Wednesday, April 21, 2004

39-1/2 weeks

Today was my last day of work! I took off a little earlier than planned due to the events I'm about to share. Walking home from the office this afternoon felt so funny, like the first day of summer vacation. Just knowing I don't have to think at all about software, don't have to pay attention to e-mail pitches and check the wires every day, it's just an incredible lightening. The funny thing is, with all of our thoughts surrounding the baby and last minute preparations, I didn't think much about my total emancipation from work lately.
Anyway, this all started Monday when Dr. Kamali gave me an internal exam to check dilation. I had thought about telling her I didn't want one, since they are not supposed to give any indication of when labor will really start. But curiosity got the best of me and I let her go ahead. It hurt a little, like a really bad menstrual cramp, but I relaxed through it and it wasn't so bad. She said I was 1-1/2 centimeters dilated, which I thought was pretty good considering that I have heard of people going to the hospital after hours of labor only to find they were only 1 cm.
She warned that I might have some bloody show after the exam. We went over my birth plan, which she OK'd, and we put two copies in my file. I asked if I should call labor and delivery if i go into labor, and if my water breaks, and she said yes. I wanted to know if we absolutely had to go to the hospital right away if my water breaks, because I have a friend who recently had to go right back to the hospital after being sent home because her water broke when she got home. Anyway, Dr. K said that it depended on who was on duty, but that most doctors would probably confirm that my water broke, make sure the fluid was clear, and send me home if that was my preference. I would have to be induced if i didn't deliver within 48 hours, though.

Funny that I thought to ask all those questions, because that night I would need all that info. I took the bus back to work, and noticed I was having stronger cramps/contractions than usual. Actually i had been having some over the weekend and feeling not so hot too. That night, i was lying on the couch watching television, about to go to bed, when i felt something trickling out of me. There were about 4 big trickles, and i tried not to get too excited, but i wanted to go to the bathroom to see what was going on. erik was in there, so i cleaned up a little in the kitchen while waiting for him to get out. by the time i got in there, my underwear were soaking wet, and my pajama bottoms were a little damp. it didn't smell like urine.
I came out and told Erik calmly that my water had broken and we had to go to the hospital. I felt a little bummed because i knew i was going to be "on the clock" now, and that i would have the baby without my mom being here and wouldn't get to go see Michelle Kwan ice skate this weekend. But at the same time i felt excited that it seemed to be starting. We started getting last-minute things together, even though i told erik that we would probably not have to spend the night. I called labor and delivery and they told me to come in. I called my mom and woke her up. She said to call her back if they kept me at the hospital. I found myself thinking happily about the little things i had gotten done that day, like getting a plumber here to fix the garbage disposal, and having a little meeting with the biz editor at work to talk about how long i'd be gone, etc. But there were also a bunch of little things I had wanted to get done before going to the hospital, like washing the little pink pants i'd just bought to bring the monkey home from the hospital in, buying Recharge (a natural sports drink that our childbirth teacher recommended drinking while in labor), and finding some more of the Bert's Bees massage oil i like.
We got all our stuff down to the car: A suitcase, a big shopping bag full of comfort aids and snacks and drinks, my birthing ball, the car seat, two pillows. it filled up practically the whole car! By this time it was after 11 p.m. It occurred to me that the baby would probably be born on my mom's birthday, which was the next day, and that made me happy. Then I put on my "fear release" tape on the Walkman and went into hypnosis. After awhile, Erik said he needed my help figuring something out. I was like, are we there? But no, he had made a wrong turn and was LOST! I just started laughing. "You're really lucky i'm not in labor," I told him.
He figured out where he was after a few minutes. We went to the emergency parking area, just like we had been told to in our hospital tour, but all the spots were full! We found a spot on the street right outside though. We went up to the 15th floor, and the nurses remembered me from my phone call. I noticed that you don't have to be buzzed onto the labor and delivery floor like you do at my mom's hospital. In fact, the elevators are not even right in front of the nurse's station, so they seem to have no way of monitoring who comes in and out.
They sent me to give a urine sample and then put us in a triage room, where i was told to take off my bottoms and put on a gown. they put me on a fetal monitor, and erik and i had fun listening to the heartbeat and looking at the contractions marked on the strip while waiting for a Dr. to come. Eventually a resident showed up, took my temperature, put a speculum in me, and took a swab of the fluid in my vagina. She was able to tell immediately that my membranes had NOT ruptured, because if there had been amniotic fluid present the tip of her swab would have changed color. I was stunned. It had just not occured to me that all this wetness could have been anything else. But she said the cervical mucous could be surprisingly liquidy. She left to do a couple more tests on the fluid just to be sure, and when she came back, she gave me another internal exam, because Dr. Kamali had not written down how much i was dilated on my chart. or if she did, the resident couldn't find it. i was still 1.5 cm. then the resident brought in an ultrasound machine to make sure the baby was head down. She still was, of course. The resident pointed out that the baby is a small one -- her guess was 3200 grams, whereas last ultrasound i coudln't remember if they said 3200 or 3400. and i even gained a couple of pounds since that last ultrasound -- i was hoping they went to the baby, not me!
she asked if i could feel the contractions showing up on the monitor, of which there were several while i was hooked up. i said sure, but they didn't hurt. she guessed that i was in early labor and could continue to be for the next couple of days. and then we were free to go.
we went home feeling relieved and only a little foolish, since the staff was so nice and didn't act like we had been wrong for coming in. it was nice to have a dry run, anyway. when we got in after midnight i checked my email and returned a couple of messages from some security experts i'd been trying to interview in england. i figured i would go in to work the next day just to finish that story, and then call it quits. i had contractions all night, just enough to make me dream that i was in labor and to notice from time to time, but not enough to keep me awake.

We had to get up at 7 the next morning because we had an appointment with our new pediatrician. We called home and told mom about the false alarm. She wasn't too surprised, apparently it's not all that uncommon for women to think their water has broken when it really didn't. I was still having cramps and more bloody show. The pediatrician was really nice, she looks about my age, and I was happy to learn that UCSF has a drop-in clinic that you can take your baby to without an appointment, although the drawback is you are seen by residents there so it tends to take awhile.

i went to work and warned everyone that that might be my last day instead of friday. but in the early afternoon, a security story broke, so i had to work on that instead of finishing the story i came in to write. and i hadn't been able to reach one of the guys in england i needed to interview. so i said i'd probably come in the next morning, or file it from home, but then i forgot to bring home any notes, so that ruled out filing from home. my mom called at 6 and was unhappy to learn i was still at work. she wanted me to take a cab home.
but this morning, and all today, i felt much fewer contractions, and the bloody show has just about gone away. i'm thinking that all this activity was maybe caused by the internal exams i had instead of being a real sign that labor was starting. which is a relief, because i really want to go see michelle kwan, not to mention having my mom as assistant labor coach! i came home in the afternoon and lay on the couch most of the day, listening to hypnosis tapes and napping. if i feel this good tomorrow, though, i'll probably get off my butt and do some housework.

the video camera erik ordered arrived today. good thing, too, because when he tried to snap a picture of me getting ready to go to the hospital monday night, his digital camera wasn't working well. the new video camera also takes stills, so we can use that. not that i want any pictures or video of the actual event, but of course we'll want to take lots of pictures after the monkey's arrived.

No comments: