My Life On Bed Rest Since My Water Broke at 21 Weeks, 4 Days (Part 1)

In January, I joyfully announced my pregnancy on this blog. I intended to keep shooting, assisting, consulting, and working just as hard as always for as long as my body would let me. I thought I could make it through 7 months, which would have been mid/late May.

But…my water broke at 21 weeks and 4 days, on April 3rd, 2012. Since then, I’ve been confined to hospital bed-rest, and will be for the rest of my pregnancy. So I won’t be shooting for a while.

When your water breaks before 23 weeks, it’s known as a preterm premature rupture of membranes, or “pre-PROM.” This occurs in only 1% of pregnancies. (So, me and the munchkin are, apparently, super special. I say this to reassure other pregnant readers out there…you most likely don’t need to worry about this happening to you.)

Some of the flowers that have brightened my hospital room! (iPhone 4 / Instagram)

The vast majority of women that experience pre-PROM deliver within 48 hours-1 week, and when delivery occurs before week 23-24, in most cases, the baby cannot survive. In fact, regardless of the delivery date, pre-PROM survival rates are only about 12% – mostly because most women deliver within a couple of weeks of rupture. Babies born very early after pre-PROM might survive, but experience very high risk of complications, particularly with lung development, brain bleeds, joint problems, and heart defects.

Additionally, once prematurely ruptured, moms are at risk for 1) developing infections in the uterus, because there is no longer enough fluid and sealed membranes around the baby to provide a protective barrier between the outside world and the womb; and 2) placental abruption (among other things).

I didn’t know any of this before my water broke. Of all of the things I thought could go wrong with my pregnancy, my water breaking at 21 weeks was not one of them. I did know that conceiving might be difficult for me. I knew that I would require a C-Section because of my history of myomectomy. I knew that my previous LEEP might lead to an incompetent cervix (such a weird term). I knew my chronic fibroid tumors posed risk of miscarriage. But I never knew my water could break so prematurely! And I definitely didn’t know that your water could break without resulting in immediate labor.

Eiger visits me at the hospital! He pulled my chair around like a sled dog. (iPhone 4 / Instagram)

The night I ruptured, I was just sitting at my desk. Nothing out of the ordinary. I knew my water had broken; there was no doubt because I lost so much fluid. Instead of panicking, I got very calm, like people do in a crisis. I called my doctor, who told me to go to the ER. I called my husband, changed my clothes, put a key under the mat, made sure the animals were okay, and drove myself to the hospital. I held myself together until I was at the admitting desk inside the ER, at which point, the tears came. I was admitted to Labor and Delivery, and I thought that I’d be delivering our baby that night, knowing it couldn’t survive.

Miraculously, today is the one month anniversary of my hospitalization! I am still pregnant – almost 26 weeks! The baby is growing normally, the heartbeat is strong and healthy, and my fluid levels are sufficient enough for the doctors to be optimistic that our baby can do okay. Our goal and prayer is to make it through at least 28 weeks, but preferably 34. If I make it to 34, the doctors will schedule a C Section, because at that point, the risks of staying pregnant start to outweigh the benefits to the baby.

Since being hospitalized, I’ve been administered antibiotics (first via IV, then orally), have regular exams, weekly ultrasounds, twice-daily heartbeat and contraction monitors. I was transferred from Integris Baptist to OU Children’s Hospital (where they have more high-risk expertise – my first ambulance ride!), and I have “bathroom privileges” (this term is hilarious to me; am I in jail? Detention? :)) which means I can use the restroom and take showers. I can take short jaunts around the hospital in wheelchair with my husband. Otherwise, I am supposed to stay in bed.

Out of bed for a "mini" baby shower to replace the postponed/canceled version with college friends Amy, Heather, and Kate. Thanks for the yummy cupcakes, ladies. Among the 8,000 other amazing things you did that weekend. 🙂 (Leica D-Lux 4)

Bed-rest would be much harder if not for two main factors: 1) I am doing it for someone else – the baby. If I had to do it for myself, it would be mind-numbingly awful. 2) We have great friends and family that are sharing the load with us. Early on, one of my friends, while visiting, said “there are a lot of blessings in this, Holly.” After overcoming the initial desire to punch her in the face, I was able to see how true that is.

There are times in life when people just show up, and when you realize how loved you are. This is one of those times. Cards, visitors, care packages, flowers, books, magazines, games, movies, pedicures, meals in the freezer, laundry, arranging housecleaning, dog sitting, lattes, fresh fruit, candy, homemade pillows, girly toiletries, even a hospital-room haircut…just a sampling of the ways we’ve been blessed with during this experience. Most of all, we are buoyed by the prayers of a great community, many of whom we don’t even know, all over the US and even world. For all of these blessings, we are more thankful than we could ever express.

Without that support, the fear and stress would be overwhelming. The emotional roller coaster has been tough on both of us. First, fears of losing the baby. Then, fears that the baby will have lifelong disabilities. Initially, every time I was strapped onto the baby monitors, we had anxiety about the results, paranoia about every irregularity we heard. And in contrast, an enormous sense of relief and victory at the end of each day because I didn’t go into labor.  And, oh, the horrible guilt: I shouldn’t have tried to get pregnant because of my health history…Nathan only has to go through this because he married me…It’s my fault. Etc. Grief that this will probably be my only pregnancy, and then more guilt about that, for Nathan’s sake. Worry that our dog will think I abandoned him. Sadness about not having baby showers, about not being able to decorate a nursery and put together baby stuff with Nathan, or strut around 9-months pregnant in cute maternity clothes.

