Pregnancy Emotions, Bedrest, Pre-term Labor Fears

Pregnant Phoebe was crying all the time for “no reason.” Perhaps she was on progesterone, too.

This site initially started off as a way for me to document my pregnancy pains (so basically: an outlet for all my whining), but this is only my second preggers post. And I’m at 32 weeks.

 

Turns out it’s difficult to blog regularly when you’re feeling like major crap for 32 weeks straight. My first trimester was all about the all-day nausea, my second was all about the excruciating back pain and my third? Well it’s been the most dramatic yet.

 

I’m sitting here now on modified bedrest after a huge scare two weeks ago. At my routine 30-week ultrasound, the technician discovered my cervix was shortened to less than half a centimeter. (For reference, once your cervix is at zero centimeters, its next move is to open up and eventually initiate labor.) She pretty much ran out of the room to inform my OB/GYN (that is, after she warned me not to “strain on the toilet” ever again — seriously). My husband and I were in the room, me wiggling back into my pants, and were pretty much confused as hell.

 

We were then ushered into the doctor’s office, who confirmed my “shortened cervix” and postulated I wouldn’t make it to my due date (October 15). He did, however, say that lots of women make it to their due date in my situation. Uhh, what?! I was then sent to the hospital, where the following happened:

 

  • I was placed in triage, where the nurse hooked me up to an IV for fluids.
  • A band was put around my belly. The band was attached to two monitors: one for my baby’s heartbeat and another for potential contractions. Apparently I was having some small, irregular contractions, which they call an “irritable uterus.” I always knew my uterus matched my moods.
  • I was given a seriously THICK steroid shot in my butt. This shot is crucial for pre-term babies, as it helps develop their lungs.
  • A pediatrician from the NICU came in to detail, week by week, all the fucked-up shit that can happen to my baby if he were to be born early.
  • Someone (I think a med student) came in and strongly implied I was going into labor, like, that day, so I had a crying breakdown.
  • I was given calcium channel blocker pills to swallow to help assuage contractions.
  • They did a swab for an early GBS test.
  • After speaking to the chief resident, an OB/GYN and another OB/GYN specializing in high-risk babies, I was moved to the Maternal & Fetal Care Unit and was told I’d be monitored overnight.
  • I was hooked up to another IV fluid along with the baby/contraction monitors and a compression machine thingy to make sure my legs wouldn’t form blood clots.
  • I stayed this way overnight, while continuing to take the calcium channel blockers.
  • The next day, I was told I had a UTI (which later turned out not to be because the test identified only healthy bacteria), but I ended up taking antibiotics for a few days while the results were pending.
  • The high-risk specialist performed a digital exam to confirm if my cervix was closed or open (it was closed) and estimate effacement (thinness), which she said was about 30%.
  • Although I continued to have an irritable uterus, I was discharged since there were no changes in my contraction patterns. I was told to be on modified bedrest, which means staying as horizontal as possible until the baby arrives. Peeing and showering are OK. I was also prescribed vaginal progesterone suppositories. (There are mixed studies and opinions about how effective this is to prevent pre-term labor, but it doesn’t hurt, so why not? was basically the reasoning for this Rx.)

When I was discharged, I was still very unsure what my “condition” entailed (because there’s no way to know). I knew my cervix was on its way to being open, and it ideally shouldn’t be that way at 30 weeks, but I didn’t know how worried I should be about my baby’s health and safety.

 

All I cared about was if the baby would be OK, but there is no black-and-white answer when your cervix is short. His heartbeat was A-OK the entire time, but in a situation like this nobody can estimate when labor will happen — if the baby will come in a day, or at 40 weeks or anywhere in between. I totally get it, but can you say nerve-wracking?!?!

 

On top of that, apparently everyone has a slightly different viewpoint on which week you should NOT be worried about if the baby comes early. I heard everything from 32 to 37.

 

All of a sudden, I had to prepare for a pre-term labor (in other words, all the tasks I was planning to check off in the next month I had to check off now), but I was relegated to bed at the same time.

 

I hadn’t thought about my cervix until this experience. Does this make me a bad mom-to-be? NOPE. I have no shame in admitting that my uterus got all my attention, but when I got home from the hospital I obsessed over my cervix for the first few days.

 

It’s been two weeks since the hospital visit, and I’ve been visualizing my cervix staying attached and repeating mantras, namely “MY CERVIX WILL STAY STRONG FOR ME SO I CAN NURTURE MY BABY.” And now that the initial fear from the unexpected hospital visit has waned, I’m feeling a lot more confident in my cervix.

