Where to begin?
On Thursday, mid-afternoon I noticed a warm low crampy feeling which seemed very much like menstrual cramps complete with low back pain. I took note of it thinking it was just typical pregnancy discomforts. My ankles swelled up that night so I took it easy and put my feet up. My stomach was a bit upset. I thought maybe I had eaten something funky. I made many trips to the bathroom feeling gassy and hoping to rid myself of whatever it was that was making me feel that way. The gas pains got worse overnight. I was up 3 times to pee and attempting to relieve myself of the extra pressure causing all the trouble. I finally broke down around 4am and took a couple of chewable Pepto tablets. I noticed I hadn’t felt the baby moving much but thought with all the gas she was probably pretty squished in there and the cramping might have lulled her or she was sleeping or something.
When I got up for good Friday morning I found some pink mucus. I thought it was pretty gross but it must just be caused by all the straining I had been doing overnight.
I was moving slow and really felt like crap. I listened to the baby’s heartbeat which reassured me that she was Ok. I ate breakfast and Googled “pink mucus during pregnancy”. Everything that popped up said mucus plug – right before labor starts, call your practitioner and other alarming things that I thought did not apply to me. (Please Note: I AM AN IDIOT!!!!) I really thought it was from the overnight strain on my gut. I went to work hoping the whole ride in that I wouldn’t lose control of my bladder at some point in the day. I was beginning to think of the “cramps” as bladder pain since my hourly trip to the bathroom had turned into every 30 minutes or so.
Things did not improve at the office. I had continued pain in my low abdomen which I was pretty sure was bladder related at that point. It felt like I couldn’t pee enough but when I went there was barely anything there. The pressure was just awful. I also noticed that each time after I peed the bladder pain would intensify into a very tight spasm which I would breathe through. I remember at one point standing there rocking back and forth thinking how ridiculous this all was, I had seen women do this on those birthing shows while they were in labor. I finally decided that I would wait for my doctor’s office to open at 9:30am and would call to find out what I could do. I was convinced that it was a UTI even though I had been tested for that on Monday when I was having the back spasms and it came back all clear. I thought maybe they just missed it. I still had not heard back from her office regarding the level of amniotic fluid. I still didn’t know where I stood on that front but they always let me know if something is a problem, with their office, no news is good news. Things got busy at work so it was probably ten to ten before I finally got a chance to call the doctor’s office. The receptionist explained that the doctor was actually at the hospital performing surgery and there were no nurses in the office, it was just her. She put me on hold and called one of the nurses at home. They decided to send me in to L & D just to be on the safe side. “Great!” I said, “Twice in one week! These people are going to love me!”
I explained to my coworkers that I had to go down. No one questioned me on it since I apparently looked like Hell. My friend had commented earlier that I looked like I was walking in pain. Then she wanted me to qualify whether I was in pain or sick and I simply said, “Yes”. I told them I would call when I knew what was happening. I called T when I got out to my car. He had felt so guilty about not coming down to L & D on Monday. I told him that I was headed down again, that I would call him if anything happened but I thought it would just be a long afternoon of waiting followed by them telling me to drink cranberry juice. He agreed to meet me down at the hospital.
We met in the parking lot at 10:25am. I was in pretty bad pain. We stopped just off the lobby so that I could go to the bathroom again since I figured it would be a few minutes while they got me a bed and I changed and they did all the signing in stuff. Our elevator ride up took forever; it sort of stalled for a minute but then let go. I had time to think I didn’t want to get stuck in an elevator away from a bathroom right then but at least I wasn’t in labor or anything. (Again, Complete Idiot) I was right about it taking a while before I could go to the bathroom again. By the time they asked for a clean catch sample I was in a lot of pain and wasn’t sure I would have the control to hold it long enough while I wiped with the three separate wipes then started the flow, filled the cup and then let the rest go. I managed it but was rewarded with the worst spasm yet once I got back to bed.
They sent my sample down to the lab while I was hooked up to the monitors which showed a good strong heartbeat and no contractions. T sat in a chair at the foot of my bed and held my foot for support since my hands were clenched around the bed rails each time one of these spasms occurred. I looked at my watch and noted they were happening about every 15 minutes or so. Huh. Still not appearing on the monitor or anything. At around 11:30am I said it was time to head to the bathroom again. I did and got back in bed feeling worse and worse. We sat there rolling our eyes at the long boring wait that we expected out of the afternoon which had pulled us both out of work. *sigh* All of a sudden I felt a BIG movement out of Light Blue. It felt like she rolled and pushed down all at once and there was a huge pressure. It literally felt like my bladder had been filled like a water balloon that was then floating inside another water balloon. Then it burst forth. I couldn’t stop it, it all just went whoosh and I was all of a sudden sitting in a puddle of fluids. I must have gotten a horrible look on my face because T stood up and asked what was wrong. We pulled the covers back and he immediately noticed that the color of the fluid in the bed was not at all the same color as the urine sample I had given them earlier. I rang the nurse and told her rather sheepishly that I didn’t know what happened but I might have wet the bed. I thought maybe I had had a blockage in my bladder that had all of a sudden let go allowing all that pee out which I just hadn’t been able to get out before.
