Monday, October 13, 2014

Facing a Premature Birth

            My maternal instincts told me the end was near. Or, at least I wanted the end to be near, so I imagined it to be so.

            The morning after my joyful, uninterrupted and blessed sleep, I felt sicker. And the baby didn’t move during its most typically active time between 8:00 and 8:30AM. The contractions were increasing—I was allowed five contractions an hour before anyone went into panic mode—and my hip pain wouldn’t be appeased.
            The monitoring nurse instructed me—by phone—to once again drink some orange juice and wait twenty minutes to see if that stimulated the baby. Obediently, I downed six ounces, and then waited.
            No movement.
            I tried another glass to rev up the glucose level in my bloodstream.
            My heart pounded in my ears as I called the nurse again. This time I told her I wanted to be examined in a hospital. She agreed and called Dr. Landry. I quickly dressed, and Chris made arrangements for Parker to go to our friend’s house. Then we headed south to Escondido. By the time we left, the contractions had become more frequent and consistent.
            Upon arrival in the obstetrics unit, I was ushered into a tiny room designed specifically for fetal monitoring. They quickly strapped on a monitor and checked the waves. Yes, I was experiencing some labor contractions. But there were no apparent problems with the baby. He or she seemed to be doing fine. I am a hypochondriac, I chastised myself. But at least now I can be assured the baby is okay. That last thought sent my heart rate down a notch or two.
            I thought Dr. Landry might come to seem me, but he’d been there earlier to deliver a baby and left not long before my arrival. Speaking to him by phone, the nurse received instructions to monitor me for two hours and give me a shot of Terbutaline for the contractions. Chris sat patiently in the corner, watching and listening to the lines and beeps being emitted from the monitor and questioning me about what I was feeling.

            How can you verbalize that kind of thing to someone who has never experienced it, can never experience it? How do you describe ramping internal abdominal cramps to someone who’s only ever had cramps in his legs? How do you explain pelvis-gripping cramps that send pain needle-like shockwaves coursing through your low back and groin down the interior portion of your thigh and make your toes curl? He’d smile and shake or nod his head and then ask more questions. At least his questions kept me from thinking too much and him from getting bored.
            The nurses scurried in with juices for me, and a turkey sandwich for Chris, while we waited, watched and listened. Chris munched contentedly and continued to ask questions.
            When we were given the all clear to go home—the Terbutaline had successfully stopped the contractions—I struggled to find a way to gingerly roll off the bed as Chris searched for a wheelchair. We were immensely disappointed. Both of us thought, ancticipated— hoped—this was it. Dejected, we went home. I reclined across the back seat holding my distended girth protectively while Chris plowed up I-15 like a man on a life-saving mission.
            “Slow down!” I yelled several times as I bounced around and watched the clouds zip by the window. “You don’t need to drive that fast. You’re making the car bounce up and down!”
            “I want to get you home and back into bed!” he called back to me as he pursued his intentions with a manly, single-minded intensity. I could see his hands latched onto the steering wheel, the whitened skin nearly erupting around his bulging knuckles.
             Several minutes before we arrived home, though, I felt the distinct quivering of contractions. Great, that rough car ride just undid what Terbutaline was supposed to take care of. Maybe if I lie down in a quiet room they’ll go away.
            Back in my bed, I slid the monitor belt across my back and strapped it on. Then I called the nurse to let her know what was happening. “Monitor for an hour,” she instructed. “Then we’ll see what’s going on.”
            An hour. One more hour. With nothing to read, I lay there, alternately rearranging the pile of papers next to my pillow and writing contraction notes in my monitoring notebook. Anything to keep my jittery hands busy.
            One hour later I called in the results.
            The nurse seemed surprised. Her tone registered concern. “You’re having more than a dozen contractions in an hour, each lasting a minute and a half. I’ll call Dr. Landry.” Following another consultation with him, she called me back and told me to take another half of a Terbutaline tablet and monitor for another half-hour. Another thirty minutes. Why does that seem like a lifetime? Dutifully, I ingested the loathsome tablet and reverted my attention to the uterine activity and the little monitoring notebook.
            Half-an-hour later, the results were bleak. Seven contractions in thirty minutes. More consultation with Dr. Landry. Then another call to me. I was to return to the hospital. So, at seven o’clock in the evening, on February 26, Chris and I returned to the car and re-routed ourselves to the hospital, while Parker continued to be entertained and pampered at my friend’s house.
            Chris and I looked at one another with excited, expectant faces. Now, this was really going to happen! Dr. Landry would meet me there, he’d cut the stitches and we’d have the easy, pain-free birth I’d always dreamed of having!
            There was one problem, though. Dr. Landry hadn’t gotten the memo on my plans. He had his own. And they would lead me through a night and morning of physical horror and terror the likes of which I’d never experienced.      
            Dr. Landry was a man on a mission, too. Only his plans would come face-to-face in a titanic clash with God’s.
            Guess who won?


NEXT WEEK: Are we having a baby, now ... or aren’t we?

Until next week,

Thanks for joining me!



photo credit: <a href="">Jan vd Brink Fotografie</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>