You see the angel-faced, pigtailed, rosy-lipped, chubby-cheeked, cherub giggling in the restaurant booth next to you. You turn to your significant other, “Let’s get one!”
You ditch the birth control. You get down to business (and other things <wink wink>). And by magic, medicine or the miracle of science you suddenly find out you are with child.
Pregnant. Before you start barfing your brains out or making a mad dash to the mall for new pants, before you start guessing genders and arguing about names (and the potentially horrible nicknames), you bask in the ignorant glow of impending parenthood.
You rub your tummy. You smile. You envision the next nine months as you prepare for your life to change forever.
And then your doctor tells you, “I need to you go straight up to Labor and Delivery. There may be a problem.”
Your world turns upside down. You realize you won’t have 40 weeks traditional gestation to bask in a motherly glow. You’ll be stuck in a bed, wondering if every twitch, twinge or twang is reason to rush to the emergency room.
- More than five contractions or cramps in an hour. (You get a bonus contraction if you’re having multiples.)
- Bleeding that looks suspiciously like getting your period. (Heavy gushing is obviously bad. But I made several emergency room visits for light spotting as well.)
- Pain during urination. This could indicate the potential presence of a urinary tract, bladder or kidney infection. (Internal infection is enemy No. 1 in pregnancy.)
- Sudden gush of clear, watery fluid from your vagina. (Your water just broke. GET THEE TO A HOSPITAL!)
- Low, dull backache. (Not to be confused with the typical lumbar pain or stretched ligaments. Hey, let’s not make this easy now.)
- Intense pelvic pressure. (Yes, this differs from the intense stretching tummy in front of you.)
- A general gut feeling of ickyness that something is wrong. Trust me, trust yourself.
When you call the advice nurse, she’ll tell you to drink a lot of water. When you’re on hospital lockdown, they’ll tell you to drink lots of water – oh but don’t get up to go to the bathroom too much. Remain bedridden, on your left side, with your legs and hips elevated above your head. (P.S. Bed rest will tend to cause your muscles to lose tone and make some of your joints ache. This is not the same as the aforementioned pre-term labor symptoms.)
Premature birth isn’t always preventable. But paying attention to the signs and symptoms give your baby the best possible chance if he or she is a wee bit too eager to start life.
I’m not going to lie. My pregnancy sucked. (What little there was of it.) Instead of having one baby after nine months, I had two after six. I’m efficient like that. Granted, my story of prematurity makes for some great blogable material!
So what’s my point?
Pay attention. Be paranoid. Trust yourself. And remember that November is Prematurity Awareness Month – supporting the quest for a day when no baby will be born too soon.