Sunday, October 21, 2007

A year ago today (Part IV)

You can read Part I here.
You can read Part II here.
You can read Part III here.

A year ago today my day started with a whimper and ended with a bang. This day, it has so many details imprinted on my memory that I am unsure of how to proceed.

I was still on bed rest in the hospital, but I had started to find a rhythm to my days. It was a Saturday, so I had many visitors who all came laden with gifts. Later that afternoon Mr Babbler came for the evening. He had spent the day working with his father on our house, as the timeline for the completion of renovations had significantly stepped up. He had brought with him everything he thought I'd need to be comfortable for the next three weeks - more books, magazines, clothes, food, DVDs.

Saturday night was supposed to be our date night. We had been given tickets to the Leafs game - platinum tickets, a first for me - and we were supposed to go for a nice dinner. Since we were unable to go to the game, Mr Babbler decided to bring the game to me. We were still having date night, in my room at the hospital. He had brought sushi (vegetarian rolls for me) and we were going to cuddle up and watch the game on my TV. A romantic little date.

Just before Mr Babbler arrived I started to feel strange. My tummy felt a little upset and I visited the washroom several times, but merely chalked it up to the terrible gruel slop food. A friend of ours stopped by to pick up the tickets at which point I ended up throwing both men out of the room I felt so terrible. Shortly after our visitor left I finally called the nurse. She decided to put me on the fetal monitor and left the room for half an hour.

During this time my father had arrived for a visit. Finding me hooked up to a monitor and feeling rather poorly, he and Mr Babbler watched an episode of Little People, Big World. (He doesn't do medical stuff very well.) There I am, in labour (although I didn't yet know it) and the last show I see before things get really crazy involves the Roloffs. Nice!

My father left shortly after the show ended, promising to call the next day. The nurse came back and announced I was not in labour, according to the strip from the monitor. Since I was still feeling badly, with cramping that felt like it was occurring every few minutes, she went to get a nurse from labour and delivery. Said nurse walked in and immediately announced that the monitor had been put on wrong - because I was only 32 weeks the monitor had been placed way too high on my belly - and, oh look, there are the contractions (contractions?!) and they are two minutes apart.

I'm in labour? What? Holy shit! And I could have possibly found this out more than an hour ago? We were starting to think we had the B crew this particular Saturday night. It was only going to get better.

The nurse went back to find a doctor on duty. The doctor was busy (which was interesting in retrospect, as there were no other women delivering that night) so a resident came to see me. Make that a resident and a student. Perfect! It turned out I was already a few centimetres dilated and they would speak with the obstetrician about the course of action.

Unfortunately for me, I got caught in shift change (B crew to C crew, perhaps?). After waiting (and waiting and waiting) Mr Babbler finally went to track down a nurse. A new nurse from the maternity ward was brought up to speed, and she went to get a (new) obstetrical nurse. The new obstetrical nurse walked into the room with a huge chip on her shoulder. I can remember being stunned by how rude she was, as she didn't seem to believe I was in labour and made me repeat several times exactly what I was feeling. Hello, nurse? I didn't know I was in labour, one of your people told me I was in labour 'cause of that fancy-dancy machine over there. And um, here's some Lady Speedstick. When I'm in labour and feeling like complete crap, do I really need your overpowering body odor around? No, I think not. (And I'm not exaggerating on that point. This is my story, and I wanted that particular moment memorialized for posterity. For some reason, in the midst of everything else, that was what I found the most inconsiderate at the time.)

Finally, I was moved to the labour and delivery room. Mr Babbler made an emergency call to his father, who was staying at our house. "Um, dad, please don't settle in with a glass of wine and a movie, we may, uh, need you to come and pack up b*babbler's room as it seems she's in labour." After waiting a brief time the obstetrician swanned in. He wasn't my regular obstetrician - a terrific woman who was actually the head of obstetrics at that hospital but unfortunately not on duty that night. I'd never really been faced with truly bad bedside manner until that night. The doctor walked in, mumbled his name and told me to spread 'em. That was pretty much the extent of his discussion with me that night, as he began issuing commands to the nurses, calling for morphine to try to stop the contractions.

The nurses started a new IV with a high-speed saline drip, hooked me up to a fetal monitor, and gave me my injection of morphine. As they worked they spoke over top of me, as though I wasn't there.

"I don't know why he's bothering with the morphine. She's fully effaced. She's having this baby tonight. This is a waste of time."

Yeah. Thanks for that update folks. I love wasting time when I'm in preterm labour.

Mr Babbler and I spent the next several hours in a strange state. The morphine made me stupid and zombie-like, but didn't do anything for the contractions. There was a television on in the room that only aired the Weather Network, so we listened over and over to the same unchanging reports. The nurse who kept checking on me was pregnant. 32 weeks, she announced to me. I felt like a failure. Here I was, in labour at 32 weeks and she was still working, planning on another two months of pregnancy. I was upset, but somehow unable to cry. I needed to pee, but getting up was a major procedure. I apologized repeatedly to everyone I met. Time moved slowly and flew by faster than I could ever imagine, measured by the dripping of my IV.

After several hours the doctor came back in and examined me. He announced that I would be having the baby that night (surprise surprise!), but the hospital there couldn't handle it and he was checking with Mount Sinai and Sick Kids and then swanned out of the room, leaving Mr Babbler and I gaping. But, we were told the hospital here had a Level 2 NICU! There's no one else delivering here tonight! Why can't you handle me?! What the hell is going on! Is something wrong with my baby? But he was gone. Mr Babbler tracked him down to question him and found him playing, I mean researching, on the internet. Apparently they were short on beds in the NICU and couldn't take me that evening.

