From the "Looking Back" Series...
Throughout the second trimester, things seemed to be truckin' along. The babies were doing well and I was still working. I was making a 45 minute commute one way and it was starting to take a toll on me, but I was determined to continue my job as long as I could so I could have all of my maternity leave time with the babies.
Thanksgiving came and went and I was starting to pop out, but many people marveled over the fact that I was carrying two babies. It was still pretty early, so I didn't mind that my belly hadn't taken over my body yet. But I was enjoying the little ball in front of me. When I am not pregnant, I am always trying to get my stomach flatter and sucking in. My belly has always been a problem spot for me and has plagued me for as long as I could remember. Now that I was pregnant, I didn't have to worry about that anymore. It was wonderful! I proudly carried my pregnant belly around and enjoyed not having to worry about it. Now my belly was the home of two little people and I wanted it to get as big as it needed to be so I could have healthy babies. So, grow belly, grow! And it also helps that the boobs kind of grow with the belly so it was all looking good. (I am not well endowed, so I enjoyed the extra boob-age.)
When December rolled around, I was starting to have on and off again contractions that are known as Braxton-Hicks contractions. They are painless contractions that can occur anytime throughout the pregnancy and are not a result of active labor. So, when they occur they are not a reason to be alarmed. I think that it is always wise to tell your doctor whenever anything is going on during a pregnancy, but more often than not it is not a big deal. I started having these painless contractions mid second trimester and they continued to get more frequent. The best way I can describe them is that I felt a tightening in my belly in various places and then it would go away. There was no pain associated with them at all, so if you experience painful contractions, call your doctor immediately.
As the month started to come to a close, I was looking forward to Christmas. I had decided to take the last two weeks of the month off from work. I remember my last day of work saying goodbye to my co-workers and telling them that I would see them next year. (Ha!) One of my co-workers looked at me and smiled and said, "Please come back!" It had been a regular joke as to when I was going to be put on bed rest. My doctor at this point had already told me that most likely I would be put on bed rest and it could happen by the end of January or so. So, I remember telling him, "I will be back! I won't need to go on bed rest until later." Well, I wish that I hadn't been so sure because the day after Christmas proved to be a turning point in the pregnancy.
On December 26th, my husband and I went in for a routine ultrasound. During the ultrasound, the tech mentioned that she couldn't find my cervix by scanning top of my belly. She decided to do a vaginal ultrasound to find my cervix. (This is where a vaginal probe is inserted in order to perform the ultrasound. This is commonly used in the first trimester.) When she continued the scan, the tech became very quiet. When she was finished, she asked me to get dressed and wait in the waiting room. I remember feeling anxious and my body felt very warm from my blood pressure rising. A million things came over me when she told me to wait. I knew the babies were fine, but when she scanned my cervix her mood changed. So, we waited for her to finish her report and get a doctor. Since it was the day after Christmas, the office was a little scarce and we ended up seeing one of the midwives. And it was best thing that could have happened.
We went into an exam room and the midwife sat down. She explained that my cervix had shortened. This is a sign of pre-labor when the cervix begins to efface and become ready for delivery. I was 27 weeks at this moment, so delivering the just over 1lb babies was not a good idea. We were very scared and didn't know what was going to happen, but when she spoke she calmed both of us down. She gave us the confidence that we needed to feel like everything was going to be okay. Although no one can ever guarantee outcome, having a positive attitude makes a huge difference. She told us that if the babies were born today that they had a good chance of survival. She decided to put us on bed rest for the week and told me to come back later in the week for a check up. So that is what we did...