Monday, October 26, 2015

Preterm Labor

How is the due date calculated?
Your baby needs to continue to grow inside you for the full term of your pregnancy.  Your due date is calculated based on your menstrual cycle since most people do not know the day they conceived.  The human gestational period is 38 weeks from conception to birth.  During a normal cycle, a woman has her menstrual period starting 2 weeks before her fertile period.  So, that is why pregnancy is said to last 40 weeks.

What is preterm labor?
Labor earlier than three weeks before your due date can lead to the delivery of a premature baby with some associated risks.

Report to your Healthcare provider with any of the following symptoms:
  • low, dull backache
  • 6 or more contractions per hour, or every 10 minutes or less
  • increased pelvic pressure (may include thigh cramps)
  • something feeling different, such as sensation of baby dropping
  • flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • increased vaginal discharge 
  • vaginal bleeding
What do uterine contractions feel like?
  • menstrual cramps
  • sensation of the "baby rolling up in a ball"
  • abdominal cramping (may include diarrhea)
  • increased uterine activity compared to previous patterns 
What do I do if I have some of these symptoms?
Before calling your doctor, there may be things you can do at home to stop the increased contractions.  Having a full bladder or being dehydrated can cause these premature contractions, so once these problems are resolved, they may go away on their own. 
  • Stop what you are doing and empty your bladder
  • drink 3-4 glasses of water
  • lie down on your left side for one hour while feeling for and counting contractions
  • put your hand on your abdomen and feel for tightening and hardening of your uterus
  • count how many contractions you have during the hour you are lying down
  • if your contractions do not slow down after these actions, call either your doctor's office or Labor and Delivery at your hospital immediately, and they will give you directions from there 
 If you have any of these symptoms, report them to your doctor immediately:
  • change in vaginal discharge, such as color or amount
  • leaking clear fluid
  • spotting or bleeding
  • vaginal discharge with a fish-like odor immediately after intercourse 
 If you need to go to the hospital:
If you have some of these symptoms, and your doctor believes your are in preterm labor, you may be told to go to the hospital.  Once you arrive, your doctor, midwife, or nurse may:
  • ask about your medical history, including medications and supplements you have been taking during your pregnancy
  • check your pulse, blood pressure, and temperature
  • put a monitor on your belly to check the baby's heart rate and your contractions
  • swab your cervix for fetal fibronectin, which can help predict the risk of delivering early
  • get a urine sample to check for UTI and signs of infection 
  • check your cervix to see if it is opening
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What will happen if I am in preterm labor?
If you have been determined to be in preterm labor after all of these checks, they will first try to stop the labor, unless you are very late in pregnancy and have had a low-risk pregnancy.  If they are unable to stop labor or if your water has already broken, they may do other things to slow it down and improve the risks for you and the baby.  These are some things they may do once you are determined to be in preterm labor:
  • give IV fluids
  • give medicine to relax your uterus and stop labor
  • give medicine to speed up the development of the baby's lungs 
  • give antibiotics
  • admit you to the hospital
My personal experience
I personally experienced preterm labor with my first baby.  I was around 26 or 27 weeks pregnant, and I noticed I was having a lot more Braxton-Hicks contractions than normal.  I laid down on the couch and drank some water, but felt no relief.  I laid on the couch for over an hour with contractions that were every 6-8 minutes apart, but they were not regular nor painful.  So, I hesitantly called my doctor, and he told me to go ahead and come to the hospital.  They took my vital signs and my urine and hooked me up to the monitor to find that I was in fact in labor with some strong contractions.  My urine came back from the lab as positive for a urinary tract infection, so the doctor determined that the UTI was the reason my body went into labor.  They gave me magnesium to stop my labor, which was an unpleasant experience because my blood pressure bottomed out, and they had to give me something else to raise my pressure.  Once my labor stopped, and my blood pressure was normal, I was sent home with antibiotics for my UTI.

I was so thankful that everything worked out, and that I was able to have my big (9lbs, 2oz) healthy baby boy at 39 weeks.  I pray that none of you have to experience preterm labor or delivery of a preterm baby as it can be a scary experience.  But you can use this post as a reference if you are experiencing any symptoms.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Transition Home

I have a friend guest posting on the blog today.  Heather is a beautiful friend I met in the Navy world whom I would say is an expert mommy.  Her and her husband have two biological and two adopted beauties, and I just love watching (through the internet) her family grow.  They are about to make a big move across the country with the Navy, so she has definitely got a lot on her plate right now.  She agreed to let me re-post an article she wrote on her blog about transitioning after a deployment.  There is great advice in here that I used many times in the last few years while Luke was deploying often.
This post was written 4 years ago and was a product of a season of “work ups” followed by a deployment. It was tough times in the Clement house hold, but boy did we learn a lot! I’m happy to say, but God’s grace and inspiration, the deployments and techniques we learned then strengthened our marriage! Since then we’ve enjoyed 4 years of non-deployment(which has also been awesome for our marriage!) but have just been assigned a new duty station, with a big fat deployment included. Only this time we have twice as many kids! Anyway, when Sarah asked me to guest post, deployment was on the brain and I dusted off this post and really wanted to share it—for others and for myself!!! I hope you find something helpful here to make your transitions home less turbulent! What else do you find helpful for when your sweetheart comes home? 