A while later he was back. Mount Sinai and Sick Kids were full. They were checking with Ottawa but they might end up moving me to Buffalo. Either way, I was moving somewhere that evening.

Ottawa?! Buffalo?! What the hell! Insert many curse words and fearful looks here.

Mr Babbler's father was called in to pack up my room. I had already changed out of my clothes into a hospital gown, and had only my Crocs, my teddy bear (given to me by my best friend when she found out I was pregnant) and my pillow. Everything else was taken home. Good man that he is, he even remembered the uneaten sushi dinner in the kitchen. We were not meant to watch that game.

Finally they announced I was going to a hospital across the city that we had never heard of. I would be traveling by ambulance and they would hopefully be coming for me in about an hour.

Sure enough, an hour later the medics arrived with the gurney. I was loaded on the gurney, a nurse was arranged to travel with us for the handoff and Mr Babbler was allowed to come along for the ride. While heading to the ambulance, the medic asked us if the delivery was imminent. He could do it in the ambulance, but he'd just prefer to have some advance notice. Wouldn't we all, I thought.

We got out to the ambulance at which point the driver announced that two of the major highways leading to the other hospital were closed that weekend for repairs. We were going to have to find a cross-city route. I'm normally the driver and directions person, as Mr Babbler will proudly tell you, so there I was, strapped onto the gurney on my back, in full labour having contractions every two minute apart, approximately 6 centimetres dilated and had no pain medication (the morphine having worn off) and I was tossing out possible routes left right and centre. No, not that way, you'll get stuck at that intersection. No! That stretch of road is already bad. How about you take A to B, then jog along C, up to D and that should take us there, right? Hey, it took my mind off everything else.

We headed out. No, let me tell you. Is a grown man anything other than a boy that wears larger shoes? I think not. Mr Babbler was so excited to be in an ambulance. With the light on! And the sirens! And hey look, we went through a red light! Ooh, ooh, ooh. Yeah. Seriously.

As we turned off one major road we heard an "oh shit" from the driver, "I forgot they put speed bumps all up this road."

Now let me state this up front - is there anything more uncomfortable than labouring on the flat of your back? Yes! Labouring on the flat of your back while strapped to a gurney going over speed bumps.

And then I had to pee. They had been giving me a full bag of saline by IV approximately every hour to hour and a half, and what goes in must come out. The solution? Put me on the "potty" while lying strapped down.

Is there anything more uncomfortable that labouring on the flat of your back while strapped to a gurney while going over speed bumps? Why yes there is! You can labour on the flat of your back while strapped to a gurney while your back is arched up and over the "potty".

That was how I remained for the rest of the drive, which, due to the road closures, took close to an hour and a half. I spoke to no one, and throttled my teddy bear through each contraction. Breathing? Yeah, I guess I did a little bit of that too. Finally, right around midnight, we arrived at the hospital where my Peanut would be born.

But that's a tale for tomorrow, the final part in this very long birth story.


bubandpie said...

It's just so appalling - how awful for you.

b*babbler said...

Bub - you know, the funny thing is at the time I was dimly aware that things weren't right, but only in retrospect was I truly annoyed. Mostly because I thought that perhaps if the ball hadn't been dropped there was a possibility that the labour might have been stopped. The doctor? That was a whole other matter. I ended up reporting him to my doctor, the Head of Obstetrics for that hospital. (Her nurses also reported to me that he has a long reputation for being a complete jerk.) She was appalled also, but for other, additional reasons. On the Monday when she went back into the hospital to check on me, they couldn't tell her where I was, just that I had checked out. Not that I'd been transferred and had the baby, but that I'd checked out. Needless to say, she had a fit!

Kellan said...

What a story! You certainly had your share of problems - I'm always on the edge of my seat -what a story! See ya.

NotSoSage said...

Whoa. This is totally an edge-of-your-seat story...

Suzanne said...

Wow. It's as if the hospital wanted to pull out all the stops in showing you how incompetent they could all be.

nomotherearth said...

Wow, this whole story is making me nervous! Must read the final installment. It seems like they went out of their way to make it as truly unpleasant as possible.

DaniGirl said...

Gasp! But, but... you can't just end it there!

I have to tell you, I am riveted by your story, perhaps the most compelling birth story I've ever read. And holy hell, am I ever glad I chose a midwife for this delivery.

Truly, this has been great reading. Now, hurry up with the finale!!

kittenpie said...

Oh my good gravy, this is going from bad to worse and I'm getting all white-knuckled! Gah! And it's not even me! I can't believe you weren't screaming your head off at everyone in sight.

Alley Cat said...

It's hard to believe that this sort of thing could happen in Toronto.

painted maypole said...

you are managing to tell this story with humor, which is quite amazing, considering.

an experience you would not wish on your worst enemy.

cinnamon gurl said...

Talk about speed bumps, both metaphoric and literal! And the BO on a delivery nurse? She should KNOW better!

Lisa b said...

yeah I think we need to get together for a play date.
we have A LOT to talk about.
Holy fack am I happy I was able to deliver at Mt Sinai. Honestly what could be worse than being trucked across town whilst in labour.


BLITHELY BABBLING © 2008. Chaotic Soul :: Converted by Randomness