Sometimes life gives you lemons. And sometimes life throws you giant shit pies. Yesterday was a shit pie kind of day. I have affectionally been calling it The Most Traumatizing Day Of My Life because it was.
It all started on Wednesday night at about 8:30 pm, the time they usually stick me on the baby monitor. Well, I guess technically it started on Sunday night when I was on the baby monitor. I had some contractions so they gave me a couple of injections of terbutaline and some oral Indocin and that took care of it. The next day I was stable again. Indocin can only be taken for two days, however, so by Tuesday night I was taken off of it. Fast forward to Wednesday. I started having contractions again. And here’s the thing about me. I’m not so good at knowing I’m having contractions. Yeah, I know, what the hell, right? I’ve had a baby before and it was less than two years ago, how do I not know what contractions feel like? Well, because early contractions, for me at least, are not painful. One side of my belly bunches up. Yes, just the one side. So you can see how I would just assume that Baby Boy was jamming his butt out or trying to jab an elbow into my hip. Apparently not. Those are contractions. Silly me. That sort of explains why I didn’t realize I was in labor with Louisa until my water broke and the contractions became super intense. Anyway, the nurse paged the doctor and he told her to start me on IV magnesium sulfate. That’s when the horror started. If you have never had the pleasure of IV magnesium sulfate, let me simultaneously congratulate you and place a blessing on your head that you NEVER EVER EVER have to experience it. The nurse warned me in advance that it would make me feel horrible and it did. The beginning dose, called a bolus, made me feel like I had suddenly been stricken with some terrible disease. I got nauseous, my head started spinning, my vision was blurry and sliding around, I was weak and shaking, and I got super hot and sweaty. After that the dose that is administered continuously is considerably lower so things got a little bit better – like, I didn’t feel like I was dying I just felt mildly terrible. The worst part, however, is that because the stuff makes you feel so nasty, dizzy, weak and unable to get around you are required to have a Foley catheter (whatever you do, don’t Google image Foley catheter, trust me). Again, please bless you never have to have one. Good LORD. Hey, I know we just started an IV, which kind of sucks, and then dripped in this nasty stuff that burns your veins and makes you feel like total ass, but now I’m going to jam something up your urethra and into your bladder thereby causing irritation and spasms. I can endure a lot of things, folks. I’m very tolerant of discomfort inflicted by doctors, nurse, dentists, what have you. I have a high pain threshold. Even though I’m needle phobic I politely close my eyes and go to my happy place when faced with IVs, blood draws and shots. The whole catheterization thing? It almost made me cry. It didn’t really hurt so much as it was just acutely uncomfortable, for obvious reasons. Things aren’t supposed to go in there, they are supposed to come out. And the thing that comes out is a trickle of liquid, not a tube with a balloon attached to the end. Anyway, enough about my poor urethra and bladder. The catheter sucked, The End. The nurse, in ever constant contact with the on-call perinatologist, came back to announce that she was supposed to check my cervix. I was dilated to 4 cm. That’s when things got crazy. She told me I’d probably want to call my husband because it was looking like I might actually be delivering. Then they transferred me from antepartum to labor and delivery (which mean a ride through the hospital on my hospital bed whilst still feeling the effects of the mag sulfate). I thought for sure we were having the baby that night.