Ahh, the homecoming reunion...  I always well up a little looking at these, or any, homecoming pictures.  It is truely the brightest moment of a deployment...

But what might not be commonly known is that the days and weeks immediately following that moment can be one of the hardest, and darkest parts of a deployment.

And it doesn't matter how long they've been gone. Ten days, ten weeks, or ten months--there is always a transition time when they return.  And for for the Clement Crew, the transition home has always been a struggle.

This may be surprising to some readers, while others know first hand how difficult the transition from "Away" to "Home" can be.  There is such a "high" after seeing Sam for the first time in what feels like eternity that it seems like nothing could go wrong: He's home.  So it's heartbreaking when we have communication error after error when we get home(sometimes even ON the way home!) and then instead of everything going smoother and easier, it is rougher and more difficult.

So, when we looked ahead to Sam's homecoming this past July, it was with great joy but also trepidation. I looked online for information on how to make the transition smoother, and all I found were articles about why the transition is hard--and I knew that already!

But I/we were determined to have a better transition this time.  And I am happy to report: we did.  Much better than any we've had before.  Here's what we did differently:

1.  We talked at length about the reunion while he was gone.  We talked on the phone(when we could) and emailed regularly about our expectations, hopes, and fears about the reunion. We asked each other:
What are you looking forward to about being at home?
What have you enjoyed during the deployment?
What has been a highlight for you?
What has been the hardest part?
What things are you nervous or worried about when you think about being together?
What are you looking forward to about being together again?
How do you think the kids will respond to the reunion?

2. We talk about what had changed.  We asked each other:
How do you think this deployment has changed you, if at all?
Is there anything new in your life--a hobby, friend, or passion?(for example, while Sam was gone, dressing like an adult(both of us) became important to me.  As did purging out everything we didnt need or use.)
What is a normal day for you like?
How have the kids changed?

3. We talked about the Homecoming itself. We asked each other:
Who do you want there?
Who don't you want there?
Do you want a photographer?
Who gets the first hug?
Is there a specific photo you want captured?
What do you want to do the rest of that day?
Do you have concerns?(for example: I had concerns about bringing Eva to the ship to see Sam[11mo old, during nap time, in 100degree heat] .  I'm glad we talked about it, and I left her home for her own special homecoming with Daddy.)

4. We planned and scheduled.  Scheduled and planed.  I wrote out a detailed schedule for the first three days home and emailed it to Sam a few weeks before he arrived home.  This way, we both knew exactly what to expect and what we were supposed to do when.
Here is what it looked like blank:
This helped Sam learn our routine without having to ask questions that might make me feel like he isn't helping "When are the kids going to nap?" "What are we having for dinner?"  I taped each day up so they were easy to see and look ahead to.  We were able to stick to the schedule, and it was awesome.  In fact, we still use that format for the weekends.
I also made an extensive meal plan for every meal for the first week home and made sure we have all the ingredients before he came home.

5.  We bought paper plates and plastic forks.  Also paper/plastic cups.  We don't usually buy disposable dish ware, but not having to do dishes was a huge help to us during the transition.

6. We planned time to be alone with each other. We hired a sitter two out of the first three nights home, then twice more within the next ten days.  If we could've, we would have taken a mini-vacation shortly after his return--we still wish we could have!

7. We talked about things we wanted to change about our marriage and family.  This could be a whole blog in an of itself.  But basically the biggest blessing about the deployment was that it served as a kind of "reset button" for the course of our marriage.  It gave us time to reflect on the previous months before and the months to come and communicate ideas for improving the way we worked as a couple and as a family--redirecting us back towards our goal of a family centered life.  Taking the time to think and communicate about all that during the deployment has really helped us not only transition back to living together, but helps us transition into the kind of family we want to be.

So, that's what we did.  Maybe this is all basic stuff everybody knows, but we sure didn't, and I'm glad we do now--it made a big difference for us, making our reunion more smooth and much sweeter.  Of course, even two months after homecoming day, we still feel like we are adjusting and trying to balance our life together, but that's just life I suppose:)  We are just so thankful to be living it together again!

What do you do differently to prepare for a spouses return home?