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.

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