Uncharted Territory (or the Monkeyboy's Birth Story, Part 2)

by Jen on April 22, 2008

in Does this baby make me look fat?

I have never been this pregnant before (and I can say that every day until this baby is born). With the Monkeyboy, at what would have been 34 weeks 6 days, I was holding him in my arms in the rocking chair in the NICU. While I try not to dwell on the increasing discomfort that the next, possibly-five weeks are sure to bring (remember, I’m still in denial about the possibility of going overdue this time), I’ll try to finish the Monkeyboy’s birth story.

* * * * * * * * * *

Part 2…

I continued to leak amniotic fluid as I cleaned up the puddle I’d made on the bathroom floor, and called the Hubster. “Where are you?” I asked.

“I’m on my way home for lunch,” he replied. It was about 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.

“Good, because I think my water just broke. I’m going to call the doctor. See you when you get here.”

I called the answering service and waited for the doctor to call me back. After asking me a few questions (he was probably trying to make sure I hadn’t just peed myself), my OB told me I should head in to the hospital (it’s an hour long drive for us) and, if they determined that my water had broken, he’d be in to see me.

I got dressed and finished throwing together my hospital bag. I was very glad that I had struggled through my shopping trip of the night before. The one thing that I was lacking were comfy socks to deliver in, but nothing could be done about that (although I did briefly consider stopping at Wa.lm.art on the way to the hospital).

When the Hubster got home, he packed a bag for himself, too. “So if the hospital determines that your water has broken, what then?” He asked.

“They’ll deliver the baby.”

Oddly, I was not scared by what was going on. What a difference nine days make. It was simply the magical number “34 weeks” that gave me peace of mind. My friend, OldChristine, had eight-year-old twin sons that had been delivered by the same OB at 34 weeks. I knew that they had been fine and had required a NICU stay of less than two weeks. That single bit of information kept me from feeling anxious. Also, I knew that if my water had broken and labor started, at 34 weeks the hospital would not try to stop it, so, in effect, that train had left the station. All we could do was ride it out.

We threw our bags in the car, and at the last minute, I grabbed all of the baby name books and tossed them in, too. We had been going ’round and ’round about baby names since we found out the sex. Finally, a few months before, we had decided to table the discussion until the beginning of November, six weeks before the baby would be born. At this point we were each to have a list of five to ten serious contenders, which I was confident we could narrow down before the baby was born. I had been sick since the beginning of October and had not made my list yet (although we were five days into November, already). The Hubster took a piece of paper out of his wallet and waved it at me.

“I guess I get to name the baby, after all.” He said, teasing.

As we got in the car, I used my cell phone to call OldChristine. She was shopping with her hubby (one of the Hubster’s best friends) and sons, who were all excited when I told them what was going on. I told her I’d call her when we got to the hospital and knew what was happening. Other than the Hubster calling work to let them know he wouldn’t be back, this was the only phone call we made. Until we knew what was going to happen, I didn’t want to start calling family. I’m the opposite of a drama queen, more of a private, Greta Garbo-”I want to be let alone“-type. The last thing I wanted was anyone showing up at the hospital. OldChristine had expressed a desire to be there, and she was the absolute single person other than the Hubster that I was willing to have in the delivery room (other than the obvious necessary medical personnel).

By the time we made it to the hospital (after driving through a Wen.dy’s on the way, because I knew the hospital wouldn’t let me eat once I got there), registered and were placed in a triage room, it was about 2:30 p.m. I had soaked through the giant pad I’d put on to contain the amniotic fluid. There was a big wet spot on the butt of my jeans. The nurses and resident that saw me asked if I was sure of my gestation (I put that to bed pretty quickly with a discussion of fertility meds), asked my plans for pain relief (“An epidural,” I told them. “Well, probably crying, and then an epidural.”), and checked to see if my water had really broken. The resident said they use three tests to check for amniotic fluid, to make sure that at least two agree. I know they tested with a nitrazine strip and did a slide to check for ferning, but I can’t remember what the third test was. I do know that the tests (like four out of five dentists quizzed on Trident gum) agreed — my water had broken.

At this point, I’d been having only some low back pain, nothing I could label as contractions. Instead, it was more like menstrual cramps. Before doing a cervical check, the resident asked me if I’d had any leaking prior to that day. As I thought about it, I realized that I probably had been leaking since Wednesday or Thursday of that week. I remembered how at work, by the end of the day, I’d felt “sweaty,” and that because of that I’d changed my pantiliner before leaving work. The more I thought about it, it occurred to me that it was a “wet” feeling, not like anything I’d had before. I told this to the resident and then added, “I probably should also mention that last night I took a bath.”

