I’m feeling a little anxiety as I sit down to write about what was undoubtedly the most anxious part of my pregnancy: the third trimester.
After a smooth sailing second trimester I leapt head first into the third trimester. I had embraced the bump and my impending mommyhood. I was still up to my normal tasks, in fact, at 28 weeks we did our annual spring overhaul in our yard- putting out mulch, planting flowers, fertilizing our trees and shrubs, and lots of mowing (we have about an acre of land).
No one warned me things could take a scary turn very suddenly this late in the pregnancy.
The day I hit 29 weeks was a really scary day for us. It was a Wednesday and I woke up to get ready for work like any other day. My first stop out of bed was the bathroom, because I practically lived there at this point, and I saw something really concerning. I had been spotting throughout the night. This was really strange to me because at this point my pregnancy had been pretty simple, uneventful, and by the book. I texted my wife who was in her first week in the fire academy for a new department and decided to call the doctor. It was before regular business hours so I was put through to a nurse who took me through a questionnaire about my symptoms. I felt a little crampy but nothing serious or painful. After answering the seemingly 1000 questions, the nurse told me to report to Labor and Delivery (L&D) to be checked and to have someone drive me there if possible. This was shocking to me. In my mind, I had made it through all the big hurdles, my baby looked healthy in every ultrasound and every screening, and I didn’t understand what could be happening. After some tears, I called my mom who was in town for a concert to see if she could take me to the hospital. I didn’t want to pull Jess out of her first week for something minor. I got dressed quickly and a neighbor dropped me off to my mom across town so she wouldn’t have to back track in morning traffic to get me. At this point I was having pretty regular contractions, although they were not very painful.
I arrived at Duke’s L&D department and they took me straight back to triage. I spoke with a nurse about my symptoms and they hooked me up to begin monitoring contractions. They told me they’d be back in in about 20 minutes to unhook me. After 20 minutes, the nurse returned looking concerned and said I was contracting every 2-4 minutes. They left the monitor on and brought in the doctor who then checked my cervix. Everything was closed which was good, but the contractions began to get stronger and they gave me Indocin to stop the contractions. They decided to continue to monitor me for a few hours to watch the contractions but they just kept coming. After about four hours, the doctor came in to talk to me and said she wanted to admit me. I really wasn’t prepared for this. I thought for sure that I was going in to be checked and that I would be on my way home by the afternoon with an all clear. The doctor talked to me about the real chance of delivering our baby early and prepared me that various teams would be in to talk to me (the anesthesiologist, the NICU team, etc.) so that everything would be ready in the event that things did begin progressing. Once I was admitted, Jess came straight to the hospital to be with me. Our friends and neighbors were able to break into our house to feed our dogs, let them potty, and get clothes and toiletries for me and Jess. I remember laying in the hospital bed and Jess holding me while I cried and talked about how unprepared we were- how we didn’t have a bag packed, we hadn’t washed any of her clothes, we just weren’t ready- and she wasn’t ready, she was too little and the thought that I could deliver her and have to leave the hospital while she stayed in the NICU broke my heart. Big hugs to all the moms who have had to go through that. I didn’t sleep a wink that night in the hospital. The contractions didn’t stop and I googled everything I could about babies born at 29 weeks. I sent Jess off to work when morning came and things seemed to be calming down for me contraction-wise. By mid-morning the nurse came in to tell me they had mostly stopped which was great news. After seeing the doctor for one more cervix check, we decided I could go home that afternoon. I was surprised that I wasn’t placed on bedrest but the doctor said that new studies had shown that bedrest wasn’t all that effective and had many detrimental impacts as well. I was told not to overdo it but to go on with my normal routine and to come back if I experienced any more contractions or signs of labor.
The day I returned home I immediately began ordering items I’d need for my hospital bag (yay online shopping!) and washing Logan’s newborn clothes. At the end of this post I’ll include a list of what I found helpful to have in my hospital bag and what I wish I had packed. I made it a few days before returning to the hospital again with contractions. I was so on edge after my first hospital visit that every twinge was noted and I was hyper-alert to everything going on with my body. The contractions were not causing my cervix to dilate so the doctor sent me home with a prescription for Procardia to take when I experienced contractions. I continued to experience these contractions throughout my third trimester. Every morning I woke up and wondered if Logan would come that day and it was a really long 11 weeks.
I can’t tell you how many times I googled “signs of labor” or “early signs of labor.” Every day that I had a burst of energy, or was extra tired, or threw up I would think labor was impending. Bless Jess’ heart I know I had to be difficult to deal with over those weeks. After my experience, here are my top tips for all you expecting moms:
- If you have pets, leave a key with a trusted friend or neighbor, or in a hidden spot so that someone is able to access your animals should you have an unexpected admission to the hospital. Have a plan in place for who is going to come look after your pets while you’re in the hospital.
- Take everything you read on the internet with a grain of salt- after talking to so many of my mom friends I’ve found that literally everyone’s experience leading up to labor was unique. Some felt fatigued, some had bursts of energy, some felt sick.
- Pack a hospital bag sooner rather than later. Even if you don’t pack your bag, at least order the items you think you’ll need so you have them on hand in the event that baby comes sooner than expected.
- Relax. Your baby will come on his or her own time. This was the most annoying thing I read when I was impatiently waiting on Logan at 39 weeks. But it’s true.
My Hospital Bag:
- Nursing Bras (I used these and I loved them)
- Granny panties (never used these at the hospital- they gave me a lifetime supply of mesh underwear- but they were good to have at home when I transitioned from the mesh underwear)
- Lip balm
- A cotton robe (I wish I had ordered a new fancy maternity/nursing robe rather than bringing my old go-to. It would have been great for pictures and it’s nice to have something new to put on when you just go through labor. Trust me.)
- Make up bag (I wasn’t sure I’d want this, but I ended up using it!)
- Hair brush and hair ties
- Toiletries, especially moisturizer
- Boppy Nursing Pillow
- Nursing-friendly nightgowns (Check the length on these! Your belly will go down some but you’ll still look about 6 months pregnant after delivery. All of my gowns were too short and I didn’t feel comfortable walking around the hospital in them. I wish I had also thought to bring some drawstring pajama bottoms.)
- A few swaddles and outfits for the baby
- Shower shoes
Try to find out what the hospital will provide. Ours provided me with plenty of mesh underwear, pads, Tucks pads, peri bottles, and numbing spray. Not to mention diapers and wipes for Logan. No need to take up room for items you know the hospital will have.
Next up, I’m going to tell you all about going into labor with my little one, and the things NO ONE TOLD ME!
Can’t wait 🙂