Preterm Labor at 24 Weeks

Like I’ve said in previous posts, life is unpredictable. I never would have expected to go from having a seemingly normal, complication-free pregnancy at 20 weeks to threatened pre-term labor from 23 weeks onward. Its no fun. What has happened since my last post?

Preterm Labor Blog

I went to see my regular OB the day after we got back from California. The appointment was uneventful. She checked my cervix and felt it was unchanged from the previous exam’s report. She told me to follow up with a high risk OB (perinatologist), and this was scheduled for 5 days later. I felt fine in the days between appointments. My contractions were persistent, but not painful. I relaxed for a few days and eventually went back to work.

Unfortunately, the perinatologist appointment did not go as expected, to say the least. We knew my cervix was going to be measured again with a transvaginal ultrasound. That’s how the appointment started. Ben and I watched the monitor as the ultrasound tech took some measurements of my cervix. The measurements were around 0.5cm (previously 1.6cm and >2.5cm is considered “normal”). The tech didn’t speak with us during the exam. After she finished she looked a bit flustered and told me to wait there (on my back with my feet in stirrups like a pelvic exam). “The doctor will probably want to take a look.” She rushed from the room without any further explanation. Not comforting. About fifteen minutes later the perinatologist came in. He explained that my cervix was short and funneled, and he needed to do a cervical check to assess if it was dilated. So he did. And it was, but just a little, but with “bulging membranes.” He told us that we should go home to grab some essentials and drive over to the Mother & Baby Center for steroid shots to help the baby’s lungs mature in case I deliver early (50% chance of delivery before 28 weeks, he told us). The admission would be three days long due to the spacing of the steroid shots. After that I could go home.

We did as instructed. When we arrived at the hospital we were admitted fairly quickly. And then all sorts of things started to happen. I received the first steroid shot, yes. But then I was hooked up to numerous monitors,  IV’s were placed, magnesium and IV fluids were started and I was given numerous oral medications. We had no idea what was happening. And I was panicking. Did they think I was in labor?

preterm labor 24 weeks

The coming days were no better. On top of the medications making me feel absolutely awful, I had continued anxiety about the entire situation. It remained difficult to put together what was happening. Some providers made me believe delivery was imminent, and others emphasized that there is just no way to predict delivery. I know now that I was given medications to minimize contractions to halt potential labor and “buy time” for steroid administration. They didn’t know at the time whether my contractions would lead to active labor. Thankfully, they didn’t.

After 4 days in the hospital I was finally discharged (with modified bedrest precautions). I’ve been home for almost a week now and will be 26 weeks pregnant tomorrow. I know that, although high risk for preterm delivery, its impossible to know whether I’ll go into labor today or at, say, 34 weeks. My next big milestone is 28 weeks, but each day that goes by is a small victory.  This isn’t something I planned on blogging about, but I think its important to share.