In my life before this, I ran marathons. Lots of marathons. Never as fast as I wanted (that elusive qualifying goal for the Boston Marathon still out of reach) but I plodded along, enjoying the mental and physical challenge of the long miles and training.
I never would have guessed that all that training would be so useful for a different goal, years later. For the very opposite challenge: bed rest.
The only way to run a marathon is to take it one mile at a time, doing everything possible to forget about how long 26.2 miles is until those miles creep up and the finish line is finally in sight. Being admitted to Labor & Delivery at 25 weeks, not even in my third trimester yet, feels like the longest marathon I’ve ever run when I look at the road ahead.
The only way I can get through this is to take it hour by hour. Day by day. Plodding along. Trying to stay positive.
On Thursday morning, I was giddy with hope. The bleeding had slowed and turned brown. Trips to the bathroom were no longer traumatic. The babies continued to look great. The OBs and even the MFM team were talking about letting me go home that weekend. I mentioned the brown bleeding seemed very watery. They sent me for an ultrasound to look at amniotic fluid. Everything looked fine.
The bleeding started again that afternoon. I tried to convince myself it was dark brown, not red. The nurses and doctors disagreed. It was “new” blood again. Not too heavy, but red and watery.
I wasn’t going home for at least another week. When my mother and E showed up, all I could do was cry. Feeling so sorry for myself. Feeling sorry that E couldn’t have her mother around. I had “hit the wall” as they say in marathon lingo: I had reached the point where I was falling apart and not even close to the finish line.
E had brought a toy aquarium with goldfish to keep me company. But after seeing her mother in such a sorry state, she said she had to take them home because “they would be too sad to stay here.”
That night, at 26 weeks and 1 day, the OB finally came around to check me out and test fluids to see if my water had broken. Everyone assured me this was very unlikely.
When she came back in the room, she sat down, and I knew the bad news was coming.
“Your bag of waters has broken….. We need to move you to labor and delivery to monitor the babies and get you on an IV to give you antibiotics…… There’s a 50% chance you will go into labor within a week….. We won’t stop the contractions if they start now since they will likely be a sign of infection or distress….. We’ll have to do an emergency c-section if we see any signs of infection, with you or the babies…..and of course now that your water has broken, you won’t be going home until the babies are born.”
Within minutes of that news, they were wheeling me back to Labor and Delivery. It was a long, scary sleepless night hooked to all the monitors and and IV. Every time I slightly shifted position to get comfortable, the monitors would slide off and the nurses would rush back in to adjust them again.
In the morning, one of the MFM doctors came to see me. He explained the situation again, taking off his glasses to wipe tears from his eyes before answering my tearful and terrified questions.
That day, I drifted in and out of sleep, listening to the babies’ heartbeats on the monitor. Yesterday’s hope of going home feeling so frivolous compared to the fear of having these babies arrive before they even reached their third trimester.
After babies had proven their strong heartbeats and no contractions appeared, the doctors decided that I was no longer an immediate risk of going into labor (or maybe they just needed the L&D room) so the nurse wheeled me back to the ante partum quarters.
Today T and I had a tour of the brand new NICU, which is amazing. Each family has their own suite where the babies will stay in their incubators, with a pull-out couch so we can stay with them overnight. The hallway walls are lined with photos of NICU grads as tiny babies as young as 24 weeks, framed side by side with the photos of the same baby all grown up. We paused at the photo of twin girls born at 27 weeks, so tiny and fragile covered with wires. Now beautiful, healthy, happy ten year-olds. T squeezed my hand and I saw tears in his eyes too.
So here I am, at 26 weeks and 4 days, making myself at home in my ante-partum room for what I hope will be a long marathon of weeks on bed rest. Taking it one day at a time, hour by hour. Trying not to look too far ahead down the road. Just grateful for each day. And for all of your support.
I tell all the doctors and nurses about you all; how amazing and supportive you all are. How lucky I am to be part of this community and “know” you all, even if virtually. I can’t thank you enough for all the encouraging stories, cheer-leading, care packages, and visits from local blogger/ twitter friends.
Running is a solitary sport. But thanks to you all, I never feel alone here. And that makes such a difference.
I’ll keep you updated when I can. If anything happens suddenly and I can’t give an update, I’ve given T instructions to share any news for me on Twitter.