I experienced a silent placental abruption when I was 33 weeks pregnant with my daughter.
In case you are wondering what that is, I’ll explain: a placental abruption occurs when the placenta (the lifeline delivering blood, oxygen and nutrients to our baby) peels away from the uterus. It deprives the fetus of oxygen and causes the mother to hemorrhage internally.
One week before I had our daughter via emergency c-section at 33 weeks.
The most common symptoms of placental abruption are bleeding and abdominal pain. Because I had neither symptom it was considered a silent placental abruption. It was especially unusual in my situation because I had no risk factors.
I got the flu about 5 days before my silent placental abruption was discovered.
As a nurse I knew that just having a cold or flu generally doesn’t hurt an unborn baby and may even give her a few extra antibodies. I decided the best thing to do was rest and drink lots of fluids.
But to my surprise, two days later I wasn’t feeling better and had worsening fatigue, dizziness, a horrible sore throat, and a headache.
I called the OB floor at our hospital and was directed to an advice nurse.
After a 30 minute phone interview and a detailed discussion about my symptoms I was instructed to stay home. I just had the flu, she said. I should rest and drink lots of fluids. So I took the advice and tried to rest as much as I could.
Fast forward two more days and my dizziness and symptoms were only getting worse. I was even having difficulty walking from one side of the house to the other. So again, I called the OB unit at my hospital because I thought for sure they would want me to come in.
I spoke with both the on-call OBGYN on the unit and another advice nurse. After another detailed discussion about my symptoms I was again instructed to stay home. “Please do not come to the hospital,” the doctor stated clearly. “There is nothing we can do for you.”
I tried to explain the best I could that I was extremely weak and short of breath when walking more then 20 feet. I didn’t have a fever, but I had never felt more sick in my life. They told me I just had the flu and needed to “ride it out.”
So I laid in my bed and cried for 30 minutes because every inch of my body was hurting so much that I could barely stand it anymore. I had a hard time catching my breath.
(Later we found out that the reason I felt so horrible was that my hemoglobin was extraordinarily low due to the silent placental abruption already having started. My hemoglobin (the oxygen carrying component of a blood cell) at that time was 6 grams per deciliter. The normal level is 12.0 to 15.5 grams.)
I laid down for an hour and started doing “kick counts.”
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that you time how long it takes you to feel 10 kicks, flutters, swishes, or rolls. Ideally, you want to feel at least 10 movements within 2 hours. Usually a mom can feel 10 movements in less time than that.
But I only felt 4 or 5 movements in that hour period. But my body was so sick and achy that I wasn’t sure exactly what I was feeling, so I drank two large glasses of orange juice and ate a small bag of gummy Lifesavers. I was determined to sugar-shock my baby into giving me more fetal movements.
I began counting kicks for a second hour. But after about 40 minutes I still only counted about 3-4 pretty weak kicks. At that point I decided I wanted to see a doctor, even if they thought I was overreacting.
I called my husband and asked him to come home and drive me to the hospital.
When we arrived at the labor and delivery unit I was immediately given a mask and asked why I came to the hospital after I was specifically told not to. I was once again reminded that I was bringing my flu into the hospital and putting patients at risk for infection. They were clearly frustrated with me by the tone of their voices. I kept thinking “am I not a patient too?”
I explained my symptoms once again and told them that I thought the baby should be kicking more. They put me in a room and we waited for the on-call OBGYN.
When she arrived she did an ultrasound. I could tell by the look on her face that something was very wrong. She stated very clearly that she was extremely concerned about our baby’s safety. This is what she told us:
I had almost no amniotic fluid.
The little amount of amniotic fluid that was there was the wrong color and she couldn’t explain why.
Our baby’s fetal heart rate was “not reassuring” which is another way of saying that our baby was alive but in distress.
It was likely I would have an emergency C-section imminently.
She didn’t know at that time I was actually having a silent placental abruption. Apparently it is very hard to diagnose on ultrasound.
(We later found out that the amniotic fluid was showing as the wrong color because it was actually blood, not amniotic fluid. I had already been bleeding into my uterus and our daughter had been swallowing blood. After the C-section they pumped 15 cc’s of blood out of our daughter’s stomach and she pooped blood for the next few days.)
