One year ago, I was hospitalized for Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes (pPROM). I’d never heard of it before, but I’d spend the next 95 days engrossed in medical literature, Google results and online forums with other fearful moms who had nowhere else to turn but to each other. I want to take some time over the next few days to reflect upon the last year and celebrate the present. Thank you for reading and following our journey.
Wow, a whole year gone by. 365 days. 12 months. I see numbers differently now. I guess it was the year of numbers measured by days spent in the hospital, centimeters of amniotic fluid, weeks of gestation, weight of the baby, oxygen saturation levels, grams gained in a day, and so on and so forth.
It was Tuesday June 15, 2010. We had spent the previous weekend in Bemidji for a friend’s wedding. I was 18 weeks pregnant, finally outgrowing my jeans and getting excited to shop for some new maternity clothes to show off my baby bump. I was in the midst of the best part of pregnancy – the second trimester – and blissfully unaware of what the next year would bring.
I remember what I was wearing. I remember what I ate for lunch. I was at work fact-checking a story I’d been working on, and while on the phone, I felt a gush. I finished the conversation and headed for the bathroom. I thought I’d lost control of my bladder and was experiencing an embarrassing side effect of pregnancy, but once I got to the bathroom, I became confused. I didn’t know what it was, but it wasn’t urine. I’d need to run home to change clothes and I’d call my midwife on the way … just in case. I left the office intending to be back in 20 minutes. Little did I know I wouldn’t be back for seven months.
“You better go to the hospital.” The nurse on the other end of the phone line spoke with concern. Still, I was oblivious. Oblivion. That’s a state of being that I sure do miss. Once I got checked into the hospital, a nurse did a pH swab test to determine if I had indeed lost my amniotic fluid. The test came back positive, but because the tests can be wrong, she also did an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed low levels of amniotic fluid, but a healthy heartbeat. I didn’t know what this meant, but I knew it wasn’t good, so I called my husband and he came right away.
An OB came into the room to explain the situation. He told me he sees this once-a-year at the most and the baby never survives. It’s not common and it’s not good, he said. There are a few options, he told us. We can either “admit you and take care of this tonight, however you will have to deliver the baby and at 18 weeks there’s no chance for survival … or, you can go home and let nature take its course, and come back when you go into labor.” He explained that most women deliver within 24 hours of their water breaking. I began asking questions, trying to piece together what little information I had. Without saying it in so many words, the doctor urged me to terminate my pregnancy despite the strong heartbeat of the baby inside. He said the risk of developing an infection if I chose to carry on with the pregnancy could put my life at risk. And, he said, “Sometimes this is nature’s way of weeding out the weak … there may be something wrong with this baby and this is your body’s way of ending it now.”
That’s when the severity of the situation set in. I was about to lose my second pregnancy; everyone KNEW about this pregnancy and I would have to explain this to everyone. How could this happen to me? Why us? Why? What is wrong with me? Why can’t my body carry this baby that we want so badly? I called my mother and shared the heartbreaking news. She got in the car immediately.
Next, a high risk doctor came in the room and took over the ultrasound. She actually thought the fluid levels looked OK – low, but not dire – and wasn’t convinced that my bag of waters had ruptured. I stopped crying and had a glimmer of hope, but I kept leaking fluid as I lay in the hospital bed and I knew – I just had a gut feeling that this was not going to be OK.
We finally had a plan. I was going to be admitted to the hospital for monitoring and a round of IV antibiotics. The next morning, a level III ultrasound would hopefully rule out the loss of amniotic fluid. I called work to say I wouldn’t be back for the rest of the day and would keep them posted. That evening, my mom and husband exuded positivity, but I had no hope. I just knew.