29 weeks is far too early

I found out I was in danger of premature labour on Thursday and a bleh, odd series of days have followed.

I had a standard prenatal check-up scheduled for Thursday morning and rocked up at the hospital duly. Beyond the hair-raising drive to the place, my usual angst about possibly being grumped at for gaining too much weight and my stress sending my bloody pressure misleadingly skyrocketing, I had very little that I was concerned about.

But everything seemed fine. My meeting with the blood pressure machine, aka The Enemy, went surprisingly well and it gave me a normal reading. Despite the fact I’d gained 1 kilogram in 3 weeks, the midwives were quite satisfied since I’ve still gained less than 5 kilograms overall. The baby monkey himself, when we got the ultrasound going, was hanging around in there, doing his thing. He weighed 1440 grams (… probably even more now) and he was going well. He was facing downward and his feet, as I suspected, were up against my ribs. He had one hand over half his face and his o-chinchin was on full display. I was scheduled for a hemoglobin injection care of my negative blood type and my ob/gyn seemed to be looking for/at something unspecified for awhile but otherwise, all seemed well.

“Did you have any questions?” my badass ob/gyn (lest I forget she was the latter first and I thought that was all she would be for a long time).

I did have a couple. I’d been nauseous again and that worried me, but she assured me that it was fine. I had also had, I recalled, some cramping. No bleeding, just something that felt like the textbook description of Braxton Hicks contractions. I couldn’t even remember what night it had been that I woke up in pain, but the cramp had gone away when I rolled over and took a couple of deep breaths and the same thing happened again around 30 or 40 minutes later. That was about it, I shrugged.

That worried her, though, and at that point, as the internet would have it, shit got kind of real.

One transvaginal ultrasound later (fun), I discovered that there was something about my placenta that she was fussing about, my cervix had started to shorten and open, and those were actual contractions that shouldn’t be happening yet. If that wasn’t enough to freak me out on its own, her initial proposed solution to this was to stop work now and stay the hell home. After some consideration and clarification that my work was hardly as stressful as, say, her own, this got changed to 2 or 3 days rest at home during which time I would start taking anti-contraction medicine and continue to do so for the next two weeks until my appointment.

This was not entirely reassuring by a long shot but I went home and, almost immediately feeling like a caged animal, began to cancel work. Me being me and wanting the fullest picture possible, I looked up what exactly the drugs were, their efficacy, how likely the resting thing was to actually work, and, yes, what exactly a baby born at 29 weeks would go through assuming he landed in the 95% survival group.

I watched a TV special awhile ago about extremely premature babies. I’ve gotten through this whole pregnancy so far by at least considering all the things that might go wrong with it and so, of course, I watched this when it came up. They were looking mostly at babies born between 22 and 25 weeks, and the question came up regarding whether medical developments could eventually allow even younger babies to survive. The general consensus was no. One of the doctors provided the response that they largely concluded on regarding the whole people accidentally driving over a cliff analogy. You could focus on putting ambulances at the bottom of the cliff, but a far better focus would be to work on the fence at the top to stop everyone going over in the first place – i.e. to prevent babies being born so early in the first place.

What I discovered during this sudden, intense new research project was just how inept the fences at the top of this particular cliff are. Rest might work, but it probably doesn’t. Pills and whatnot are questionable. Progesterone injections do something and, if it’s caught early enough, cervical cerclage can work. All of this doesn’t entirely address the problem of why babies are born too early, though.There are people who appear at higher risk than others – if, say, you are carrying more than one baby, you’re a markedly older or younger mother than average, work a stressful job, to give a few examples. This definitely doesn’t explain everything, though, and I didn’t feel particularly satisfied when I was done with Google for the day.

All in all, I oscillated between boredom and misery with the occasional dash of wondering what exactly the limitations on “rest” were. Thursday and Friday passed much like this, with me feeling like my trip to convenience store was an act of extreme risk and rebellion.

By the time Saturday rolled around, I’d begun to calm down a bit. It was mine and R’s anniversary, I finally remembered a TV show I actually felt like binge-watching, and it was set to be the last day of the 2-3 day rest period. R and I went out for dinner in the evening and found a quiet place to watch some of the local fireworks. His present, which I planned to go and buy on Friday afternoon, has to wait but he still seemed very happy with things. He bought me some flowers and decided to take over the organization of the new vacuum cleaner as a kind of gift – which, in some ways, isn’t much of a gift but it was something I was supposed to have done, not cheap and something we actually needed. Oh, and it’s pink, and R is the one principally using it so far.

Now, on Sunday night, I wouldn’t say I’m exactly relaxed. In some ways, I remain pretty wound up. Every little twinge in my lower back and faint ache in the general vicinity of my abdomen or groin has me worried. I am trying not to worry too much, though – to instead feel relieved that I can return to work on Tuesday (normally tomorrow, but everyone’s cancelled for summer vacation) and accept that there isn’t a whole lot I can do now except take the medicine, watch myself closely and make especially sure I don’t overdo things.

I was so worried, so convinced that he would be late. Now I’m just hoping he stays inside as long as he can.


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