When I got pregnant, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d end up on bed rest. Not once, but twice! In fact, as I’m writing this blog, I’m sitting in my hospital room at Nebraska Medical Center, patiently waiting for the arrival of my second daughter. Let me explain.
In May of 2014, I met Dr. Katherine Finney at the Olson Center for Women’s Health for the first time. I had decided to make the switch to Nebraska Medicine and wanted to meet Dr. Finney before my husband and I started trying for another baby. Luckily, I became pregnant in July 2014 and began my routine appointments with Dr. Finney every four weeks.
On Sunday, November 2nd at 17 weeks, 1 day pregnant, I woke up to blood. I was rushed to the emergency department, expecting the worst. My fears were put to ease when I saw my daughter’s heart beating on the ultrasound. But, new fears arose when the emergency doctor told me I had a subchorionic hematoma and placenta previa. I followed up with Dr. Finney the next day and she explained each of these things to me. A subchorionic hematoma is a blood clot that forms on the outside of the uterus. Placenta previa means that the placenta attaches to the uterus on the bottom, covering the cervix, as opposed to the top of the uterus, which is typical. Both of these conditions can cause vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, but there was no way to know for sure which one was causing my bleeding. Dr. Finney told me I could go about life as usual, but to take things a little easier and to call if I experienced any more bleeding. She also set up an appointment for me to meet with the high risk team at the Olson Center.
On November 6th, I met with the high risk team and had a more in-depth ultrasound that confirmed the diagnosis. Four weeks later, I returned for another ultrasound and the hematoma was gone but I still had placenta previa. I was told that it was likely I could bleed again. Light spotting was OK, but if it was anything heavier, I needed to be seen immediately.
Christmas morning, I woke up to light spotting that continued over the next few days. On December 29th at 25 weeks and 2 days pregnant, I woke up to a blood clot and moderate bleeding. My husband and I headed to labor and delivery at Nebraska Medical Center. I was immediately admitted. I received magnesium for the baby’s brain development and steroids for her lung development. Our baby looked great on the monitor, which was reassuring, but I was told that it was likely I would be spending the rest of my pregnancy in the hospital. There is a high risk for massive bleeding with previas and it is important to be as close to an operating room as possible if this happens. I met with numerous medical staff over the next few days, discussing the possible scenarios that could arise, most notably an emergency c-section and a premature baby that would need to spend weeks in the NICU.
The next few days were filled with so many emotions. I was scared of having a baby at 25 weeks gestation. I was scared about being in the hospital for up to 12 weeks. I was distraught over being away from my husband, Jeremy, and my 2-year-old daughter, Muriel, for that long. I was mad at my body for not providing a safe home for my unborn baby. I was mad that I had no control over the situation. Many tears were shed, but I knew that being in the hospital was the safest thing for me and my baby girl.
A few days after being admitted, I was moved to an antepartum room in the hospital, which resembles a hotel suite. It was newly renovated, with a refrigerator, sitting area, and a huge bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub. I was finally starting to look at my stay as a “mini-vacation.” It was a silver lining in a crumby situation.
Over the next few weeks, I worked hard to find all of the silver linings because it helped to keep my spirits up! I settled into my room quickly. I had Jeremy bring me lots of items from home: pillows, clothes, make-up, hair styling products and most importantly, my favorite Kleenex and toilet paper products! I covered the walls of my room with pictures of my family. My parents brought up a card table and chairs so I’d have a place to “entertain” my visitors, and boy am I lucky to have so many visitors. I had to have my husband print off a calendar for me so I could keep track of when people were coming.
I am so fortunate to have such wonderful family and friends. My sister has graciously taken on watching Muriel every day while Jeremy is at work. My parents watch her frequently as well and if they aren’t watching her, they are up here visiting me and bringing me food. Numerous family and friends have come to visit and brought amazingly thoughtful gifts to help get me through. I can honestly say, I would not be doing as well as I am if it weren’t for the constant stream of visitors.
So how does one fill endless time in one room, 24 hours a day, seven days a week? I’ve been here for about seven weeks now and so far I’ve done six 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles. I’ve crocheted five baby hats and am halfway through a baby blanket. I’ve done numerous crossword puzzles, played more games on my phone than I can count, and watched nearly the entire series of Parenthood on Netflix. I have the cable lineup memorized, as well as what’s on and when. Let me just say that daytime TV is terrible, so I’m thankful for Netflix! I’ve also memorized the menu. The food is surprisingly really good for hospital food, but I will say that after almost seven weeks here, I’m definitely ready for a change, so I’m very thankful when visitors drop off home-cooked meals or stop and pick something up for me.
I’ve settled into a nice daily routine, which still involves getting up and showering and getting ready every morning. Feeling like a normal human being has played a great part in my mental stability over these past weeks. I still have moments when I break down into tears because I just want to go home and cuddle Muriel or because I’m sick of being in the same room all day, every day. Some days I’m angry, cranky and tired of being asked the same questions by every medical professional that walks through my door. Overall, I do my best to stay positive and realize there are so many things that could be way worse than what I’m experiencing.
The medical side of the experience has been an adjustment. I have a new IV put in about once a week. I have my blood drawn every three days for a cross and match, so the blood blank is sure to have blood on hand for me in the event that I need a transfusion. I have weekly weight checks. Residents and medical students round on me every morning. I have vitals taken every eight hours. I receive fetal monitoring at least twice a day. And because I have gestational diabetes, I have to watch my diet and have my blood sugar checked four times a day.
All of this would be way worse if it weren’t for the excellent care I receive from all of the medical staff at the Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Finney has been nothing but supportive and positive throughout all of this. My confidence in her and her judgment allows me to relax and focus on growing my baby girl. Dr. Finney’s bedside manner is impeccable. She stops in almost daily to check on me as a patient, but also spends time talking with me about how I’m coping and constantly asks if there’s anything she can do to make this easier on me. I’m also especially lucky that one of my best friends, Kylie, is a nurse here and can take care of me every once in a while. She is always able to make me smile and is more than willing to listen to me cry multiple times a week about how much I miss Muriel and Jeremy. It’s reassuring to know that she has so much faith in the rest of the medical team here in the event that an emergency does arise.
The rest of the nurses are amazing as well. I’ve gotten to know many of them so well and have even starting forming friendships with them. Many of them will pop in to say “hi” and check on me, even if I’m not their patient for their shift. I’ve grown to know many of the people from housekeeping and food services and it’s so nice to see a familiar face every day. My time here has been more pleasant than I expected, because of the extraordinary care and kindness of everyone that works here. I can see why they recently earned the Women’s Choice Award for one of America’s best hospitals for obstetrics.
Overall, this experience is not ideal, and I’d be lying if I said I was doing great. I definitely have moments when I feel sorry for myself and I just wish I could be experiencing a typical pregnancy at home. At the end of the day though, I remember that things could be much worse. I’m so lucky to be receiving amazing medical care. Because of that care, I’m able to still be pregnant and provide a safe place for my baby to grow. Someday, this will all be a blur. For now, I’ll continue to take it day by day and look forward to meeting my baby girl in the near, but not too near, future.