Me and Nathan snuggled up in my hospital bed. I have the best, most supportive, loyal, thoughtful, compassionate, husband in the world. It's true. I am lucky and I know it. (Leica D-Lux 4)

Every day, though things have gotten easier. Each week is a major milestone. The doctors agree that we’ve beaten the odds; one even said “I think the kid will probably be okay.” So, until this baby decides to make its entrance, it’s one-day-at-a-time. We are so overwhelmingly grateful for the support and encouragement we’ve received, and so thankful that this child will be able to have a chance at a healthy life. I am painfully aware that it doesn’t end this way for everyone. I don’t know why we are the recipients of a miracle. But it makes me even more excited to meet our little one, and see where our lives go together. Little “RC” (our nickname, derived from the first initials of our favorite boy/girl names) is so very loved already, and will be so joyfully welcomed into this world by so many people who have been cheering him/her on since April 3rd. We can’t wait to introduce RC to you! – Just not quite yet.

Keep praying for us!

– HBA

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About Mosaic Collective, LLC

I am Holly Baumann Ambuehl, founding member of Mosaic Collective, LLC, which was founded in early 2017 and is based in Central Illinois. I own and operate Mosaic Collective with my partner in business and life, my husband, Nathan. Mosaic Collective, LLC houses our rental property, my consulting contracts (with the nonprofit and public sectors on various work), and also my commercial and portrait photography business, which has been doing business as Holly Baumann Photography since 2008 long before the formation of our LLC. My blog posts feature client work, but I just love to write, so I also write about owning a business, food and drink, travel, and sometimes, my personal life! I am always honored when clients trust me to capture their vision, and equally so when my readers converse with me about what I've photographed or expressed here. I hope we'll have an opportunity to collaborate professionally and/or become friends. I'd love to hear what you think! - Holly
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81 Responses to My Life On Bed Rest Since My Water Broke at 21 Weeks, 4 Days (Part 1)

  1. Naddia says:

    I am in a similar boat. My water broke at 20 weeks 2 days ( I started to leak I believe a few days prior). Currently, I am 26 weeks and 6 days. My son was last weighed two weeks ago, and weighed 1lb….where he should be. He’s growing fine and always has a great heartbeat. Other than the fact that he has a very small pocket of fluid in there with him, he continues to produce fluids and fight. Doctors once advised me to not expect anything positive…..now 1 week shy of 2 months after my water broke, I have a healthy baby boy with a great heartbeat, and a long thick cervix that says he and I will be glued together until the time is right to unstick us. Iook forward to being induced at 34 weeks! I was told two weeks ago that my son was breach, and due to low fluids likely would not turn around. I had an ultrasound last week…..my son is transverse (laying side ways). My boy is turning despite the odds the docs Rare throwing at him. I know he will be just fine. 7 more weeks to go! Keep fighting mommy’s…if your baby isn’t giving up, neither should you. Best wishes and baby kisses to you all 💜

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  2. Brittany says:

    It has been a few years since this has happend to you.. what was the outcome.. I am 21weeks today and my water broke 3 days ago.. I was told to terminate or go home and wait it out..

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  3. ciara says:

    Good to read. Similar story and slowly but surely getting there. Had myomectomy in October 2014, was 22 weeks when my waters broke. Still here at 26 + 3 and praying to get to 28+1! It’s definitely stressful but we’ll worth the confinement. Every day is a blessing and delighted to be here every day! Baby is doing well… active, strong heartbeat and weight slightly above so hoping to reach the 2lbs for my scan on Monday! Prayers and fingers crossed for everyone on here 🙂

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  4. Adriana Valle says:

    boy am I relieved , thank you Holly for this blog it was very comforting, I have been leaking fluid since about 22 weeks and no one could figure out whether it was really fluid… the first time I went to the doctor he said it was a uniary tract infection and he gave me some antibiotics , thereafter it just got worse.. i went back to er and then i was check with the specturm and they did not see anything .. they sent me home…my urine was bloody every night , I couldn’t stop going to the bathroom I was up every 15 mins rushing to the bathroom because I would feel the sudden gushes and its embrassing but sometimes I barely even made it to the rest room… doctor sent me to a urigoloists and funny thing is I had no blood in my urine that day . he said are you sure its not from down there and that’s when I started second guessing everything everyone was telling me I’m just like someone has to be wrong here because I’m not going crazy! …. finally I went to see a maternal high risk doctor and she checked the baby fluids which was extremely low she said I don’t know how they even let you out the hospital… she immediately put me on an ambulance and sent me to a good hospital with a great NICU … as you I was scared and crying I thought my baby was going to be delivered right then… when I got here doctors assured me I was not giving birth that day and they Immediately determined what it was.. silly huh? this is at 29 weeks so from 22-29 I was jus leaking fluid thinking knowing it was not normal but everyone telling me it was… now I’m 30 weeks ive only been here one week and I’m going crazy 4 more weeks to go… wish me luck!

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  5. Stacy Mulligan says:

    This is a great story and one that I’ve re-read several times now. My waters broke at 22wks + 1 day. I was admitted to the hospital that morning and the outlook was very grim. My husband and I decided to leave it in God’s hands. We went home and I started bedrest as the hospital didn’t want me to check in until closer to 24 weeks if I made it that long. I did check into the hospital at 23wks + 4 days and started antibiotics immediately along with the steroid shots. I’m beyond blessed and happy to say that it’s been 42 days since my waters broke and both the baby and I are stable. I’m 28wks + 1 day today and feeling so much love for our little guy who is fighting so hard for us. If nothing changes (no infection or pre term labor) they will induce me at 34wks. I’m already very proud of him and so in love.

    Hang on all you mamas out there, keep fighting for your babies and don’t give up!

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