Thursday, October 18, 2007

A year ago today (Part II)

You can read Part I here.

What was I doing a year ago today? Ah, here the memory sharpens and becomes much clearer. The details pop, vividly, are crammed in my head as fresh as if the day happened merely yesterday, not a year ago. Will I always remember this much? This clearly?

A year ago today I woke up and felt something that seemed a little off, nothing I could put my finger on definitively, but just... off. Since I was otherwise feeling fine, I left for work. Feeling a bit ridiculous, I gave my obstetrician a call, and left a message on her machine.

There was a meeting. A very long, very boring meeting via teleconference. I recall just how long it was, because I remember leaving at one point and grabbed my bag of cut up veggies which I proceeded to munch on through the remainder of the very long meeting.

After escaping, I checked for a follow up call from my obstetrician. Finding that I had no messages, I gave her another call. Her assistant let me know that she was in an emergency c-section, and after talking to me suggested that perhaps I might want to pop into labour and delivery down at the hospital, just to be checked out. She was sure that it was likely nothing, but better safe than sorry, yes?

I told my boss that yet again I would have to leave work, but this time I was sure it would only be for a couple of hours. I could make up the time at the end of the day, as I was sure I would be back. (Oh, how sure of myself I was, how certain that I was the one in control. The Fates must have looked down at me and snickered at my hubris and fallibility.) Because of my certainty, I did not pack up any of the work on my desk, (unusually) I left my laptop at the office, I did not send the final e-mail I meant to send that afternoon. I merely grabbed my bag, the book I had been reading (The Historian, as previously noted) thinking that I would be kept waiting, and left the office.

I arrived at labour and delivery where I was checked into the admissions/triage room. I was first interviewed by the most nervous young (male) medical student I have ever encountered. He was as fresh-faced as they come and was so tongue-tied he could barely ask me the necessary questions. He stammered, blushed and tripped his way through most of the questions. When the attending obstetrician came in, I found he was unable to ask me one of the more pertinent (in the doctor's eyes apparently) questions: had I had sexual relations lately? It was quite endearing, although I recall thinking at the time that if he was too nervous to ask me that question, good luck to him, as I'm sure that there would be many much more embarrassing questions he would be required to ask in his future career.

I was checked out, and the doctor announced that it looked like perhaps something had been happening, but at the time I wasn't effaced, my water hadn't broken, I was not dilated, so she was pretty sure I was okay. She would, though, prefer I have an ultrasound and remain off work until the following Tuesday, the date of my next appointment with my obstetrician. I agreed, grudgingly. I had no remaining sick or holiday days, having used them all up in prior parts of the pregnancy, and there was a five-day waiting period for short-term disability to kick in. In other words, I was taking a five-day unpaid holiday.

The student then came back and announced that the hospital had no ultrasound appointments available, but would I mind going home and coming back when they called me.

I arrived home just in time to walk in the door to the phone ringing. It was the ultrasound department, could I come back right now? They had an opening. I love Murphy's Law.

I walked right back out the door and into the car. I turned out onto the main road in time to see a bicyclist hit by a car. The day had truly become surreal. I stopped, called 911, and waited with the cyclist. When the police arrived, I apologized for appearing rude, but asked if they could please interview me immediately as I was required back at the hospital myself.

Could the day get any stranger?

I had the ultrasound, and after several hours of waiting the same obstetrician came to review it with me. Again, the baby looked good. My amniotic level was a little low, but still good. The same diagnosis: go home, stay off work a few days, relax, enjoy the "free" time off.

I came home dejected. I very clearly recall sitting on a footstool in front of Mr Babbler, and griping that I couldn't seem to do anything right. That I sucked at being pregnant. I was angry and disappointed and frustrated. He consoled me and told me it was going to be fine, not to worry about the money, to enjoy the time off, to sit and read and watch TV and some good movies, and relax. And as he talked I remember very clearly how I started to feel, well, a wee bit damp. Wet. Soggy even.

I quietly excused myself and wandered up to the bathroom. I hadn't peed myself, had I? I didn't recall laughing and having one of those "oops" moments. Did it smell like pee? Damn it, what had our silly birthing instructor said about amniotic fluid again? Surely it wasn't that. It couldn't be. I had only arrived back from the hospital less than an hour ago, where they told me I was fine. No no no no NO! I was just turning into a Nervous Nelly. I was certain there was no cause for alarm.

As I sat in the bathroom, realizing that the problem didn't seem to be resolving itself, I tried to figure out how to break this new development to Mr Babbler. "Honey," I called from the stairs, "I'm sure it's proooo-ba-bly nothing, but we might have a liiittle problem. But I'm sure it's nothing to worry about." Within five minutes forty-five seconds of my telling him, he had put on his shoes and jacket, grabbed his keys and was standing by the door. Me? For some reason I was a little more sanguine about the whole affair. (Although if I'm being honest, there was no way in hell I was going back to the hospital where, most likely, the very same obstetrician would see me and think I was the biggest hypochondriac on the earth. I certainly wasn't about to subject myself to that particular embarrassment.) What did I do? I am nothing if not methodical. I pulled out every pregnancy book I had. When that didn't work I turned to the ever-faithful Google, true nerd that I am. Do you know what comes up when you Google amniotic fluid vs. urine? All in the name of parenthood!

