Sitting at home, waiting to see what happens with baby girl, wishing that we weren’t in such a state of hypervigilance and that the last few weeks of time with my older kids could be spent in a flurry of Valentine’s Day crafts, nesting, patience, and creativity. That may still be the case, I know–there are still many weeks left in this pregnancy and if things would just settle down, we could presumably resume our daily routine. But for right now, baby girl has 100% of my attention, 100% of the time, and this self-scrutiny is making me a bit crazy. If I was known to over-analyze decisions before, having days with nothing to do other than analyze every twinge and ache has made me just about crazy.
When we were in the hospital last week, there were clear goals to strive for, and Lord knows I love setting and achieving goals. First, to get two rounds of steroids into baby so that her lungs would be a little more developed in case she was delivered. Secondly, to stop me from dilating–which they did, although stopping the contractions has seemed to be a different story. Third, to stay in the hospital for 24 hours after the second steroid shot. Done, done, and done. Now what?
Since I’m not dilating, even with badass contractions, they sent me home. To say that I had a bit of a hysterical breakdown at that point would be putting it mildly–all the anxiety and emotion that I had been harboring because of my goals and determination to achieve them was let loose. Now I have nothing to strive for, other than keeping her in there as long as possible, but even that, I realized, is beyond my control. There are a couple things to watch out for, but other than having severe contractions 3 minutes apart, I should try to stay home. Try telling that to a woman who has just spent days with nothing to do other than look up preterm labor complications online, who has a history of having a high tolerance for dilation (I didn’t even feel Em’s labor, and I was 5 and a half centimeters when we had the c-section), and no control over the situation other than to just wait and see. I am terrible at being adrift–I need something to do, some way to help, and since JDubbs is the stellar husband that we’ve always known he was, I can’t even help out at home. He is in superdad mode: watching the kids, cleaning, getting them out of my hair so I can rest, staying home. I keep telling him he needs to speak up if needs some help, or if he’s overextended himself, but you know those heroic husbands who have goals of their own–provide and protect for his family, be strong—they hardly ever ask for help. So I watch my husband, too, to make sure he isn’t losing his mind any more than I am.
When they told me I could go home, I thought I would be so relieved. That means baby girl is healthy and things are getting back to normal. But I don’t think that was the case–I think basically they had done every intervention they could and were planning to do, and at this point, if she decides she wants to come out, she’s coming out. No more drastic measures, no bed rest, no monitoring. I was terrified to come home and do the wrong thing–stay too long at home if I was contracting, not staying home long enough. Doing something that could cause me to go back into labor, not being there enough for JDubbs and the kids. In some ways it was way easier to sit on my butt all day and night in the hospital, with monitors to tell me how strong and serious my contractions were, how baby’s heartbeat was doing, how my pulse was, my blood pressure. Someone to check to make sure I really am not dilating any more, that she is still safe and sound where she should be. Now all of those duties have been placed on my shoulders, and although I love having a job to do, the title of Accurately Know When The Hell To Go Back To The Hospital is a bit above my pay grade. Yes, I seem to have a good sense of when I should go in originally, but how about the fine line between suck it up at home and yeah, maybe you should come in hasn’t always been my forte. Hence a lot of anxiety and not so restful nights. Oh, and extra work for poor JDubbs.
So we’ll see. We’ll see if she can wait until or beyond 34 weeks on Monday, which is supposed to be a really great milestone, the difference between a moderately preterm baby and a late-term preterm baby, the difference between scary statistics and not-as-scary statistics. The difference between some time and a lot of time in the NICU. Every day she’s in my belly, every hour, is better and better in terms of her long-term health, and it’s up to me to help her stay put. No pressure or anything–no guilt, no anxiety, no fear that I’m not doing enough (or in this case as little as possible) so that she doesn’t come too early. No worries about JDubbs and how I know being a full-time, stay-at-home-dad was never high on his list of careers. I know my baby girls seem to have a mind of their own, but I will be so glad to have these twinges and pangs pass and have things get back to status quo, with her still inside my belly. We’ll just have to see what she has to say about that.