A team of preemie doctors came in to prepare us.
The preemie doctors explained in detail what would most likely happen to our daughter since she was coming out 7 weeks early. They said it was likely that our daughter would not be able to breathe on her own and that she would need to be intubated (using a machine that breathes for her). In the case that I didn’t hear her cry after delivery, they wanted to make sure I was prepared for that possibility.
We were also told to prepare for 30 days in the NICU, which was the average length of stay for a “33 weeker.” They initially wanted to try delaying a c-section for 48 hours so they could give me steroids to help develop our baby’s lungs develop faster. But we weren’t able to wait that long.
Within a few hours things got much worse.
Soon, I started hemorrhaging and was having what felt like one long contraction that wouldn’t stop.
Our OB determined that I was not actually in labor as my cervix was completely closed. She thought it was best to take the baby out right then because something was very wrong, but she didn’t know exactly what yet. I was wheeled across the hall for the emergency C-section.
Our daughter, Zoe Grace, was born.
Zoe came out at 4 pounds, 3 ounces. After being suctioned, she let out a tiny little cry that I will never forget. It was the best and most beautiful sound I had ever heard in my life.
The doctor was able to confirm during the c-section that I had a placental abruption. My placenta was 30% detached from my uterus.
The next day our neonatologist told us that Zoe had no signs of brain damage and we had a “very healthy baby considering the circumstances.” He then let me know bluntly, and in no censored way that “babies born under my circumstances usually don’t survive and the mothers often don’t do that well either.” He basically told me he couldn’t believe that she had no brain damage.
We were so grateful for the excellent care she received in the NICU.
We were so grateful for the excellent care Zoe got in the NICU.
Admittedly, I was shocked when I saw her for the first time. She was in an incubator hooked up to so many IV’s and tubes. And she was so very tiny.
For the first 48 hours I was not allowed to hold her. That was so hard for me! But, I could put my hands in the incubator and place one hand on the top of her head and one on her feet. I remember telling her how proud we were of her. She was a tough little gal right from the start. “Tiny but mighty” was what the doctor said. What a wonderful feeling it was to finally be able to finally hold her on her third day of life.
Zoe had an oral-gastric feeding tube for nutrition since she was unable to eat for the first 7 days on her own. I would pump breast milk and give it to the nurses so they could feed her through her OG tube.
She was also receiving TPN (IV nutrition) and lipids (fats) through 2 IV lines. That was probably the most difficult part to watch. Preemie veins are so tiny that it would often take an hour of poking to get the IV in. And they didn’t last very long so she was constantly being stuck with needles.
She was on oxygen and a cpap machine for the first week to help her continue breathing on her own. She was also kept under a bilirubin light for 5 days to treat her jaundice.
2nd week in the NICU. Zoe earned the nickname “tiny but mighty.”
Zoe got a little stronger every day.
Our “tiny but mighty” preemie started doing more on her own, like eating through a preemie nipple and no longer needing the IV nutrition.
We were shocked on our 9th day in the NICU when we were informed that Zoe would be discharged the next day. I knew she was doing well, but we were told that due to her stage of prematurity that she would stay for at least a month. She was so tiny I couldn’t believe they were letting us take her home.
My experience taught me a few things…
Mothers need to trust their instincts. We know much more then we give ourselves credit for.
Kick counts are very important after 28 weeks gestation. If you feel less than the normal amount of kicks then you should see your OBGYN immediately.
Having a healthy baby is a gift. Not everyone gets to have that.
I can’t imagine what my life would be like now if I hadn’t gone into the hospital that evening, especially after being told not to by the staff. My life would have been turned up-side-down. I am so glad that I trusted my instincts that night!
I am so blessed that I get to be a mom.
Not everyone gets to have healthy baby, or a baby at all for that matter. Whenever I find myself getting frustrated with the difficulties that come with parenthood, I think about how close we were to not getting to have Zoe at all. That puts it all into perspective for me.
