oh happy day!…
No preeclampsia! Hooray! Before I get into how the appointment went, I feel like I need to continue my peeing in a gas can saga. If you’ll allow me a quick diversion (and again, you might want to skip the next paragraph if you’re squeamish)…
By Tuesday evening, I saw that I was quickly filling up the entire container that I was given for the urine sample, with a good twelve hours of the test left to go. I rationed my water, but it was to no avail. I was going to out-pee this gas can.
I started to prepare a zip-lock bag to put the rest of the urine in, but when Shawn came into the kitchen and realized what I was doing, he was thoroughly grossed out, telling me that it was going to bust open in the car and get everywhere. We took another zip-lock bag, filled it up with water, and tipped it upside down to see if it would spill. It held the water in tightly. I still say the bag would’ve held up just fine, but I guess it probably is better to be safe than sorry.
I called the after hours nurse to ask if I could stop collecting urine, since the container was full, or if they needed the entire 24 hours. She said they would need the full 24 hours.
So, at around 10:00pm, Shawn and I went to Sheetz to find a suitable container for urine holding. I went on the promise of getting something chocolate. 🙂 Shawn found a miniature gas can, very similar looking to the original pee-filled container that was sitting in our refrigerator. We took it home, and I’m not kidding, by the time the test was over, it was 2/3 full.
This would be why I get slightly frustrated when nurses patronizingly ask…over and over and over…if I’m getting enough water. I know they think that it could be causing the contractions or the swelling, but I’m well aware that I drink puh-lenty of water. I should’ve taken pictures so that next time I’m asked, I can say, “Look. This is how much I pee in 24 hours. I don’t think it’s possible for me to drink much MORE water!” Or, I can just smile and say, “Yes Ma’im, I get plenty of water,” which is my usual course of action.
The two gas cans barely fit into the biohazard bag, but we finally got them both in (after several reminders from Shawn about how gross this all was). I was told to just drop them by that morning, so I got to the office a few minutes before I needed to be at work. The bag was fairly heavy, and I know I looked like an idiot, lugging in gas cans in a biohazard bag. There were several women in the office, and they all looked me up and down with that judgmental look women are so good at.
I wanted to get rid of that bag and get on to work as quickly as possible. I had to wait in line (awkwardly adjusting my pee gas cans because one arm would get worn out, so I’d switch the weight to another arm), and then was told to sign my name on a clipboard and wait. I tried to act nonchalant as I walked to my seat and gracefully placed my biohazard bag at my feet…praying that it wouldn’t spill.
Twenty minutes later, my name was called and I was escorted back to the lab. I gave the urine sample to the nurse (who was very impressed with the gas can, by the way), and then was told that I needed to have blood drawn. She took my blood, and then I was released to go ahead and go to work. All in all, an interesting visit.
My follow-up appointment was at 1:30 that afternoon, and the entire thing seriously lasted maybe fifteen minutes. The nurse weighed me (down one pound from before, which means the rapid weight gain is due to swelling), took my blood pressure (which was the same as it was at our last appointment, a little high for me, but not alarmingly so), asked about my headache (gone and none since then), and checked out the swelling (still a lot).
When I met with the doctor, she told me that the urine test came back just fine! Apparently the blood they took was in case I did have preeclampsia, to check on my liver and something else. She said those were fine, too. Yay! I just about fell off the table, I was so excited!
She listened to his heartbeat and measured my uterus, and told me that everything looked great. Perhaps my favorite part of the appointment was when she told me that she felt like we could wait two weeks before coming in again! I double checked with her, reminding her about the contractions – but she answered that as long as bed rest is working, she didn’t feel that I needed to be seen every week for now.
With our weekly appointments, plus the hospital trips, plus the extra trips for testing, it feels like we spend at least two days out of the week going to the OB or the hospital. I have to be very selective right now about how much I can do in a day, and especially about how much I can be out. As silly as it sounds, the appointments actually take a bit out of me, and on days when we have to go in, I have to pretty much resign myself to doing nothing else the rest of the day. So to not have to go in next week is AWESOME! Not to mention that it looks like things have calmed down enough for the doctor to feel comfortable not needing to see us in a week.
I mentioned on Tuesday that I had an interview with a potential doula that afternoon. Basically, I realized that I could do all the research in the world about childbirth, and I would still be scared out of my mind. I also realized that Shawn has obviously never been a part of a childbirth, so he would probably also be likewise scared.
I started thinking that it might be kind of nice to have someone available to help us through the process who would be impartial, supportive, and knowledgable about the process. Enter Rhonda. Rhonda is actually the same lady who worked at the hospital the second time we went in for contractions (she got coffee for Shawn and told the nurses to make sure they took good care of me). She has two sons (Luke and Caleb) in our Student Ministry, is a nurse, and is working through her doula training. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in the interview process, but I came away from it VERY excited about her! She has a very sweet demeanor that isn’t overbearing in the least. She was completely supportive of my thoughts on pain managment (I want to try to give birth naturally but am not opposed to an epidural) and my strong desire to breastfeed.
