The next day we drove to San Francisco to see our perinatologist (high risk doctor) once again. After examining me, Dr. W. told us my cervix had dilated to one centimeter. He made us come back the next day to get an ultrasound of my cervix. After the exam, he asked us to come in to his office. Making our way there, we saw the high risk nurse, and she gave me this look, and said, I hope you brought your toothbrush. And that’s when I knew.
Dr. W first explained that all 3 babies continued to have IUGR (Intrauterine growth restriction) which meant the babies were very small for their gestational age. He said there may come a time when he re-evaluates their growth to see if it would be better for the babies to grow outside the womb and be delivered sooner than later. Our goal was 32 weeks. IUGR is common in multiples, so I did not really worry too much. I also explained to Dr. W, that our daughter, born at 39 weeks, only weighed 5 lb.15 oz, and she always measured in the 25th percentile.
After that discussion ended, he told us he wanted to admit me to the hospital for a couple of days for observation. My cervix had begun to shorten so my contractions needed to be monitored. I also needed to get the steroid shots for the babies’ lungs, just in case they decided to come early. So there we went, I dreaded every second of it. The back of my mind kept thinking of Bella. Mommy is not gone too often so I knew it would be hard. Luckily, my mom and dad were visiting and were there to distract and take care of her.
Pretty soon after being admitted, I was given steroid shots and medication (indomethacin) to try to stop contractions. Once I was hooked up to the monitors, we all realized my contractions continued and were very frequent. Luckily there were no changes in my cervix; but one night in the hospital turned into two, then three, then four.
During our stay, we visited the ICN (aka NICU) to get an idea of where the babies would stay if they were born early. We walked around and met some babies and staff. The smallest baby there was about 2 lbs. I was told my babies would be smaller than that, about a pound each. We also talked to neonatologist on call who very nicely explained all the risks of delivering a baby at 24-25 weeks. We were given all the statistics. At 25 weeks, babies are born at the very edge of viability. Preemies born at 25 weeks have a 75% survival rate; and about half of them grow up normal, without major health issues or serious developmental delays.
We were scared. Our new goal became 28-29 weeks, as chances for survival increase more each day. Eventually, we were asked what we wanted to do if the babies arrived. An infuriating question; but, the team of neonatologists needed to know where we stood. There was no question, there was no discussion, and of course we want you to resuscitate our babies.
I was released on Monday afternoon to strict bed rest. My cervix around 4pm had not shown any change. It was still only 1 cm dilated. I stayed at the hospital until I could be picked up about 7pm. We got home about 8:30pm, so very happy to see my Bella, had dinner and watched some TV before going to sleep. At about midnight, I woke up to realize my sheets were soaking wet.
I started shaking. I woke up my husband and prayed.
I went to the bathroom, kept praying and made the phone call to the labor and delivery unit in San Francisco. I told them I didn’t know if I had peed or what. They said I needed to go in. Since I was not having any pain, the nurse said I could go to Santa Rosa. We woke up my parents to tell them what had happened. I did not feel any pain before I left the house; I really was hoping that I peed.
We were driving to the hospital, when my phone rings…it was the same nurse I had spoken with, she apologized and said I needed to turn around and drive to San Francisco. My husband and I drove the entire 45 minutes there in complete silence. The roads were empty and dark. My husband held my hand the whole time and drove as fast as he could. I tried hard to hold back the tears. My contractions started and were about 6 minutes apart. I could not even bring myself to telling him. After entering the ER, I was admitted pretty quickly, as L & D were waiting for us.
The fern test confirmed it was amniotic fluid. I panicked, but was still hopeful. This just meant that I would be hospitalized. I had heard of some women staying pregnant even though their membrane had ruptured. The Dr. also looked hopeful. But I was quickly hooked up to monitors, and had an IV started for antibiotics and magnesium.
The doctor finally examined me and left the room quickly. Okay, she almost ran out of the room. She came back to tell us the babies needed to be born right away. I had dilated to 5 cm, and there was no stopping them. She could feel Triplet A’s head.
I cried, I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard. Oddly, Dr. W. was called in for the delivery. He had always told us that regularly the doctor on call assists if necessary. I heard the intercom announcing the emergency c-section, and everything and everyone moved really fast. It was surreal. I felt like I was in a movie. I turned into a zombie as I watched my husband put on his scrubs. I refused to believe this was happening. This was not the way things were supposed to be. The neonatologist had to confirm our decision to resuscitate our three babies.
My husband and I prayed. We knew it was out of our control and our babies were in God’s hands. As my contractions were getting stronger, I was wheeled in to the OR. My husband had to wait until I was “prepped”. It was there where I saw Dr. W. When they attempted to move me to the operating table, I remember asking for the anesthesiologist, the pain was starting to get worse. Dr. W. took my hand and I squeezed it with each contraction. He calmly told the anesthesiologist, you need to move just a bit faster. And just in time. By then, my body wanted to push.
When my husband came in, the room was already filled with nurses and doctors. Each one of them introduced themselves before they got started. I could not see their faces. I could not see much, with the exception of my husband and the anesthesiologist. I was numb. My body felt numb, my heart was numb, and it was as if my brain had stopped working. I had difficulty breathing. All I could see was the blue drape dividing me from the birth of my babies.
They were born in order, Triplet A, Triplet B and Triplet C. All weighing a little over one pound. No cries were heard. No pictures were taken. My husband saw the babies briefly and got the honor of cutting 2 of 3 umbilical cords. I did not see any of them, as doctors quickly began to resuscitate our babies to give them every chance at life that they could.
This is how our NICU journey began on May 17, 2011….