Two days before I went into labor I had passed my glucose tolerance test and just gotten a giddy report from my doctor about how the babies were fantastic! He was very hopeful that I would make it to 30 weeks with no problem. I didn’t have any symptoms of labor, I was still exercising (swimming and walking) and overall I just felt huge, but fine.
Our baby shower was amazing and people were extremely generous. We had some items to still purchase with gift cards so on Friday, September 29th, Brian and I decided that we should take the opportunity to get those errands out of the way since he was off work. There is a nice bagel shop in Lake Orion that we stopped at and this is where I should’ve said, “let’s just go home.” I was leaned on the counter, tons of pressure in my pelvis, and generally in pain. The pain lasted for awhile, not a normal contraction that released, so I figured this was all because I had two babies that were head down and just giving me some trouble.
We continued to our first destination and the same feeling persisted. I had this crazy amount of pressure that I only attributed to my babies being low. It didn’t even cross my mind that this could be preterm labor. Maybe I should’ve stop looking at soaps and headed to the hospital? Brian and I hit two more stops before our errands were finished for the day. The same feeling continued, then started to dissipate, came back again, then not so much…
At home, around 10pm, I couldn’t get comfortable on the couch. The same feeling of pressure was happening but even stronger at this point. I hadn’t been able to get comfortable on our couch for a few weeks, so I opted to just go to bed early and try to sleep it off. I woke up at 230am from extreme pain. I have a very high pain tolerance, so for me to say that my pain was a 4 approaching a 5 is a lot. I couldn’t talk when the pain started, I was breathing in and out steadily to try and ride out the pain, and then it would go away…and come back 3 minutes later. This is when I finally realized I was having real contractions 3 minutes apart and I needed to get my ass to the hospital. I woke Brian up, told him we needed to go immediately, and we left. No bag, no toothbrush, no idea how crazy our lives were about to become.
On the way to the hospital my contractions were shortening- 3 minutes apart, 2.5 minutes apart, 2 minutes apart. Each one more painful than the last and I just had to breath best as I could. People were waiting for us when we arrived with a pink wheelchair and a pep in their step because they knew I had triplets and I was only 26 weeks.
I had a very high risk pregnancy, so there were only two doctors that I would see and they were both high risk, emergency MFM doctors and surgeons. I did not know that one of my doctors was in Atlanta, the one that we planned on doing the surgery from the start. This is just one little piece of drama that happened. Luckily, despite a delayed flight out of ATL, he made it before the surgery the next day.
Nurses, residents, nursing assistants, every single person was in my room checking me for something. First, they hooked me up to three heart rate monitors and a contraction monitor to check that the babies were okay and that I was indeed having contractions. The heart rate monitors were a joke. My belly was so round and they had to sit in such weird positions that they really never read properly. The baby would move and the nurse would come back to reposition them every 5 minutes. It turned into the nurse having to stay in my room the entire time. The nurse that stayed with us for 5 hours and didn’t shut up the entire time, “Stinker mcStink face is being naughty”, “Princess Petunia won’t stay put”, “Naughty McNauterson…”, you get the idea…
It was determined that I was indeed having strong contractions every 2 minutes. They needed to start medications to stop/ease those contractions. The resident needed to do a pelvic exam and noted that I was 4cm dilated with an amniotic sac present and my cerclage (stitch holding my cervix together), was behind the bag and failing. So, they couldn’t cut the stitch because they could rupture the bag. The probability of me giving birth to my babies went from maybe to 100% because of that exam. At the very least, I was going to be in the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy. Medications were started, a catheter was inserted (extremely painful…), I wasn’t able to eat or drink anything, I was given a steroid shot, and the hope was that all of this would slow those contractions down and stop my cervix from dilating so the babies could stay in longer.
Finally, one of my doctors showed up to talk with me about what was happening. Up to this point, I had been working with residents and they were relaying information to the doctor and then they’d decide on the best course of action. I didn’t know that the doctor I was supposed to have present was still stuck in ATL and this doctor came to the hospital from his son’s soccer game. He sat with us for a long time and described the most probable course of action. He wanted me to last 12 hours after the first steroid shot so that I could get a second steroid shot to help the babies’ lungs develop. However, if I continued to dilate and my son continued to present himself they’d say screw the shot and take me into surgery. A neonatologist came and grabbed Brian to give him a tour of the NICU and to show him what a premature baby would look like at about 26 weeks gestation. I was checked again and while the contractions had slowed to every 7 minutes, I had continued to dilated to 5-6cm. The room was prepped for a vaginal delivery of a preemie because Cameron was already in the birth canal, but his bag hadn’t broken yet. The doctors were nervous I’d have to do a vaginal and emergency c-section.
My second doctor, the one stuck in ATL, came directly to the hospital from the airport. He released the first doctor and went over all of the labs, medications, symptoms, etc. with Brian and myself. At this point, we were given a choice. The second steroid shot had been administered, so, we could either just play things by ear and see how they go. Maybe I’d last 1-2 days before I would deliver. Or, we could schedule the c-section for that evening, knowing that we had the entire surgical team and neonatal teams ready to receive and take care of the babies. We opted to have the most controlled environment and schedule the c-section. Wanting to let the steroid take effect, the doctor gave us about an hour and a half before he would check my cervix again. When he came back, I was dilated to a 7, and he could feel my sons head. This scheduled c-section became an emergency c-section and I was prepped and wheeled out of the room within 20 minutes.
This is where things went crazy. If you’re weak stomached, you might just want to skip this part and know that in the end, I’m okay and my babies were born.
I went into the OR and was given a spinal, then laid down on the table. There were over 20 people in that room- a team for each baby and a team for me. I stopped counting. Once I was numbed up and strapped down, they brought Brian into the room to sit and hold my hand. The doctor then used a tool, hemostat I believe, to pinch around my belly and test that I was numb. I said ouch and everyone was convinced that I was experiencing pressure, not pain. Like I said before, I have a high pain tolerance, so it’s hard for me to distinguish if this was pain or pressure. Apparently my blood pressure was tanking so they needed to start immediately. The doctor made his incision and I looked up at the anesthesiologist and asked if he cut me, she said yes. I told her I felt it. They started to pull and do what they do for a c-section and I. felt. everything. I was in so much pain I started sobbing uncontrollably. They kicked Brian out of the room. I had a mask put over my face and a man with the brightest blue/green eyes kept telling me to take slow deep breaths. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. They were still working on getting the babies out, I could feel the pain, I was hyperventilating. I just prayed over and over that the medication would work so the pain would stop. I just stared into those eyes and kept praying. The bright blue/green eyes are burned into my brain.
I lost 1.7L of blood and almost needed a transfusion. The surgery took 2 hours to clean me up. We couldn’t see our babies for four hours because the neonatal teams were still working on them.
When we were finally wheeled in to see our babies I just broke down crying. I saw Isla first and she was just so small. All the tubes and machines connected to my tiny baby made me cry so hard. Next was Quinn, who was a little bigger, and finally Cameron, the biggest of them all. They looked so helpless and that is exactly how I felt. I was wheeled out and brought to my recovery room. Brian and I finally got a little bit of rest.