The resident did a cervical check around 3:00 p.m. and declared me to be “maybe one centimeter.” She tested me for Strep B, since it hadn’t been done yet, and the test came back as inconclusive. So for that reason, as well as the bath issue, she decided to put in an IV , so she could start me on antibiotics. I’ve always been complimented by phlebotomists on my large, cooperative veins (comments like, “You must work out”), but the person they sent in to put in my hep lock took several, painful tries before she asked for help. The nurse hooked me up to a contraction monitor and a fetal heart rate monitor. Then the resident said she was going to call my doctor and she’d be back to check on me. It was more than two hours before we saw her again.

Around 3:30, a nurse came in to check on me. She said,” Umm, your sister’s here?” I was starting to get uncomfortable, so I apparently wasn’t very patient or nice to her. I hardly remember the conversation, but the Hubster told me about it later. His actual words were, “and then you were mean to that nurse.”

When she told me my “sister” was here, evidently my response was a curt, “That’s impossible.” (In retrospect, I’m sure it made sense. After all, we still hadn’t called our families yet.) The nurse persevered. “A woman… about your age… long dark hair… she has two boys with her?”

“That’s OldChristine.” I snarled. “She’s insane.”

Since only one support person is allowed in triage (the rooms are very small) — and I was starting to act just a little like Regan from The Exorcist — the Hubster generously offered to step out so OldChristine could come in. He also said he was going to call our families.

“Be sure to tell them not to even think about coming to the hospital, that we’ll call them when we want them
here.” I ordered, as he fled from the room.

OldChristine came back, very excited to be there. She said they had been shopping nearby and, since they hadn’t heard anything, they stopped to see what was going on. I told her we were waiting for the doc to show up , but that they said they would probably move me to labor and delivery soon. OldChristine and her husband were going to drive home to drop the boys at her mother’s and were going to come back to the hospital. “Stop at Wa.lmar.t and bring me some comfy socks,” I told her, before she left and the Hubster returned.

In the meantime, the Hubster’s phone began to ring. And receive text messages. (I had turned my phone off when we got to the hospital). When he’d called work to tell them he wouldn’t be back, he had told them that my water had broken (I didn’t know that’s what he said up to this point). Through an odd set of circumstances, the wife of one of his coworkers (who wasn’t even working that day!) had found out. She was also the friend that I’d talked to that morning just before my water broke. She was also the biggest gossip in our group of friends, coworkers and acquaintances. She was digging for information as to what was going on, because she wanted to be the first to know, so she could spread the word. I just wanted to be left alone. We just called our parents, for Pete’s sake. When she didn’t get any response from us, she proceeded to call or text every other person that we both knew in common and ask them if they had any information. This is how all of our friends found out I was in labor.

By now, I was definitely feeling something. A painful something. An unending, unrelenting, painful something. Although the Hubster and I tried to interpret what we saw on the monitor, we couldn’t tell when one contraction stopped and when another one started. Apparently, this is because once contractions started they came one on top of another, with almost no rest in between. I didn’t even have time to catch my breath.

Since we hadn’t seen the resident in over an hour, I hadn’t seen a nurse since the one I was mean to had brought OldChristine back, and my doctor had yet failed to arrive, I told the Hubster that he needed to go find someone and tell them I needed something for pain. He returned from his mission to say that he had told someone at the nurses station.

And yet, no one came to check on me.

After another half an hour — which felt like one long, body-tensing contraction — I sent him back out to the nurse’s station. He returned again, saying this time that he had found the nurses and the resident (Remember her? The one who said she’d be back to check on me two hours ago?) watching TV. He said he was less than nice to them, and that they were right behind him. It was now about 5:30 p.m.

When they walked in the room, I was doing my best to bear the pain. I was straddling the bed and leaning forward to try to alleviate the tautness of my body, to get some relief. My entire body felt tense, from shoulders to hips. I still was unable to tell when contractions began or ended; it was just constant pain. I had tears running down my face.

“Oh, honey,” the nurse said. “You said you were going to cry, but I thought you were only joking!” Suddenly, the resident was all business. She checked me again and said I was a little over three centimeters. She and the nurse started to make arrangements to move me to an L & D room, so I could get the epidural I wanted.

To be continued…

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