do kick counts twice a day and return to L&D; if I didn't feel movement. I relied on my doppler and always felt a rush of reassurance and relief when I could locate the heartbeat.
My time at home on bed rest seemed ok and not too confining. I only used the stairs twice as recommended and took super quick showers. I did notice some pink discharge on Saturday and called the on-call doctor. I was told as long as there was no cramping, there wasn't any blood, my stomach wasn't hard, and I could still feel Cakes moving that it was ok to stay at home. My husband and I were so nervous and on edge trying to walk the thin line between paranoia and cognizant.
On Sunday things took a turn for the worst. I started getting light red (no longer pink but not full on blood either) discharge and a lower backache. My mom came over and we all headed to L&D; to be checked out. We arrived around 2 and told that my cervix was effacing (thinning) and that I was at 80%. My back started hurting a little more while we were at the hospital but I was chalking it up to being in one position and being pregnant. They did another fetal fibronectin test which was negative indicating I would not be having a baby in the next two weeks. HA – just to refresh your memory this test is extremely unreliable as the one I had six days earlier was positive. After monitoring me until 6, it was decided I would be fine going home. When we got home, I decided to take a bath to relax and loosen up my muscles. No sooner had I gotten in bed, the contractions started and were 4-5 minutes apart.
Two short hours after being discharged, we were back at the hospital. A different nurse checked me and confirmed I was now 100% effaced, 1-2 centimeters dilated, and Cakes's head was low at 0 station (engaged in my pelvis and beginning to descend into the birth canal). This time they decided to admit me but it took another two hours before I was in a room. I was given another shot of terbutaline and started on magnesium sulfate (mag) again but I was still feeling strong contractions which were really close together. I was given a shot of Fentanyl to dull the intensity of the contractions. Cakes was sunny-side up and I was having back labor. The Fentanyl only lasted an hour and when it wore off, things were really intense again.
At 3am I was 2-3cm and by 5am I was dilated to 3-4 centimeters and the contractions had gotten even more intense. My dose of mag continued to increase all night as I continued to dilate. Aside from the lone shot of Fentanyl, I was being denied pain killers or an epidural because I was still on the mag to ward off labor. After 11 hours of attempting to stop labor, I was finally rewarded with an epidural (around 6a) when the staff realized there was nothing they could do to prevent Cakes from coming. I had originally wanted a natural childbirth but I honestly don't think I would have had the strength to deliver vaginally without it. Suffice to say, I'll be putting an epidural into my next birth plan.
At some point after the epidural, my husband went home to get cleaned up and look after the dogs. I was only at 4 centimeters when he left and we suspected the epidural might slow things down a little. My husband was in the shower when my mom called saying I was now centimeters and he needed to head back to the hospital.
By the time my husband arrived back at the hospital, I was 9.5 centimeters. The doctor was already there and all of the instruments were in place. The specialists from the NICU and respiratory therapy were there and it was a very crowded room. I was under the impression that because of the epidural I wasn't going to feel anything below the belt. I was wrong. While the contractions were no longer intense, I felt an incredible amount of pressure and that in itself was painful and uncomfortable. My mom estimates I gave three or four really big pushes (I pushed several times as part of each push) before the doctor gave me a 2nd degree episiotomy (she used a vacuum without luck first) and Cakes popped out at 9:46am. The doctor delivered the head since it was so tiny but allowed my mom (an OB nurse) to deliver her granddaughter's body!
Cakes started crying immediately and had really good color. They put her on my belly and let me look/touch her before they got to work on her. Her Apgar at birth was 6 and at five minutes was a 9! Once she was assessed, cleaned, and bundled up they let me cuddle with her for a few minutes before taking her to the NICU accompanied by my husband and dad. My miracle baby was 3 pounds, 6 ounces and 16 inches long, with light blonde hair. She had a bit of a cone head at first but that will go away and we think she's just perfect.
Cakes spent 40 days in the NICU. We visited her everyday and usually stayed with her from the 11a feeding through the 6p feeding. My husband was able to work the entire time from her pod in the NICU. I pumped and eventually was able to breastfeed. I truly believe mommy's milk and all of the time we (and the extended family) spent with her in the NICU really made a difference! Other than reflux that lasted until eight months, we are blessed Cakes had no lasting effects of being born prematurely.