Mac turns one in a week. . .And just for your supreme amusement, I thought I’d do a two-part recounting of his arrival. . .Here’s part one. . .Be sure to visit next Thursday, 5/24 for the epic conclusion.
Let’s get a little background out of the way. I’m scared to death of doctors. Seriously, every time I think about going to the doctor’s my blood pressure goes up. I would almost rather die than visit one. Because I’ve been very fortunate to be in good health, prior to Mac’s arrival, I had never spent any time in a hospital. I had been to the ER a couple of times but just for minor things in college: after a fender bender for a couple of stitches, a nasty virus/fever (before doc-in-a-box existed).
But being pregnant with Mac changed my streak of luck dodging medical professionals. I have an auto-immune problem similar to Lupus. I have nearly no symptoms and I don’t require medication or anything; however, I’m still apparently cranking out these weird antibodies that could cause congenital heart defects while the little bun is cooking.
So I required a “Fetal-Maternal Specialist” and a LOT of unwanted attention while I was pregnant. From week 16 on, I had weekly ultrasounds. From week 30 on I also had twice weekly non-stress tests. Now, other than the fact that I had to pay $10 to park EVERY damned time I went for a test, I didn’t much mind them. They weren’t invasive. I basically kicked back and hoped for a good report. (And thankfully, very thankfully, they were always good reports).
The visits to my Doctor; however, were another story. I can’t even tell you how nervous I become when you slap a blood pressure monitor on me. I swear I can literally feel my blood pressure go up. This of course, lead to the Doctors conclusion that perhaps my blood pressure was a little elevated all the time. And I was high risk. . .
And I was AMA.
For the longest time I had no idea what that meant and I was too embarrassed to ask. And boy was I irked when I figured out it stood for Advanced Maternal Age. I was 34. Jesus. How rude – they can’t even say it to your face, they abbreviate it!
So about this time last year, my Doctor and I had a heart to heart that went like this:
Doctor: “Your blood pressure is a little elevated, there’s extra amniotic fluid, you are high risk and AMA. (She still can’t say it to my face even though she’s been essentially sticking her fist in my crotch for the better part of a year now). Let’s see what’s going on with your cervix.”
Me: Futile to resist. . . I’d love to hoist my whale sized body into a position where you can wedge a few digits into an area that has nearly reached capacity. “Ok.”
Doctor: “You are dilated about 2 centimeters. I’m scheduling an induction on your due date.”
Me: Trying not to sound scared and whiney, but failing miserably “But I don’t want an induction.”
Doctor: “I wouldn’t be suggesting an induction if I didn’t think the results would be favorable. I don’t want you going a day past your due date.”
I didn’t think I had a choice. So I agreed.
Longest. Week. Ever.
The kid was firmly entrenched in all that extra cushy fluid I was sloshing around and refused to budge.
Monday morning at the crack of dawn husband and I get up and head to the hospital. . .A major medical powerhouse that refers to themselves as “The Best of the Best.” I hadn’t slept all night. And I hadn’t eaten the prior day. So hungry and tired already, I waddled through the doors to labor and delivery.
I’m escorted to a room. I refused to take a hospital tour earlier in my pregnancy. I hissed to Chris that if I had actually taken the tour, I would not be delivering in this joint. It was certainly not the Ritz-Carleton experience I assumed would accompany an institution that refers to themselves as “the best of the best.”
The nurse hands me a gown, asks me to disrobe completely and put on the gown, then leaves. I unfold the gown. I know hospital gowns are typically open in the back. This one appeared to be open in the back. But I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how it was supposed to work. Neither could Chris. Basically it didn’t look like there was a spot for your head or one of your arms.
I’m trembling. Things are not off to a good start.
The nurse returns and visibly takes a step back when she realizes I’m still dressed. “Why aren’t you in your gown?”
BECAUSE I’M TOO NERVOUS, TIRED, HUNGRY, TO FIGURE IT THE EFF OUT, DEVIL WOMAN!! I glance towards my shoes and mumble, “I couldn’t figure out how it worked.”
“Here,” she says, “Let me see. . .Oh, no wonder, it’s not snapped like to should be at the shoulder.”
I finally get the gown on and am instructed to plop myself onto the most uncomfortable excuse for a bed that I will – for all intents and purposes, be strapped to for the next 39 some odd hours.
There are general health questions. Then comes one about my heart condition. “I don’t have a heart condition,” I tell her adamantly. There’s something wrong with my records.
