Thursday, April 12, 2012

Preterm Labor - April 12, 2011

One year ago today was when it all started.  On April 12, 2011, I was admitted to the George Washington University Hospital in preterm labor.  My membranes had ruptured prematurely (PRROM), I was contracting and was already several centimeters dilated.  I was only 23 weeks pregnant at the time.   That day was one of the scariest days of my life.  The night before while I was working my usual shift (3:00pm - 1:30am), I wasn’t feeling well.  One minute I was a sweating, the next minute I was freezing.  I had one of the nurses at my office check my temperature but it was normal.  I just didn't feel right and I couldn't really figure out what was going on.  I called a 24 hour obstetrics line through my health insurance company and spoke with a nurse.  She told me to drink fluids and get lots of rest.  The nurse suggested that I might be coming down with something.  But something to me just didn’t seem right.
I went to bed that night around 2:00am, completely exhausted and still not feeling quite right.  Two hours later, I woke up when I felt something leaking.  I was so tired at that point that it didn’t really occur to me that it was amniotic fluid.  I changed my clothes and immediately went back to bed.  I woke up again around 6:00am, feeling even worse.  I took my temperature and found that it was over 100 degrees.  Shortly after that, I began having contractions.  I finally called my OB’s office but it took about 20 – 30 minutes for a call back.  When I described what was happening, I was told that I should come in to the hospital.  In the meantime, Andrew was getting ready to leave for work with our two oldest children.  I called our good friend Maria who graciously agreed to come to our house to watch our three youngest. 
When Maria arrived, I began my trip into DC to the hospital.  It was pouring rain and the middle of rush hour - a very bad combination in the DC Metropolitan area.  Normally the drive to the hospital would take about 30 minutes, but on this day it took twice as long.  During the drive, my contractions became stronger and more frequent.  And the majority of the drive was on a road with no shoulder.   So there I was, driving my car in bumper to bumper traffic, in labor and virtually no place to pull over.  It was horrible and terribly frightening.  I contemplated calling 911 but then I thought to myself, I'm having contractions but I'm not having the baby, not today.  After all, I was only 23 weeks pregnant.   
When I arrived at the hospital, I got out of the car and handed my car keys to the valet attendant.  A moment after that, there was a gush of fluid and I knew immediately that my water had broken.   As I walked into the hospital, crying and scared, a security guard smiled at me and excitedly said “It’s time? Go right on up!”   I remember sobbing on the elevator which was full of people and a woman patting me on the back and asking if I was okay.     
When I arrived to the labor and delivery section of the hospital, I called Andrew in tears to tell him my water had broken and then was immediately taken to a delivery room.  I asked the nurse what would happen next since my water had broken, she replied by telling me that I would have to let the doctors answer that question.  Minutes later a doctor came in and I had an ultrasound which confirmed that there was very little amniotic fluid left.  I was hooked up to an IV and eventually given medication to stop the contractions.  I was also given a steroid shot to help mature the baby’s lungs.   The OB told me that a neonatologist would come and talk to me about delivering a baby at 23 weeks.  When the nurse heard this, she suggested to me that I really listen to what the doctor said so that I would know what our options were.  I replied by telling her that I am Catholic and that we didn’t have any options.  She clarified and said we might just want to let nature take its course and hold our baby instead of utilizing medical intervention.   An anesthesiologist came and spoke with me in the event that delivery was imminent and I signed the consent form for a c-section.  Andrew arrived at some point during this time.   When we spoke with the NICU fellow, she gave us the statistics and the possible outcomes for a 23 weeker.  The outcomes were grim, as 24 weeks is usually considered the age of viability.  I remember hearing that if our baby lived, he/she could be blind, deaf, have cerebral palsy or other significant impairments.  The doctor said that at some point we would need to make a decision about whether or not we would want them to resuscitate our baby.   We were told that if the baby weighed more than 500 grams, his or her chances of survival would be much higher.  We had an ultrasound where they estimated the baby to weigh just over 500 grams.  For us, there was never a question.  If Veronica had been born that day, she would have been resuscitated.  But who knows what her outcome would have been.

 I spent the night in labor and delivery but was moved to an ante-partum room the following day.  At that point, we no longer felt that the birth was imminent.  It was time to start the waiting game.    Our initial goal was to make it to 24 weeks, which at that point, was only two days away.  After that, we would aim for 28 weeks and then 32.  We knew that every day, every extra hour was a blessing.   I started doing some research on micro preemies.   But I am not sure I could have fully prepared myself for what lay ahead. 


  1. Oh my goodness! Your story sounds almost exactly like mine!! I was completely furious when I was given the option of "termination" as if it would have ever of been a thought in our minds! I spent a lot of time googling premature births, and I saw a lot of things I wish I could have never of seen. Just think, it's been a year since we both had some of the worst days/months of our lives, and now we have beautiful little miracle babies to cherish forever! :)

  2. I can't believe you drove yourself to the hospital in traffic in the rain with contractions. That must have been so scary. This day for me is April 1. I don't know about you, but I had a really hard time emotionally on that day going from pure elation and joy to sadness remembering how scary that day was. It sounds like me in that once I got to ante-partum I naively thought that meant we would be delivering much, much later. Hope the next few days aren't too hard on you.

  3. I cried reading this. I'm sure this is a very emotional time for you, reliving all the events leading up to Veronica's birth. I, too, hope these next few days aren't too hard. But if they are, please know that we are all thinking of you!!

  4. Marcie, I can't believe you drove yourself to the hospital, especially in those conditions. I will be thinking and praying for you during these days as you get closer to the big day. So bitter sweet and so nice to know we have all found people who get it. Take care and give your little miracle some cuddles tonight...hope the cough is better.

  5. I was just thinking of you and your family and decided to check in-- thought it must have been just about a year now. Veronica is looking so absolutely sweet and gorgeous. All the best to all of you!!