As for those who brought even the smallest piece of normal to me, I don’t think they’ll ever know how much good they did. To have my favorite meal, to try a new donut shop, to sit outside and tell stories and laugh, to go grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks (one of four restaurants I could go to), to have baklava from the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts, to see my dog, to get a stack of books I was genuinely interested in reading… these were the moments that made this time bearable.
We no longer hoped for improvement. We knew this pregnancy would end in a c-section due to the previa. We knew it could end quickly due to the abruption. While not much had changed with either of those issues, we entered into yet another new territory. The diagnosis? Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes. PPROM. Broken water.
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.
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.
We choked back emotions as we said goodbye for our first time in this new stage. We were supposed to be giggling, giddy for the birth of the baby that would take us from two to three, babymooning, putting together a nursery and dreaming of what life would be like in four months. Instead, Kevin walked out of my hospital room, retrieved our car from the emergency room parking lot and went home alone to the house I would not see again until our baby was born.
With pen and paper thrust toward me, Dr. D asked the question I’d never discussed with my husband, “Knowing the severe complications your baby may face due to prematurity, do you want us to take full resuscitation measures?” I frantically looked from person to person, trying to get a read on the room and have a conversation with my husband via our eyes alone. What was his stance? What is mine? Is this a situation where we go with our gut or is there a deeper level of thinking we’re supposed to reach in the next 25 seconds? I could throw up.
At 8:00am on the 25th of May, we made our first drive to the Grand Rapids Medical Mile. We navigated parking ramps, elevators named by colors, hallways named by numbers and the many offices packed into various buildings named by donors. We sat anxiously in the waiting room, hopeful not for a great outcome, but even just for some answers. I remember looking at the other couple in the waiting room and realizing I was in a place solely for people with botched pregnancies. How could I belong here?
My 48th day of bedrest (May 23, 2017) was no different than the others but, little did we know, life would be significantly changing for us soon. So what did it look like then? What had I been doing for 48 days? Here you’ll find a loose schedule of my days, some notes that may help clarify how we made things work during this time and some tips for approaching people in our situation.
I don’t know what people thought when they looked at me on Mother’s Day last year. Were their wishes hesitant? Did they make a conscious decision of what to say or not say to me before the even saw me? Did they wonder, like I did, if I would actually be a mother? I was in the darker side of the grey area that is a woman pregnant with her first child on Mother’s Day – with child, my body threatening to be without.
Sure, my womb was all but shutting down, but my baby was still thriving, and as long as she was thriving, there was no reason to change our course.
So we wait. I bleed. I cry. I pray. We wait.