First of all, thank you for your prayers, thoughts, and kindness. When I was at the hospital, resting on my side alone, watching the fluids drip-drip-drip down the wires and into my dehydrated body, and just waiting for the contractions to PLEASE stop, I debated whether I should post something on my blog or Twitter about it. As much as I enjoy blogging, I still sometimes worry about how impersonal an online journal of sorts and social media can be. Not that I don’t get personal because sometimes I really do pour my heart out, and it always amazes me that there are people out there who are eager “listen” (or read, really), to pray, and to offer encouragement and support.
Just last week I was connected with a friend who was the friend of a friend. This woman quickly felt like a real friend, although I only knew her by her recent emails, her words, and an occasional photo on her own blog, and this new friend was introduced to me by a friend whom I have never met in-person. But they are friends all the same. We can debate the virtues and vices of blogging and other social media outlets, but this has to be said: The Internet is powerful, and its power is often used for good. Yesterday I quickly typed something up on my phone with my thumbs and within minutes my cell phone began chiming and clicking because there were people praying, sending encouragement, commenting on the blog post, emailing, texting, Twittering, and posting on my Facebook wall.
My parents came to stay with me until Dave could get back from dropping the girls off with the other grandparents, and I told them, “Technology is so amazing.”
One of my closest friends didn’t see my blog post. I texted her directly, and she immediately began to text concern and prayers. She’s a physician, so she also offered support that 30-week babies do fine if our little bundle was to squeeze out a bit on the early side. She asked me if I was okay. I told her I was. I texted her: “I’m at peace. Really.” And I really, really was. And a big part of it had to do with this beautiful community – some strangers, some in-the-flesh friends, some friends whom I’ve never met but are most definitely real friends – who reached out to me in a time of need.
My oldest daughter recently said something about how I’m her mom first, but I’m her sister, too. “We’re all brothers and sisters,” she said. There is no room for divisiveness in a child’s heart. Her simple take on unity was beautiful, profound, and my little prayer petition reluctantly launched into Cyberspace and the response it gleaned was proof of how we’re all in this together. So thank you for reaching out to me.
Without further ado, here’s a little update:
When I arrived at the hospital, I was immediately hooked up to IV fluids. The nurse and midwife were chuckling because I was quite nervous about getting an IV because believe it or not, I’ve never had to get one. (It did take a few sticks, but it wasn’t too bad at all.) The first nurse was approaching the end of her shift. She wasn’t all that friendly (even grumbled about how busy they were with women going into premature labor; so sorry to inconvenience you), and I was so glad my midwife was there. She’s so amazing. She told me to keep my clothes on beneath the hospital gown. The nurse raised her eyebrows. Later, when my midwife had left, I told her that I drive an hour and half to see my midwife because she makes her patients happy even if she sometimes makes things more difficult for you. I mean, really, why did I need to strip down to only paper-thin gown?
I immediately recognized the second nurse who walked in because she was the one who was working when I delivered Mary Elizabeth. She remembered, too. “She was born on a Sunday, wasn’t she?”
“Yup. Passion Sunday. I was in a passion that day, too,” I joked.
“No. I remember your birth because it was so beautiful.”
Oh, it was!
“I’m good at labor. I just stink at pregnancy,” I said.
“Some women are like that,” she said, smiling.
She also remembered my husband was still a resident then (I told her he’d finally finished his training!) and pointed out that we were in the same room where Mary Elizabeth was welcomed into the world and into our arms. “I think you’ve been here longer now than you were the day she delivered.”
I think she was right. I showed up at the hospital nearly 8 cm, and it was a quick, beautiful birth.
We chatted some more, and I was almost able to ignore that I still felt the contractions coming at regular intervals.
Awhile later my midwife came in, and we made the decision for me to get a shot of terbutaline since the contractions were still coming every two to five minutes. They warned me it would make me feel shaky, and it did. I felt flushed and like my heart was racing, but the contractions did start to slow down. I also found out my fFn test was negative, which suggests it is very unlikely that I’ll give birth within the next seven to 14 days. This was very good news.
Given this result and the fact that my contractions slowed down, I was able to leave the hospital late last night. I had had diarrhea all day, so my midwife suspects a viral infection led me to be dehydrated and had spurred the regular contractions. Since returning home, I’ve still been having contractions, but they’ve been less intense and more sporadic. My poor husband woke up around 3 a.m. throwing up, so it looks like a bug probably was behind my contractions.
As for what lies ahead, I was given the orders to “take it easy.” The nurse, a new one because the shifts had changed again, who discharged me and was super nice told me to sleep when my kids nap and sleep, and I thought to myself, “But my kids don’t sleep!” :-) Basically, I’m on modified bed rest, which is what I was on with my second as well (strict bed rest with Mary Elizabeth), so I can move around a bit, but I need to drink lots of fluids and rest plenty. (Not an easy undertaking for me; be careful what you wish for.)
We were scheduled to leave today for a family wedding, and I’m bummed we’ll be missing out on the fun. The girls were disappointed at first, but they’re so thankful that the baby is doing well and Mommy isn’t stuck in the hospital anymore. Besides, Madeline made the comment that I’m the only one who doesn’t let her watch much TV and that when I’m on bed rest, she gets to watch a lot more!
When Dave brought the girls into the hospital room before we made arrangements for their care, my little Rae was nervously nibbling on her nails, and Mary Elizabeth started sobbing. My midwife, who has a knack for knowing just what someone needs to be calmed down, told Dave to put M.E. next to me in the bed. “She’s scared seeing her mommy like that.”
Dave gently plopped her down beside me, and she immediately snuggled close and stopped crying. It’s been very tough for both of us lately because we’ve had to pretty abruptly wean because of sporadic contractions. I miss nursing my sweet toddler, and she comes up to me at least once a day and looks up with hopeful eyes and asks, “Mama’s milk?” It breaks my heart.
I remember that being the most difficult part of being on bed rest during my last pregnancy – the sense of helplessness you feel not being able to take care of the babies that are in your arms now because that hidden miracle of a baby inside of you needs you to sacrifice so much in order to be at his or her best. You give so much for one child that you sometimes feel like you are shortchanging another. You cannot be everything to everyone. Yet, all my children survived that difficult period. This time it will be no different. The older girls are so excited about meeting their baby brother or sister, and even little M.E. touches my belly sometimes or kisses it and says, “Baby!” while grinning. We have such a beautiful family in the works here.
Just before the girls left with their daddy, they each came to say good-bye. Rae reached her hand out to me and said, “Here, Mommy.” Then she dropped a tiny, brown object in my hand. At first I thought it was a half-chewed piece of candy, but then I saw it was one of her signature pebbles. She’s always handing me rocks and flowers. I closed my hand tightly around it.
“Thank you,” I said.
I kept that rock in my hand for a long time before putting it in a safe place in my purse. Just as all of your emails, comments, texts, Tweets, etc. were signs of concern and love, this tiny rock was and is a tangible reminder of just how loved this baby and I are.
There’s no other way to describe it. That’s exactly how I feel right about now.