When we arrived in Labor & Delivery on May 22nd, we were terrified—eager as we were to meet Simon, he wasn’t due until July 14th. And those first few hours were filled with fearful tears as we listened to the litany of possible events. The most likely being that labor would start sometime soon, usually within 1 to 3 days. The optimal course was to put it off for as long as possible, allowing Simon more time to develop.
The ambition became postponing labor until he reached 34 weeks of gestational age. At 34 weeks, Simon would likely be born with his organs fully formed and, hopefully, capable of functioning without medical intervention. Steroids were administered to help his lungs finish developing and antibiotics to stem the risk of infection that comes with continuing a PPROM (Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes) pregnancy.
As we listened to the fetal heart monitor, we pieced together an image of what was ahead of us. Since most women begin labor within 24 hours of their water breaking, our first goal was to make it past 24 hours, then 72. That would get us to 33 weeks of gestational age on Wednesday, May 26th. The next statistical hurdle was Saturday, May 29th, 7 days after the rupture. That would get us within reach our ambition of 34 weeks on Wednesday, June 02 when, if it hadn’t started naturally, labor would be induced.
On the third day, we were moved to the Mother/Baby Ward in the Antepartum Wing of the hospital and it became clear that while we would share this journey in spirit, we would have to spend some nights away from each other. Most of the rooms at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital are built with accommodations for an overnight guest/caregiver. However, many of those accommodations are meant for someone smaller than I am. The realization saddened us greatly.
For the next 9 days Rebecca was confined to a single room on the fifth floor, and I was her constant visitor—we ate a lot of take out. She was granted a 20-minute break to go outside, and we used it each day to enjoy the late afternoon light in the shade of the crepe myrtles in front of the hospital. In the morning and the evening, they’d hook up the fetal heart monitor and we’d listen to Simon’s strong heartbeat for 10-20 minutes. In the evenings it was often the last thing we did together, and, in the mornings, she’d call me so I could listen with her.
The hardest part of those 9 days was the separation—at night we slept on our own lonely beds, we woke up without the others presence, and it was often near lunch before I got to the hospital. I kept myself busy in the mornings by taking pictures of our cats and gardens to share with Rebecca, while she read books and watched movies. I felt especially worried for her— after all, I had the comfort of our home to whittle away the lonely time, she spent her seclusion under an unfamiliar ceiling. I admire her determination as she was willing to undertake any hardship to ensure the health and safety of our baby boy.
While Rebecca was sequestered on the fifth-floor, things at home had shifted into high speed. Rebecca’s sister, Mary, in the excitement of becoming an aunt again, had volunteered to prepare the nursery for young Simon. We had discussed ideas for murals and décor and received a substantial amount of furniture from members of our collective families. Mary spent many hours painting and organizing our accumulated baby stuff into a suitable environment for Simon to come home to. We are thrilled with the result and are incredibly thankful to her and to everyone who has contributed to us having this beautiful space for Simon to learn and grow in.
Those first days in the hospital moved like molasses. The stress of having to suddenly be ready almost two months early, complicated by the separation and the difficult or restless sleep, we were anxious to see them end. We delighted in the time we spent together—our meals, breaks outside, and listening to Simon’s heartbeat. Then, after 10 long days, we reached the eve of 34 weeks, and were set to induce labor in the morning.