Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Birth Story: Part II

June 2, cont'd
A nurse from the local hospital rode with me in the ambulance to Seattle (bonus: I'd met her before! She is the mother-in-law of a good friend from work - I was so grateful for a familiar face). The driver and assistant were at least a decade younger than me (not the last time I would be startled by the age difference between me and my care givers), both very professional and efficient.

It was a new view of I-5: belted to a collapsible gurney at my ankles, knees and waist and tucked under a couple of lightweight blankets, I faced the rear of the ambulance and saw the familiar route south but in reverse. I wondered if the cars driving behind us could see me inside (if I was a civilian driver, I would be super curious to peer into the lit interior of an ambulance). I thought of my 2 1/2 year old nephew and texted my sister: Clive is going to be so jealous!

We made really good time to the University of Washington Medical Center (kudos to my driver). I was wheeled into Labor and Delivery a little after 9:00 pm. Hubbins was waiting for me at the nurses' station. I could tell he was in "act now, feel later" survival mode because he was joking with the nurses: "Oh here she is! Jeez, what took you guys so long?!" What a relief to see him. I wouldn't know how to direct him to find me if he wasn't there already.

In my hospital room, I got up from the ambulance gurney and into the hospital's bed (a little wobbly on my feet with a couple hours' worth of magnesium in my system plus the bumpy ambulance ride, but I was still mobile). The resident doctor came in to introduce herself (about my age, I'm guessing) and review the facts. "The thing with preeclampsia is that basically you've got a crappy placenta," she explained. She said that because both baby and I were stable, they would monitor us overnight and see if they could keep him in me for as long as possible. She ordered a blood sample around midnight and the lab staff continued to draw blood every six hours for the next four days.

Between the multiple pin pricks, taped cotton over the draw sites, and the constricting blood pressure cuff in the same vicinity, my arm bruised quite impressively. Eventually, I asked the phlebotomists to not use tape and just let me hold the cotton until the bleeding stopped. Still, by the end of the week my right arm looked like an impressionist painter's color palette.


That night, I didn't sleep well at all. Poor Hubbins was on a little bench-bed at my side, probably more uncomfortable than I was. The Magnesium made my mind race, like I was trying to accomplish a long list of things to do but couldn't remember any specific item from the list. My imagination ran wild - my thoughts all had a visual aid to go with them, but they were fleeting and I couldn't keep track of whatever my mind was listing. I got a stiff neck from my position on the hospital bed and dreamt that the light-fixture grid in the ceiling above me was actually my pillow. I felt like my head was inside a gerbil ball: my thinking was foggy and slow. When nurses and doctors talked to me, I tried my darndest to make eye contact, but couldn't focus. Everyone looked like they had four eyes.

The only way I could get any sleep was to specifically visualize a peaceful location or interaction. I thought of my mom. I didn't realize it until later, but I was following her example as a patient: keep in good spirits, give everyone the benefit of the doubt, be grateful (remember first names and say "thank you"), be empathetic to others. Mom lived in a nursing facility for two years. I had lots of material to draw on when I thought of her and the nurses who took care of her in the final stages of Alzheimer's. I wished she was with me then.

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