high risk pregnancy

High Risk Pregnancy, Second Time Around

When I was almost 27 weeks pregnant with my firstborn, I went into my OB’s office for a routine visit. My doctor was watching me closely due to cervical scarring that I’d incurred from some preventative procedures I’d had earlier in life.

Within two seconds of the exam, he backed away and told me to move to the ultrasound room. We waited nervously as the doctor pulled up the ultrasound machine and declared that I had next to no cervix left, was completely softened and dilated to 1 cm. He scheduled us the next morning for an emergency cerclage (a suture used to close the opening of the cervix) but when we arrived at the hospital the procedure was cancelled because the monitor showed my contractions were three minutes apart.

I don’t remember the sequence of events of that day. It was the day that all of my idealistic, giddy pregnancy notions were wiped away, forever. It was a day that I learned how heart wrenching parenthood can be. It was a day that I remember in snippets, almost as if it didn’t really happen to me and I was watching it through a piece of foggy glass.

I was rushed to the prenatal intensive care unit and given fluids and medication to stop my contractions. My husband watched the monitor with a stoic face, almost willing the contractions to stop. I remember asking him how big a baby is at 27 weeks and his answer was, “Not big enough.”

I remember signing papers that gave permission for our baby to be taken away immediately and given all means necessary to save his life. I looked down at my signature–it was barely legible.

I remember a conversation that hurts just thinking about. My husband and I decided that if I were to give birth to our tiny son, no matter what happened, that he would stay with him. Go with him anywhere, no matter what. Because if he only had a short time in this big wide world–he would never be alone and he would know that he was loved.

And I don’t remember much after that. I couldn’t talk about it or write about it. All I did was listen to his tiny heartbeat on the monitor and I prayed.

I met a new part of my husband that day. The part who returned all of the phone calls on our behalf and slept in a chair holding my hand all night long. I met my son’s Daddy that day.

While it was an awful day, it turned into another day, and another. Ten weeks of strict bed rest and anticontraction medication brought my son into this world at 37 weeks, strong and healthy.

But that heart wrenching feeling… it never went away. I discovered it is a part of me now. He is a part of me now. And while having a child has made my heart soar to places I’ve never imagined, the visceral worry lingers in the background. And when he falls or cries out or won’t eat–it pounces.

I’m 23 weeks pregnant with our second son and I’m trying to be optimistic as memories of a difficult time come flooding back. I have biweekly ultrasounds and my husband plunges a large needle of progesterone into my hip once a week in hopes of preventing preterm labor. I am trying not to get lost in the exhausting 36 week countdown to term.

I am so happy that I was brave enough to get pregnant again. I have found a wonderful support network of other mothers who have gone through preterm labor and bed rest, many of whom I’ve never met in person but cheer me on through heartfelt emails and Facebook comments. I see a team of Maternal and Fetal Medicine specialists that monitor my pregnancy and answer all of my crazy questions. In terms of risk, my case is relatively mild and there are many mothers who have endured much more than I have and suffered far worse. Being on bed rest or having any kind of difficulties during pregnancy can take a toll on you emotionally and physically. I think sharing the journey is half the battle and I’d love to hear your story.

Tamara ReeseTamara Reese, MPH, CHES is a stay-at-home Mama and consultant in the field of Maternal and Child Health. She is a contributing editor to Kveller and her work has been published in academic journals, La Leche League USA, Brain, Child Magazine and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Tamara lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, two boys and ginger-baby daughter. Her passions include child injury prevention, gentle parenting, and breastfeeding advocacy. #YouAreAGoodMama

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