As you know, about halfway through 2020 we were dealt an amazing blessing and surprise when we became pregnant with our third baby! Shortly after in September and October, we came to learn that our precious grand finale for our family would be diagnosed with Spina Bifida. We underwent intense testing and consultations and decided to proceed with fetal surgery to close our daughter’s spine in utero and hopefully give her the best possible outcome.
During these consultations our doctors reviewed the risks with us at length and we knew chances were very high that we would not have an uneventful pregnancy after surgery. The average gestational age at delivery following fetal surgery is only 34 weeks. We had weekly ultrasounds to check on our baby and the progress of the pregnancy. While I had been feeling a few strange symptoms beginning around 26 weeks, our scans looked perfect each week and soon we had made it to the week of Christmas. We felt truly blessed to have made it that far; I actually cried when leaving the appointment knowing I would be able to share in the holiday with my precious older kids, family, and a healthy baby girl still safe inside my belly.
During the month of December I felt great overall and just wanted to make as many memories with Ella and Cole as possible, knowing it would be even crazier the next year. Admittedly, I probably did too much and did not rest enough at times which lead me to worry every week before our scheduled appointments. This past Monday, when we went in for our 30 week checkup, I had been feeling the same presumed “leaking” I had been feeling for about a month. Every other week our scans looked normal with a large amount of fluid still around the baby – until this week.
Our amazing ultrasound tech let us know my fluid measurement was on the lower side and she wasn’t sure how the doctor would want to proceed. When our doctor came in, he cut right to the chase and let us know that it was now clear my water had broken and we would need to be treated inpatient for the duration of the pregnancy. I knew this was a possibility from our initial surgical consultation, but I immediately felt overcome with grief. I was terrified for our baby. My goal was always to carry her until at least 37 weeks, so being only 30 weeks along with the threat of labor, infection, or worse was almost too much to handle. The reality of being on hospital bed rest, leaving my husband to care for and manage our two other children is a different type of mom guilt that hit me right in the face. We went home to spend some time as a family and pack a bag to then check back into the hospital later that night. I spent much of that time hugging and kissing my children relentlessly and crying.
I am now four days into my hospital stay and I can’t say it’s magically gotten easier. Connor has been able to visit me a bunch thanks to our incredible family. I know I’ve said it a bunch, but I’m not going to stop – I am so thankful for my husband, my best friend in this world. I’ve been able to see the kids once which was equal parts agonizing and soul filling. I still don’t know how to live apart from them and be ok. Due to Covid regulations they are only allowed to meet me in the lobby, however, I’m thankful we at least have that option and I am thankful the kids are handling everything relatively well. As for baby girl, she is doing great so far. I’ve had no signs of labor and she has had no signs of distress. I’ve been given heavy antibiotics and steroid shots for her lungs. The plan as of now is to try our hardest to get her to at least a 34 week delivery, which we are taking one day at a time.
So… I guess it appears 2020 wasn’t quite done dealing us the surprises and teaching us that nothing is in our control. I am trying to remind myself constantly that this situation is short term, my kids will likely not even remember this hard time, and every day with me on hospital bed rest is hopefully a day less for our girl in the NICU. Easier said than done as you can imagine.
And now… my goals for 2021.
- First and foremost, my main goal is to continue to dive into this experience with God as my focus. I want to really understand how He has helped us through everything we have been through so far. I know I will probably never understand the underlying “why”, but I do want to gain a better grasp on the hope He has to offer as we continue on this journey. And I want to be able to translate these lessons into our family, helping us to be more God centered.
- If I didn’t already value the extra family time and ability to slow down and be present from the Covid shutdowns, I certainly do now. I want to hold onto that value and make sure my family knows just how much I truly love them.
- My last goal is to never take health for granted. I’ve never been around so many doctors, hospitals, and testing as a patient before in my life. I know our daughter will have a lot of the same in her future, but we are insanely blessed to live so close to the amazing professionals at Children’s. I am choosing to find the gratitude in knowing I am on bedrest at the best place for her and also to (somehow) enjoy the down time. I can pretty much guarantee I will not sit down for some time once we are all finally home together.
Happy New Year friends! I hope your 2021 is starting off at least slightly better than ours. I wish you all of the happiness and normalcy in the new year. Until then, send me all of your favorite shows, movies, books, and crochet tips.