I was impressed with her knowledge of labor positions and breathing techniques, too! Perhaps most helpful is that she is currently a nurse at the hospital and has seen TONS of births at our particular hospital. She knows the doctors, and she is very, very well acquainted with the procedures. She was able to walk me through what typically happens right after the baby is born (the testing, delivering of the placenta, how long I can hold him, when he’s taken to the nursery, etc.), and what might happen if he’s born prematurely. I told Rhonda that I was basically looking for someone who knew what was going on and could help me through it. I know I’ll be scared, and it’ll be nice to have someone there to ask, “Is this normal?” and to be assured that the answer is an educated one. I was also looking for someone to help Shawn know what to do. I have a feeling he’ll have a difficult time seeing me in pain and won’t quite know what to do. Helping him figure out how to support me will be Rhonda’s job. I was just very encouraged by my meeting with her and feel very confident and reassured that she’ll be attending our birth. So Yay for Rhonda!!
at least it wasn’t the hospital this time…
Yes, unfortunately, we’ve had some more drama. I went to Sunday School and church on Sunday morning and was feeling pretty good. I had some light contractions during worship, so I sat down for the rest of the service and wasn’t too concerned about it. During lunch, the contractions started getting much stronger and more painful, though I wasn’t able to time them. I was a little worried, but went straight home afterwards and took a short nap.
By the time I woke up, much to my relief, they had stopped completely! I knew I still needed to be careful, so I stayed on the couch and just did computer work/watched TV for awhile. By the time Shawn got home from Sunday night church, I’d started having them again…I think they were about every 15 minutes and progressed to every 10 minutes by the time we went to bed. I think Shawn and I both had a hard time falling asleep because we were afraid we’d just have to head into the hospital in a couple of hours.
I, on the other hand, was hoping that getting to sleep would cause them to stop – which has happened before. Thankfully, I didn’t wake up a lot during the night, and I can’t really say for sure if I was having contractions or not. I did wake up a few minutes before our alarm went off with one that hurt really badly, so I laid in bed for about forty-five minutes to time them. They were coming about ever 7 to 10 minutes. I wanted to let Shawn sleep as much as possible (Mondays are his only days off and his only day to get caught up on sleep), so I got a shower, got dressed, called our OB, called into work, took the dog out, etc., and then woke him up and told him that we had an appointment for 9:00 to go in and get checked out.
I’m so grateful that we were able to hold off and not have to go to the hospital in the middle of the night again. It was cheaper and quicker to go into the OB, and I so appreciate that it wasn’t in the middle of the night! So into the OB we went. They listened to the heartbeat, which was nice and strong. They did the fetal fibronectin test again, and checked my cervix.
After a few more minutes, they told us that we would get a call about the test after lunch, to get rest, and to keep monitoring the contractions. By the time we got home, the contractions had slowed significantly, which is great.
They did call us to tell us that the fetal fibronectin test was positive. The nurse said that it didn’t really tell them much, just that there’s a chance that I’ll be going into labor in the next couple of weeks. I feel like we keep hearing, “we would’ve liked to have seen a negative…” which is frustrating. I’D like to have seen a negative, too, but that’s obviously not what we’re seeing.
We’ve gotten two positives on this test since I started having contractions, and I’d really love to get some answers on what the heck that means. So, like anyone who wants to find out the solid, reliable, scientific information about something….I checked Wikipedia. 🙂 Here is what I read (and after checking a few other sites, it is accurate):”Fetal fibronectinFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaFetal fibronectin (fFN) is a protein produced by fetal cells and a type of fibronectin. fFN is found at the interface of the chorion and the decidua (between the fetal sack and the uterine lining).It can be thought of as an adhesive or “biological glue” that binds the fetal sack to the uterine lining.Diagnosic testFetal fibronectin “leaks” into the vagina if a preterm delivery is likely to occur and can be measured in a diagnostic test.It is an excellent biological marker of premature (preterm) delivery; a delivery before 37 weeks of gestation.When the fFN test is considered positive, delivery is likely to occur soon. When the fFN test is negative, it means that there is little if any danger of preterm labour for 7-10 days. The test is easily performed. A specimen is collected from the patient using a vaginal swab. The swab is placed in a transport tube and sent to the lab for testing. The lab can easily produce a test result in less than one hour.A systematic review of the medical literature found that fetal fibronectin is a good predictor of spontaneous preterm birth before cervical dilation. The test may be run on patients between 22 and 35 weeks gestation.A negative fetal fibronectin test gives a more than 95% likelihood of remaining undelivered for the next 2 weeks. On the other hand, a positive fetal fibronectin test indicates a higher risk of preterm delivery (61% of delivery before 34 weeks).”
