"Someone Else's Story" - Chess

Initially when I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix, I really had no idea how close I came to losing my twins.  I knew the situation was serious enough for me to be admitted into the hospital, but I felt like I was well taken care of and the issue was at least under control.  It was not until I began to research my condition that I realized just how lucky I was to have a doctor who was able to stop a disaster from happening.  In doing my research, I found out that a normal cervix during pregnancy should measure 3cm or greater but mine had shortened to just 0.8cm!  If left untreated, I would have gone into full preterm labor probably in the next week and given birth to babies that were not viable to live outside of the womb. My first instinct when I started my bed rest journey was to seek out support from others in the same boat as me.  Right away, I created the private Facebook group to speak with the other Moms on bed rest in the hospital, and then I branched out to all sorts of online support groups which were specific to my exact condition.  I soon began to discover that within these groups, I was a minority since this was my very first pregnancy and I had no history of miscarriage or stillbirth.  More often than not, an incompetent cervix is usually diagnosed only after a woman has gone through one or more losses because it is not caught soon enough and some doctors don't include this test during exams.  I was extremely fortunate to be under the care of a high risk doctor (due to being pregnant with twins) who routinely checks for this condition between weeks 18-20.  I was actually looking forward to my 19 week ultrasound mainly because the sexes would be determined, plus the doctor would be doing an anatomy scan where all of the body parts and internal organs would be measured and examined.  The excitement would soon turn to fear once he informed my husband and I that there was bad news.

With such a shocking diagnosis and treatment plan, I selfishly kept thinking about how miserable the next 4-5 months would be at the hospital stuck in bed all day and night.  But as my research started, I began to shift my thinking outward and fully empathize with all of the stories I came across where women had been through the unthinkable nightmare of losing their babies.  How could I possibly complain or feel bad for myself?!?  So many women would give anything to be where I was if it meant their babies were still safe and inside their womb.  Everyday that I am here is truly a gift and as the days, weeks, and months roll by, I can't help but feel incredibly fortunate that I have gotten this far.

One particular story I recently found online really hit home for me because just two days after I was admitted into The BirthPlace, this other woman Cori, was admitted as well for the same exact condition.  In her own blog, she writes about how it was discovered that she had an incompetent cervix and a cerclage procedure was scheduled on the same day that I was going to have mine...Christmas Eve.  Unfortunately for Cori, her water ended up breaking before the procedure could even take place and nothing could be done at that point to save the baby.  Reading this tragic story, I started thinking that as I was being wheeled into the operating room, this poor woman was already at the end of her journey knowing that soon she would be delivering her baby that would not even get the chance to live.  Later that evening, I was recovering from surgery with the new possibility of delivering full term babies while just a few doors down from me, Cori was holding her angel in her arms and saying goodbye.  As I near the 100 day mark, it seems like a very long time to be stuck in the hospital but I bet Cori or any other woman who has suffered a loss would gladly stay in the hospital over 200 days if it meant saving their baby's life.  Bed rest can be a very stressful and unpleasant experience for most women, but focusing on these kind of stories can really help put things into perspective and completely change your attitude...I know it definitely changed mine.

*The song "Someone Else's Story" is from the 1988 Broadway musical Chesswhich has music written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus from ABBA with lyrics by Tim Rice.  The song is actually about a marriage coming to an end but the message in the song is that the woman experiencing this loss wishes her story was not her own.  I am sure that women who have experienced losing their baby certainly wish that this incident did not happen to them.  Originally, when I found out I would be on bed rest for several months, I really hoped that this could have been someone else's story.  But now, I am beyond grateful that this is in fact my story after reading about countless women who were not as lucky as I.  This lesson really makes me count my blessings and be utterly thankful that I have made it 95 days in the hospital with hopefully more days to come.

On my way to surgery on Christmas Eve

On my way to surgery on Christmas Eve

"Part of Your World" - The Little Mermaid

With the majority of my freedom and independence taken away, I have really started to appreciate what I was able to do before being admitted to the hospital. Some things that have been taken off of my plate are a nice break (driving, cooking, cleaning, etc), while others, I think about constantly and can't wait to have my normal life back. For instance, I severely miss the simple act of going outside and getting fresh air, among many other small joys. My rules here on bed rest are this: I must stay in bed and only get up to go to the bathroom. Everything else must be done for me and I cannot leave my room. Granted, there are a lot of productive things I can do while lying down but at only three weeks of being on bed rest, I am already getting antsy. What would you do if your total time out of bed for the day was less than the length of a sitcom? However, this past Tuesday night, I got a huge treat which I am still smiling about. At 10:45pm my nurse showed up in my room with a wheelchair and told me that it was my turn to get an ultrasound and check up from the doctor. Other than the short ultrasound on my birthday to solely check the sexes of the babies, the last major ultrasound I had was right before I got admitted into the hospital. For three weeks, I had only left my room once and that was to go to around the corner to the operating room for my cerclage procedure. Now I was being whisked off in a wheelchair (not lying down!) to go all the way to the 1st floor where my doctor has his regular office. For weeks now I have been asking visitors to describe to me what the rest of the hallways, the nurses station, and the ever popular nourishment room looks like since I have become such a sheltered little creature.

