Thursday, March 10, 2011
In my ever thrilling stay at NYP, as the homies call it, I have had basically nothing happen. Well, that changed. Starting on February 15th I was leakin' some clear stuff outta "down there." It was not a ton but was way more stuff coming out than was normal. The doc had a look and was absolutely certain it was not amniotic fluid. In his defense he did a swab and it was negative. However, given certain creepy and gross events to be detailed momentarily, I can tell you without a doubt that it was absolutely amniotic fluid. There is a lot of stuff people don't mention about pregnancy and birth. Weird stuff constantly running out of every orifice is one of those things. So here is the creepy and gross part. At about 3am on the morning of February 17th I awoke to find my pad, underwear and pants soaked through with this mystery fluid. I called the nurse who was a floater from labor and delivery.
"Hey Floater [names have been changed to protect the innocent] um, do you think you could come here for just a sec?"
I went into the bathroom and changed my pad and undies and took off my pants. I made sure to leave it all on the sink for the nurse. You know nurses, it makes them feel special when you leave them little gifts like that. Crazy girls. I then sat on the side of my bed kindof in shock. Floater came in.
"Hey. So, a lot of fluid just came out of me and soaked through my pad and pants and stuff. It's on the sink"
"I'll be right back. We will put you on the monitor."
She came back with a swab and swabbed the pad. I watched. Its sort of a weird situation. I mean, yeah, I'm socially awkward but I don't think even the suavest of ladies would have known the appropriate thing to do.
"Okay. It is amniotic fluid. Let's get you on the monitors. Go lay down."
That's when the drama hit. Before I even got to the bed there were four or five nurses in there undressing me, putting IVs in, poking and prodding, getting a stretcher, calling the doctor, etc. This is when I got the shakes. Partly because I was naked (for a few minutes) and freezing and partly because it was a bit dramatic. I wasn't freaking out, not my style, and thankfully was still cracking jokes keepin those nurses laughing. I was shaking uncontrollably. It was seriously ridiculous.
This is where you need a little setting. To get into this section of the hospital you have to buzz or have a keycard to get through a locked security door because there are babies in there and apparently they keep those under tight lock and key. They don't want just anyone to walk out with one of those. The entire time I was there they were constantly having issues with the door not working and this night was no exception. One of the babies had messed with their lo jack and set off the alarm. Even though the lo jack had been fixed the alarm wouldn't stop, making it so that no one, not even security could open the door. Well, on the other side of that door was the doctor who needed to examine me. Typical. Excellent. Finally, after the nurses have me strapped to the millions of monitors, a new gown on and an iv in the doc is able to get in. She props me up for a super fun cervical exam and thankfully I wasn't dilated. Since they still don't know for sure whether labor is about to begin and some baby in there has broken water they rush me up on the stretcher (talk about an awkward way to see strangers in an elevator) to the high risk section of l&d. This is where the really fun stuff always happens. Remember that awesome night I had on mag? There was a an incident with a catheter you may recall? No? Well, go do some review. This is that place and guess what... I won the prize! Another 12 hour stint on mag! I know, I am still getting over the jubilation. It wasn't nearly as bad this time because the doctor was there a couple of the times I had to pee and so I was allowed to use the real toilet and all the other times my amazing nurse would just turn off the mag and let me go myself since I wasn't dizzy or weak. Glorious. I was NOT however, very good company for poor Eric. I literally slept the entire time. Even when they wheeled me (on a stretcher of course because I find that so comfortable) up to ultrasound and left me in the hall, I just slept. I was zonked. I was only allowed chicken broth and water. Most people are also allowed apple juice but, of course, I still had the GD (gestational diabetes).
At some point a doctor came in and said "Hi, I'm Doctor Lalalalalala. I met you when you first came in. God, you just keep eking this pregnancy along don't you?!" Yes. Yes I do.
Now when the water first popped I thought that meant we had to deliver. Apparently not. You can go for weeks and weeks with popped water because the baby just pees out more for itself. It is dangerous though because there is a high risk of infection. If your membrane is ruptured (read water broke) you have to be in the hospital until delivery. Also, if you are more than 34 weeks they will deliver immediately because the risk of infection outweighs the risk of prematurity at that point. Now we can all sing the little jingle from The More You Know.
So here I am with a ruptured membrane at 31 weeks, my cervix is still dilated and now basically completely effaced. The doctors had a big discussion and disagreement about whether they should just deliver me at 32 weeks or let me hold out for 34. Since my attending gets the final say I was told that I could hold on to 34 if and only if none of about 400 things happened. There could be no infection, no sign of infection, no labor, no empty sacs, no decels (decelerated heart rates) during any of my twice daily NSTs, and a list of about 394 other things. With all this they sent me back downstairs to wait it out. Things were different. I wasn't allowed to get up as much, wasn't wearing my own clothes (gowns only) and had to wear these weird hospital undies. They are mesh. No, I'm serious, like real mesh. I felt like a proud gay man. I was determined to go to 34 and keep these things cookin. Well... didn't quite happen.
