I woke up on Saturday brimming with anticipation. After 36 hours in the hospital, I was about to be cleared to go home. Yes, bedrest would continue at home, but I’d be with my sweet hubby and daughter in the comfort of my own home. All I had planned for the day was a non-stress for the baby, a nice shower and my inevitable discharge.
The OB, however, had other ideas. After coming on her shift and reviewing the baby’s nonstress test, which showed that I was still having contractions, she decided that she wanted to keep me in my bed for at least another 24 hours. Between the bleeding, the dilation, the contractions, and the fact that the baby was breech, she was concerned that I might go into labor and need a C-section. Since the baby is so young and C-sections don’t squeeze the goop out of the lungs like vaginal deliveries do, I agreed to two steroid shots to help the baby’s lungs mature and begin producing surfactant. The first would be administered shortly, and the second 24 hours later. I wouldn’t be going home this morning or anytime today. In fact, there was a possibility I wouldn’t be going home the next day, either, although with a toddler at home the OB said she was thinking she’d discharge me after 24 hours instead of the usual 48 when steroids are involved.
Chris and Maddi arrived minutes after the doctor left, all ready to take me home. Maddi would no longer look at me, having seen Mommy only to say goodbye within the hour several times over the past few days. Chris was feeling worse than the day before and needed a break in a bad way. Even though nothing I had done was to blame for the bleeding, I was overwhelmed with guilt because it was my body that had failed and was threatening the well-being of our baby boy, for whom just a few hours before the hospital trip we’d been giddily picking out potential names. And it was my body that caused Chris to have to care for a now severely sleep-deprived tot and Maddi to go so long without Mommy to read to her, sing silly songs and give her baths.
I arranged for another mom from Maddi’s playgroup to babysit for the day so Chris could go home and get some needed rest. Unfortunately, the sweetheart took it upon himself to transfer some movies onto the laptop so I’d have something to watch in my hospital bed once I finished my book. He hardly got a nap at all, but at least Maddi had a change of scenery and got to play with a friend.
With a book and, later that evening, some movies, my day and night passed much more quickly than the previous day had. As I lay down to sleep, I once again smiled in anticipation of going home to my loved ones. In just 14 hours, I thought as I lay down, I would be home snuggling with my daughter and reassuring her that Mommy was home now — and giving my poor, run-down hubby a much-needed reprieve from the difficult task of telling an angry toddler that Mommy isn’t home. With two shots of steriods and next to no bleeding in the past 24 hours, I felt confident that my little son was going to be OK.
But as fate would have it — I should have known, considering the events of the past few days — I was not going to be going home. At 4:20 a.m., I woke up in the middle of a long and painful contraction. I went to the bathroom, hoping that emptying my bladder would release pressure on my uterus and stop the contractions, but it didn’t and at 5 a.m. I broke down and rang for the nurse. She upped my IV flow, which had been reduced before bedtime because I’d been eating and drinking on my own, and it seemed to help for a few minutes. However, throughout the 5 o’clock hour, I continued having crampy contractions. I finally fell asleep, waking at 9 to cold, rubbery hospital pancakes and a toonie’s (the Canadian $2 coin, slightly bigger than a silver dollar) worth of blood in my pad. I got the distinct feeling that this wasn’t going to help my case for going home.
When my nurse came in later in the morning for the baby’s non-stress test, she informed me that Chris had a 102.6 degree fever and an ear, nose and throat infection, and that Maddi had a runny nose as well. He wanted me to stay in the hospital another day rather than come home to germs. As much as I was relieved that the now-inevitable 24-hour extension was something we could all agree on, I felt awful. This meant poor Chris, working on virtually no sleep, was going to have to take care of a sick, teething toddler who hadn’t had proper sleep in two nights, all while battling the flu. I had cared for a sick Maddi a week earlier with a sinus infection while Chris was in Vancouver, so I knew what he’d be dealing with and it’s no picnic. Add on top of that the fact that she is used to me taking care of her and hadn’t missed overmuch sleep, whereas she is used to several hours of the day — but certainly not whole days and nights — with just Daddy and had been consistently missing naps and going to bed late AND crying for an hour after bedtime. Sure enough, between the dilation, continued contractions, renewed bleeding and illness at home, the OB said there was no way she’d let me go home today.
When Chris came by unexpectedly to visit this afternoon, bearing hot cider from Starbucks and the day’s paper, Maddi had napped only briefly since 6 a.m. — as they drove into the hospital parking lot, as a matter of fact. I nearly cried when I saw them. Chris was clammy and sweaty. Maddi was wearing the same clothes as the day before and looking irritable and red-cheeked. I sang a few songs with Maddi, changed my first diaper in three days and begged Chris to give our little girl some Benadryl so they could both get some sleep.
He went home and enjoyed a whole 10 minutes of sleep before Maddi got tired of trying to take a nap and began shrieking like a howler monkey. I sat through more fetal monitoring and hemoglobin tests and pee tests and vitals and hospital food, and felt incredibly guilty about enjoying Harry Potter on the laptop while my husband and toddler were sick and tired and quite possibly going insane. After a frantic call from a sleep-deprived and frustrated Chris, I called my friend from playgroup and asked her if she could take Maddi again tomorrow, starting at 8. Maddi can’t go very long without kids to play with, and Chris was at the end of his rope, having had 12 (broken) hours of sleep in total since taking me to the hospital early Friday.
Even though I knew it was best for the baby that I stay away from sick people, and certainly that I avoid the lifting and running that are inevitable when caring for an active child such as Maddi, it broke my heart that I could not be there for ALL of my family during their illness. However, I have been trying to comfort myself with the knowledge that I am the only one who can keep our son healthy and unborn, and that Chris is a good and competent parent and will make it through this just as I do when I am sick and home alone. My attempts to comfort myself haven’t been working, but it’s not like there’s anything any of us can do at this point to change the circumstances. All I can do is rest up and hope for my body to heal and for the baby to stay put for at least a few more weeks, if not the seven left before his due date. As terrible as I feel for Chris and Maddi, I am not life support for either of them in any context but the loosest metaphorical; however, the almost-33-weeker inside my uterus is depending on me for food and oxygen, and as much as I would like to take care of them all, he necessarily takes precedence for now.