Saturday, February 27, 2010

23 wks, 5 days: The Brethine Pump and Star Trek Crap


So I see my doctor on the Monday morning that is to mark the 23rd week of pregnancy. And he is starting me on the brethine pump. I am a little nervous about this. The brethine I have been taking by mouth has at times had me having such bad palpitations that I have to focus on my breathing, feeling short of breath from the tachycardia. He, on the other hand, doesn't seem nervous at all, but rather excited by the idea. He is sure this is going to solve my problem. Whether or not he is truly happy about it, or whether this is his way of keeping me upbeat remains to be seen. Whatever. I will try anything that has the slimmest chance of giving me a healthy, closer-to-term baby while leaving my life intact.

After a brief visit, I leave the office expecting a call from the home health company that is handling my P17 injections. And it comes about 2 hours later.

They tell me a courier will be bringing the medicine, and the nurse plans to be there by about 3:30 that afternoon. Sure enough, by about 3:00, these boxes start arriving at my home, via a courier who looks like a disgruntled grandpa, angry at having to trudge through the snow to deliver the packages. I am wondering how in blue hell my doctor pulled this off so quickly until I see the garish fluorescent-orange "STAT" labels on each box. A-ha! I know exactly how he did it now, and am picturing his nurse on the phone with the company, making it sound like delivery of this baby is imminent if they don't get the supplies here yesterday!

Shortly thereafter, my nurse is here, looking kind of frazzled too, and I start thinking I may be the rudest person of all: the massive snow we got last week is still accumulated on the front sidewalk, as we use the back door to come and go from the house. In my fight to keep working, I have to get J to do everything, and it is all I can do to get him to do the laundry and keep the three of us in clean undies and socks. The front sidewalk was not at the top of my list. I mentally take note to get him to handle it, while apologizing to the nurse, who is bringing even more boxes into the house. It really does stink not being able to do anything by myself, and having to rely on others, when I am truly used to handling everything.

So we get started. First is the home uterine monitoring. What? The huh???? I had no idea this was even coming, but apparently my doctor wanted it. So she shows me how to strap myself up to a monitor like they use in the hospital to track contractions. And explains that I am to do these recordings for one hour, twice a day. She plugs this huge contraption to the outlet by my kitchen table, extends this antenna, and plugs the monitor box into it. After a series of beeps and flashing lights, it says that data has been sent, and ten minutes later, someone from Columbus, Ohio calls my home to let me know they got it, and it looks great. I am utterly amazed. My amazement turns to the thought, "Wow, I am old!". While pregnant with E and having contractions, the only way to tell the doctor that they were truly contractions was to schlep to the hospital. It was such a pain. Now I can do this from home, and a team of OB nurses will interpret what is going on and call my doctor for me. Fancy Star Trek crap!

Next comes the dreaded brethine pump. I am really nervous now. I guess I had pictured trudging around my house with an IV pole. My doctor had tried to explain it to me, and said it would be more like a fanny pack attached to a little catheter. I remember him laughing when I sarcastically commented on how hot that would look with scrubs. But this is even better than what he explained. It's smaller than a cell phone, and goes in this pouch the size of a large wallet, which can either clip to my waist or fit in a largish pocket. Cool. And the needle is tiny, and not an IV or even intramuscular catheter, but rather a small subcutaneous one. It actually looks like a large thumbtack.

So the nurse is ready to show me how to insert the catheter to start delivery of the medicine, and this is when I start to kind of freak out. My profession has me driving needles into peoples' arteries (which I am quite good at, by the way) without the teensiest bit of squeamishness. But this? This little needle the size of a large thumbtack??? Going into me??? I can't do it. My heart is pounding and my respiratory rate goes through the roof as my hand hovers, frozen in space, above the prepped area of my upper thigh. I cannot do it, until she places her hand on mine and does it for me. And it doesn't hurt, and I feel reallyreallyreally silly. But there it is, attached to this thin blue tubing that snakes its way to the tiny pump. Viola! Continuous brethine infusion, with a bolus every four hours.

I cannot wait to see if it works. I will find out the next night when I return to work.

(Image Credit: Smiths Medical, not mine. )

Saturday, February 20, 2010

22 wks 5 days: Put Yourself in My Shoes

So I report for my weekly cervical length,and I am having contractions about every 6 minutes or so. They have my cervix on the screen and know I am not dilated. Yet the ultrasound tech still insists that she tell the doctor, who makes me go to labor and delivery at the hospital. I go, but I don't like it one bit.

Once at labor and delivery, they hook me up to the monitor, and I am indeed contracting. and the nurse I have is one I don't know. By this time, I am frustrated and am scheduled for my big return to work in a mere 5 hours. I want out of there!

I tell the nurse that I don't want to go on the brethine pump, and I know that is what they are going to do next. She starts her "what is best for the baby" spiel. "You want a healthy baby, don't you?", she asks. Grrrrrr! Seriously? I give J a look at this point, and he knows I am about to lose it. Yes! Yes, I want a healthy baby. Yes, I know what I am up against. But I want to have a healthy baby with my job and finances intact, without having E and J fall through the cracks in my life. So I cannot help it: I get downright snippy with her, and look at J and say "Well, I can just refuse it, I guess!" Meaning the brethine pump, not the subcutaneous brethine injection they give at the hospital to stop the labor. What I want is for the nurse to try to understand. My frustration at my situation should in no way reflect on whether or not I want a healthy baby. I should be allowed to vent and cry a little without feeling less than adequate as a mother. I want her to put herself in my shoes: to be proud and independent and tough, to have worked to overcome multiple obstacles in life successfully, only later to be victim to random circumstance. Yes, I want a healthy baby. But I also want to be like all of the pregnant women I have known: working, smiling, glowing, and free of bruises and needle marks and pain that seem to mark my pregnancies.

One of the doctors from my OB practice whom I like is already at the hospital for a delivery, and he makes an appearance at my bedside. The nurse must have told him I had an attitude, because he looks at me and tells me I am contracting, yet again, and asks me if I want the sub q injection. I tell him yes, I want it, that I want the labor to stop, but don't want the pump. He asks me why, and I explain that another doctor in the practice told me I would be on strict bedrest until delivery if they had to go that route. Instead, I like it the way it is: playing it by ear and only being off of work when needed, instead of having to be off all of the time. He tells me he is going to call her and see what the thought process was behind that statement, and disappears, dialing her on his iPhone as he walks away.

Minutes later, he is back and tells me he wants me in the office on Monday, and that they are going to put me on the pump then. I can continue the way things are now with work, and I am allowed to leave, but no work tonight.

Monday, February 15, 2010

22 wks: Is This About A Horse???

This is funny now. It wasn't then.

There is something that has become commonplace since I had E. Progesterone injections to prevent preterm labor. And my doctor wants me to have them. I say whatever works! But I know nothing about these. I google some, and hear they are all the rage. I call the contact number to get the ball rolling. I call my insurance, and some dumb rep tells me they aren't covered. Then the OB nurse tells me they are. I am beyond frustrated. I do some reading to discover they may be contraindicated in asthma. I call the pharmacy to ask, and am reassured.

Finally the OB nurse calls and gives me a number to call. These people are supposed to get me set up. The meds will come to my house, and I will get the injection at my doctor's appointments weekly. Okay. I call. I'm supposed to ask for Bob. No last name, no extension number. Just. Bob.

The first thing I hear when I call is a recording asking me if I am a veterinarian. Ummmmm. No. But before I can hang up, a female comes on the line. I tell her my name, that I was told to ask for Bob, that I am pregnant and trying to set up progesterone injections.

"Is this about a horse?", she asks. No. It's not. I'm human, and so is my baby. "Oh ok", she says. Bob gets on the line before my mind can stop reeling. And before he says hello or anything, he tells me he needs my credit card info. What? Just a second ago, someone asked me if I was a horse!

