I woke with less than normal patience for Toby's screams this morning. I was tired, achy, and grumpy. While serving the kids' breakfast I was suddenly stabbed with a pain in my lower abdomen. I froze and waited for it to pass, ten seconds, twenty seconds, and finally the pain subsided. I tried to ignore the incident and went on tending to the kids. A persistent lower backache followed, then intermittent abdominal cramping. Both are classic signs of pre-term labor after 20 weeks, or what would be termed "late miscarriage" at this point since I am 16 weeks along.
I have a history of an "irritable uterus" and plenty of preterm contractions with all my other babies, but it had never happened this early in pregnancy, or felt quite this way. After 45 minutes, I could no longer ignore it. Thankfully, it was Matt's day off today, so I left the kids in his hands, drank a big glass of water, and laid down in bed. The cramping only grew worse and closer together. I could feel my uterus tightening under my hand, and I decided it was time to call the OB. The nurse promptly instructed me to head to the ER, and my mother-in-law drove over quickly to watch the kids.
I tried not to worry, knowing that I've rushed in to the hospital with preterm contractions before, and they have always died down uneventfully within a few hours. But the nagging thought that I hadn't felt this previously active baby move for two days now kept pushing its way forward in my mind. The contractions did slowly grow less intense and farther apart as Matt and I drove to the hospital. By the time the doctor saw me I was beginning to feel silly for being there, and I rehearsed a speech to myself about how I need to stop worrying about preterm contractions.
I held my breath a little as the ultrasound tech put the wand to my belly. We saw the baby's head, and then an abdomen, and then a beating heart, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. The tech went about measuring various body parts, but when I expressed concern that the baby wasn't moving, he jiggled my belly with the wand, and the baby startled and kicked. Feeling much relieved, I asked about the kidneys, but the tech replied that it was still too early to see them. The thought occurred to me then that the gender can sometimes be seen by 16 weeks, so I cautiously asked the tech if he could show us the gender. He obliged, and Matt and I had no trouble at all discerning that we indeed had a second son.
It was a wonderful moment, to go from such concern, to such joy in a matter of minutes. After another hour of waiting the doctor informed me that the baby was fine, but that a swab of my cervix had indicated there was a bacterial infection, and that that was likely what had caused my pain and cramping. These infections can cause late miscarriage, preterm labor, or preterm rupture of the membranes if left untreated, so I left with a prescription for antibiotics and the reassurance that I had made the right decision to seek treatment this morning.
The girls were thrilled with the announcement that another boy was joining our family. I smiled as I watched Toby straining to pick Hannah up tonight. "Oh! So high! So heavy!" he grunted as he attempted to carry her around the living room. It is good to know that boy has a brother on the way. I am still tired and a little crampy, but I don't know that I could feel more blessed.