The hospital stay caused a delay in Atia's treatment and therefore affected my meticulously crafted plan - the phase end date went from October 16th to October 23rd... I was gravely concerned because I was due with baby #2 on November 1st. That only allowed 9 days for Atia to process the chemo, release it and begin rebuilding her immune system and overall strength.
My heart raced and palms sweat every time I thought about the small window between Atia's fourth phase completion and my due date. Daily, I prayed that there were no other complications forcing us off course. We had to hit our target date; it was absolutely critical - for my sanity!
In the meantime, I'd been experiencing Braxton hicks for months. I attributed them to the stress, since I hadn't had them while pregnant with Atia. They were constant and getting stronger as time went on, including the last 8 days in the hospital with Atia.
As you know, Atia was released from the hospital on Sunday, October 4th. I'm reminding you, because that day is especially important to the story; Sunday, October 4th marked the beginning of a week that I will remember forever!
Monday, October 5th, I had my 36 week prenatal appointment. Since 32 weeks, the baby had been measuring big - like "several weeks bigger" big. My OB/GYN decided the traditional 39 week ultrasound should be moved up to my 36 week appointment. She thought it a pretty good chance that I'd be going into labor before my 39th week.
As expected, the ultrasound confirmed that the baby was still measuring BIG. At 36 weeks, he was already estimated at 8 lbs 1 oz. and he was the size of a 39 week, 1 day old. AND, I was already 1 centimeter dilated.
In the days leading up to this appointment (while in the hospital with Atia), I could feel my body changing. I had mentioned to Steve that I thought it was preparing for birth. And, the night before the appointment, I'd had a couple 1 minute long contractions that were 5 minutes apart. So, I wasn't surprised to learn that I was 1 centimeter dilated, though I WAS shocked to learn that my baby was measuring over 39 weeks in size.
My doctor jokingly asked me to try and hold off going into labor until the following Sunday when I'd be 37 weeks and considered full term. In a passing statement on her way out of the exam room she said, "If it happens naturally, I'm not going to stop it, but you'll be preterm, which isn't ideal."
We had decided to deliver at Northwestern Memorial's Prentice Women's Hospital. I'd had Atia at Rush University Medical Center. After the ultrasound appointment, justifiably, we panicked! We desperately needed to take the labor and delivery tour. That night we dropped everything and hurried over. Thank goodness my sister-in-law was available to watch Atia!
Four days later, on Friday, October 9th, Atia resumed treatment. We went to the SPA (special procedures area) at the University of Chicago hospital (U of C) where she was sedated and had a spinal tap with chemo injections - one in her spine and another through her port. The latter of the two required several hours of hydration and observation following the procedure.
We were there in a tiny room for 6 hours and I was having contractions. They'd started on the way to the hospital earlier that morning and continued throughout the day. They got stronger and longer as the hours passed - they'd definitely changed from Braxton hicks to real contractions... so much more painful.
The ride home was uncomfortable - almost unbearable! Instinctively, I began the "hee, hee, hoo", "hee, hee, hoo" breathing exercises and sat helplessly as my body went from hunched forward over my big belly one moment to a full back arch, with my butt lifted off the seat the next moment. I felt possessed, like the people in the Beetlejuice dance scene, especially at the end when they are thrown about. I think it was the first time I'd ever held onto the handle above the car door - you know the one?
Steve actually asked me if I wanted to go straight to Prentice on the way home from the U of C hospital (where Atia had just had her procedure). I told him no. Even though I knew I was contracting, I thought there was no way this was IT! I was terrified of going into the ER and being told that it was false labor (with Atia, my water broke, but I was given pitocin to induce labor. I'd never experienced contractions before going to the hospital).
I just wanted to get home and take a shower. In the past, water therapy had always helped me deal with pain. So when we got home, I took a shower and then laid down for a nap. The contractions subsided and I was able to sleep.
I awoke to the phone ringing. It was my mom. She wanted to know how Atia's spinal tap had gone. I told her that Atia was amazing and she was doing well. Then, I explained that I, on the other hand, had been having contractions all day long. My mom made me promise that I would NOT go into labor because she was headed out-of-state for the weekend. I obligingly promised and we hung up.
Unfortunately, promises can't always be kept...
Filed under: Pregnant
Tags: 36 week prenatal appointment, ALL leukemia, beetlejuice, Braxton hicks, contractions, delayed intensification, hee hee hoo, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, pitocin, Prentice Women's Hospital, promises, Rush University Medical Center, spinal tap, U of C, ultrasound, university of chicago medical center, University of Chicago Medical Center Children's Hospital