March 20th, 2017: I started my day like any other normal pregnant day. I got dressed in the stretchiest work pants that I could find, added just enough mascara to my lashes and foundation to my cheeks to look like I was still living, and headed off to work. I listened to my girls-rock, boss babe mix of Pink and Beyonce on my drive in, trying to give myself enough motivation to make it through the next 8 hours.
Midday, I took my lunch break and can distinctly remember sitting there, feeling the pain and pressure start to build. This was not my first rodeo with braxton hicks, and so I chugged some water, tried to ignore them, and headed back to the department. By the time the end of my shift came, I was pretty uncomfortable. I decided to call my OB on the way out to my car. During our short conversation, I had had two painful contractions, so they had me drive straight to the high risk hospital.
This was not my hospital and I wouldn’t be with my OB. However, if this was the real deal, this hospital was equipped with an amazing NICU. I called my husband, who was already home. He grabbed my bags and started the 40 minute drive to meet me. I arrived before him and wanted to get seen as soon as I could. My thinking was the quicker that I got in, the quicker I could get out. This hospital is huge, and per usual I was one stubborn chick. So, of course I walked to the maternity ward by myself. I was not about to use a wheel chair on a false alarm….
When I arrived to the unit, they got me into triage. I met with a super sweet, young doctor who explained what would happen. They’d hook my up to a couple monitors to check on the babies and monitor my contractions. She also wanted to do an internal exam to make sure I wasn’t dilating, and a urine screen to check for a UTI or protein. My exam showed nothing significant, other than a bit of yeast. So, I sat there with the monitors for a while until Matt arrived.
You aren’t, oh wait, you ARE in Preterm labor
I continued to feel the contractions but for whatever reason, we could not pick it up on the monitors. The doctor came back and explained that there was nothing that really supported what I was feeling. She said that sometimes a yeast infection can cause these symptoms, gave me Fluconazole to take care of the yeast infection, and said that I could go home! However, in order to discharge me, she had to do one more pelvic exam for the discharge notes. Well, turns out its really hard to keep the monitors on a pregnant twin belly, and I really was contracting all along, because in the 45 minutes since my last exam I had 50% effaced and dilated 3 cm. So, I was admitted into the high risk unit.
They had a good chance of survival…
Everything from here on out was a bit of a whirlwind. That sweet doctor was doing her best to keep us calm, and I was trying so hard to do the same. Oddly enough, I am normally a hot emotional mess. I cry over everything normally, but I was really level headed this entire time. Looking back, I think I just knew what had to to keep my babies safe, and panicking was not one of those things. I remember asking my mom not to come to the hospital just yet, and I know that probably broke her heart. It was not meant to. My mom is just like I am emotionally, so I knew that if she came, I might just break that shell that I was trying to hard to keep intact.
I will never forget when she told us that at 29 weeks gestation, the babies had a good chance of survival, but would require NICU time. That statement “good chance of survival” was terrifying to me. Good was not good enough, these were MY CHILDREN. They were already so loved, and had been wanted long before we knew they were coming. This was not at all how I had pictured my pregnancy going. I had been determined to work until my water broke. When I got pregnant, I said that I was going to be strong, and I was going to carry these babies until they were nice and chubby and ready to be born. And none of this was a part of that plan.
News Flash: Life (and preterm labor) doesn’t give a shit about your plans…
How do we stop this?
At this point the doctor told me we were probably going to have babies that night! She was so excited for us. I know this was part of her job, her bedside manor was impeccable. I was started on Penicillin because they didn’t have a Group B Strep test result for me. They gave me a Betamethasone shot, to help prepare the babies’ lungs for breathing on their own. This was fairly painful but over fairly quickly. After that, they started magnesium in an IV to help protect the babies nervous systems and brains. The magnesium was by far the worst part. It made my face so flushed, and I felt like I was burning up. On top of that, it made me feel loopy.
Lastly, they gave me Nifedipine. This is normally used for blood pressure control. As a pharmacist, even I had no idea that it can be used to stop contractions. The problem with that, is that it also lowers blood pressure. I already had low blood pressure, so this made me really dizzy. The Nifedipine did its job, and my contractions slowed, and stopped. We started to get hopeful that this would be the end of them for good. I was able to get three doses in before my blood pressure was too low for them to be able to administer another dose.
Hope doesn’t stop preterm labor either…
Of course, in skipping a dose, my contractions started up again. This time though we were able to quickly get them under control. By morning they moved me out of labor and delivery, and into the maternity ward. Over the next few days I had a really in depth ultrasound that measured every little detail of the boys. I also had an internal ultrasound that measured the length of my cervix at that time. During all of this, the staff at the hospital was great, and so supportive. They even brought in a service dog to visit with me! I think that was the best part of all of this.
My internal ultrasound showed that my cervix had shortened enough to consider me high risk for delivery. They said statistically, women deliver within 2 weeks of a getting a length measurement like that. Again, that was not part of my plan.
After 4 days in the hospital, I was finally discharged, with my babies still safe inside my belly. I had to follow up with my normal OB, and was written out of work until then. Even though the risks were still very real, we were so grateful to get the extra time for them to grow safely. I know that had I not got to the hospital when I did, this all could’ve ended very differently.
I am a researcher at heart and knew that preterm labor was a very real possibility for a twin pregnancy. Because of this, I was as prepared as I could be. Our nursery was ready, and my bags were packed at 28 weeks. We didn’t have to panic about any of these details during our preterm labor scare, and I was really grateful we were so prepared.
Those who know me, know that I was able to carry until 36 w and 6d! I will share our birth story in another post soon. This experience really affected me. Thinking about it causes me serious anxiety. I wanted to share our preterm labor story to help others know that this is a possibility, and that they are not alone in their fears. Thanks for coming along on our preterm labor journey.
Your Millennial [twin] Mama,