Life in the hospital: Part 2

"Mommy jail" monitorings

Continued from Life in the hospital: Part 1. When we last saw our heroine, she was flying into Dallas, guns a-blazin’. Or something like that.

At the Dallas hospital, I was initially put in Labor & Delivery. Ray had to drive, so he got to the hospital around 9 or 10pm. Throughout the night of May 1, the nurses continued to give me IV fluids and magnesium sulfate. They were also continuously monitoring Ronin’s heart rate using a Non-Stress Test (NST).

The Non-Stress Test uses two external monitors that are strapped on to mom’s belly: one measures baby’s heartbeat, the other is to check if mom’s having any contractions.

Accelerations (increases) in baby’s heart rate in response to fetal movements are a sign that he’s in good health.

If the heart rate doesn’t increase with movement or if there are decelerations (decreases), it can be a sign that baby’s not getting enough oxygen. If the NST shows that baby’s in a distressed state, labor may have to be induced.

Ronin’s heart

The next day they did another echocardiogram and a cardiac surgeon met with us to explain the findings. Or better put, to do his best to explain the findings.

My knowledge of human anatomy is only what I’ve retained since my junior year of high school. But what I’m realizing is that when it comes to congenital heart defects, it’s still like the wild, wild West. There’s no set rule book and everyone seems to have different opinions. And in Ronin’s case, which appears to be very rare, doctors can only do their best to make assumptions.

From the first echocardiogram in Dallas, the conclusion was that Ronin has double-outlet right ventricle (DORV), meaning his aorta (main artery) and pulmonary artery (lung artery) both connect to the right ventricle. This causes oxygen-poor blood to get circulated through the body. DORV cases also always have another heart condition called a ventricular septal defect (VSD), meaning there’s a hole in the wall that separates the right and left ventricles. From my understanding, the VSD is what allows the heart to still function in DORV cases; the only way oxygen-rich blood can leave the left ventricle is to pass through the VSD into the right ventricle.

We were told that surgery should be able to correct Ronin’s heart. But since he was only 28 weeks gestation and at less than the 3rd percentile for growth, there would be a better outcome if surgery could be done when he was much bigger.

And that, my friends, is how I ended up in “mommy jail”

From the cardiology aspect, they want me to stay pregnant for as long as possible. From the OBGYN aspect, they want me to stay pregnant unless there are risks to either Ronin or myself. And from my aspect, I just want to do whatever’s best for my son.

After three days of 24/7 monitoring in Labor & Delivery, it was decided that I should be put on bed rest and I was transferred over to the hospital’s Antepartum ward. One of the doctors joked about this being “mommy jail,” and I can appreciate the humor. Here’s what life’s like now:

  • NST monitoring 3x a day
  • Vitals (blood pressure and temperature) checked 4x a day
  • Sonograms twice a week to check the umbilical cord flow, amniotic fluid levels, and Ronin’s development
  • Weekly weigh-ins
  • Limited physical activity, but I am allowed to take a wheelchair outside for 30 minutes every day (Huzzah!👩🏻‍🦽)

This is one of Ronin’s recent NST tracings. For 32+ weeks gestation, the nurses are looking for his heart rate to be 15 beats/minute above baseline for at least 15 seconds. The top graph shows his heart beats; the bottom graph is monitoring for any labor contractions.

I’ve been in Antepartum for 34 days now. But I consider each day a blessing.

Since I was first admitted to the hospital, the umbilical cord dopplers have gone from reverse end-diastolic flow (worst) to fluctuating between intermittent absent end-diastolic flow (not as bad) and normal flow (great). Also, my amniotic fluid has gradually be increasing from 1 cm all the way up to 13 cm, which is in the healthy range. Ronin’s still only at about the 1st or 2nd percentile for weight, but he’s continuing to grow.

As for me, I’ve been trying to stay faithful and obedient with my time here. There are still a lot of unknowns and I can really only take things day by day, or maybe even just hour by hour. What happens is completely out of my control, so I rest in knowing that this is all part of God’s perfect plan and that He is here with us every step of the way.

1 Comment

  1. Your site is beautiful and so refreshing. And I love “Mommy Jail” but I’d like to call it heaven on earth. You’re in great hands where you are. They have the best doctors for your concerns. I was also very impressed with the tour. Keep writing and sharing the goodness of God. You have a testimony inside your womb.

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