Monday, October 20, 2014

Trying to Stop a Premature Delivery: When Time Ticks Away With the Agony of the Unknown


Officially, I was in premature labor, although no one had verbally labeled it that way. Maybe that's because my doctor was trying every drug he could to stop it.

Chris and I arrived at the hospital in record time. Our second visit in two hours. This time, though, instead of guiding me into the small monitoring room, they ushered me into a labor-delivery room, where I donned hospital jammies, received an IV, got an official admittance identification band slapped on my wrist, and settled in. Another injection of Terbutaline was ordered and administered, and the fetal monitor was wrapped around my midsection. It produced an, oh, so sweet sound as the baby’s strong heartbeat emitted a beautiful rhythm from the machine parked bedside.
But by nine o’clock that night, nothing had changed, and Chris decided to leave and go pick up Parker because he didn’t want to leave him at our friend’s house overnight. And it became apparent that Dr. Landry was determined to continue this course of treatment until the contractions abated. However long that would take.
At midnight, another Terbutaline shot punctured my arm, and I demanded an egg crate padding for the bed. It was now evident this was not to be a temporary stay.
“I will have to call Dr. Landry for that egg crate,” my nurse, Laurie, informed me.
“Please do that. I won’t be able to lie on this hard bed long—in this condition—without an egg crate pad.”
Within minutes the new egg crate arrived, was unrolled from its packaging and spread out on top of my bed. I reclined a little more comfortably. At least as comfortably as a seven-and-a-half-month pregnant woman in premature labor with her cervix sewn shut could be.

I called Chris sometime around midnight, practically begging him to call Dr. Landry to see what was happening. My patience dangled by an unraveling thread, and I wasn’t sure how many more ceiling tile patterns I was going to be able to mentally conjure up before going bonkers. Unable to bypass Dr. Landry’s protective answering service, Chris called me back with apologies and concern, and then retreated to sleep.
At two o’clock in the morning, Dr. Landry was still placing his orders over the phone, and my anger rapidly escalated. Why isn’t he coming to the hospital? I’m depending upon him, and, right now, he’s letting me down!
But I wasn’t just mad. I was scared. He’d told me once before he tended to think of me like all of his other patients with this condition, and he realized he shouldn’t do that. I feared he’d slipped into that mental habit again, and I—and my baby—would pay dearly for the mistake.
By 2:00AM, it was obvious that the Terbutaline wasn’t going to do the job, so Dr. Landry ordered the vicious magnesium sulfate to provide a final knockout blow to the contractions. When Laurie made the chirpy announcement that I was to have the dreaded drug, I promptly and bitingly informed her that I was not going to accept any amount of that drug unless I had anti-nausea medication to accompany it. My experience was paying off. And my maternal family ‘s hardheaded traits were finally working to my advantage.
“Dr. Landry didn’t order that, “ she told me crisply.
I propped myself up on my elbows to look her squarely in the eyes. “I’m telling you that I am not going to have any magnesium sulfate unless I have anti-nausea medication with it!” She stood erect and backed up a pace as my disgust made contact with her.
“I’ll call Dr. Landry.”
“You do that. You get him out of bed. Again!” Had I been a spitting cobra, the venom would have penetrated precisely on target.
Laurie rapidly exited the room and returned moments later with an IV bag of magnesium sulfate, an anti-nausea injection, and a very condescending nurse who proceeded to take charge. I got the impression that she was sent in specifically as a warden to take control of their problem detainee.
They also injected a sedative to enable me to relax and sleep. Unfortunately, it had absolutely no affect on my pain-riddled body. But slowly, the familiar, fiery magnesium sulfate crawled over my torso and face, and I asked for several cool, wet washcloths. With everything in place, I managed to assume a semi-agreeable disposition. The lights were extinguished, and the nurses left me alone in the blackened room. Alone with my contractions and drugs. Since the sedative was worthless, I closed my eyes and returned to a prayer I’d used frequently throughout my long confinement.
            “The light of God surrounds me.
            The love of God enfolds me.
            “The power of God protects me.
            The presence of God watches over me.
            Wherever I am, God is.” 1

Over and over I repeated it, with additional conviction during the worst waves of breath-stopping contractions. It helped to keep me focused on one thing: Jesus’ mercy and presence. Like that candlelight glow I’d experienced just days earlier. If I were too pre-occupied to feel His presence, at least I could remind myself, and my brain, of it.
At one point, my praying seemed to be working so well that Laurie quietly entered the room, silently observed me, wordlessly surveyed the fetal monitor paper rolling from the machine, and then tip-toed out. I half opened one eye to follow her movements around the room, without her noticing. Later, she returned once again to check on me, bubbling happily that I’d been sleeping earlier. I just smiled, closed my eyes again, and returned with deeper concentration and conviction to my prayer, while sneaking intermittent glances at the enormous wall clock staring at me from beyond the foot of my bed.
Time. It had seemed to ridicule me for months, and here it was again, rhythmically ticking away the seconds, minutes and hours. Like it held a secret it wouldn’t divulge but enjoyed teasing me about.
I felt doomed.


NEXT WEEK: When everything that could go wrong does…

Until next week,

Thanks for joining me!



photo credit: <a href="">Jösé</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>