The Milestone of Viability

I cannot express to you the weight that comes off a parent’s shoulders when it is no longer their signature that would keep their struggling child alive despite any complications she might have forever because of that struggle. In Michigan, 24 weeks is deemed the milestone of viability. We hit that milestone on the 3rd, celebrated with a wheelchair ride to Starbucks for frappacinos, and then I woke up the very next morning to severe abdominal pain. This spurred into motion trip 3 to Labor & Delivery.

6.4.17

“Fear is huge. Pain is constant. Still, as much as I wish this wasn’t happening, this is what we were given. We can only trust that God’s purpose will prevail. He knows what He’s doing. I pray for good outcomes, but it’s His desires that will be made reality. In the meantime, the battle is hard. Hopefully, it’s one of the hardest battles I’ll ever have to fight, because I’m not certain I’m strong enough for anything harder. Some days, I’m not certain I’m strong enough for this.”

Viability. We made it.

I cannot express to you the weight that comes off a parent’s shoulders when it is no longer their signature that would keep their struggling child alive despite any complications she might have forever because of that struggle. In Michigan, 24 weeks is deemed the milestone of viability.

We hit that milestone on the 3rd, celebrated with a wheelchair ride to Starbucks for frappacinos, and then I woke up the very next morning to severe abdominal pain. This spurred into motion trip 3 to Labor & Delivery. Having made it 8 days longer, baby girl’s chance of survival increased to somewhere around 40%.

While they did not put me back on mag during this trip, we did enter into the conversation of whether or not to use the repeat round, that is the final round, of steroids. The math breaks down like this: when given steroids to boost baby’s lung development, they’re most effective the sooner the baby is born after administration. After about two weeks, they lose their effect altogether.

Again, I asked the doctor, “What would you do if you were me?”

She replied, “I would take the steroids. If you make it another two weeks, you’ll be in an entirely different place with baby’s chances of survival.”

In other words, should we deliver, now is the time to do the repeat round. Should we hold off yet again, two weeks would put baby girl at 26 weeks and 1 day, a much better place to be than 24 weeks and 1 day.

I took the steroids.

Shot 1: I’m in Labor & Delivery.

Shot 2: I’m back up on the OB Special Care floor. We did not deliver.

What we did learn on the Labor & Delivery floor that day was this: L&D is not a place for visitors. My half naked, contracting, hungry, tired self did not tolerate well the two sets of visitors who showed up. After set two, I burst into tears and told my husband, “No more. From now on, this is not a place for visitors.” In fact, aside from the fruit snacks I had my husband sneak me, I didn’t even allow eating in the room when I was on that floor. It wasn’t exactly comforting to watch someone eat when you were denied food.

After being released back to OB Special Care, I ate my victory meal – chicken quesadillas – and we ventured outside despite how terrible I looked and felt. I needed the sun on my face like I needed the air in my lungs those days. Get me out of the sterile hospital and into the little bit of nature my wheelchair wheels can get me to.

wheelchair privileges

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 24 weeks 1 day
Days of blood: 39
Days of bedrest: 60
Pre-Hospital Stay Doctor’s Appointments: 8
Ultrasounds: 4
Days in the hospital: 10
IV starts: 2
Magnesium drips: 2
Trips to Labor & Delivery: 3
Sets of visitors: 17

Sponsor Oaklee's March of Dimes team.

The Midnight Call

I climbed onto the stretcher and made the midnight call to my husband – come back, we might be having our baby. Again, our car sat in the emergency room parking lot. Again, I was denied food in case we went into surgery. Again, I was hooked up to a magnesium drip, convinced my skin might be on fire and my blood was lava flowing through me. Again, I cried instead of sleeping. 

6.1.17

“All I want to do is make it to the end of this. Each day is a gift. Apparently some of them are going to be really difficult gifts to bare.”

On Wednesdays, typically my husband and I hang out with our small group in the evening. We’re really blessed to have a great group of friends not only journeying with us through difficult times like this, but through everyday life as well. When things started going awry, they quickly stepped in, putting together a meal sign up, stopping by with little things to brighten up our day and, most notably, visiting/hanging out with us in a way that made us feel normal.

On Wednesday, May 31, my husband came to the hospital, like he did every day after work, ate dinner and headed out for a night with the small group guys. The girls came to the hospital to spend an evening with me. One had arranged to pick up my favorite dinner. Another had arranged for us all to decorate onesies together for baby girl.

painted onesies

As we decorated the onesies, I began to feel off. I couldn’t decide if I’d gobbled up my favorite dinner too quickly or if I was truly feeling something botched pregnancy related. There was pressure in my lower abdomen. After the girls left and I was alone, the pressure escalated into clear contractions.

I called my nurse in, Nurse B, and she put me on the monitor for my third time that day. Not only was I contracting, but our baby’s heart rate was tachy, coming in around 180 beats per minute, about 20 beats per minute too high. Nurse B calmly and quickly got me changed and on my way back to the Labor & Delivery floor. I realized somewhere in this sequence of events that I’d crossed into a new, dignity-less dimension. When Nurse B held up the hospital gown to give me privacy, I didn’t care that I was stripping naked whilst sitting on the toilet in front of my new friend.

I climbed onto the stretcher and made the midnight call to my husband – come back, we might be having our baby.

Again, our car sat in the emergency room parking lot. Again, I was denied food in case we went into surgery. Again, I was hooked up to a magnesium drip, convinced my skin might be on fire and my blood was lava flowing through me. Again, I cried instead of sleeping.

And again, I had an IV start. I had to keep an IV in at all times, whether it was hooked up to anything or not. When it was not hooked up to anything, the nurses would regularly flush it to guarantee it would work should I be rushed into surgery. For every IV start I had, it can be assumed it took at least two pokes to get it right.

What you should know about me is that I hate all things medical. (I’m breaking into a sweat just thinking about IV starts.) The nurses were given the ok to prolong my IVs if they flushed well because pokes make me panicky. This particular IV start may have been the worst. I needed a new one anyway, I was going on day 7 which was the limit, but I had been told I was going back on mag, and then in came the nurse with a needle just shy of the size of a Capri Sun straw. (I might be exaggerating, but I did need a larger needle because it was assumed I would need blood after the cesarean, and possibly quickly.)

Poke #1 – I’m hot, and we haven’t even started the mag.

Poke #2 – I’m blacking out.

The nurse left and came back with a nurse friend. She gave me some lidocaine to numb the area and poked again. I survived IV start number two.

Contractions, bedpan, IV start, magnesium, sleep deprivation, food deprivation, fear, anger… I survived trip two to L&D as well. At 10:30am on the first, they sent me back up to the fourth floor where our unofficial welcome committee of nurses cheered as I was wheeled back into my room still pregnant.

In the stats: 
Gestational Age: 23 weeks 5 days
Days of blood: 36
Days of bedrest: 57
Pre-Hospital Stay Doctor’s Appointments: 8
Ultrasounds: 4
Days in the hospital: 7
IV starts: 2
Magnesium drips: 2
Trips to Labor & Delivery: 2
Sets of visitors: 13

Sponsor Oaklee's March of Dimes team.