We consulted with a handful of specialists: genetics counselors, my doctors at St. Judes, a cardiologist, my regular OB/GYN, and a maternal fetal medicine doctor who became my primary OB/GYN during the pregnancy. We received a resounding 'yes' from everyone even though no one could pin-point exactly why I went into labor so early with Samuel. Was it because I was underweight? Exercising too much? Working too hard? On my feet too long during the day? Was it because of my unusual medical history? (I had a form of childhood cancer called Wilms tumor.)
We wouldn't know until we tried again.
The day we held that positive pregnancy test, we were just as scared as we were excited...but we had determined to celebrated every. single. pregnancy milestone. And we did.
Then at 18 weeks I began having contractions. At 19 weeks I was sent home from the ER by two doctors who held my hand and told me that there was nothing they could do to stop my very regular contractions. We were sent home to wait for an inevitable miscarriage. I can't describe how heartbroken we were. But the days went by and we chose to pray for viability...just four more weeks and we could deliver a baby with a chance of survival.
Ironically, four weeks later I was admitted to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences at 24 weeks and 2 days gestation (the exact point in my pregnancy that I delivered Samuel.) The contractions had continued but now my cervix was short. Really short. We didn't think there was much time.
The days passed, then weeks, then months...contracting and dilating all the while. Those were hard days. I chose to stay at UAMS (a four hour drive from home) so that I could deliver at the hospital most capable of handling a premature delivery. Although I missed Michael and Samuel very much, I was obsessed with keeping Annalee safe as long as possible. I rarely moved from the curled up position that helped keep the contractions from gaining momentum.
At 32 weeks and 1 day, Annalee decided she couldn't stay in a minute longer. She was born in such a rush that Michael didn't make it to the hospital in time to see her birth. In fact, she came so quickly that I didn't have time to move to a delivery bed!
After a total of 15 weeks of bedrest, 8 of those spent in the hospital, I was handed my baby girl. It was the heart-healing moment I had longed for.
Annalee spent 44 uneventful days in the NICU. She arrived home at the end of February 2013. After having Samuel, she is the EASIEST BABY. To me, she is everything a full-term baby would be. No oxygen, monitor, or medications. No RSV isolation, reflux, or swallowing dysphagia. No specialists, daily weight checks, or oral aversions. No GI issues, therapy, or developmental delays. She's just an average, chubby baby.
We love her so.