Our baby Zoe is turned 3 years old on Halloween. She loves Elmo so she decided to choose Elmo as her Halloween costume. In honor of her birthday our family dressed up as the whole Sesame Street gang. My husband was Cookie Monster, I was Big Bird, and our 9-month-old son, Oliver, was Ernie. It was a wonderful celebration that I especially treasured because I know just how lucky I am to have two “tiny but mighty” kiddos.
As uncomfortable and large as I am right now, I am so lucky to be full term.
I’m actually even grateful for my current state of enormity and girth. Wow, I can’t believe I wrote that! That sounds so odd coming out of my head, but I’ve had a lot of time to think about it lately. And there are a lot of reasons to be so joyous and excited about it (besides the obvious excitement that comes with having a baby).
Some moms don’t get the opportunity to go full term.
It may not seem so lucky at the time but moms are lucky to be full term when they are pregnant.ome moms don’t get the opportunity to go full term.
Some moms don’t get the opportunity to carry a child for the full nine months. As the mother of a premature baby born at 33 weeks, I had a few moms mention that I was actually lucky to not have to deal with the hugeness that comes with carrying full term.
But the alternative is having an infant with potentially significant medical issues and spending weeks or even months in the NICU. Or even worse. The safest option for the baby is always the best one. From experience I can tell you that it sucks to be discharged from the hospital without your baby.
We are very lucky that our sweet little preemie was born so healthy and has no obvious residual effects from being born early. Not every mom is so lucky.
I get to have the whole experience of a full term pregnancy.
As I just mentioned, our daughter was born early (due to a spontaneous placental abruption at 33 weeks). After she was born I remember feeling like I wasn’t ready to not be pregnant anymore. I felt like i had somehow “missed out” on the full pregnancy experience. I thought other moms were so lucky to be full term and I still wanted to be pregnant.
Because of my past experience, I have been relishing In these last few weeks of my full term pregnancy. I am enjoying both the good and uncomfortable parts because this experience is so temporary.
Some women don’t get the opportunity to have children.
There was a time almost a decade ago when my husband and I discussed the possibility of not wanting to have children. We were much younger and our interests included our social life, travel, and pretty much anything that didn’t have to do with caring for anyone but ourselves.
I am lucky to be full term.
Fast forward many years and our priorities have completely changed. When we decided to start trying to have children we are very lucky that we were able to.
I know parents who wanted to have their own children but couldn’t, and it was devastating for them. I also know several women who have had to go through in vitro fertilization, which is not only extraordinarily expensive but requires months of doctors appointments, medications, and often repeated disappointments. Sadly, even after all that it doesn’t always work.
There is something really fun about being super pregnant.
Don’t get me wrong. I miss my wine. But I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I love it when people ask me questions about being pregnant. It is fun for me to talk about. The more I talk about the joys of pregnancy the more I realize how I am so lucky to be full term right now.
Even strangers stop me on the street to ask questions and the questions never get old. I happily tell people how far along I am, that I am having a boy, that it is my second child, and I couldn’t be more excited!
It’s better than being in the first trimester again.
I felt horrible during the first trimester. I was nauseous and felt hung over for at least two months. Work was difficult, especially since I as working and training as an emergency room nurse. Worst of all, it was early in the pregnancy so I couldn’t tell anyone that I was pregnant. I’m sure my co-workers thought it was weird that I was constantly snaking on a saltine.
At least when you are double your size with a huge baby bump people automatically know that you are most likely pretty uncomfortable. I often had people offer up their chairs so I could sit or ask if they could help me with anything. While it was usually unnecessary, their gestures are very kind and appreciated.
Being full term (and huge) is something I can bond with other moms about.
At nine months pregnant, it’s difficult to explain how enormous one feels to someone who has not experienced it. But other moms who have been in the same situation totally get it. Especially my need to continue nesting even 3 days before I have this baby!
I have even made friends with people whom I I’ve worked with for several years but never had a conversation with. It gives me an automatic connection with a lot of other women who I never may have spoken with.
Full-term babies have less complications and are generally healthier at birth.
This one is that obvious best reason that I am so lucky to have a full term pregnancy. I can feel our son moving around so much. It’s mostly because he is so big, and that makes me feel relieved since our daughter was born at 4 lbs. 3 oz. I am really excited to have a baby who will be at least in the 7 pound range. He will be born at the right time with the least amount of potential complications due to the fact that I am full term.
