Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ethan Part 4: Bedrest to D-Day

My days on bedrest were boring and stressful simultaneously. I lay on my left side all day long, strictly following my doctor's instructions. The only times I got up was to go to the bathroom and to move from the bed to the couch and back again. I even ate laying on my side, carefully trying not to choke.

Family members came out of the woodwork to say that they had something just like this when they were pregnant with cousin D or uncle G. In all cases, everything turned out just fine. So I shouldn't worry. It was interesting hearing about family members having complications. In my family, health issues are under some sort of secrecy pact. I guess they think if they don't talk about it, it didn't really happen.

Twice a week I went back to the office to see Dr. F. The nurse would do the urine dipstick test to see if I had protein my urine. Most times, it read 2+ or 3+. She would take my blood pressure while sitting, find it high, then send me into the exam room to lay on my side. Again.

Dr. F would come into the room to talk to me. He'd ask if I had any symptoms. I still had none. Despite the stress and worry, I felt fine. I had no headaches, no stomach pain. Dr. F noted I also had hardly any swelling. My rings were only a little snug and I still fit into my pre-pregnancy shoes. He felt that was a very important sign that everything was really okay.

At the end of each visit, he'd have the nurse come back into the room and re-check my blood pressure on my side. The reading was always lower than the sitting version. This, Dr. F told me, was also a good sign.

After the first of these visits, he put me on Labetelol, a blood pressure drug that commonly prescribed for preeclampsia. When I asked Dr. F if that was what I had, he said No. If I had preeclampsia, I would have a lot of swelling and would have some of the other symptoms. What I had was chronic hypertension, because of my weight and a family history of high blood pressure. The pregnancy just brought the hypertension to the surface. It must have been there all along. I didn't remember having high blood pressure before I was pregnant, but then again, I wasn't really paying attention either.

As the weeks went on, my weight had stalled, even started dropping. Dr. F wasn't concerned. In fact, he said it was good I wasn't gaining too much since I started out higher than I should have been. The baby was still moving around, as far as I could tell, but never vigorously. But the book said that as the baby got bigger and things got more cramped, he would have less space to move around. Obviously that was the explanation.

People asked me if I was going to have another ultrasound. I told them that Dr. F was not concerned about the baby, so there was no reason to do one. It's not routine to do multiple ultrasounds, and the 20 week is often the only one women have. At my 37 week checkup, Dr. F estimated the baby was around 6 pounds. We were clearly out of danger now.

Dr. F scheduled me to have start having non-stress tests once a week from my 37th week until delivery. This was the same test I had had before I went on bedrest, when the nurse gave me the printout. For each test, I would go to the hospital, be monitored for a litle while, and then go home. Piece of cake.

My first non-stress test was scheduled for a Thursday at 11 AM. I was 38 and a half weeks along, and had been on bedrest for almost 4 weeks now. I still had no contractions and no signs of dilating. Jete had come with me for every visit so far, but I didn't want him to take a day off of work to watch me take a 15 minute test. I told him I would go by myself. I'd call him when I was done to let him know how it went.

A nurse attached a conducer to my stomach to monitor the baby's heartbeat, and the results were traced onto a paper. She came back a few minutes later to check on me. She looked at the printout, then asked me if had eaten anything. I said yes, cereal that morning. She pushed a noise wand to my stomach a few times. "We have to wake this baby up. He's very sluggish." Nothing seemed to work. After a few more minutes, she said she was going to set me up for an ultrasound to check on things. I started to get a little worried.

The nurse moved me into an ultrasound room and got the machine set up. Though I didn't know it at the time, she was doing a biophysical profile of the baby. She was very quiet while she moved the wand around my stomach. "He's breathing," she said. "That's a good sign." She was quiet again. Somehow, it didn't sound like a good sign.

"When was the last time you felt the baby move?" she asked me.

I thought for a minute. "I remember him moving last night." I said. "I think." Had he moved this morning? I couldn't remember. I always had to concentrate to really feel him moving. I couldn't be sure. To be honest, I didn't know what I was looking for.

She was quiet again, then quickly left to get a doctor. A man in scrubs came into the room. They started quickly spouting jargon to each other, not really speaking to me. "BPP score?" "1, maybe 2. Some spontaneous respiration, heartrate is flat. No tone, no fluid, no movement." "Gestation?" "38.3 weeks. History of chronic hypertension." "Okay, lets take her up to delivery. Who's the doctor?" "Dr. F. I've already called him." "Alright. Make sure he gets a copy of your results as soon as he gets here. And page the NICU team to delivery."

The man turned to speak to me finally. "We're going to take you up to a delivery room now."

I started to panic.

"What do you mean... deliver him? I'm not ready. My doctor is not... I have to call my husband! He's at work. What do you mean? What's going on?"

"Your baby is very sick. The best thing we can do is get him out as soon as possible. When we get upstairs, we will give you medicine to induce labor. But if things do not progress quickly, we may have to do a c-section."

Two other nurses came into the room and raised the arm rails on my bed. The three of them started to wheel me down the hall and into an elevator. Quickly. Almost running. My head was spinning. I couldn't understand. Was something wrong with the baby? With me? I needed a minute to stop. To think. To process this. What was happening?


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