28 weeks (day 9 in the hospital)

by Lara on August 17, 2019


Back on magnesium last night. No tattoo for you.

Let’s talk about drugs. I’ve never touched a recreational drug, not even marijuana (though many have suggested I could benefit from doing so). In all my pregnancies, I have erred on the side of caution with all substances: I have given up skincare with ingredients that actually do anything for my skin, forgone nail polish, limited my caffeine, and subjected those around me to switching to a non-aluminum deodorant. I have even had a cavity filled without anesthesia. On a spectrum of Gwyneth Paltrow to Lindsay Lohan, I’ve been pretty GOOP-approved.

Until 9 days ago.

Now, we are druggies. Now we are on so many drugs that I am losing track. Like, if Amy Winehouse and Chris Farley had a baby–that level of drugs.

Currently there are two that control my blood pressure. Then there is the evil-but-life-saving magnesium, of course. And because the mag is increasingly inhumane, I’m taking whatever they offer me to manage those symptoms: Zofran for nausea; Tylenol for the headaches; Unisom and Benadryl for sleep. Most of these I don’t even have to swallow; they can just shoot them up right into the vein. Real authentic.

When it comes time to deliver (I always hated that term, deliver, and preferred “birth,” but the designation of putting the job completely in someone else’s hands does make deliver feel appropriate now), it will not be a question of drugs or no drugs, as it was with your brothers.

Nooooo, noooo, nooo. When you are delivered it will only be a question of which drugs from the pharmaceutical wheelhouse here we get the privilege of getting pumped with. Will we get some ghastly amount of Pitocin cocktail to artificially evict you, weeks or months earlier than either of our bodies were designed to do? Will we get a lovely epidural or spinal shot (bonus: we could have both!) into my spine, as a strategic move to lessen our chances of opening door number three? Or do we get to go all the way behind door number three to a full-blown, knock-out round of general anesthesia?

It all depends on the severity of our situation at the time. Again, the name of this game is, Zero Control.

I sound bitter, and I am, but I am also grateful. Grateful that while I was galavanting in England and taking barre classes and drinking the GOOP koolade, the gifted, giving medical professionals at this world-class institution spent years in education and research and practice to, hopefully, save our lives.

Please be good on the monitors. I need a break to restore my grit for whatever these weeks bring.

And, grow, Birdy, grow.



The last 24 hours have been some of the toughest so far. Until then, it was just me that everyone was fussed about–you know, not having a seizure, stroke, or organ failure. You were tolerating everything fine.

Yesterday afternoon, during our routine monitoring of you, your heart decelerates. A lot. Within seconds, there are three nurses, paging OB. Then three doctors come in, one in scrubs and seemingly ready for surgery. In SECONDS they have me on oxygen, they’re pulling off my pants to do an exam, and they have wheeled in an ultrasound, checking on you, then pressing it hard against my chest to examine my heart.

You recover. Daddy has come, arriving quicker than I anticipated.

Not long after, it happens again. For longer. Six doctors now, including an anesthesiologist, talking to me about being put under in the next four minutes, because they only have that long now to get you out if you don’t recover.

They call the Action nurse to refit my IV, the fourth one, using the ultrasound, because my veins are giving out and the IV keeps infiltrating.

My whole body is shaking, violently, uncontrollably. Daddy and I are both crying. I start bargaining with you, verbally, out loud, like an insane person, that you can go to the party or ride the motorcycle or get the tattoo, if you will just cooperate with me now. Please, please, Birdy, cooperate with me now. There is still time.

And, by the grace of a God I only tenuously believe in at the moment, you take the deal. You recover. Two strikes down; one more strike and we are out.

The rest of the night is spent back on magnesium hell. Before I was first put on “mag,” on the first day, a nurse named Ros quickly became one of my favorites when she prepared me for what was coming. She just instantly got me: “It’s ok, Honey. I’m a bad patient, too. So you like to know what’s coming? We’re going to put you on a drip of magnesium. It’s going to suck. You’re going to hate us all. It’s going to make your skin crawl. But it’s also going to save you life.”

Somehow, the mag is twice as bad as it was that first day. I am groggy, nauseous, and alternating between extreme hot flashes and shivering from cold. I am on food and fluid restriction. I have a headache, and, oddly, am burping constantly. My oxygen levels are low, so I am breathing with a tube through my nose. We have to do constant monitoring of you all night.

And they expect me to sleep.

But you are an angel, and have so far kept to your end of our bargain. I have a feeling it may be because you are intimidated by our night nurse, the Reese Witherspoon one (don’t say it), who showed extraordinary patience and kindness to me all night long, but was quite stern with you before bed.

Grow, Birdy, grow.

P.S. If you make me go on the magnesium again, the tattoo is off the table.


27 weeks + 4 days (day 6 in the hospital)

August 14, 2019

Birdy, Writing about the difficult parts of this is proving too much, so I’m going to keep this lighter. I want to talk about the staff here. Daddy and I used to watch a lot of Grey’s Anatomy, and we would always joke, “Doctors and nurses DON’T LOOK LIKE THAT. They just cannot all be […]

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27 weeks + 1 day

August 11, 2019

Birdy, Preeclampsia affects 5-8% of all pregnancies. In theory, we would be on the “Least Likely to Succeed” list for preeclampsia candidates. Risk factors include: Previous history of preeclampsia Multiple gestation (i.e., pregnant with more than one baby) History of chronic high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease or organ transplant First pregnancy Obesity, particularly with […]

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Dear Birdy,

August 10, 2019

Dear Baby (“Birdy”), Today you are a mere 27 weeks old, and we will be in the hospital until the day you are born. We have to take this day by day now, you and me, but after relentless pestering for some tangible information, we have set a first goal to get you to 28 […]

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Five Years

October 11, 2016

Next month will mark five straight years for me of being either pregnant or nursing. I had a small (three month) break in between G weaning and getting pregnant with O, but basically, it’s been a long five years. I’m tired. Scratch that. I’m exhausted. I know I share this feeling with many women across […]

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Our second baby’s birth story (Part III)

March 23, 2016

Continued from Parts I and II. All photos in this post are courtesy of Becca Howell Photography. Becca apparently witnessed my “grand entrance” off the elevator, so I know I probably didn’t give her a very warm greeting! Nevertheless, I am so thankful that she made it because I will treasure these images forever. She was like a fly […]

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March 14, 2016

Yesterday I turned 31. The day did not go as planned. That’s an understatement. But as much as I’m tempted, I won’t use this space to harp on about my first world, privileged birthday girl problems. Instead, I want to share a few links that have spoken to me these past few weeks and hope […]

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Our second baby’s birth story (Part II)

March 7, 2016

Continued from Part I. I grew simultaneously pleased and apprehensive as the hours of January 31st passed; on one hand, it looked increasingly like we were going to have the February baby we had originally planned. On the other, I worried about the possibility of induction and other interventions as our due date came and went. […]

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Our second baby’s birth story (Part I)

February 29, 2016

I’m doing this in three parts because, like Gray’s birth, I want to remember all the details. This is Part I, and I know it’s really boring. But I want it written somewhere. So, skip to Part II if you just want the actual birth story. I always swore I would never rush or feel anxious […]

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