Monday, February 14, 2011
spent ample time looking my prettiest. I shaved my legs and showered
and changed my shirt (I had no more clean pants so I had to wear the
same ones). I know. Clearly I was serious about this momentous
occasion given the massive amount of work that went into all that.
This was like the biggest day of my life since the mag stopped and I
got to pee. I knew she wouldn't be there til evening so I bided my
time crocheting. Yes, I finally got all those knots undone. Although I
also made a vow that I will NEVER purchase unwound yarn again. Why
they even make unwound yarn is a mystery to me. Yeah, okay, maybe it
is easier to package and maybe loomers or something need it unwound. I
don't care. It's a terrible idea. Back to the point.
At about 10 someone came to my room while I was sound asleep (I don't
sleep at night but I take lots of naps) and knocked on the door. When
she poked her head in she said, "You're Ms Silverstein?". I affirmed
rather groggily and she shut the door. I promptly returned to my nap.
A few minutes later, another knock. Same lady. This time, rather
annoyed, she says, "I'm here to take you to your ultrasound." Okay I
knew I was having an ultrasound but you never know what time so it's
not like anyone had said, "Be ready at ten." Second, she didn't say
that the first time. She just asked who I was. I am not a mind reader.
A billion people come in and out of my room everyday so I am pretty
sure there was no way for me to divine that you needed me for
something so I am not sure you need to be annoyed with me. I scrambled
to get on my flip-flops and grab my phone. I took a seat in my sweet
ride and we were on our way. By the time we got down the hall and to
the elevator the woman says, "Where's your bracelet?". "I have no
idea. It must have fallen off in my sleep.". Ha! you thought I was
annoying her before, well apparently that was just the beginning. "Uh,
you need that," she tells me. Ok well that's fine but I can't do
anything about that right here. She asks some buddy of hers that just
passed us to babysit me while she went back to my nurse and got
another wristband. Obviously, keeping my mouth shut for the rest of
the trip would have been the socially responsible thing to do.
Obviously, I am a social idiot so I continued to comment on things we
passed, make little jokes, compliment her, etc. It took a long time
for her various grunts of reply to communicate to me that talking was
not a sweet idea. Eventually we reached our destination and the
torture ended. Now, I had learned the first time I was locked up that
you have to bring something to do with you, thus the phone. Do you get
dropped off in the waiting area? Oh no. They park you in a hallway and
then you wait for a tech to come out and get you. Last time that was
about 45 minutes. This time it was only about 20. It's not like there
are a bunch of people in wheelchairs waiting. It's just you, awkwardly
sitting in the middle of a hallway meant for walking, watching people
pass by, having to see the same people go in and out and decide
whether you should smile the 38th time they pass you or continue to
pretend you are not sitting in a hallway and ignore. Here's me in the
got to go back in the hallway to wait for my ride back. Luckily it
only took about 20 minutes as opposed to last time when it took over
an hour and a half.
Eric came by that evening just in time for the doc to come by. It was
possibly the most suspenseful moment in history. We're talking more
suspenseful than every sports movie where there is a tie and it comes
down to the last play/second/shot etc. I got ready and laid back. When
she was done she said "Yeah, it's 3cm and about 90%". Then she walked
into the bathroom to wash her hands. Eric, somewhat trepidatiously
asks, "So what does that mean?". Her reply? You really wanna know.
Come on, if you have been on Facebook you already know. Okay fine. Her
words were, "Well, you're not going home". She said it just so it
sounded like "well obviously your not going home crazy person". It was
perfect. She said it just how I would have. A girl after my own heart
I tell ya. Anyway, point is I wasn't stable enough to go home and she
will re-evaluate at 32 weeks. She is also pretty amazing and so she
sat there and chatted with me and Eric about medical and non-medical
stuff for at least an hour. Sorry but you are just not as cool as her.
Get over it.
Yeah, being in the hospital isn't completely awesome. I am currently
suffering from severe Fenway dog withdrawal syndrome. My symptoms
include dreaming he is next to me at night, watching little videos of
him for like an hour at a time and missing him. See how smooth that
was? They should just give me a medical degree. That said, even though
I only write about the ridiculous, it could be a lot worse and I am
certainly not miserable. I think it helps that I had been on bed-ish
rest for several weeks before coming so it's not exactly like my daily
activities have changed tremendously. At home, I laid on the couch all
day watching tv and playing on the computer. At the hospital I lie on
the bed all day watching tv, playing on the computer and crocheting.
