Wednesday, March 3, 2010

24 wks, 3 days: Terror and Good Coworkers

Sunday morning, I was trying to sleep the day away in preparation for a night shift that night. I had to run a one-hour strip on my monitor like I do everyday, so I plugged myself in and let it do the work while I dozed. I remember it beeping, and in a sleepy haze, handing it to J to transmit the recording to the company. A few minutes later, J is waking me up, thrusting a phone at my face. It's the home health nurse, and she wants to know my pulse. So I wake up and count it for her. But then I can't go back to sleep. So I get up. Errrrr, I tried to get up.

What happened next was so quick it was a blur. I remember my toes getting caught on a rug beside the bed. I know I sailed through the air, landing flat on my belly, my head just inches from the closed bedroom door. J and E both barge in, wondering what the awful sound was, only to find me there, still on the floor. It wasn't a big deal at that instant. Pregnancy makes the most graceful of us become foddering and clumsy. When I was pregnant with E, my favorite pasttime was falling down stairs. We've since joked about it because it happened so often that I would automatically shout out "I'm okay!" from my landing at the bottom, to keep J from panicking. This hasn't happened during this pregnancy. Or at least it hadn't.

J was frantic. He rushed to get E dressed, and was running around the house like a mad man, explaining to E that Mommy would have to go to the hospital. I kept telling him I didn't, that I was fine. I just felt like I was being punched in the stomach, but it wasn't the excruciating pain that marks a placental abruption, which is what one would worry about in a time like that. (In truth, I don't know what it feels like to be punched in the stomach, but I imagine it to feel like I did!) I called my doctor more to appease J than I did out of concern.

The doctor calmly asked my blood type, and told me to go to the hospital, where they would be expecting me. He explained that they would do some blood work and just check things out. So we went.

They drew labs, something called a KB Test. I had no idea what this was, but I was okay and the baby seemed to be okay. As a matter of fact, I giggled at the sounds of him swimming around in there. He was happy as a lark. They said the test would take about 2 hours to come back. Okay. Whatever. But of course, this is me we are talking about. I should wear one of those "Hello, my name is..." stickers afixed to my chest, but instead of A, for the time being, it should instead say "Obstetrical Anomaly". Of course I was contracting and of course the nurse had to report it to my doctor. And thus my relationship with magnesium sulfate (for this pregnancy, anyway) started this past weekend. The poor nurse didn't even have to tell me what she was going to do. She came back from speaking with the doc, and just frowned. I knew what that meant. "He ordered mag.", I said. She just nodded.

If you have never been on mag sulfate, it is hard to describe. The minute the stuff starts hitting you, you feel like you have an intense sunburn, with heat trapped beneath your skin, unable to escape. Some people get weak. Some people vomit. I don't do either of those, but just feel miserable, generally. And hot. Very, very hot. But I've been down this road before. I know it is the big dog for preterm labor. I was on and off of it for a month with E. It is, by all rights, familiar territory for me. I consent to it, but tell them I want to able to eat. I am starving, after all. They let J come back to see me, and I give him a Mickey D's order, and send him running for it.

That is when it happened. Right then, when my husband was in some silly drive-thru getting me a stupid cheeseburger. Every nurse on staff in L &D (or so it seemed, as there were 5 of them) was suddenly at my bedside, clutching at my wrist to check my pulse, feeling on my belly to find Zachary. His heart rate had decelerrated to a point where they could not distinguish between his slowed heartrate and my quickend one from the brethine pump. But my time in my profession, where I have been called on to resuscitate newborns has taught me enough. I knew a decel like that meant fetal distress. I was hysterical. J was getting a damned cheeseburger for me. And they were muttering sentences about "delivery". And me? I wasn't rational at that point. I got on the phone, in the midst of that flurry of activity, and called my department at the hospital to let them know I would not be there. I'm glad I did.

I don't know how long it took, but before I knew it, as I was sitting there with the nurses thinking Zachary was seriously in jeopardy, 3 calm and smiling faces popped up from behind the curtain. My coworkers. To check on me. The one I had spoken with on the phone had heard my tone of voice and had called in the troops to come and make sure I was okay. God bless those girls. They calmed me down and reassured me until J was there again.

Zachary was okay. Whatever had caused the decel went away and his heart rate picked back up. I was admitted on my mag sulfate drip. But for the first time in all of this, I really truly had to think that my baby was at risk. For a few minutes, I had to think that this was not just me being me, contracting like I do. This has been going on for over 5 weeks now, but I took for granted that I would deliver a healthy baby in the end, like happened with E. This experience showed me that nothing is a given.

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