This wasn't part of the plan...
I guess there’s really no easy way to break this news, and I know this is kind of an impersonal medium for this particular message, but we want everyone to know what’s going on, and just don’t have the time or emotional energy for dozens of phone calls. Getting to the point, Anna has been in the hospital since Tuesday morning. Her water broke while she was at work, and she began to go into pre-term labor. After a couple of panicked hours at Seton Northwest hospital, her mild contractions stopped, she and Frankie stabilized, and they were transferred to Seton Medical Center in central Austin (the only place in town with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit [NICU]). The good news is that both she and Frankie are fine, and though we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, the prognosis is better than we’d expected.
For those of you keeping score at home, this is a little over two months early (she was right at 29 weeks, to be exact), so the situation is fairly serious. They’ve had Anna on magnesium sulfate, a central nervous system inhibitor and smooth muscle relaxer (the side effect of which has been described as “the worst flu you’ve ever had”), hoping to keep her from going into labor. She’s also had two doses of steroids, which will help Frankie’s lungs develop (the doctors’ primary concern at this point, as far as his health goes). The goal at this point is to keep him inside of her for as long as possible. They’ve told us that every day he spends in her womb translates into three days he doesn’t have to spend in the NICU. The best-case scenario would be for Anna to lie in this hospital bed until mid-August, although that seems highly unlikely. They’ll take her off the magnesium this morning, and it will be out of her system by this time tomorrow. Her body may decide to go into labor shortly thereafter, or she could lie in this bed for days, weeks, or even a couple of months. However, when labor begins, they won’t try to stop it again, so they’ll let her deliver.
In spite of the good news that she and Frankie are basically in pretty good shape, there are some downsides here. Frankie is breeched, and without any fluid in her womb, he can’t position himself for a vaginal delivery. That means Anna will definitely be having a C-section, which has been one of her biggest fears all along. Not only that, but his position and timing mean that she can’t even get the cool “bikini cut” C-section; she’ll have to have the traditional “vertical cut,” which takes longer to heal and leaves a larger scar. I think that’s bothering her less than the prospects of Frankie staying in the NICU for up to two months. They’ve warned us that he might have to stay in the hospital up until his actual due date (September 9). We’re both more than a little freaked out by that, but we’re trying hard not to let on to one another how much that scares us. Stiff upper lip, and whatnot. And of course, we’re trying hard not to think about all the developmental problems associated with premature babies, and the exorbitant cost of long-term neonatal intensive care, and the risks of surgical birth, and all the things left up in the air because this caught us totally by surprise.
In spite of all this, we’re actually doing well. Anna is awake and alert, she’s not in much pain, and she’s actually gotten kind of used to lying in bed. That said, neither of us is looking forward to weeks or even days of bed rest, but we’ve agreed that it’s better than the alternative. We’re willing to go through pretty much anything to keep from leaving Frankie alone in this hospital any longer than is absolutely necessary.
If anyone wants to send anything to Anna, she’s in Seton Medical Center (they may call it Seton Main), 38th & Medical Parkway, Room 248. For those of you who’ve called to say we’re in your thoughts and prayers, we appreciate it, and we’ll keep you posted as things develop. In the meantime, know that we’re well taken care of, and that we’re doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances. Anna’s not really up for many visitors at the moment, but she’s taking phone calls and appreciates hearing from everyone. If you want to stop by, give me a call on my cell (or hers), and I’ll let you know if she’s up to it.