Last week marked the fourth anniversary of my luxurious*, worry-free** two week stay at a big, fancy downtown hospital while I waited for the imminent delivery of my twins who had been gestating for all of 25 weeks.
[Spoiler Alert: Things unexpectedly calmed down about two weeks after I was admitted. The experts called it a "miracle" that I stayed pregnant and I even went home on strict bed rest for the remainder of my 36 week pregnancy. That, and the out-of-this-world medical care I received there are why I can make light of my times and trials in the hospital during my high-risk pregnancy.]
Being a hospital patient is full of 98% suckage (the food was good) no matter why you’re there, but it is particularly stressful when you’re hoping against hope that your uterus will calm down and hang onto (literally) the wee ones it has so lovingly nurtured for months but now wants to expel for no good reason. I had no blog back then, but I did jot down some notes (in the absence of anything else to do for twenty four hours a day in a building with constant and disruptive construction noise), and in acknowledgment and appreciation of my magnificent feat (waiting 35 weeks before birthing two healthy kids), enjoy this walk down Memory Lane with me.
My first stay at the hospital during my twin pregnancy wasn’t terribly uncomfortable. I had a private room, so there was that, at least. But the day after I was admitted, a woman moved into the next room who struck me as pretty bizarre. She was two weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy and was admitted due to preterm labor. We were all on bed rest in that wing, so she should not have been out of bed for any reason, yet she frequently left her room to visit the nurses station for a pen, or to throw something away. Therefore I saw her. A lot. She wore satin nighties. That was all she wore. No robe. Sometimes the nightie was black satin, sometimes leopard-print satin. I learned that she was an attorney. Her family came to see her regularly, and every couple of days they brought a roller suitcase with them–I have no idea what could have been in it, since she did not ever wear clothes. Her hair was stringy and she was disturbingly skinny. She was a diagnosed anorexic, and her baby belly was very, very tiny–I didn’t even know she was pregnant when I first saw her, even from a side view. The nurses and even the cafeteria were unable to adequately keep up with her requests for toast, so they brought a toaster up to her room. She burnt her toast about once per day–I could smell it. Three times in one week, when a doctor knocked and quickly entered her room, he backed out of the room with apologies and exclaimed to the nurses station in surprise, “She’s buck naked in there”. I never really understood her. I’m pretty sure I don’t care for her, though. She was discharged before me and I like to think that her pregnancy ended well with a happy and healthy baby.
My second hospital stay was much shorter, but a little more serious. It involved a lot of magnesium sulfate (“The Mag”) in my drip, and sharing a hospital room with a Nascar fan for an entire day–talk about me taking one for the team. I’m sorry, Nascar fans, but there is nothing more obnoxious to the rest of us than Nascar. And jaded Winnipeg Jets fans. And that’s pretty much all I remember from that three-day stay. The Mag has the ability to knock out your memory faster than four shots of cheap tequila.
I shared my perinatologist with a certain high-profile patient, which meant that if I wanted to see my doctor, all I had to do was turn on the Today Show and wait for his interview. I felt famous just by association! The TV cameras in the hall helped reinforce that feeling. I occasionally tune to the WE Network in hopes of catching footage of myself in the background of her reality show, but mostly I’m just bitter that she had an ice cream freezer in her room kept fully stocked courtesy of a local eatery and I? Did not.
I was in disbelief when I eventually made it to 34 weeks. I’d been mentally preparing over the previous ten weeks to deliver micro-preemies, and while on the one hand I was relieved that I did not have to endure that type of heart wrenching experience, on the other hand I was really tired of being pregnant. I was checked out, ready to be d-o-n-e. Thirty four weeks is a fine time to deliver babies–just ask someone pregnant with sextuplets. So I came up with a list of all the gifts I was willing to use as bribes if my doctor would let me deliver at 34 weeks, and handed it to him at my biweekly appointment. I was hysterical and desperate–thisclose to tossing my diabetic diet into the diaper pail and inserting a box of Twinkies into my face. Somehow the good doc resisted my offers of home-baked cookies, stationary products (pilfered from my workplace), boxes of diapers I got as baby shower gifts, a partially-used Starbucks gift card, Mont Blanc pens, bottles of 150 year old Scotch, and a garage full of Maseratis (my budget increased as my level of desperation grew, apparently).
At 36 weeks and 3 days, my body finally decided I was ready. After my surgeon assured me that he “only had two martinis at lunch today”, my babies were delivered via c-section. The experience was trouble-free. The newborns were completely healthy. I could finally take a deep breath–something I had been physically restricted from doing for months and months. But that roller coaster started April 26th, 2007, a date I’ll never forget. It’s my annual reminder that I don’t own my body–my children do!
**Actually, pretty much the opposite.