(this is essentially ramona’s birth story, but because her birth was so crazy, there’s a lot going into it. this is part three of ten, & all are tagged “birth story,” in order to help you the reader navigate from one part of the story to the next.)
when i got to overland park, they immediately started me on a magnesium IV into the heplock. i had vaguely heard moms talking about being on “mag,” as the vernacular goes, & how absolutely horrible it is, but i hadn’t paid much attention to the details. dude, let me tell you. IT’S THE DEVIL IN FLUID FORM. i immediately felt like i had caught on fire, i was so hot. apparently it makes a person foggy & dizzy, so i was forced to have a catheter inserted & was not allowed out of bed. the nurse who put in the catheter had kind of long fingernails & obviously i wasn’t on any painkillers yet, so it hurt & she kind of scratched my vagina a little with her fingernails. i felt free to vocalize my way through the pain (just saying, “ow, ow,” a lot), which caused her to say, “so…you think you might be getting the epidural with this baby?” i wanted to say, “that’s enough of your smart mouth, & maybe you should consider keeping your nails trimmed if you are a fucking labor & delivery nurse,” but i knew i was beholden to her to bring me water & be gentle while taking vitals & stuff, so i didn’t say anything.
a perinatalogist walked in & immediately started freaking out about my liver. he was all, “we are going to deliver this baby tonight!” i don’t know why he changed his mind, but ultimately they decided to get me through to at least 24 hours after the steroid shot to give the baby’s lungs a little more time to bake. in the meantime, i would be on strict hospital bed rest, continueous fetal monitoring, & magnesium. jared showed up with my stuff & was allowed to stay through the night on a pull-out right next to my bed. i started developing a magnesium headache, which is apparently a common side effect, but not something i was prepared for. i begged them to take me off the mag if they weren’t going to make me deliver that night, but they said it was a safety measure to prevent the baby from bleeding into its brain & developing cerebral palsy if they did deliver precipitously. i found out later that it is also used as an emergency blood pressure treatment & that they were afraid i was going to start seizing…or worse.
they gave me an ambien & i managed to doze intermittently, but i kept waking up & crying. jared stayed by my bed all night, holding my hand & trying to encourage me, saying stuff like, “you are so strong, you can get through this, i love you,” etc etc.
a different perinatologist rounded in the morning. they had done more bloodwork on me at 6am, & he said that it showed even higher liver enzymes, but things weren’t deteriorating as rapidly as they had anticipated the night before, & they were incredibly reluctant to take the baby out before i had an entire steroid course on board (two shots 24 hours apart, with each given 24 hours to absorb across the placenta & benefit the baby), & that ideally, they would leave it in until at least 34 weeks. they took me off magnesium but continued to take blood every six hours to make sure i wasn’t having a toxic reaction to it. they also removed the catheter. it hurt a lot more going in than coming out, i’ll say that much. i was given the all clear to eat & drink & get my own self to the bathroom, but i was still hooked up to the fetal monitor, so they wanted me to stay in bed as much as possible.
my relief at not being forced to have the baby that day, & being allowed to consume chicken sandwiches instead, was short-lived. before long, i was out with the mother of all migraines. i have plenty of experience with migraines & i’ve had some bad ones, but this was unspeakable. jared had called our doula the night before when it appeared that delivery might be imminent, & she came by the hospital just to visit me that afternoon. i couldn’t even bear to pull the washcloth off of my eyes & look at her. i’d had jared close the blinds & turn off all the lights so it was pitch black in there. i don’t even know what he was doing at this point. working on his computer, maybe? obviously he didn’t have light to read by or anything.
an out of town friend somehow figured out that i must have an in-room telephone if i’m in the hospital & she called me on it. she wanted to know how i was doing, how the baby was doing, how jared was holding up, whether they were going to let me go home soon, whether they were going to make me have the baby soon, etc etc etc. it was kind of hard to explain to her, “i barely know the answers to any of your questions, & i am also blind with pain right now so maybe now is not a great time for chatting.” i mean, i knew i was going to want to talk about everything & want people’s support at some point. i didn’t want to chase anyone off when, from their perspective, maybe i have nothing better to do than lie in bed being monitored & yack on the phone like a teenage girl.
i finally convinced the doctor to sign off on something stronger than tylenol for the headache at around 10pm. jared had gone home by this point because i was in no fit state for hanging out, but obviously i was stable & the baby was staying put for the moment. they gave me a fioricet & an ambien & i started feeling a lot better. my night nurse raided the nourishment room for me until i was put back on food/drink restriction at midnight. she was bringing me cokes, milk, pudding, soup, & crackers every ten minutes.