"Wait a minute! I have insurance!" I tell Bob.
"We don't DO insurance here", he tells me, rather rudely. He says he needs my debit card info so he can ship the supplies and meds to me.

"Okay, whatever, how much is it?", I ask.

" One thousand, five hundred and sixty-two dollars."

I tell Bob I will call him back and hang up. I am not about to give someone Cart blanche with my bank account when just a second earlier, I was being questioned about my species. And I call the OB nurse from my insurance company.

Somehow they pulled it off for me, and they arranged it so a home health nurse will come to the house to give me my shot once a week to the tune of $135 weekly. Okay. But I at least I know it is medication designed for a human.

J comes home from class to find me sitting in the floor, crying hysterically. Of course he asks what is wrong, and I tell him the story. My new nickname, as a result, is Seabiscuit.

Monday, February 8, 2010

21 wks, 3 days: Labor and Delivery is a Cruel Place

21 weeks, 3 days pregnant. The contractions start at 5 AM. I don't wake J. I take my brethine. I wait a couple of hours and take more, even though I probably shouldn't. I am supposed to go back to work today. Please, God, make them stop!

After 3 hours, I call the doctor. Take a hot bath, he recommends. I do. The water turns cold, and I shiver as I empty the tub and let it fill again with hot water. It turns cold again, and I empty it to fill it again. No more hot water. I wait for the water heater to do its job, and fill it yet again. Please, just stop. The contractions don't, but now I am having palpitations from all of the brethine. They do go from every five minutes to every seven minutes, to every ten minutes. I dry off and curl up in a warm bed, and sleep.

I wake up. It is 11 AM. I am still having contractions. Every seven minutes again. More brethine, and now my heartrate is in the 130's. I call the doctor's office, just to hear them tell me what I already know: go to labor and delivery. I do.

No they don't hurt. They don't physically hurt. The contractions are uncomfortable, andI know they are there. But my heart hurts. I was foolishly holding onto the idea that this time would be different, that the episode at 20 weeks would be the last. The doctor comes in, and we devise a plan. Meds. More brethine, this time intramuscular injections. An ultrasound to check baby. A cervical length. What's that? I didn't have that with E. Must be new. Turns out they jam this rod that looks like a torture device into places you don't want anything jammed when you are contracting. But the cervix looks good.

I get 3 doses of brethine before all is said and done. The doctor is threatening to send me to Good Sam, the OB mecca I stayed in for a month when pregnant with E. Not that place. I don't want to go. J calls my boss while I cry. And listen to the sounds of an OB unit of a hospital, which is where the title of this post comes into play.

I listen. I listen to the woman in the bed next to me as she is sent to her room to deliver her healthy full-term baby. I watch smiling loved ones as they stroll down the hall, clutching pink and baby blue teddy bears, holding aloft the "It's a BOY!" or "It's A GIRL!" balloons. I am wheeled to a hallway where I am to wait for my ultrasound, wearing a thin, flimsy hospital gown. Pregnant women come and go for outpatient stress tests and ultrasounds. They glow as they stroke their bellies. And me? I'm just tying to hold on. And I sit in my gown, in a wheelchair. Contractions five minutes apart. A woman in the room across the hall asks if I am okay. No, I tell her. I work here. This is my place of business, and I am only 21 weeks. I am heartbroken,embarrassed, ashamed. She puts me in a bed, puts me on a monitor and alarm paralyzes her face as she sees the waves of contractions on the monitor. She calls my nurse, who brings more brethine.

Somewhere in all of this, the contractions stop. I ask about work, and my doctor asks me if I'm crazy. I feel weak and can barely hold the pen as I sign the discharge papers. We leave, and by now J has picked up E from school. E is upset with me because there is a book fair at school. He wants to go, but there is no way to explain why mommy can't. He doesn't understand, and I don't want to force the issue for fear of raising resentment toward the new brother who has already rocked his little world. I have failed him, too.