 

The cervical scare has led me to a place of releasing control. I have let go of anxiety (because that won’t do anything but stress me out, which I truly believe can contribute to pre-term labor). I have let go of attempting to control the outcome, for obvious reasons. I have let go of stress. If you know me, then you know this is a big deal because I’m a chronic worry wart.

 

I’ve let go of control in other aspects of my life, too, because, well, bedrest is making me. Every day, when I walk out to the common area to grab food, I noticed the coffee table isn’t pristine, there are crumbs on the kitchen counter and boxes are strewn about on the tables. Normally I’d go insane leaving things less than immaculate, but I’ve learned to stop caring — not to ignore it — but literally to stop caring. After all, when the baby comes and he’s flailing shit all over the place, do I really want to have a meltdown every time? Perhaps my cervix is trying to prepare me for motherhood.

 

Speaking of control (or the lack thereof), while I’m here I’d like to share some self-care strategies for when you’re on bedrest. I feel utterly useless when I’m not working, keeping the house in order or being productive in some way, so I’ve been having to focus a LOT on self-care these days. Here are some tips:

 

Self-care tips for when you’re on modified bedrest

 

First, recognize that bedrest does NOT equate to laziness or illness.

It’s easy to fall into the mindset that you’re being unproductive or useless — especially if you’re suddenly not making money or running your usual errands — but remember: by being on bedrest you’re being a good mom. Get rid of any guilt STAT. Bedrest is a prescription. You’re simply following doctor’s orders so you can maximize your child’s chance for optimum health.

 

I also had to remind myself that, technically, my body was EXACTLY the same as it was before I was admitted to the hospital. The only difference now is I’m aware of what’s going on inside and I’m on bedrest. But that doesn’t make me sick. I’m still as healthy as I was when I walked into that ultrasound!

 

Take the damn shower. Put on the damn lipstick.

I didn’t shower, wash my face, put on makeup nor get dressed the first two days I was on bedrest (which is a big deal because I’m rarely seen without at least some makeup). It wasn’t a conscious decision — I just felt sick and thought I was incapable of getting up which was a total delusion. On the third day, my amazing doula paid me a visit and told me to “get dressed” (not right after seeing me — she meant in general… she’s not rude or anything LOL). From that day on, I got up, showered, applied my daily skin care, put on some lip gloss and brushed my eyebrows and damn, did that make a huge difference. It made me feel fresh and healthy and most importantly, it made me realize I’m not a prisoner in my own home.

 

Make your bed.

I also didn’t get out of bed the first two days. I stayed under my duvet and sheets, both of which slowly began scrunching up into disarray and feeling grimy. On day three, my husband wash the sheets for me. Now I make my bed every morning. The sight of a neatly made bed alone has been amazing for my mental health.  Since I’m still on bedrest, I still hang out in bed (if not the couch in the living room), but I stay OVER the covers where I can access fresh air.

 

Feed your brain and soul by cutting off Netflix (at some point).

I have a strict no-TV-in-the-bedroom policy, but I made an exception for bedrest. I figured I wouldn’t allow this to happen, ever, so this is the one time I’d let myself indulge. But there’s only so much Great British Baking Show and Bachelor in Paradise you can watch before your brain melts into a fog and starts losing IQ points. After a few days of bingeing, I turned the TV off and focused on catching up on books and podcasts instead. I even caught up on an online writing course I never got to while I was busy working. Trust me, if you have all this extra time lying around you want to use it to make your brain happy. Another thing you can do: read up on baby books!

 

Make meals the highlight of your day.

Meals are the highlight of my day anyway, but on bedrest it was especially important my days were punctuated with little treats. By treats I mean delicious salads, scrumptious breakfasts and delightful snacks. Have a friend or your partner prepare meals for you so you can scoop it right up in the kitchen and enjoy. Make sure at least one cookie or donut is involved, too 😉

 

Join an online community.

There’s nothing better than talking about your less-than-ideal circumstances with other people in the same boat! I have some awesome pregnant friends who sympathized, but couldn’t empathize. That’s when I found these communities so I can engage with people who GET IT. Join and make friends!

Keep ‘Em Cookin’ (a community dedicated to moms at risk for pre-term labor)

Mamas On Bed Rest

Better Bed Rest

 

Start your passion project, finally!

Once you get the hang of bedrest — and let’s be honest, now that you have a legitimately good excuse to work a lot less or at all — you can pour yourself into your hobbies or that one passion project you’ve always wanted to dive into but never did because of work or lack of time. Whether that’s writing a novel, creating a new app or building a new freelance business, you have uninterrupted time to pursue it. What an awesome side effect of bedrest! Take FULL advantage!

If you’re a mom-to-be on bedrest, YOU GOT THIS. If you have other self-care strategies you recommend, let me know!

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