Yesterday was quite an ordinary Saturday...for awhile. Charis and I went to Support Site for a little vendor fair that is starting up once a month, she with some crocheted and knitted items and I with some cards for sale. We also manned a table for our friend Hannah who just left for a trip to the States but had hair accessories to sell for her and Tuba's adoption fundraising. It was a slooooow morning. I did sell $20 worth of cards, and Charis DID get some leads for future babysitting jobs, but other than that...well, we enjoyed the conversation with the women who stopped by and who were at the other tables!
We packed up our stuff, got lunch at the food court, and did our grocery shopping. I tried to sip water throughout the morning; we were sitting in the shade, but it WAS a hot day. It was exactly 1pm when we got into the Suburban to head home. I noted a contraction at the moment I was getting settled in the driver's seat, thought nothing of it, and went on my merry way. Since I generally have Braxton-Hicks contractions starting at 5 months or so (at least with my later babies), I don't usually notice them. But another one came at 1:05. And another at 1:10. I thought that was a bit odd and mentioned it to Charis. I continued to sip water and figured I'd get extra water in my system once we were at home and lie down for a nap.
The contractions continued every five minutes. I left Ted and the boys in charge of unloading the car and went up to my bedroom to lie down. I couldn't sleep...every time I would nearly drift off, a contraction would wake me up...and I would look up to see the clock and realize that yup, it had been 5-7 minutes.
By now I was getting slightly concerned. I had reached 33 weeks on Wednesday, so regular contractions were not anything to be happy about. I went downstairs for another water bottle and set myself on my bed with books and my laptop, figuring I could at least keep my feet up even if I wasn't able to get to sleep.
By 4pm, with no change in the frequency or intensity of the contractions, I was on the phone with a Tricare nurse to get some advice. Even though I had no dire symptoms (bleeding, fluid leakage, pain, etc.), of course they advised me to go get checked out.
I was JUST at the Support Site all morning!! Now I have to go back?! I called my friend Carla, who lives just around the corner from us, and as she had been following my FB status updates, she was aware of the situation and willing to drive me to the hospital so that Ted could stay home with the kids and get them supped and bathed, etc.
We left around 5pm. I grabbed a water bottle, a couple of snack bars, my WORLD magazine, and my Kindle. I fully expected that they would tell me to go home, keep drinking water, go to bed, and come back if anything changed.
The evening began to drag on as various personnel came in and out of the room to do this, check that, ask me questions, start an IV to make sure dehydration wasn't the issue causing the contractions, etc. Various tests were run and the on-call OB doc was contacted. So we continued to wait for lab results and for the OB doc to arrive.
I was so thankful Carla and I had the opportunity to chat! We joked about at least having the excuse to catch up--we haven't seen each other much this summer!
Finally the OB doc arrived (wearing flip-flops, ha!), and she did some ultrasound checking. The baby was looking fine--a more-than-adequate 6lbs, 12oz or so, give or take given the small machine they were using. Still! Charis was 6lbs, 13 oz at birth, and she came at almost 40 weeks!
After the ultrasound, the doctors left the room to discuss their findings, and Carla and I began making plans for packing up and heading home.
And then the doctors came back in the room.
The test results, the ultrasounds, everything pointed to the fact that my body was, indeed, heading toward pre-term labor. They had ruled out all other causes for the contractions--which STILL had not subsided, despite extra hydration.
Bottom line? There was a good chance our baby would attempt to make his appearance early, and the Naval Support Site hospital is not equipped to deal with early labor and delivery. I was to be transferred immediately to an Italian hospital, where they would do what they could to prevent labor from happening...but in the event that the baby did arrive early, they would be capable of caring for both me and the little one.
The news pretty much rocked my world. I had been feeling slightly foolish for running to the hospital when I figured I was just a bit dehydrated. And this is baby #7...contractions like the ones I had been feeling were pretty much normal. (Granted, the consistency is not something that I had experienced before, but still!) And now here I was, hearing words like "ambulance," "steroids," "liaison," and more. It felt like a surreal nightmare.