Mr Babbler had had enough. We were going to the damn hospital, and we were going now. I packed up another book for Mr Babbler, my iPod, and a few snacks. As a last precaution I optimistically put on a panty liner. Didn't I think I was ever so smart? Go on and laugh. I sure am.

We arrived at the hospital, and in the amount of time it took to walk from the car park into the front door I was dripping into my shoes. At that point I knew, although I was still in pretty firm denial. I just needed to use the washroom, really that was all. Really.

Again we checked into labour and delivery admissions/triage. Things were a bit busier than earlier in the day, and the assistants said they were going to pull my file. In the meantime I could go into the cubicle and a nurse would see me.

The nurse bustled in, fully dressed in scrubs, with a trainee beside her. She quickly snapped on some gloves to administer the amniotic swab test. Holding it up, she announced briskly that yes, my water had broken.

And I burst into sobs. Long, wracking sobs.

Looking utterly confused, she asked me what was wrong. "But, but, but, [sob] it's tooooooo e-e-e-arly. I'm ooo-o-o-nly [sob] thirty-[sob, hiccup]t-t-two weeks!"

The nurse looked utterly chagrined, and immediately apologized. She hadn't seen my chart before looking at me, and no one had warned her. Things were going terribly wrong with a c-section in progress and everyone was running around (from the hallways was the constant sound of people yelling "get moving, I don't care who you send to the bloodbank, I need another 3 units of platelets. Move it, NOW!" It was a bit disconcerting to say the least.) Within a minute I had settled myself down and had started to ask questions. Mr Babbler and I both have always operated best when we are armed with information.

The nurse sat down and told us what would be happening next. As I wasn't in labour, I would remain in the hospital on bed rest. I would immediately be started on an IV (to keep my fluid intake up), I would have steroid shots (for the Peanut's lungs) and antibiotics (to prevent infection). I would likely have many more ultrasounds, monitoring several times a day, and a battery of blood tests. I would still deliver early as they wouldn't let this continue beyond around 35 weeks, but hopefully they could prolong the pregnancy a little while longer. And the nurse explained what would happen if the Peanut was delivered right away, what she would look like, who would be in the room, what would happen. She, in the midst of one of her busiest and worst nights ever, and more than anyone who would follow, prepared us for what was to come.

Mr Babbler was led away to start the process of checking me into the hospital. Wonderful man that he is, he sprung for a private room so I wouldn't have to be surrounded by a constant procession of other mother's with their brand new babies. With the constant questions, and the family visits, and the late nights, and their babies.

Within a couple of hours I was checked into a room on the maternity ward. As I lay in bed that night, adjusting to the noises and rhythms of the hospital, the constant ins and outs of the nurses, I pondered my new predicament. Bed rest? Me? Surely this wasn't how I was meant to spend the remainder of my pregnant days. My Peanut and I, we had important things to do together. We needed to be together, her and I, much longer than they were giving us.

And while the doctors were giving us another three weeks together, little did I know that again, the Peanut was going to have other ideas. Our time together was rapidly drawing to a close, and within a few days my world would be turned upside down.



jen said...

i love birth (almost) birth stories so much. can't wait for the rest.

cinnamon gurl said...

Ooh, this is brilliant! Way to draw it out...

Suzanne said...

I'm hooked! Next installment is coming soon, right?

painted maypole said...

ohhhh.... this sounds so hard.

And I can't imagine sharing a room after having a baby (with anyone other than the baby, of course) It's so hard to get any rest at all, and when you've got more than one baby crying in the room? yOu'd never sleep! single rooms were standard where I gave birth. thankfully. :)

Kellan said...

Your story - is such a lovely story. I'm awaiting the next installment as well ... see ya.

kittenpie said...

So scary. But I have to admit, I teared up about the nurse. How wonderful, to have someone who saw what you needed and cared enough to take that time. One really good person on staff can make such a difference, and I'm glad you had her.

bubandpie said...

This is so gripping.

Mom101 said...

Riveting. Wow. It's amazing how sometimes details don't fade so much with time.

nomotherearth said...

I am all nervous wanting to know the next installment..

I know that "off" feeling you had. I had that almost all day before my water spontaneously broke a couple of weeks early. In retrospect, I should have known..

slouching mom said...

Hurry up! Write, girl, write!

Alley Cat said...

I'm glad that I kind-of know the end of the story, but the details are still making me anxious.


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