This blog post is part of a series that I began for telling our story. You can read the first post here.
Eight years ago, I was in the hospital, and probably the closest to death I have ever been in my entire life. It seems weird to say it now, because at the time, I was completely unphased and unaware of just how sick I truly was. It all started on February 7 with a regular check up at my OBGYN’s office. I was 30 weeks pregnant, and headed into that time where weekly checkups would be the norm.
My blood pressure was high. Really high, in fact, and the doctor was concerned. I was sent home from the appointment with an order to put my feet up, relax, and check my pressure myself a few times that day to see if it would go down on its own. It didn’t. We called the office back, and the doctor told us to go to the hospital.
It’s strange to check into a hospital’s labor and delivery when you aren’t actually in labor. No contractions, no water broken, none of that. Just a bunch of checking my blood pressure and heart rate, and checking the baby’s heart rate. Lots of waiting. Lots of unknowns. They admitted me to the labor and delivery floor and proceeded with treating me for pre-eclampsia, a dangerous situation in pregnancy. Elevated blood pressure is part of it, along with certain markers in the urine. So I got to be put on a magnesium drip, which, let me tell you, is an interesting experience in itself.
I felt like I was burning up, but the room was freezing. Pretty sure anyone who visited me had to bundle up. I couldn’t focus my eyes or my brain. Trying to read or watch television was impossible. So I slept off and on. Truthfully, I remember very little of those couple of days, other than having tremendous back pain. I thought maybe I was in labor, but it was just the uncomfortable bed that was bothering me.
Finally, after a couple of days, it was determined that I did not actually have pre-eclampsia. Just severely elevated blood pressure. That, coupled with my risk of blood clots, meant I needed to stay at the hospital until I gave birth. My doctor explained that they would evaluate me and the baby each day and decide who was most at risk – me in not delivering, or the baby coming early. It was balancing those two risks and making a decision each day on whether or not I should stay pregnant.
So I spent five weeks on bed rest. They moved me upstairs to the perinatal wing of the hospital, an area specifically for women in my condition (pregnant and trying not to deliver yet). I was settled into a much more comfortable bed, one not designed to come apart for giving birth, with compression socks and special wraps on my legs that were hooked up to a machine to keep my circulation going. Each time I needed to go to the bathroom, I had to have help unstrapping them (along with the blood pressure cuff that was my constant companion, squeezing me hourly to check my status). I fell into a new routine of sleep and wake, meds and television. I had borrowed the DVD’s of all ten seasons of Friends from someone at church (this was before Netflix had it, or much other content to binge) and watched the entire thing. I saw countless episodes of House Hunters and Say Yes to the Dress. I viewed the Oscars and the Grammys from my hospital bed, and attempted to read a few times before giving up due to lack of concentration. It was a recipe for completely and total cabin fever boredom. And yet, I never felt bored. I never felt trapped. Mostly I was just exhausted. I slept at night and during the day. I would generally rouse myself enough for a sit-down shower sometime in the mid-afternoon, at which point someone would change the sheets on my bed and give me a fresh hospital gown and compression socks. I can’t fathom in my current healthy state being able to stand that level of do-nothing-ness, but at the time, my body just desperately needed it in order to stay pregnant and keep our daughter safe.
Next post coming tomorrow.