Deep down somewhere inside, I knew things weren’t getting better. I had genuinely convinced myself that we would wait longer before meeting our daughter, but I was developing an insane fear that she would die in utero. I was terrified of making it to full term only to find out she died. While rare, it definitely happens and in my mind our little Leapster was starting to seem safer outside than in.
Apparently I wasn’t totally wrong. I had my OB appointment on Monday, February 27 and my blood pressure had continued to creep up. My diastolic (lower) numbers were no longer going below mid to upper 90s (normal is around 80) and I was getting at least one reading a day above 100. My OB decided that I should go get admitted to Labor and Delivery to see if my blood pressure could be stabilized and to make sure I wasn’t deteriorating. She also wanted to check the blood flow from the placenta to Leapster to make sure that my daughter was getting enough blood flow to thrive.
When I arrived at Labor and Delivery my blood pressure was through the roof. It stayed incredibly high (around 160/110) the whole time I was in triage (which was hours). Once I was admitted, I got moved to ante-partum, also known as high-risk OB, and things seems to drop back to normal. I spent the night in AP assuming I’d go home the next morning after I finished collecting a 24 hour urine screen.
I was obviously incorrect (me and my silly assumptions).
My OB stopped by Tuesday morning to tell me that they were doing a work up for an adrenal tumor, which may have explained the intermittent BP increases (most pre-eclamptics have a steady, consistently high BP, while mine was constantly bouncing between sky high and almost normal). The work up for the tumor required a second 24 hour urine collection, so it was agreed that I would stay in AP as long as she wanted me to because all I wanted was to remain pregnant.
Meanwhile, Tuesday morning also brought a growth ultrasound with measurements of blood flow to Leapster. When the tech analyzed the pictures it was clearly apparent that my little one had stopped growing. She was under the tenth percentile across the board, particularly the abdomen, which can often lose mass in situations like this. Fetal blood flow, while still acceptable, was starting to show high resistance, meaning she wasn’t getting the best blood flow. Normally in this situation, the OB prescribes bed rest in hopes of stabilizing the mother and thus stabilizing the baby, however, I had already been on bed rest for a while, so the high risk OB said he felt we should discuss scheduling a c-section with my OB. He told me to stop eating so they could do a c-section that evening if she wanted to.
I should probably clarify that Leapster was breech and thus vaginal delivery was never an option. The nice thing about the c-section was that it would give the OB a chance to really examine my uterus and make a more conclusive diagnosis about the deformity. Anyways, I’ll come back to that.
Moving on, I called my husband to come from work and his mother, who had gotten to town the night before, rushed right over to be with me. I was a bit inconsolable at first for a multitude of reasons, but I quickly realized that despite the promises of a lengthy NICU stay my little girl needed to come out so she could grow.
Eventually the doctors came back and said my regular OB (who is absolutely amazing) would be doing my c-section at 8 AM on 2/29/12. My husband was thrilled with the Leap Day birth date (well, as thrilled as you can be that your baby is coming 2 months early), which made me feel better since she had to come early. I think he just likes that he can tell her no dating until 16, which means we have 64 years to steel ourselves for a teenage boy coming with 200 feet of our daughter (dear future boyfriends of my little girl, I will destroy you if you hurt her. And don’t do anything to her that you don’t want my husband doing to you). Anyways, the c-section was scheduled and I was allowed a last meal of my choice around 3:30 PM on Tuesday before being transferred back to Labor and Delivery for the night.
The OB sent the neonatologist to meet with me and while I sobbed through our conversation, he reassured me that they love seeing preemies that have stayed in utero to at least 30 weeks. Besides the increased risk for a bowel infection (best prevented with breast milk), Leapster will also have an increased risk for some eye issues, which they will screen her for. Otherwise, both the neonatologist and the OB assured me that she would really just need to learn to suck (so we can bottle or breast feed her), gain some weight (her predicted birth weight was 2 pounds, 3 ounces), and exercise her breathing muscles on a c-pap until she was ready to do it unassisted. It sounds overwhelming and scary, but for a preemie, that’s an excellent prognosis. Of course the neonatologist couldn’t promise us that this would be easy or there would be no other problems, but at least we felt like we were walking in with our eyes open and prepared for the NICU. The only thing I wish I would have done is asked for a tour of the NICU because I think that may have relieved a lot of anxiety, especially once we knew I wouldn’t be able to see her for at least 24 hours after birth.
That last night in L&D was hell, but I think that’s a story for a little later. It’s so important to me to get this all out, but I definitely need to do it in spurts for both my sanity and your eyeballs (so you aren’t reading 50 pages of text in one go). Anyways, I’ll be back in another day or so (I hope) with Leapster’s Birth: Pre-Op (preemie babies require some pretty intensive pre-op as do pre-ecclamptic moms). And I promise more pictures in these next posts.
I would just like to state that it still blows my mind to call myself a mom or say “my daughter”. I still can’t believe she’s mine and that my body made something so incredible. I look at her and know this was and is all totally worth it.