Born two whole months early and just over four pounds, we made it through to the other side of parenting. Now I don’t worry about their fragility. I worry about them jumping on each other’s head, tearing pictures off the wall, and climbing onto anything they set their mind to. Our 32-week premature twins are two and thriving.
So it’s been quite a shock to find myself in the care of maternal fetal medicine (high risk doctors for pregnant women) again. Baby number three, my singleton baby, is supposed to be my easy baby. I didn’t think I would have more doctor appointments with a singleton pregnancy than I did with my twins. And while it hasn’t been terribly difficult, there are some bumps from my last pregnancy that I hadn’t expected to deal with now.
I am happy to share with everyone that baby number three will arrive in the fall of 2018. Baby and I are healthy and doing well. Because our twins arrived so early, early even for twins, my doctors are taking some extra precautions to make sure that this baby arrives healthy and on time. What does care look like after you’ve had a preterm baby? It varies for everyone, but here’s what my doctors have recommended for me.
Measuring cervical length. Every other week until week twenty-four I have an ultrasound to check and measure my cervical length. Preterm births have been linked to the cervix shortening; anything less than 3 cm is worth concern. Monitoring this helps doctors to keep an eye on what is happening in my body as the baby develops. If it should measure below 3 cm at anytime my doctors will intervene. I’m happy to have the medical staff carefully monitoring me, but it’s also nice to get to see the baby so often.
Monitoring and testing urine samples. This is more than the usual urinalysis done on all pregnant women, but if I’m being completely honest with you I can’t remember why. And I also can’t remember if I should blame my poor memory on being pregnant, or being a mom, or both? Definitely both. They’re looking for signs of preterm labor in the urine sample I leave during my biweekly appointments. This is probably the easiest part of monitoring for preterm labor on a pregnant woman. Pregnant women always need to pee.
Weekly progesterone shots. My husband and I have really leveled up in our relationship. There is something different, special really, about dropping your pants in front of a nurse and your husband so the nurse can show your husband exactly where on your butt the shot needs to go. This by far is the least enjoyable part of being monitored for preterm labor. Although I give my husband lots of credit because I’m sure giving the shot is more anxiety building than receiving it. Although the shots are bad, I still get anxious each time I’m waiting for my dose. These shots are also known as the 17P shots. The shots themselves aren’t enjoyable, but I have not experienced any side effects that would make me discourage a friend from taking them either. And I keep reminding myself; I’d do just about anything to avoid another NICU stay.
Some mornings when I leave for my doctor appointments the boys try to climb over the baby gate to give me one more kiss or hug. Or they have absolutely no interest in me, rather they are deeply focused on ripping a toy out of their brother’s arms. But it’s hard to remember the reason for these appointments is because they weren’t always so capable, but they have always been determined.