…my husband told me this before going to bed last night. 48 hours ago we didn’t think such a comment would have been necessary, but it has been a heck of a last two weeks for me and baby Spartacus.
My original due date was July 24th. I loaded up my June with professional development and other various activities I struggle to say no to, figuring I’d have three whole weeks in July to kick back and relax and get everything we needed done before Sparatcus’s arrival. After all, I know plenty of first-time moms whose babies came at 41 or even (God forbid!) 42 weeks, and the first eight months of pregnancy went so smoothly it didn’t seem likely Spartacus would cause any problems.
How quickly things can go from “uncomplicated” to “high risk!”
Disclaimer: I know I usually blog about teaching. This post is about pregnancy, because when it’s your first kid, it’s hard to focus on anything else. Thus, the story of my teaching involves some gross pregnancy details. Sorry in advance if I give too much information.
The last three weeks have been…illuminating in all the many things my pregnancy books DON’T tell me. For the most part, blogs and books elucidate all the dangers of the first trimester; once you’ve made it past 12 weeks, you’re pretty much good. However, all my issues started in week 32. I went in for my usual appointment with my midwife (army healthcare provides nurse-midwives to low-risk pregnancies, which is totally awesome) after school let out. My blood pressure was a little high (like 134/89), but that’s not uncommon for me – our hospital has terrible parking, and by the time I’ve hiked from the parking lot and to the clinic in Texas summer heat I’m a little winded. She usually takes it again at the end of the appointment, it goes down, and we’re all merry. This has been the routine for the last six or seven appointments.
But for this appointment it did not decrease, so she decided I needed some additional lab work and monitoring. This involved fetching a wheelchair and a wheelchair pusher, carting me off to the lab for blood samples, and then a trek up to the second floor Labor and Delivery — NOT the department I wanted to visit just yet. There they hooked up a blood pressure monitor, pulse rate, fetal heart-rate monitor, and a contraction monitor. On the way up I (in tears of panic) ask if I should call my husband — I know people who made this journey and had a C-section baby twenty minutes later – but they said no, no, I’d probably be released in an hour…and thus began the scariest hour of my life, which has been repeated no fewer than four times since. An OB I’d never met came in and threw words around like “gestational hypertension” “preeclampsia” and “induce at 37 weeks” which were all things I’d never heard before. I was instructed to make twice-weekly appointments for fetal non-stress tests in the perinatology department and watch out for headaches that won’t go away, pain in my lower right side, and changes in vision, any of which could signal preeclampsia. My only experience with this word is that Lady Sybill in Downton Abbey died of eclampsia, and that was pretty traumatizing, so thus I am traumatized.
After about an hour when my bp went down to normal, they let me go home to my husband, who endured the tears of panic and fear of finding out that something might be wrong. They also sent me home with a 24-hour urine container. It’s as gross as it sounds…they actually ask pregos to collect a whole day of pee. Oh yes, and keep it in your refrigerator. If the mystery has not left the marriage yet, it does now.
A week later I had a poor glucose tolerance screening requiring an additional 3-hour lab (which is one of the worst labs ever…12 hour fasting while pregnant is hell, followed by drinking the most disgusting sugar-loaded beverage ever, followed by vomiting before they get the first blood draw, because seriously, who can do that?). I then got put on the gestational diabetes watch list (another thing I didn’t know could go wrong) involving doing a glucose finger prick four times a day for two weeks to make sure that also wasn’t a problem. Then there was last week’s car wreck, when my husband and I spent four hours in triage to make sure everything was normal. The hospital even gave me my own stretchy straps to hook up the monitors to my belly since I use them so often – yay souvenirs!
So every Monday and Thursday for three weeks I’ve faithfully gone to perinatology to get hooked up to my four monitors (fetal heart-rate, contractions, pulse, BP). They do weekly ultrasounds to check fluid levels, and I continue to have normal BP, a growing baby boy inside, and a sense that maybe all of this testing is over-precaution. I even braved a bit of travel, attending the Texas District Lutheran Women’s Missionary League conference in Dallas.
Fast forward to yesterday when Hubster goes with me to my 36-week appointment. My midwife gives me the news that I’m being transferred to a physician’s care due to being “high risk.” This is sad enough – I really liked her – then she rechecks my blood pressure, and to my surprise, it is really high for me. Like 148/103. My husband frowns and says, “I’ve never seen a triple-digit diastolic.” What a smarty pants.
So it’s back in the wheelchair, up to Labor & Delivery (several of the nurses know me by name now), and three hours of monitoring…my blood pressure wouldn’t go down, I’m having regular contractions which I can’t feel, and they decide to put in an IV in case they decide to admit me. The phrase that was used was, “Admit for delivery.” While the machines beeped, my husband and I pondered what this could mean…admit to deliver tonight? Admit UNTIL I deliver…weeks later?
I kept thinking about how I was missing the second week of the prepared childbirth class which the hospital offers because I was in L&D, and how that without that information I was somehow not ready to do this. My running interior monologue went something like this: I’ll have to send Hubster home with a list of stuff for a hospital bag…what do I need to put in a hospital bag? I pinned a bunch of websites on pinterest with links…but I don’t have wifi here to get it. And my rental car is up on Tuesday, and we need to buy a car this weekend or we won’t have anywhere to put the car seat. I think the directions for the car seat are still in it so Hubster can figure out how to install it…I think. I’m supposed to go to a professional development session tomorrow; I need to email and tell them I’m having a baby instead…
While we waited, we got to know a few of the awesome nurses in L&D. When my saline bag wasn’t working, a former-medic nurse jerryrigged a manual BP cuff to it to add pressure to get it into my vein and apologized for his “ghetto” maneuver. When I was cold, he went to the OR to get me blankets that were pre-warmed – that was first class service there.
We arrived in triage about 4 PM. Around 7 PM an OB who sounded a TON like Ben Stein came in to report that my labs look “as close to normal as you can get” and did a quick ultrasound, from which we learned that amniotic fluid levels are good, Spartacus is still a boy, and he has at least one ear that we can see – so that’s good news. He then prepared to do a cervix check [TMI alert] which he described in his Ben Stein voice that it will feel like, “I’m trying to remove your tonsils through your vagina.” Turns out I’m 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced and Spartacus is super low, so he’s going to get me on the schedule to be induced at 37 weeks if I don’t deliver before then. I quickly did the math: 37 weeks is A WEEK FROM TOMORROW. He then advised me to “not take any three-hour walking trips around the mall” and to go feed my starving baby and husband who haven’t eaten since lunch, and sent me home, much to our pleasant surprise.
Obviously we believe we are not ready to have this baby. We don’t own a car in which to put his car seat. The crib I bought is still in a box in the back of my totaled SUV in an lot an hour away. We haven’t redone our wills or cleaned the house or stocked up on crock pot meals or done any of the things I planned to do in the weeks preceding baby. Heck, I’m scheduled to take my history teaching license test on Friday morning. But my amazing, faithful husband reassures me that we’ll figure it out in any case, and only requests that I don’t go into labor in the middle of the night so we can both get some sleep. I’ll do my best to oblige…stay tuned for the imminent arrival of Spartacus.
And it is very, very possible that he and I will share a Firecracker birthday.