I made sure that they rolled me slowly because I wanted to take everything in. Who knew that I would be fascinated by looking at a waiting room or being inside of an elevator?!? To add to my rising excitement, was the fact that I would get to see my babies again! It was nice to not have to wait to see my doctor because at my previous ultrasound appointments, he was so busy that sometimes our appointment set for 6:00pm would actually happen at 10:00pm. Luckily we could call in advance to get a better estimate so we were not sitting there for several hours but regardless, there was a lot of waiting involved. Of course, seeing a doctor in high demand is more reassuring than seeing someone who has a very empty appointment book, so it did not bother me too much. At least one perk of hospital bed rest gets me in to see my doctor immediately as well as the twins!

Thankfully everything looked good on the ultrasound so it was time for me to go back up to my room. I was able to convince my nurse to let me visit with one of my bed rest friends in their room before being locked down into my own. It is really amazing how therapeutic it is to talk to someone who is going through exactly what you are. To most people, bed rest looks like a mini vacation but it is a lot harder than it seems and takes a ton of discipline...especially to someone who is a busy body/mover and a shaker type of person (me). What I wouldn't give to just go outside and run a stupid errand! Again, this is very temporary and for such an amazing reason but hey...I do need to vent every once and awhile. I'm sure most people get tired of lying in bed when they are sick for a couple of days at home, but they get better and then life resumes. For me, my whole life is lying in bed.

*The song "Part of Your World" is from the 2008 Broadway musical The Little Mermaid, which of course was also an animated film that originally featured the song. In the show, Ariel is singing about feeling like she is missing out on a better life and wants to become human. I can truly relate to what she is going through because I really "want to be where the people are." When I was let out of my room for that brief period of time, it was like I grew legs and got to explore the great beyond...I even wanted to grab a fork and start brushing my hair! But seriously, you never have full appreciation for something until it's gone and I really do miss my old life. Maybe this is all happening for a reason so that I can have an easier transition into becoming a mom for two babies at once which will be a heck of a challenge and also take away many freedoms. I think I should start getting used to losing some independence and freedom because when the babies arrive, they will always come first, not me. I guess I have to stop being shellfish. :)

My view to the outside world

My view to the outside world

"Defying Gravity" - Wicked

After my first night at the hospital the initial shock faded and my brain was ready to process what was going on. I barely got any sleep and was constantly being woken up for medications, IV maintenance, and checking for contractions. In the quiet hours of the night when I was trying to fall back asleep, I started to think about what my late mother would say if she were there with me in the hospital. She would say "you are exactly where you are supposed to be" or "everything happens for a reason" or "focus on the things that are going right, not wrong." She truly believed in fate and it made me start thinking about how lucky and blessed I was. Thank God that my doctor caught this issue when he did! If he didn't or if I was on vacation with my ticking time bomb of a cervix, I would have been destroyed emotionally if I lost the twins. With my new positive focus I had to get on the phone and computer and inform my loved ones about what was going on because I was going to need all of the prayers and support I could get...especially since the one person who I needed most, was only able to be here with me spiritually and not physically. I loved being able to connect with a bunch of family and friends and it definitely made me feel less isolated because many people want to come visit. Now that I was getting on-board with the idea of what bed rest would entail, I began to learn about what my new daily routine would consist of. The first action plan for "Operation Keep Babies Inside" was to put me in the Trendelenburg position where my bed was kept at a slant (feet up, head down) to get the pressure off of the cervix. Since arriving at the hospital, I was being monitored for contractions and given drugs to stop them. The next big step was to have a surgical procedure called a cerclage in order to stitch the cervix closed throughout the duration of the pregnancy. I was scheduled for the procedure on Christmas Eve so I had a few days in between where I had to be extremely careful so that meant staying in bed constantly and only getting up to go to the bathroom. Everything else had to be done in bed (brushing my teeth, sponge baths, etc). It is really hard to give up my freedom but my eye was now on the prize...or prizes.

*For those of you living under a rock...the song "Defying Gravity" is from the 2003 Broadway musical Wickedand it bleeds girl power. Again, for the rock dwellers, the song comes at a pivotal moment in the show where Elphaba (the wicked witch) realizes that she has to go out on her own, become independent, and literally fly free. Ironically, the night that I found out I was being admitted to the hospital, I was actually wearing my green Wicked shirt which says "Defying Gravity." Little did I know that my twins and body were doing the exact opposite of that phrase which is what caused the whole problem in the first place! Now at the hospital, we are at war with gravity as we fight to keep the babies safe while I lie in bed in my slanted position getting a constant head rush. Other than the irony of the situation, this song spoke to me by telling me it was okay to give up the expectations and accept what was happening to me with vigor and focus. Even though my babies are being brought down by gravity, I refuse to be and I will do everything in my power to keep them alive. No wizard that there is or was is ever going to bring me down!

Moments before we got the bad news...ironically wearing my Defying Gravity shirt

Moments before we got the bad news...ironically wearing my Defying Gravity shirt