A little over a year ago in mid-July life was pretty good. I was 13 weeks pregnant and confident that I wouldn't miscarry again. I was feeling like I could get out be more confident about picking my two year old up and taking walks and other stuff that you only become paranoid about after you experience miscarriage. I had playgroup at my house that Friday before my water "broke" and I remember a friend saying how the risks of anything happening after 13 weeks was so slim. I knew she was right because I, too, had read all those statistics. That weekend we had friends come stay with us and we had a great time - went to the pool, had a cookout, went maternity shopping - I was so happy to even be showing a little bit.
That Sunday I woke up not feeling great. A little off somehow, but I couldn't really put my finger on it. But we went to church anyway and saw many friends who congratulated us on our pregnancy (after all, we had just started telling people). I came home and we crazily contemplated taking Mary Lawrence to "Dora, Live" that night, but I told Justin that I was feeling really tired. So he decided to go to the office for a few hours that afternoon and I slept for several hours while Mary Lawrence napped. I remember feeling so fatigued I could barely hold my eyes open. But I just told myself we had been a little too busy lately and I just needed to rest.
Around 5 o'clock I decided to take Mary Lawrence on a walk down the street. It was hot and I don't know why I thought that was a good idea. She pushed her baby stroller and I walked behind her. I has been feeling nauseous all week (good pregnancy sign - check!) and started feeling that way again. The next thing I knew I was bent over, vomiting all over the sidewalk. Not a pretty sight! And even though I thought it was strange that I just now started feeling nauseous at week 13, I reminded myself that nausea was a good sign that everything was "working correctly.' We were about a block from home when ML decided she didn't want to walk anymore, and started screaming and crying for me to hold her. I didn't want to, but I had no choice as she wouldn't get off the sidewalk she was laying on. So I picked her and the toy stroller up and walked the length of six or seven houses until, thankfully, Justin drove up and we all got in his car.
I went to sleep early that night but woke up about 2 am to go to the bathroom and that's when I saw some watery blood come out. I panicked and called the on-call doctor who said to come in the morning. Justin and I were awake all night, praying and trying not to be scared. We even called around to Walmart and other 24 hour stores seeing if anyone had a heartbeat monitor - anything to give us some comfort. I remember strangely thinking my stomach didn't look as round as the day before, but didn't give it too much thought after that. We had been down this road before and couldn't think of going through it again.
Well, most of you know the story from this point. I went to my OB who told me about the low fluid and advised me to take it easy for a week and come back and see if perhaps that day my fluid was just low, or if, as feared, my sac had ruptured and the baby's days were numbered. I remember driving home from this appointment feeling shocked and confused. At this point I really didn't understand the severity of the issue. I remember my sister found a website on PROM and I told her I didn't think that's what I had. (Can we say 'denial'?) And I just couldn't imagine anything could be seriously wrong when the sonogram showed a healthy, kicking baby with a strong heartbeat...
There's more to the story that I will continue in another post, but writing all of this reminds me how much I second-guessed myself in the weeks following this appointment. When I started showing strange signs that weekend should I have slowed down? Why did I keep pushing myself? Did I do too much activity? Should I not have picked up ML? Why did y amniotic sac tear in the first place? I was taking all my vitamins and didn't have any preconditions. Why could a perfectly normal healthy pregnancy with my first followed by a miscarriage and then this?
If I had tons of money I no doubt would be donating to research all of these things. I sometimes wonder if our "strong woman" society has replaced the long-held view that pregnant women are "delicate." We read in old novels about how pregnant women literally stayed in bed all of the time and didn't do any heavy lifting. Now I think that's a little drastic. After all God created our bodies strong and able to take care of other children while we're pregnant. But I have asked myself: are as determined young women pushing ourselves too much? I mean, what are we trying to prove to ourselves? I know some women can do STEP class until their 39th week or run ten miles while pregnant with no problems, but I'm obviously not one of them. And I don't think I am alone.
It's funny because we read so much stuff in books and magazines about what no to do when pregnant, yet when something actually bad happens, the doctors response is "it's nothing you did; you couldn't have prevented this from happening." But is that really true? I remember when I asked the specialist what caused a sac to rupture, his response was, "the only thing that could have purposely cause this was if you were a crack addict." Hmm. Obviously that was not the case, and yet it still happened. And still no answers because, as many doctors have told me, no researcher is going to touch a group of pregnant women. It's too risky. Honestly, I have learned more about PPROM from the listserv I am on (made up of women from around the world who have experienced PPROM) than from all the doctors I have been to.
So we are left with a lot of assumptions and theories but no hard facts about what is causing a lot of all these pregnancy complications. My mom and her friends have made several comments about how they don't remember their friends having a lot of pregnancy -related problems like we see today. Perhaps, though, that's because medicine has allowed some pregnancies to continue that 30 years ago would never have lasted. But who really knows.
I just have a lot of questions about it. Personally, I feel like doctors are too casual about what they allow women to do. Maybe I wouldn't feel this way if I hadn't seen what I saw been on the antepartum floor and heard all the complications women experienced. It's funny, the nurses who didn't have any children on that floor were so paranoid about getting pregnant because they saw so many horrors. (I tried to remind my new nurse friends that most pregnancies are perfectly normal with no problems.) Still, there are many questions left unanswered in my mind and I guarantee you that if I ever get pregnant again, I will take it much more seriously, and not as something that will just "happen." And I will surely not try to prove to myself that I am Superwoman. I know I can't be paranoid. But this whole experience has reminded me how precious it is to get pregnant and have a healthy newborn baby in your arms. Not something to ever take for granted....