My husband arrived, and thank God for him. Can I just sideline a moment to talk about love and marriage? I know, I’m in the middle of a riveting story and you’re all glued to your computers (right?) but I’ve been pondering this for a day and I want to bring it up (and I’m too lazy to write a separate post, having just survived The Most Traumatizing Day Of My Life). So obviously love changes over time. In the beginning you’re all lovey dovey, inseparable, and unable to keep your hands off of each other. My husband and I were like that. I remember it. We fell in love super fast and spent every minute together. Now, we’ve been together for 5 years, married for 3. Things are different. We’ve survived an interstate move, poverty and childbirth together (and that was all in one year). We’ve seen each other ill, depressed, angry, overweight, un-showered, hairy, on the toilet (yes, I know, ew, but sometimes once you have children who always want to barge into the bathroom and two cats who get all pissed off at closed doors and meow/scratch/stick their paws under the door until you end up opening it out of frustration, you just get in the habit of leaving the door open and eventually your partner’s gonna see you) etc. We have now spent nearly six weeks apart, with no chance of any intimacy (and I’m not just talking about the sex parts, we ain’t even able to hold hands or get a back scratch or just sleep in the same damn bed). And through that six weeks we have both endured our own versions of crap. I’m in a hospital, you read all about my crap in my last post, but he is the one who I think has actually gotten the shitty end of the stick in this deal. He still has to work full time, but on top of that he is now in charge of making sure the house stays at least somewhat clean, the laundry gets done, the cats get food and their crap box gets changed, and he’s a single dad suddenly. Plus he has to put up with different relatives being at our house every week to take care of Louisa and help out, which is great and we’d be effed without all of them helping, but sometimes you want your house to yourself. Plus he has to get printouts of my hospital bills and fax them to our supplementary insurance company so we get money to replace the paychecks I am now not making. The list goes on and on! The point of all of this is that yesterday I started thinking about how our relationship has changed and wondering how we have managed to weather it all and still love each other. And how do I know he loves me? Or that I love him for that matter? Sure he’s kind and loving and a good father, but mostly I know I love him because I trust him implicitly, and because yesterday he was the one person I was desperate to have sitting here in this hospital holding my hand and reassuring me that everything would be okay. I think I may have had a nervous breakdown had he not been here. He read me funny things from the internet to make me laugh, he rubbed my leg, he helped me turn over without tearing out my catheter, he listened while I whined about everything hurting and wanting to go home, he ate shitty hospital food instead of going out to get something yummy and leaving me here alone, he just made everything better. And that’s how I know he loves me. Sure, he says it all the time, but it’s days like this where I realize he actually does, and how lucky I am.
Anyway, sorry about all of that. Back to all the trauma. Neither of us got any sleep as the nurse was constantly barging in to make sure I was okay, and to check my cervix for dilation (four effing exams in twelve hours and she wasn’t exactly gentle about it GEEZ LADY, BE CAREFUL DOWN THERE), and just generally being irritating. I was still miserable with the mag sulfate crap so I hated everything. I whined, people, I whined. And I don’t whine very often. It was just too much all of a sudden. In the span of 24 hours I had an IV inserted, a catheter inserted, three blood draws (they have to check the magnesium level every six hours while you’re on this drug), two shots (one of terbutaline, one of more steroids for the baby’s lungs) and four cervical exams. Actually five because the doctor did one when he got here (but he was a lot more gentle than the nurse). Plus I felt like I was in restraints because I had a blood pressure cuff on one arm that inflated every 30 minutes, an IV in the other arm, a baby monitor around my belly, a catheter in my crotch and a pulse oximeter on my toe which kept getting knocked off every time I moved and thus beeped loudly. Add to that the fact that I’d had absolutely no sleep and that I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink (because there was still the chance that I’d be delivering) and all of the terror that the baby wouldn’t be okay and I think I earned the right to whine a little.
Luckily things eventually started looking up. The contractions subsided and my cervix stopped dilating so the day nurse mostly left us alone. We got a little bit of sleep. I was allowed to chew on ice chips. Then when the doctor got there at 4 in the afternoon he decided I could go off the horrid magnesium sulfate (and thus remove the catheter (HALLELUJAH)) and just go on oral Procardia to keep the contractions from coming back. And he said I could drink clear fluids so the nurse brought me some ice water. Can I just tell you that after 19 hours of not being allowed to drink water it is the most heavenly thing on earth? Really. I guzzled it. And then the doctor decided I could also eat food since it looked like I wouldn’t be delivering after all and he knew that I was starving (pregnant ladies shouldn’t go 19 hours without food, good heavens). Luckily I had some snacks here so I inhaled a bagel and a Twix bar, otherwise I would have been waiting another three hours for the dinner tray. The doctor informed us that with Procardia they could hopefully buy a few more days but that eventually they won’t be able to stop the labor. They’ll try their damnedest to keep me pregnant as long as possible. Which means that if I start contracting again it’s back on the magnesium and the catheter for me. I had nightmares about it last night, for real.
Luckily at the end of this hideous adventure (that is still going on) I am going to get a sweet little baby as a reward. That, my friends, is making it all worth it. This poor little boy, and I guess poor little me, are going to have a much less calm and lovely labor experience than the one with Louisa. And much less drug-free. I still plan to skip the epidural but already there has been dexamethasone, ampicillin, azithromycin, terbutaline, Indocin, magnesium sulfate, more terbutaline, more dexamethasone, more ampicillin, and Procardia shoved into my system which of course means shoved into his system as well. For the love! All we can hope for is that there aren’t a lot of adverse effects. And that he comes out okay (meaning I don’t have to have a C-section which is more common in preemie births than regular births). And that by the time he gets out of the NICU he doesn’t have any long-term health problems. That’s not too much to ask for, right?