I have 3 more days until our son is here!
I am so excited to count all his fingers and toes and cuddle him silly. However, having a newborn in the house is going to be an adjustment and I know I won’t be getting any sleep for a while. So for the next three days I am going to just enjoy every minute of my full term largeness. This will be the only time in my life where I can be proud to be almost 30 pounds heavier and not feel guilty about it.
I am in my last week of pregnancy and I am ready for this baby to get here.
Physically, I’m feeling OK under the circumstances. I’m huge and tired. I also have a baby foot constantly kicking into my right rib cage most of the day. But I’m still able to take care of our daughter and all of the things I need to at home, despite some of the physical discomfort.
This is the last week for my daughter to be an only child.
I am relishing in spending quality time with our daughter as I know that things will be a little different for her with a new infant in the house. It makes me a little sad for a second but then I remind myself of what a great big sister she is going to be and how our son will be so lucky to be able to learn from her. They will be good for each other and I am excited to watch them grow and play with one another.
For the last week I have been spending a little extra snuggle time with her before nap and bedtime. We have a ritual of things we do before I put her down: she gets all of her blankets out of the drawer, one by one, and lays them on me. Then she climbs up on my lap and we read a few books, followed by about ten minutes of snuggle time with the lights off. That might seem like a lot but I don’t know how long I will be able to spend with her after the baby is born, so I am taking advantage of it now.
Feeling slightly foggier then normal has become my new normal.
But pregnancy is on the forefront of my brain at this time, especially since I am in my last week of pregnancy. And I’m having a hard time thinking about much else at this time. So for now I guess I just have to go with it. Eventually I will have the time and mental ability to write about a few other things.
My last week of pregnancy has started off on a productive foot.
Yesterday my husband and I finally bit the bullet and bought a new car. We decided on the Subaru Forester due to the excellent safety ratings. I love my Prius, but having two baby seats plus all the gear in the back was just not going to fit. This afternoon we installed our toddler and newborn car seats into the forester. Its still pretty tight but it works and I love the car. I feel a lot safer since it is a lot bigger too.
We also went through the garage and brought all the 1st year baby stuff that we needed for our daughter back into the house: bottles, breast pumps, newborn sleepers, floor mat, bassinet. I washed, cleaned and organized for most of the day.
I have not packed a hospital bag yet.
This may sound surprising coming from a registered nurse during her official last week of pregnancy. However, my first pregnancy I had no hospital bag and everything went just fine In fact, I realized that there was very little I actually needed from home.
Therefore my list of things to bring is pretty short: picture ID, clothes to wear home from the hospital (for me and baby), a few toiletries, cell phone and charger, earplugs and eye mask (to help with the little bit of sleeping I will actually get).
This was the most productive New Years Day I have ever had.
Normally, New Years Day has always consisted of some sort of recovery from an event from the night before. My husband and I are normally much more social especially for big holidays. But as we are expecting to have a baby pretty much at any time we decided to stay in. We were in bed by 10:30pm and I am happy we were since we accomplished a lot today.
2018 is going to start off big for us, that is for sure!
I will be heading back to the hospital in a few days and I am in the process of packing my minimalist hospital bag for our (hopefully) three day stay. I have a unique view point on the subject of what mom’s really need to pack in their hospital bags 2 reasons:
I have spent a lot of time working on a large postpartum unit with families after their deliveries.
I didn’t have anything with me except for my purse when I was admitted to the hospital to have my daughter 2 years ago.
I am a registered nurse who has spent a whole lot of time at the hospital.
Many moms bring way too much stuff into the hospital.
Way back in nursing school I was an assistant nurse and I spent a lot of time working on the postpartum unit at our hospital. I loved the experience! Who wouldn’t love being around newborn babies all day long?
But I was always shocked at the ginormous amount of stuff some families would bring in with them prior to their deliveries! Sometimes it felt like they were planning to move into the hospital for weeks.