The staff immediately got busy readying things while Carla and I took a few minutes to pray together, try to clear our heads, contact Ted, and come up with a plan. I think I went into a bit of a shock mode; my body began trembling head to toe, like when you're in transition during labor and you just. can't. stop. shaking. That made me feel panicked--what if I WAS laboring?! More prayer. More casting out fear in the name of Jesus. A bit of calm. Deep breaths. I didn't expect this--but God knew it would happen before I was even born.
OK. We can do this!
Ted set about in a flurry at home, packing some items up for me, updating the older kids on the situation, and putting Charis in charge until Carla could come and be there for the night.
Carla shifted into practical caregiver mode, asking all kinds of wonderful questions--will she need sheets and towels? (You do in many Italian hospitals.) What if she delivers--what happens next? What if she DOESN'T deliver? Then what? I was so thankful someone who could think clearly was there with me! God knew Carla was just the person I needed with me yesterday evening!
Ted arrived just as they were ready to put me on the stretcher. During that time of waiting, I got a shot in my bum (still hurts--ouch!) of some steroids to help Baby's lungs just in case he did come early. I left the hospital wearing a military hospital gown--good thing, because they don't have any of those available here in the Italian hospital! I got strapped down into a stretcher--a first experience, one I do not care to repeat. (Can you say claustrophobia?!)
The ride to the hospital was borderline tortuous--but mostly mentally so. I began trembling all over again, and my contractions were coming harder and closer together. I can't say for sure whether it was the bumpy road or the fact that my stress level probably shot through the roof, but the last 10 minutes or so of the ride, my abdomen was one hard lump the entire time.
Ted and Carla followed in their cars and then joined me inside the hospital. Gina, the hospital liaison, had ridden in the ambulance from SS and was with us the whole time, as were the Navy ambulance staff, who were all wonderful.
More examinations. Another ultrasound. (By the way, this baby IS, in fact, a boy, if there was any doubt, LOL!) Drawn blood. Paperwork. Translations. Questions.
It was nearing midnight when we said goodbye to Carla, Gina, and the Navy guys and came to my hospital room. Now we had no translator available, and the nurse, kind as she was, spoke about 3 practical words of English: pain? You OK?
I was instructed to lie down, and she brought out what looked like some medieval torture devices. I had absolutely no idea what might be happening next. I had to lift up my gown, and she put a series of about 5-6 suction cups with little bulb-syringe-type tops around my chest area, so I assume it was a heart monitor of some sort. Then clamps went on each wrist and ankle. I was alarmed. What the heck was all this?! Talk about feeling vulnerable! I whispered to Ted to grab a sheet for me to at least cover my middle--good gracious! The nurse left the room, Ted got acquainted with our facilities, and I lay there, spread-eagled, on the verge of tears, thinking that I was NEVER going to be able to sleep with all these contraptions on me.
Thank God. She returned within 10 minutes and removed all the devices. Oh, yay!! I had been so worried that they were there for the long haul, since I'm used to round-the-clock monitoring at military hospitals! Then she hooked up monitors for the baby's heartbeat and to measure my contractions. Sigh. Well, THAT at least I could understand. Meanwhile, another nurse put the medicine in my IV that was to help slow down the contractions.
After about 20-30 minutes at the most, the heart rate and contraction monitors were removed! Oh, joy! The nurses were done with me for the night, and we were blissfully uninterrupted the rest of the night hours! Praise God! We didn't sleep all that great--I was so hungry, having never eaten dinner, but I was unable to choke down the carrots and crackers Ted had grabbed for snacking. Ted was on a pullout couch (and yes, he did need those sheets he brought from home!), and the room was stifling. I opened the windows during one of the times I woke up, but it didn't help a whole lot.
I'll end here and start a new post covering today's happenings!