At home I wasn't allowed out of the house except to try and get my fat
self to doctor appointments. In the hospital I am only allowed out of
the flor when pushed to an ultrasound and the docs come to me. Not
what I would call a major lifestyle shift if ya get me. Believe it or
not it even has its perks. At home I pay 65 smackers every time I see
a doc plus 42 bucks in cab fare to get there and back. In the hospital
I pay a low flat rate for all you can eat doctor appointments. The
food still sucks though. Don't ever forget that.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
About a week after the steroid shots were done I got the word that I would be doing the three hour challenge starting first thing in the morning. The upside was that the nurse would just do it so I didn't have to actually go anywhere. Well, because this is ME we are talking about, I didn't sleep at all the night before. It had nothing to do with the test I just do that from time to time where I don't fall asleep for a night. It's generally no big deal because I nap a little the next day and then sleep nice and sound the following nights. The problem here is that when you are awake you are hungry, like, real hungry. You have to fast for the test so eating was a no no. So, the blood taker came in at 5:30 and of course I was still awake. I gave her my blood and she left. The nurse came in with the drink at like ten to six. Ok. I thought the one hour drink was wretched but heavens to Betsy, I had NO idea what wretched was. This one was Lemon Lime flavored. Instead of having the viscosity of water or soda, like the other one, this drink was more of a syrup. Check it out:
I give you this close up. Notice how it says, "Pleasant LEMON_LIME flavor". That is a horrible lie. They should be sued for false advertising. It should read, "Warning, this crap will make you throw up all over yourself".
First stop- my nest. I have created a nest on my bed so that the belly has cushioning on whichever side I am laying on. Tied to the bed are: my phone cord, my computer cord, the tv remote (it has a cord), the call button and the cord for the light switch. This way, I don't have to move this massive structure around every time I want to change the channel. Also, I can hang my glasses on the knots at night so they are easy to find in the wee hours when hundreds of doctors descend on me.
This is my information board. Almost none of that actually applies to me since I have not had my baby yet.
Here is the view from my window. I usually have to keep the shade drawn because, as I have said, it's 111 degrees in here. Remember, they cooled it down from 112.
This is Eric napping in my bed on the weekend. Its a cozy nest when there are two chickens in there. Especially if one chicken is the size of a manatee!
Following my first descent into the underworld of medical care (aka hospital stay 1) it was made very clear to me that if my cervix showed any significant changes during my weekly ultrasounds I would be thrown back in to be fed on by the nurses of antepartum. It made every ultrasound a more thrilling and suspenseful experience. Since I was lacking in thrill and suspense in my daily life, due to its home-bound nature, I welcomed the excitement.
It was a cold and blustery day in January, the 27th, to be exact. I exited my town car (read taxi) and climbed the harrowing distance to the door. Alright, too slow. I went to my ultrasound and, Yippee, my cervix was about 1.6 so no real change. Also, Eric got in trouble for using the wrong chair. I warned him not to bring in a different chair but he assured me no one would even notice but what was the first thing the tech noticed. Oh , you know what it was. She made him re-arrange but let him keep his choice of chair. Anyhoo, I then skipped giddily over to the doctor's waiting room, assured of my going home by the excellent cervical measurement. Eric had a snow day so he actually got to come with me which was exciting in itself. They were very backed up due to people not being able to get there for work and just the weather in general so we waited for at least an hour and a half. When we finally went back it was business as usual. Got my weight, checked the ultrasound report for the cervical length, etc. The doctor came in shortly and was asking about how I was feeling. I told her that my uterus had been feeling a lot tighter for significantly longer periods of time but it wasn't painful or regular or accompanied by cramping so it was probably fine. She delved a little deeper asking exactly what the tightening felt like, how long it had been lasting, how long it was lasting now, etc. Apparently, my idea of normal was actually NOT normal (typical right?). She was pretty concerned with the fact that I was literally contracting all the time. She did a cervical exam and I was 2cm dilated and 80% effaced. So, I bet you can't guess where I went.... Oh, how did you know? You're right. Back to the hospital. Luckily, I was significantly less petrified this time for several reasons. First, this was old hat now. I had done the whole l&d triage thing twice before. Second, I knew that no matter how the doctor's were talking, it didn't actually mean the babies were for sure coming right away. Third, we were past the magic 28 weeks which meant that, barring any outside complications, their chance of survival was in the high 90%s and their risk of long-term, debilitating effects such as cerebral palsy was greatly diminished.
The docs did the usual shenanigans. They hooked me up to thousands of monitors, checked my cervix for themselves, etc. They did notice that I was pretty much contracting every 2-4 minutes (this had been happening 24 hours a day for at least a week). Given the cervix and the contractions they had good reason to believe that true labor could be starting. They had 2 goals at this point, a. stopping the labor and b. preparing the babies in case they couldn't.
Thus begins the true tale of horror and torture. I was not taken to the cozy antepartum ward where I spent those 5 carefree days in early January. I was taken to the high-risk area because I needed continuous monitoring, meaning the contraction monitor and fetal monitors needed to stay on at all times.