They brought bags full of stuff: sets of clothing (for mom and baby), multiple different electronics, receiving blankets, pacifiers, robes, sets of shoes, tons of toiletries, diapers, a personalized delivery gown (or even 2!), baby toys, boppy pillows, bed pillows, blankets, snacks and drinks. The lists could go on and on.
It looked like some moms packed every item they received from their baby showers (with the exception of the crib!). They had food and drinks to last weeks. You name it, I probably saw it in someone’s room.
Then when they were discharged (usually 2 days later) the husband or partner would have to make a dozen trips to the car, often with an assistant nurse to help bring all this stuff they never even needed in the first place.
There is always a lot of talk among moms-to-be about what they should pack for their hospital deliveries.
One bag is usually all you need to deliver a baby at the hospital.
In fact I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter feeling a little stressed out about it. Everyone I talked to had a different set of things that I needed. And the lists were so long!
The planner in me even started researching on Pinterest (don’t go looking there, please). There are endless different “hospital bag checklist essentials for the Mom-to-be” lists. Even I found myself overwhelmed by what I actually needed to pack. I am not joking when I say some of these lists covered an entire page in 12 point font!
Do I really need my own embroidered birthing gown? Breastfeeding shirts? My computer? Outfits for each day? Snacks and drinks? (doesn’t the hospital serve food?)
My biggest question of all: If I am only going to be there for a couple days, why on earth did I need so much stuff?
Then I ended up delivering our daughter at hospital early without a bag at all!
I had nothing with me except my purse when I delivered my daughter (not on purpose, I had an emergency c-section at 33 weeks). And you know what? It was completely fine. The hospital had everything I really needed. There wasn’t a need for me to pack a single thing!
Now that I am going back into the hospital soon to deliver our son I became inspired to write a new kind of list called:
What You Don’t Need To Pack For The Hospital:
Your computer: you will be so tired or busy bonding with the baby that you won’t have time to use it.
Pre-pregnancy clothes: sorry, but they won’t fit yet anyway.
Your pillow: the hospital has plenty. And you will likely forget it anyway.
Breast pump, nursing pads: in California, the hospital will give you a breast pump to take home with you (I’m not sure about the rules in other states). Also, you will have several visits from a breast feeding consultant who will supply you with any breast feeding items you need.
Pajamas/ birthing gown: if you really want to bring these then fine. But you don’t need them. They will likely end up getting yucky after birth so just beware.
Underwear/ socks: you will be wearing cotton postpartum panties and the hospital has no-skid socks. Again, these things get yucky, you should just use the hospital stuff.
Diapers, blankets and baby clothes (except for what you plan to bring the baby home in).
What you actually should bring (otherwise known as “My Minimalist Hospital Bag”):
Photo id, insurance info
Cell phone and charger
Toiletries: the hospital has toothbrushes, paste, combs, soap, shampoo and conditioner, razors, and shaving cream. They may not be the most luxurious brand, however, they would do the trick if you didn’t bring any of these things. It may be nice to have your own preferred things.
Birth plan: if you have one
Ear plugs and eye mask: the computer lights are bright and hospitals can be loud.
A maternity bra/ breastfeeding bra
Loose going home clothes: or you could wear the same thing you wore into the hospital if you want. It unfortunately will still fit so soon after delivery.
Makeup / Blow dryer (again, not necessary, but would be nice especially if you plan on having photos done before leaving the hospital).
As I mentioned, you still don’t really need all this stuff. But some of it is just nice to have with you for comfort.
When people ask me what was most important to me during my stay, it is this: an eye mask and ear plugs. Those were the only things I had that I realized I could not have done without during my stay. Many hospitals even have those too if you forget to bring them.
The most important cargo of all!
car seat (installed in car): this is non-negotiable, legally you cannot drive the baby home without it.
coming home outfit: the baby does not need clothes from home during their stay in the hospital.
The hospital already has diapers, formula, diaper creams, blankets, and every other item a baby would need while they are still admitted.
I want my time at the hospital to be about bonding with our son.
And maybe getting a teeny tiny bit of sleep too before bringing him home.
My husband will have to make a few trips home to bring our daughter in so if I happen to forget something he can always bring it then.
