Sprout’s Birth Story

Before Rock Steady’s name was, well, Rock Steady, he was known as Sprout.  This is the story of my preterm labor and Sprout’s birth-day.

Bed Rest Boredom

The due date was June 18, 2008.  I’d been on bed rest since April 1, one day short of 29 weeks.  We found out on March 31 that I’d gotten my first positive fetal fibronectin test, a test that showed whether the “glue” that holds the fetal sac to the uterus, was breaking down.  Indeed, this baby’s was breaking down.  As long as I’d been feeling the baby move, I’d been having contractions.  The same thing happened with Be-Bop and he was born at 34 and 3/7 weeks, so we knew to be prepared.  On April 1 I had my first betamethasone shot to speed up baby’s development in case he came early and we found out I was already a centimeter and a half dilated.  Effacement wasn’t a problem yet, but given my very active routine at work at the time, my doctor wanted my activity levels restricted.  So, it was modified bed rest:  take it easy, not much lifting, no exercise.  A second fetal fibronectin test a couple of weeks later came back negative, so the doctor relaxed a little bit and chalked the first positive test up to a false-positive.  I felt helpless at that point because I knew bad things were happenining, but I also felt like I ought to be at work.  J was wonderful, reminding me that my first priority should be our family.

All of the days run together and at some point we tried oral terbutaline at home to stop the contractions, but it did no good.  My luck ran out with modified bed rest on April 22, when I was found to be between 2 and 3 centimeters dilated and 90 percent effaced.  The doctor sent me directly from his office to labor and delivery at the hospital.  The fetal fibronectin test from that day was positive and we had one more positive test later as well.  At one point that evening of the 22, my nurse was fairly certain we were having a baby that night;  she said I was completely effaced and 4 centimeters dilated.  We started nifedipine to stop the contractions and I stayed in the hospital for 3 nights.  We went back 2 days later when contractions picked up again and the monitors showed I was having even more contractions than I felt.  It was time to start magnesium sulfate, the medicine that all bed rest patients dread.  It’s supposed to do the trick but it’s also supposed to make you feel sick as a dog and sort of in a cloud.  I lucked out; it did make me feel warmer but I also felt very relaxed.  Before I was discharged, I had regressed to 3 centimeters dilated and 50 percent effaced; rare, but thankfully regression does happen.

We went back home later when I got stabilized and back on the same nifedipine regimen and strict bed rest this time.  I wasn’t even supposed to fix my own meals and snacks, but J was working so I did it anyway.  We found out that even with the medicine, contractions really only slowed when I slowed my mental activity way down…anything that mildly got on my nerves (dog barking, etc.), set them off.  So socializing on the phone or even online was out of the question for a few weeks.  Eventually, the nifedipine stopped working no matter how little I did or how little I thought about the world beyond our house.

Sprout’s Birth Story

We made it 19 minutes past the 36-week mark.  *smiles*

I took my last nifedipine pill on a Tuesday morning at 6 am.  My doctor said we would continue it until 36 weeks, but they were completely ineffective at that point anyway.  I’d been feeling the back aching of early labor on and off for well over a week and contractions since Sunday, May 18 were picking up only an hour after I’d taken my last pill.  They ran together so much with the aching that I couldn’t tell the end of one from the beginning of another one.  Tuesday, May 20 was completely uneventful with some aching, but not particularly bad or intense aching.  I laid around our bedroom as usual, watching TV online as I’d done for several weeks before.  J and Be-Bop came home and we played ball with Be-Bop and I remember we had a lot of fun with him that night;  Be-Bop would sit in my lap, roll the ball to his Daddy, toddle over to J and sit in his lap, then roll the ball back to me.  After Be-Bop went to bed, we watched our normal TV routine.  We were getting ready to go to bed at 10:25 (yes, I have a keen sense of time) when I decided the contractions were having a definite end and beginning. After another contraction at 10:27, I decided it was worth a trip to the hospital.

My doctor had said beforehand to just get in the car and go and to call him on the way, that we shouldn’t call and ask his opinion on whether we should go, as we may not have much time.  J called one of my very best friends to come over and stay at the house with Be-Bop while my mom was on the way to pick Be-Bop up, so we could get headed to the hospital.  We live an hour away from the hospital where I was to deliver and before we had made it 10 minutes down the road, I was not sure we were going to make it; I started telling J he just better head for the closest hospital.  I had J call the doctor because at that point I couldn’t talk anymore, to ask the doctor to meet us.  We made the drive in 45 minutes and by the time we arrived, I was working hard to not push.  The doctor and nurse met us out in the parking lot with a wheelchair when we got there, right at midnight.  The labor and delivery room was already set up.  After exam, the doctor said, “Good call, you’re complete,” and he said I could push with the next contraction.  I hardly knew how to push because I didn’t have to do that with Be-Bop; it just sort of all happened.  At some point they got concerned about Sprout’s heart rate and the doctor asked permission to use a vacuum extraction, to which we said “yes.”  The doctor had to be stern with me repeatedly, telling me not to talk and to push, but less than two hours after those weird contractions started, Sprout was here.  Vacuum-assisted, unmedicated birth (not even an IV!) and 1 local pain medication shot at the very end…I needed 1 stitch when it was all over.

There was silence right after he was born, no crying at all.  The cord was wrapped tightly around his neck.  The doctor made a good call with the vacuum extraction and I’m glad we made it to 36 weeks, but I was also glad he was delivered when he was.  His movements over the last few days had been dramatically lower.  Once the cord was cut away, he made some great cries.

My doctor held his cool throughout the entire bed rest ordeal.  When I was in the hospital at 32 weeks asking him how long he would delay labor, he said he really wanted me to make it past 34 weeks, when we’d had Be-Bop.  At my 34-week appointment he was really upbeat and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if you made it to 36 weeks!”  Before I was discharged after Sprout/ Rock Steady’s birth, the doctor said, “I cannot believe you made it that long, with the first positive fetal fibronectin at 28 weeks!”

It was a very different experience than Be-Bop’s birth, just as Rock Steady is a very different child than his brother.  They planned from birth for him to be observed,  but Rock Steady spent nearly 2 hours in labor and delivery with us before they took him to the well-baby nursery for observation.  His breathing was labored a little and by the time they took him he was grunting a little with every breath.  He didn’t need any oxygen at all, though, and he spent his first 32 hours in the holding nursery before he got to come to my room.  It was the fulfillment of a lot of dreaming on my part, having that baby beside me with no cords or monitors attached to him.  I was discharged on Friday, May 23 and Rock Steady had to stay in the immediate care nursery because of jaundice.  When he went to immediate care, they put monitors on him as part of the routine for that nursery, but his breathing and heart rates were perfect the entire time.  He came out from under the bili lights the morning of May 24 and he came home with us that night, at 3 days old.

Three and a half years later, Rock Steady is the loudest child I know.  To think I was worried once upon a time that his lungs might not work…

I’m one lucky Mommy.




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