The nurse came in and immediately said it looked more like my water had broken. They tested the fluid and confirmed it was amniotic fluid. There were also several bits of tissue in it. Then things started happening. They changed the bedding and the on call doctor came in to talk to us. As soon as she acknowledged my water had broken I looked right at her and said, “This is the point of no return isn’t it?” She agreed that it was. She said the NICU team would be up to talk to me about what might happen with the baby and they would get me the steroids to develop the baby’s lungs. They officially admitted me to the hospital and started preparing to move me to a labor/delivery/recovery room. While all of this was happening I remained quite calm. I was resigned to the fact that it was early, I was going to have the baby and there was really nothing we could do at that point without putting either me or the baby in further jeopardy. I also noticed that the “spasms in my bladder” were about 5 minutes apart. I guessed at this point they were contractions. Hey, guess what? They had been contractions all along! Though they still didn't show up on the monitors.
They gave me the steroid shot and started to wheel the bed to the new room. As we were leaving the door of the triage room I was hit with a different lower more painful pain. They wanted me to clarify pain vs. pressure. I said at that point it was pain and they said to let them know if I felt pressure. T was right beside me the whole time carrying my coat, clothes and shoes. We got into the new room and he was right there holding my hand as I was hit with more contractions. The NICU team was there already setting up the baby’s table. The doctors were discussing whether to check for dilation or if I should get some sort of digital scan. There was a room full of people running around doing things. T and I kept looking at each other and squeezing each other’s hands and telling each other how much we loved each other.
I was thinking that at this point it was a done deal so maybe they could hook me up with an epidural or something. T told me he had to go to the bathroom and he would be RIGHT back. I told him to go, I was fine, there were people setting things up I thought it would actually be a while before anything more happened anyway. Pretty much as soon as he left my sight I was hit with another big feeling of movement but this time I felt her head engage. I screamed. I think I tried to move, I remember wanting to roll up and to the left somehow. Not sure where the Hell I thought I was going. I realized that I was screaming and stopped myself thinking I didn’t want to be one of those women who screamed her way through labor and delivery. I could handle this damn it! I will admit I panicked for a short period of time, maybe 5-10 seconds then the doctor sitting on the bed next to my right foot said “LOOK.AT.ME.” in a very calm but firm voice. I did. T came running back in to find me clutching the bedrails again and chanting “OhFUCKOhFUCKOhFUCK” all the while in the back of my mind I was thinking that I was in a Catholic hospital and they probably wouldn’t appreciate that sort of language. T said he had never been so scared in his life as when he saw me yelling my string of obscenities and the head was coming out. I decided I needed to get my shit together. The doctor told me to pant so I tried, not really sure what she meant. Then she told me to take long slow deep breaths and I tried to remember my yoga breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth. I looked back at T to see how he was doing, thinking he must be scared out of his mind to see me that way. His eyes were WIDE and red and wet. Not tears exactly, I can still say I have never seen him cry, but this was the closest I have ever seen.
They asked us twice if we wanted extraordinary measures taken for the baby. I didn’t know what to say. Was she viable? Is it possible at this point? I just didn’t want her to suffer but I thought if they could at least give her an overall assessment first and then figure out what to do from there we would be better able to answer the question. If it looked hopeless we could at least request that she be made comfortable or something. T spoke up over my silence and said, “Do what you have to do”.
I felt another movement and it HURT! I was a bit distracted however by the two geysers of amniotic fluid that issued forth forming two giant arcing streams; one straight out and the other diagonally across the doctor’s chest, face and finally over her shoulder. Oh gross. Then she was out and I felt her on the bed between my legs wriggling a bit and I heard a vocal noise of some sort, it can not be called a cry exactly. I never pushed, it all just happened on its own. They intubated her immediately and got her over to the warmer and got her stabilized while they were setting up the incubator for the trip downstairs to the NICU. I could see an arm here and a leg there but couldn’t really see anything else. The doctor at my foot met my eyes and said, “I have amniotic fluid all over me.” She did too, across her face, her glasses, her scrubs. “Sorry.”
They came over and asked T if he wanted to come over and see her. He cringed and said, “Is she gross?” not as in deformed but as in covered in gook. They said she was all cleaned up but he said that was Ok, he stayed right there holding my hand.
I looked at T and we just sort of stared at each other. Our hearts were beating a mile a minute and our heads were spinning trying to figure out just what in the fuck just happened. They gave me a shot of pitocin in my right leg, I never did get an IV. They took the placenta down to be checked for signs of infection or some other reason for the preterm labor.
They wrapped her up and brought her over so that I could see her before they took her downstairs. All I saw was a very tiny pink face and neck sticking out of a white blanket with pink and blue stripes. That is the first moment I started to tear up but then either the doctor or T called my attention back to something on that side of the bed and I was back in the moment. I was in problem solving mode, not emotional mode.
So, my water broke at 11:30am, they officially admitted me to the hospital at 11:40am and she was born at 11:50am. I have never had such a crazy busy mind-blowing twenty minutes in my life!
Stay tuned for The Hindsight Questions.