This is how I got into drugs. First they started me on a Magnesium Sulfate drip. This can help with contractions and also helps the babies’ brains develop a bit more quickly. The drug itself was a trip, especially in the beginning because they start you on a very high dose for the first half hour before lowering the dose for the remainder. I was sweating like a fat, fat pig, shaking, extremely drowsy and frankly, a little delirious. I tried calling my father just to say hi and he said I sounded pretty loopy. The Mag was through an IV (my favorite) that they also used to feed me fluids and some sort of sugar water since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and couldn’t eat on the Mag. They also started round two of steroid shots. Each round is two shots given 24 hours apart and the babies can receive a total of two rounds. The last time I was in the hospital they gave me round one. So, this time they started round 2. Finally, they gave me some indomethacin orally which is supposed to help stop the contractions. So I was getting drugs through an IV, shots and pills. Someone should probably call Intervenion.
I looked amazing.
I wish I could say that the drugs were the bad part, especially the Mag which I have heard many understandable complaints about. Unfortunately, my real problem was a policy. Hospital policy is that patients on Magnesium Sulfate drips are not allowed to walk. Supposedly the drug can suddenly make you really weak and you can collapse. Well, think of one place I might need to walk to every half hour or so. Keep thinking. Got it? Yep. The bathroom. I was not allowed to walk to the bathroom. The first nurse I had while I was there had me try a bedpan by lying in bed and sticking it under my butt and telling me to just go. Right. Of course. Just retrain your body after years of teaching it to NOT pee the bed. No biggie. Clearly I couldn’t do it. Even though I really had to pee I could not pee while lying in bed. This has to be the only time this could ever be considered a negative. So, she inserted a catheter. Alright, I expected it to hurt going in. It did. Fine. I am not a whiner so I didn’t complain. Here is what I was not expecting. I already had that holy-crap-I’m-about-to-pee-my-pants, have-to-go-so-bad-it-hurts-like-a-mother feeling. When the catheter was in and very visibly working that feeling didn’t go away. It got worse and worse and more and more painful. I promise you I am not much of a complainer. They do all kinds of weird and uncomfortable things to me here and I always say, “No, I’m fine. It feels fine. Don’t worry about it.” After about three hours of that feeling and the pain that goes with it increasing I just started bawling. It hurt so incredibly badly. Of course, even though I had been telling the nurse that it was hurting, she simply couldn’t believe that it hurt that badly. Her comment to me was, "If it's uncomfortable enough to prevent you from sleeping we can take it out and re-insert when you need it." Seriously, "if it's preventing me from sleeping"? IT'S PREVENTING ME FROM BREATHING you crazy woman!!!! I told her she had to take it out, which she did. Well, when she pulled it out did that feeling go away? No. This is me we are talking about. Of course it didn’t. So I’m bawling and telling her it still hurts and she’s asking, “Why are you crying? Are you scared?” Are you scared? Are you kidding me? Though I may be crying my communication skills have not been that impaired. I am telling you why I am crying. It hurts. She is unable to process this information. Lucky for both me and her, her shift is over.
Then an angel arrives. A sweet sweet angel sent from God himself. A woman I will never forget. After the catheter is out I know that my bladder is empty so trying the bedpan again will do nothing. The doctor comes by and tells me I am allowed water, which is such excellent news. I am parched since I haven’t had any water since breakfast. Also, because of the monitors I have had to lie on my back, which makes my nose completely clogged, impassible by even the slightest stream of air. Therefore I have been breathing out of my mouth for a few hours and have had no water. The other excellent news she brings is that the fetal heart monitors can come off and only one contraction monitor has to stay on. Hallelujah. Unfortunately, all of this is overshadowed by the intensely-sharp and unrelenting pain in my bladder region. This is where the angel comes in. I tell my new night nurse that I have to try the bedpan again. I am just praying I can go because it’s now been a totally of about 5 ½ hours since this feeling started. I told her that I wasn’t able to do it when the other nurse tried. And that sweet sweet angel said she would put it on a chair right next to my bed so it was more “toilet-like”. It actually worked. I have never in my life experienced such joy and happiness as I did when I finally peed that night. I had no idea I could ever have such a passion for urination. The immensely lightening feeling of relief made me want to cry. It was such a beautiful, beautiful thing. I have my doubts about my babies’ birth being able to live up to the ecstasy felt that day. She then took care of the bedpan and put it back on the chair so I could just use it whenever I needed to. I made excellent use of it. The Mag infusion finished at around 3:30 am and they also took the contraction monitor off at that time. I could finally roll on my side, use a real toilet and drink real water. After watching some Netflix on my phone I eventually fell asleep for a couple of hours. Dreaming about my new love, peeing.