May 2010 had been the roughest month of my pregnancy. In five weeks I had gained 25 pounds, most of which landed on my face, feet, and ankles. My blood pressure fluctuated between too high and almost too high. These two symptoms of preeclampsia landed me on partial bed rest 3 weeks before my due date, and two weeks before I'd planned on going on maternity leave. I left my third doctor's appointment in 5 days, on May 24th, feeling shell-shocked by the idea that unless I went into labor before then, I'd have to be induced the following Monday. My doctor told me that she initially thought I'd have to be induced that day, but since my BP was lower than she expected and I hadn't gained any weight, she felt we could wait a week, when I'd be 38 weeks pregnant. Being induced was not part of my birth plan, and I hoped that Baby Landebean (as my family affectionately referred to my gender unknown fetus) would initiate his/her own birth prior to then. My instructions were not to be ignored. I needed to spend 80-90% of my time off my feet, preferably with them elevated, and I should be resting NOT stressing. Sure. No problem. I just needed to organize the baby's room, do sub plans for the remaining five weeks of the school year, and prepare myself for the arrival of a tiny, tiny human. Not stressful at all.
Fast forward 4 days. I'd spent the last 4 days on my couch in sweltering pre-summer heat, only venturing out of the house to buy a recliner for the baby's room, get a fetal monitoring test at the hospital, and make a quick Target run to stock up on essentials for before, during, and after the birth. I woke up the morning of the 27th feeling confined and antsy. I had plans that afternoon to attend a "surprise" Baby Shower my students were throwing me and I was really looking forward to seeing them. However, I felt somewhat fluish. My back ached, my stomach and head vaguely hurt, and I was nauseous. Figuring it was just the heat, (secretly hoping it was labor) I readily accepted when my sister suggested we go visit my grandfather in the hospital. Two outings on the same day was pushing the partial bed-rest envelope, but I rationalized it in the following ways:
A: The hospital was air-conditioned, my house wasn't.
B: I could sit with my feet up while we visited.
C: My sister was meeting me and would drive me the majority of the way.
D: Valet parking
E: Would have time for a nap before the Baby Shower
F: If I was in or anywhere near labor, there is no one I'd rather be with except Allison. (Apologies to my husband, but having had two children already her experiences trumped just about everything at this moment)
Visiting my grandfather was more eventful than I had imagined. A month prior he had broken his leg and was having a difficult time recovering. During this particular hospital stay, he was suffering from a yet unknown infection that was manifesting itself as hallucinations and delusions. While at times entertaining, they were also worrisome, and during my visit I felt unprepared to handle them. While sitting in his room I began to feel worse. I began having sharp pain in the top left area of my abdomen, up near my ribs. Being pretty sure the baby hadn't moved over there, I was uncertain if this was a contraction. The pain didn't feel as if it was in my uterus, but what the heck did I know. The only description I could remember about the onset of labor is that it's not like a tiny side street you might miss while you're driving; you know it when you get there.
I began to feel frightened as the pain intensified and really felt the need to get some fresh air. Allison knew something wasn't quite right and we said our good-byes to Gramps. In the five minutes it took for us to get to the lobby I went from feeling frightened to being downright terrified. The pain was coming in waves and I was having a very difficult time catching my breath. We called my OB, who was out of the office, but her partner immediately called me back and explained that while she didn't have privileges at the hospital I was at, it sounded as if I needed to go to the Emergency Room. Allison had left momentarily to get some assistance and returned with several orderlies and a couple of nurses in tow. I was quickly wheeled to the ER, where they took one look at my nine-month pregnant physique and immediately redirected me to the Mother and Baby Unit.
Things begin to get a little fuzzy from here on out, but I will try to accurately recount the rest of the day’s events in following posts.