So there you have it: my own personal minimalist hospital bag list! I’ll be back home later next week with our son so I’ll let you know if there was anything I forget that I really missed having with me.
Wish me luck. I’m having our son in less then 2 days!
I am 5 weeks away from having our baby boy! Woo hoo! Unfortunately though, that doesn’t leave me with a ton of time to finish up my final nesting goals. So I have some work to do!
Several weeks ago I was in full blown nesting mode and I wrote a blog about it. Wow, was that a great feeling at the time! By if I’m being honest, I’m starting to lose steam. I’m getting a lot more tired and bigger all around, both of which make it harder to tackle my nesting goals.
I can’t wait to have another set of super tiny feet in our home again.
It also hasn’t helped that my toddler recently shared her cold with me and I have been fighting it over the last week-and-a-half. We have been working on her sharing skills lately, but this was not what I had in mind!
In light of all this, I have created a “nesting goals plan of attack” for the next couple of weeks:
#1. The kitchen
I will not be taken over by baby dishware, breast pump parts, and tiny silverware in my kitchen! Therefore, I will be organizing the following:
Assign a space in the kitchen for baby items and breast pump cleaning supplies
Dedicate 1 cabinet to baby kitchen supplies
That way they don’t end up floating all over the kitchen and eventually end up lost.
Same for baby food
Assign a cupboard to store baby food and formula.
Baby dish rack/cleaning area
After cleaning I want to let babies bottles air dry in their own special place.
Purge old kitchen and pantry stuff
Get rid of old food and expired spices, ect..
Organize the adult food it the pantry.
Purge any old dishware or appliances that we haven’t used in years and are just taking up space.
#2. The baby’s closet and room
I will have a toddler and a newborn sharing a closet so I have divided their space right down the middle: newborn boy on left and toddler girl on right.
Organize the baby’s clothes into size and season
After baby comes home I know I will be way too tired to sift through onsies to find the right sizes.
Hang as much clothing as possible
I have found that it is so much easier and more organized to keep my kid’s stuff hanging up in the closet.
Things tend to get lost in the bottom of bins and backs of drawers. Hanging clothes on hangers makes them easier to see and keeps them from getting wrinkled.
Assign drawers or use tools to organize socks, headbands, hats, mittens, and other tiny accessories in place.
#3. Purge stuff and deep clean
De-clutering is great. It is so much easier to keep an organized house when you dont have a bunch of extra stuff you don’t need or use all over the house. My philosophy is that if it’s not serving a purpose or bringing me joy in some way then it’s got to go. Physical clutter just makes things more stressful because it makes the house messier and harder to keep picked up.
Stuff to organize and purge
Go through bathrooms, kitchen, toy stations, bedrooms and even garage.
Donate old toys that are no longer being used.
Donate our daughters clothes that she has grown out of to other friends having little girls.
Anything that doesn’t have a purpose and we haven’t used in two years needs to be donated to someone who will use it.
Deep clean the kitchen
Get rid of old food and expired spices.
Organize the pantry.
Hire a house cleaner
I really want to have the bathrooms cleaned really well, specifically the bathtubs.
#4. Other random stuff
Make and freeze foods
Prepare and freeze frozen lasagnas and crock pot cooker ingredients.
Note: Cooking is not my thing. We will see how successful I really am at this task. My idea of cooking has always been to throw a bunch of things in a bowl and mix it together. That is why I make a lot of salads and smoothies in my nutri bullet. However, I don’t want to have to keep running off to the store with two tiny humans in tow. I’ll give it my best.
Big items I still need for the new baby
a double stroller
My most important final nesting goal is to spend as much one-on -one time with this adorable unicorn as possible.
a second sound machine
a second video camera for viewing baby in crib.
That’s it! Phew, I’m getting tired just looking at all these nesting goals. We will see how much of this I can actually get done in the next five weeks. I need to keep in mind that I still have a two-year-old to care for and I am scheduled to work until 6 days before I give birth. So, it is probably a good idea for me to keep my expectations within a reasonable range.
There is a saying: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll end up among the stars.” (I work better with positive motivation if you can’t tell already by my other posts). In other words, I can just do the best I can and surely I will get a large chuck of this done in time.