My Experience with Pre-Term Labor
By Judy Shaw
Pregnancy is such an incredible experience in a woman’s life. My experience was incredible in an unsettling way. While I was pregnant with my first child I felt wonderful for the first six months. I was always on the go and loved watching my belly grow. Then suddenly at 24 weeks, I started to feel cramping and started spotting.
After racing to Labor and Delivery, my ob-gyn told me that I was experiencing pre-term labor. I was clueless; I had never heard of pre-term labor and certainly didn’t know anyone who had experienced this. I was given terbutaline pills and told to stay off my feet for a couple of days. That was easy enough. It was nice to relax for a couple of days.
I went back to my doctor for a follow up visit and was shocked to learn that I was still experiencing pre-term labor. I was admitted to the hospital and my doctor performed numerous tests to make sure my baby was not stressed. It was too soon for my baby to be born. Finally, my doctor informed me that I had to be on bed rest until I was 37 weeks pregnant. Most importantly, I would have to be attached to a terbutaline pump to minimize my contractions. I was in disbelief. How could I be in bed for the remainder of my pregnancy?
The next few months were very difficult. I remained in bed all day and was only allowed to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. I was also allowed to leave the house once a week to visit my doctor. Each time I did get up from bed the pressure of my baby was extreme. I felt like my baby was going to fall out! Wearing the terbutaline pump was a test of my strength and will to deliver a healthy baby. I wore a cartridge with two syringes at my waist which pumped medication into my body every two hours through a small catheter in my thigh. Every five days the site of the catheter would have to be switched from thigh to thigh in order to prevent infection. Thank goodness for my husband who supported me through all of this and helped me change my catheter site. After all I was experiencing, I was terrified to prick my leg with the very small needle! Additionally, I had to wear a monitor around my belly twice a day to monitor contractions. I would submit the data via my phone line to a nurse who would review it and keep my doctor apprised of my progress.
Needless to say the three months I spent in bed were very lonely. I had many visitors, but how I longed to be mobile. Winter turned to spring it became more difficult to remain in bed. Pregnancy is such an exciting time! I was missing out on so much. I didn’t get to dress up in maternity clothes and show off my growing belly. I didn’t get to prepare the baby’s room. I cried a lot, but knowing that I was doing this to deliver a healthy baby kept me going.
Finally, my 37th week arrived and my doctor told me to stop the medication. I had waited for this time for so long, yet I was so scared to be off the medication. The terbutaline had been my security blanket. Now I was ready to have a baby. I was terrified about what was next.
I stopped the medication at 1 p.m. in the afternoon, and was free to do whatever I wanted. At this point, my baby was full term so I could get out of bed, go outside and walk around! Unfortunately, I had been in bed for so long that I had developed atrophy in my legs. I couldn’t walk! My husband took me out for a celebratory dinner that night in a wheelchair.
At 11 p.m., I started to feel crampy. I had never been pregnant before, so I didn’t know what I was experiencing. Was I in labor or was my stomach upset from dinner? For hours I paced back and forth to the bathroom and referred to my pregnancy manual to determine what I was feeling. At 2 a.m. I decided to call my doctor. She told me to head to the hospital. I was excited and frightened at the same time. When I finally arrived at the hospital, I was told to go home because my water did not break. I didn’t want to be home – I needed to be at the hospital! I’ll never forget lying in the hospital bed as the doctor told my husband to take me home. As she said that, I heard a pop! My water broke! How ironic.
Several hours later, after a couple of epidurals and five pushes, my son was born! He was healthy and he was beautiful.
So many people commend me for meeting the challenge of my pregnancy. As difficult as it was, it was what I had to do to for my son. He’s truly my miracle.
About The Author
Judy Shaw is a mother of two and co-owner and President of Sexy Belly Maternity.
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