Being a patient at CHOP and having a baby diagnosed with CDH, the doctors told me that I would have to come in twice a week for checkups once I got to 32 weeks. So at 32 weeks and 6 days, I went in with my husband for an ultrasound and non-stress test. The ultrasound went fine, but during the non-stress test we found that I was having regular contractions, most of them I could not feel.

To be on the safe side, they checked my cervix. Uh oh, it was dilated 2cm! Thus began my 28 hours of being at the hospital on observation. I had been scheduled that day to take a tour of the Special Delivery Unit (SDU), a special 8-room facility made just for mothers carrying babies with birth defects. Needless to say, my tour was going to be a very long and personal one as I was going to stay in one of the rooms overnight.

I had an IV inserted into my hand to keep me hydrated (dehydration can cause contractions/early labor) and had 2 monitors strapped onto my belly. One is for the baby’s heartbeat and the other is for contractions. Whenever I had to use the bathroom, we had to unplug the IV machine from the wall, unplug the monitors from the recording machine, and I had to shuffle to the bathroom wheeling my IV around with the monitors hanging about my neck. It was very inconvenient.

Having been on observation for a few hours already, they checked my cervix again. I was dilated 3cm! They talked about putting me on magnesium sulfate, but after seeing my contractions eventually subside, they decided to give me nifedipine. They also gave me 2 shots of a steroid to help with the maturation of Liliana’s lungs.

Various people came in to see me throughout the day — doctors, nurses, my case worker at the hospital. A doctor from the NICU had come and talked to us about why it was so important for me to not go into preterm labor. He said that ECMO, which is the process of oxygenating the blood for the baby and pumping it back in, would not be available to Liliana if she were born too early because of the risk of brain hemorrhaging. We figured that Liliana’s survival rate, if she were to be born premature, would be very low.

While the pelvic exams were uncomfortable and the situation somewhat critical in that we needed to stop me from going into labor, that wasn’t the worst thing for me that day. For some reason, I wasn’t allowed any food. Maybe the hospital has a policy on no solid food during labor, but I was starving! I had breakfast at 7 that morning and by the time I was allowed food, it was around 4 PM. I went that whole time drinking only water and juice. I must say the saddest thing is a pregnant woman who isn’t allowed to eat. When I finally did get to eat, it was a mediocre supper. Luckily, I chose something better for dinner.

Anyway, I was kept overnight and they checked my cervix the next day. There were no changes so I was discharged with a prescription for nifedipine and a doctor’s order for bedrest, which they recommended until I gave birth.

I’m still going for my checkups twice a week and have had a few irregular contractions. My next checkup is tomorrow and Sean will be coming with me, as he did last week when I got put in triage for observation (yet again!) because I was having contractions. Thankfully, it only lasted a couple of hours this time.

Will update when I have any news!