I was 27 weeks and 6 days. It was a regular summer day like any other in the Coronavirus era. The kids were outside splashing in the blow up pool. We’d eaten dinner outside and were getting ready to do some s’mores on the fire pit. I stood up from my chair and instantly my shorts were soaked. I turned around and checked the chair, thinking maybe the kids had splashed it and that’s why I was all wet.
Then it dawned on me…maybe my water broke?
This is my 6th baby. All 5 of my other kids were late…4 of them had to be induced. My pregnancy has been perfectly normal so far. No risk factors. I’d felt perfectly fine that day and gone about my normal activities. Maybe I just didn’t make it to the bathroom quick enough? That happens to women sometimes after 5 kids.
I went inside and called the doctor on call. She decided to have me come in and be checked to be safe. My husband loaded the kids up in the van and we headed to the hospital. I figured I’d just get checked out and head home, so I said a quick goodbye, put on my mask thanks to Coronavirus precautions, and headed in.
Much to my surprise (and the doctor’s), my water had indeed broken. It’s called PPROM (Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes), which occurs when your water breaks before 37 weeks. Apparently it happens in about 3% of pregnancies. They immediately gave me a steroid shot to help develop baby’s lungs and started me on IV antibiotics. Then I had to be transferred via ambulance to another hospital with a higher level NICU.
Once I was transferred, I was told that I would receive another steroid shot after 24 hours. I would also be on antibiotics for the first week, in the hopes that we could prolong the amount of time before I deliver. If I made it that far, then the long term goal would be to make it to 34 weeks.
I had no idea that it would be possible to continue my pregnancy after having my water break.
In my mind, I thought of all the movies where the woman’s water breaks and then she has the baby within a few hours. But apparently the pregnancy can continue as long as mom and baby remain healthy, show no signs of distress or infection, and labor doesn’t start on its own. Great news, right?!
Except all this monitoring and risk for distress or infection mean that I have to remain in the hospital until baby is born. Now, this would be challenging for any mom in normal times. But like with all things in life right now, Coronavirus has made things especially tough.
5 Ways Preterm Labor is Extra Challenging During a Pandemic
Immediately after I was transferred to the new hospital I had to undergo the test for COVD-19. This entails putting a very long swab all the way to the back of your sinuses, twisting it three times, and leaving it in for 5 seconds. Not pleasant or something I would like to repeat! Except. This week I was informed that there’s a new rule that all inpatients must be tested every 5 days. So I guess that is a way to mark my time!
Only my husband is allowed to visit. Once I moved to an antepartum room (one where you wait to have your baby), we were told he was only allowed to visit during the restricted hospital visiting hours (in the afternoon). Rules change daily, so I’m hoping they will amend that to allow more visiting hours. Children are not allowed in the hospital at all to visit. So we are limited to Facetime and phone calls. This is the hardest part of being here during Coronavirus.
I am allowed get out and walk in the hallway and outdoors. Any time I leave my room I am required to wear a mask. Twice a week I can also join a group recreation session with other moms who are also waiting to have their babies, which is my favorite part of being here, if you can have one. We meet in a conference room, sit apart from one another, and all wear masks while doing some sort of activity. Last week it was bracelet making.
Everyone who works in the hospital is required to wear a mask and a shield. The nurses, the doctors, the nursing assistants who come in to take my vitals, the workers who bring my meals, and the people who come to clean my room. They are all taking extra precautions against the Coronavirus. With visitor restrictions, it has become a highlight to get to talk with the people who come in, especially the ladies who come to clean my room.
With 5 kids at home, it is a strain for me to have to be away for the foreseeable future. Not only for myself, but for my family. So many of our friends have kindly offered to help in any way they can, but Coronavirus makes it challenging. Especially now that we know that no matter when our baby is born, we will have a preemie who will need to be in the NICU. We are having to be extra careful with social distancing…it’s much harder to send our kids to their friends’ houses for a break or to even have friends come babysit like we would under normal conditions.
Overall I try to remind myself that this too, shall pass. And continue to take it one day at a time!
Have you experienced preterm labor or PPROM? What advice can you share?
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