“Do you know your blood pressure is elevated?” She asks.
I snort. “I’d be shocked if it wasn’t.” I’ve never been in a hospital before, you’ve just jammed a gigantic IV in my hand (which I’ve also never had done before), I couldn’t even figure out the gown forchrissakes! Do you know how frustrated I get when I’m struggling with something? Oh yeah, and you’re going to forcibly evict my baby. No reason to be uptight right?
She hooks up no fewer than 3 things to my gigantic stomach and a machine to my right starts beeping and churning out paper. It’s apparently a fetal monitor.
Then she leaves. Again.
I have to pee. But I can’t get out of bed all hooked up. And I don’t want to bother anyone already so I try to ignore my bladder.
Eventually, a very tall, beautiful, young African-American woman comes in the room. She tells me her name. She’s apparently one of the doctors in my practice that I hadn’t yet met. A lovely doctor with very very large hands.
I should mention at this point, my high risk practice had about 15 doctors. The way it works is, you deliver with whomever is on call at the hospital. I understood this and it didn’t really bother me. I always thought the nurses were really the ones doing the heavy lifting anyway. I didn’t care what doctor finally caught the kid so long as HE WAS OUT!
The Doctor performs the necessary and extremely painful peek-a-boo required to determine that I WASN’T dilated.
“That’s impossible,” I mutter incredulously. “I was 2 centimeters a week ago.”
“Well,” she says, “It kinda’ depends on the size of the physician’s fingers. . .”
All I heard was “Blah, blah, blah, Cytotec.”
I scoot myself back up the bed rapidly. “Cytotec? Isn’t that the drug that is subject to a bunch of class action litigation because it’s not approved by the FDA for use in inductions and can sometimes cause uterine rupture?”
I might not be able to put my stupid gown on but I do have a friend that is an extremely successful medical malpractice attorney.
I’m certain at that moment, she pressed some kinda’ secret alarm. “Are you a lawyer?” She asks, suddenly eyeing me suspiciously.
“I not currently practicing,” I say all cool-like sensing I might have just shifted the balance of power a little.
“I’ll be back,” she says.
But she doesn’t come back. Instead she sends in this very nice older physician who begins a well-rehearsed word vomit clearly reserved for “difficult” patients. “So it seems you are more knowledgeable than some of our patients (Boy did I have him fooled. And what an odd and condescending statement), but in order to have a successful induction, we need your cervix to dilate. . .”
And then we run through a couple of options. The Cytotec, which he assures me is perfectly safe and they use it all the time. There’s the “balloon.” Let me just make perfectly clear that if I made it through 34 years of my life without having a child’s novelty get anywhere near my lady bits, I wasn’t about to start now. I don’t care how many damned years you went to school.
And then there was my suggestion: Leave and come back when the baby is actually ready to be born.
I was admonished that was a very poor suggestion. The baby looked fine but my blood pressure was a little elevated (imagine) and I had a heart condition and vascular disease (REALLY? Fix my damned chart already you idiots). I could take a turn for the worse any moment and while he couldn’t “keep” me in the hospital, it was not in my best interests to leave.
Then he left me. . .to stew.
I sat staring at Chris, near tears. “I don’t want it to be like this,” I started to hiccup. “The baby’s fine. I’m fine. I just want him to come when he’s ready.”
Chris wisely stays mute.
I figured I’d just do what I normally do when I’m faced with a big decision: Do nothing, decide nothing, until I’m forced to.
So I read some Chelsea Handler and waited. And waited. . .And waited. . .
Dr. Word Vomit bounces back in the room a few hours later. “Well?” he looks at me anxiously. I can just tell he’s itchin’ to get all Mid-Evil on my poor cervix.
“Ok.” I relent. “Get the Cytotec.”
Dr. Word Vomit works his “magic” and leaves us again. I’m starving. I have to pee. Again. The morning and early afternoon drag on. Nurses. . .An anesthesiologist. . .or 3. . .More Doctors. . .Residents. They parade in and out, asking me about my non-existent heart condition and vascular diseases. I haven’t slept a wink.
Finally, someone decides it’s a wise idea to start pumping me full of some damned synthetic hormones.
People keep asking me if I’m feeling anything?
I’m feeling bored, hungry, tired, and surly as hell, but nope, no contractions.
I’ve read the whole Chelsea book. I watch Chris nap. I watch shitty television. I read some more.