So there you have it. Because I know the test has a lot of false positives, and because I know that even with a true positive, it’s only a 61% chance of early labor, I probably wouldn’t be worrying too much about the results of this test if this weren’t the second time we got a positive. We’re praying that he’ll stay in there until God’s perfect timing – whether that’s tomorrow or 42 weeks. I keep reminding myself that last time we got a positive on this test, I was 29 weeks along, and he’s managed to stay in there for another four weeks after that. This certainly isn’t a mandate that we’ll have a pre-term baby, it just helps us know how to prepare, I suppose.
We scheduled a follow-up appointment for Thursday afternoon. I’m interested to hear what the next steps will be…if our doctors will tell us just to wait and see what happens, give me steroids so Baby Maurer’s lungs can develop, or put me on medicine to try and stop contractions…Because of all the craziness we went through at 29 weeks, we have a good portion of “baby stuff” done and ready, which is a huge blessing. We still have some small things we want to do in the nursery, we still need to install the car seat, there are a couple of things I wanted to make, and we’d have to grab some diapers and wipes, but I think all in all…we’re much more prepared to have an early delivery than we would’ve been. I think having so much of those things taken care of helps me to feel more calm about the possibilities of him being a preemie. I also have to admit that I’m drawn to pictures and stories of premature babies. It’s amazing to me to see babies born so early who do so well, even babies born at 29 or 30 weeks. So while I’m overwhelmed and a little bit scared, I do feel much more prepared and hopeful that everything would turn out okay.
a week and a half…
I just got back from our appointment this afternoon, and everything went well. We had our favorite doctor who has a kind of relaxed nature about him that seems to calm both Shawn and I. Dr. Ponder asked about how I was doing, and said that because of the positive fetal fibronectin test they would be keeping a close eye on me. He mentioned a couple of times that I needed to be resting most of the time and needed to have a low threshold for coming into the office if something seems strange. He checked my cervix – still very high, though dialating slightly. I don’t think it was enough to even assign a number to, though. The baby’s heartbeat was strong as can be and my fundal height is measuring right on target.
Dr. Ponder also said that he was encouraged that Baby has stayed in so far. He told us that we are very close to the time of safety, basically. If I were to go into labor at 35 weeks or later, they probably wouldn’t stop the contractions, and would treat the delivery as if it were full-term. Hooray for that! I’m only a week and three days away from being 35 weeks, which is SO exciting to me!
We set our next appointment for Thursday and will be seen every week from here on out. I guess that window of getting to go in every two weeks was short-lived, huh? 🙂
We’ve made it to Week 34…YAY! The last time we were in the hospital, we heard over and over, “We just want to keep him in there until he’s 34 weeks. There’s a big difference between a 32 week-er and a 34 week-er.” Occasionally when I’m feeling particularly scared or worried about the possibility of having a preemie, I google pictures of premature babies, look through those and read those stories. You might think that would make me even MORE scared, but it actually serves the opposite purpose. It’s so encouraging to me to see that babies born prematurely have such great chances of survival and almost always turn out to be healthy, happy toddlers. From looking through those pictures, though, I can tell you that it’s crazy how big of a difference there is between a 32 week baby and a 34 week baby. It seems like the typical NICU/hospital stay for a 32 week baby is around 45 days, where the typical stay for a 34 week baby is around 14 days. Every day in the womb really does make such a huge difference.
So anyway, getting to 34 weeks is a very big deal to me! I’m still shooting for 36 or maybe even 37 weeks, but getting to 34 weeks is a HUGE relief! I’m still doing my best to stay off my feet, and I now have a new gauge for when I’ve been active for too long…my ankles and feet and the lower part of my calves about triple in size. It seriously blows my mind how fat my feet get! It’s obviously worse if I eat something high in sodium (the ankle fat roll made a comeback shortly after I had some Raman soup), even though I do my best to chug water. At this point, it’s more funny than bothersome to me. It probably does make me slightly more uncomfortable and feel a little more whale-ish, but it’s hard to not laugh at my puffer feet.
The weather here in NC has cooled off considerably in the past week, which has been a welcome relief for me! When I hit the last trimester, my body seemed to warm up ten degrees or so, and the summer heat took its toll on me. In contrast, the cool and rainy weather we’ve been having here lately has been wonderful!
Oh, and I made the nursing cover last night! There are a couple of spots that I would like the stitching to be a little more straight, but overall, I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It looks like the actual product, so it works for me! I even sewed a pocket at the bottom to put a burp cloth, snacks, or whatever else I might need.
Baby is still moving and shaking that rump of his. Sometimes I forget that it’s a real baby in there….it’s easy to look past that fact until they’re born, I think. But then I put my hand on his butt or his back when he’s moving, and I’m astonished that I can actually feel how big he is, I can picture how he’s moving, and I can see how he’s positioned in my womb. I love it and am really looking forward to meeting him and being able to hold and cuddle him!