I finally annoy Chris to the point that he’s convinced a few hard candies aren’t going to hurt me and maybe he’s hoping might actually kill me. He doles out a few butterscotch candies. I slide the empty wrappers back to him quickly so we don’t “get in trouble.” How ridiculous does that sound? I’m here to have a baby, but I feel like I’m a prisoner.
Nighttime comes. I’m numb. Not because I’ve had any medication but because the bed is so freaking uncomfortable, my legs have completely fallen asleep. My tailbone is killing me. I’m allowed to stand and walk as far as the fetal monitoring cords will go. I try to joke with the nurses. They seem pretty joyless.
Best of the best indeed.
I’m awake all night. The fetal monitor keeps going berserk. The nurse is in the room every 10 minutes for a solid 9 hours straight trying to “find the baby.”
Shifts change and every time, a new person comes on call, they stroll in, introduce themselves and ask me about my non-existent maladies. WHY CAN’T YOU FIX MY CHART?!
They also keep asking me if I want socks. I hate socks. The only time I wear socks is when I’m moisturizing my feet. Did thy over-order socks? Why do they keep asking?
Do I want some water and perhaps an orange rind to lick? Yes. Do I want to be able to piss without having to ask for permission? Yes. Do I want to be left alone long enough to get a 20 minute nap? Abso-effing-loutely. I do NOT however, want your damned free socks!
The next morning, I ask Chris to help me stretch the monitor cords so I can get to a sink to brush and floss and wash my face. I notice the heat radiating of the roof. Yes, our room had a view of the roof. It was nothing short of magical.
As I was putting on some tinted moisturizer, there’s a knock at the door. In strolls a beautiful, young nurse. I like her instantly – even before she opens her mouth. She’s practically buzzing with positive energy and radiance. This? This lovely creature, Logan, is exactly what I was expecting from the best of the best. My blood pressure is finally normal.
Logan, also asks me about my vascular disease and heart condition. But I actually don’t mind telling her I don’t have either of those things. We joke. We talk. We learn she’s recently married. She went to the same high school AND college as my Husband. She loves what she does. Her mother is a mid-wife.
I feel like I’m the only patient she has to help today. More importantly? I want to be her best friend. I desperately want her to like me. I was so glad I brushed my teeth! I even admit to her I hate socks.
However, when she leaves the room, surly bitch Deni surfaces. I haven’t slept or eaten anything since Saturday night and it’s now Tuesday morning. Chris asks if he could go home to get a shower and check on the dogs. (The hospital was about 5 minutes from our house.)
I see an opportunity. “Of course you can go home to shower,” I whisper sweetly. “But, don’t you dare come back here without a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
The exact debate is a little hazy; however, it resembled the following:
Chris: “You aren’t to eat anything, baby.”
Me: “Listen to me, they don’t want me to eat anything in case they have to completely knock me out and do a C-section. They don’t want me aspirate under a general anesthetic. That’s not going to happen.”
Chris: “Well it could happen.”
Me: “Ok, it could happen. I’m willing to risk it. They have to tell you worse case what could occur. (Except apparently as it relates to Cytotec). It’s called informed consent. They gave it to me and I’m so fucking starving I’m choosing to ignore it. Do. Not. Come. Back. Here. Without. That. Sandwich. Have I made myself clear?”
Chris: “What kind of bread . . .”
Me: “Get the hell out!”
I no sooner get rid of Chris until Dr. Word Vomit (who most certainly saw Chris leave and was taking a divide and conquer approach) strolled in with Logan. I go through the whole thing again about how I feel no contractions. I do not have a heart problem. . .I’m fine. . .Whatever. Only I try to be more charming about it this time because Logan is there.
Dr. Word Vomit performs the obligatory fishing expedition. (In the name of full disclosure, Jesus, that hurt. And why do they all say, “I’m sorry. I know it hurts.” ?? You’re not sorry. If you were sorry, you’d be way less clumsy about the whole process)
Dr. Word Vomit says things “look good” and he’d like to break my water.
I’m a little shocked since I hadn’t been feeling any contracting but apparently all the stupid hormones they were pumping into me were working.
“Well,” I stammered, “My Husband just went home. I’m not sure. . .Could I have a few minutes to think about it?”
“Sure,” he said snapping off his gloves.
After he left, I looked at Logan. I didn’t have to say a word. She knew exactly what I was thinking.
“If I were you I’d let him do it,” she said. “It’s going to speed things up. You’ll probably have this baby in just a few hours.”
Check back next week to see if Logan was right. . .and if I ever got my damned sandwich!