Last night dearest and I experienced our first soiree into the exciting world of Labor and Delivery. After an extremely insane week of work, my body had clearly drawn the line and responded with a bevy of contractions, particularly on Friday, to the point that it was getting uncomfortable and, frankly, a little alarming. When I came home and hit the couch, they slowed greatly but never came to a total halt and when, by Saturday afternoon, I was still having a couple an hour, I called the hospital triage to see what they wanted me to do. They, of course, said come in please, we will be happy to check you out. I was a little hesitant, I didn't really feel like I was in LABOR, but I did want to be sure that all of this contracting was not doing anything to my dear cervix, especially since we are supposed to go to South Florida in a couple of days. So in we went.
Our little local hospital is, in truth, a lovely place. The obstetrics ward was precious, so shiny and clean and quiet- we were the only ones there. The nurse was kind and funny and put me at ease. Well, she started to put me at ease, until she described what was going to happen, "We just want to monitor you for a little bit and be sure the babies are not stressing because of the contractions. You can change into this gown, we will check your cervix and we'll need a urine sample to rule out infection, so you are going to need a catheter."
The world stopped.
I am no sissy. I have a scar on my neck from a point-blank paintball shooting, and I am rather proud of it. I gave myself 4 shots a day this summer. I survived a kidney stone. I really am ok with necessary pain. Truly. But a catheter? WHY? Can we just forget this whole thing, because that is SO not working for me.
I did not say that. I did manage to murmur "I'd really be thrilled to pee in a cup..." and made my very best puppy dog eyes at her. She hemmed and she hawed and she said, "Do you think you can give me a REALLY good sample?" I was like "YES! DEAR GOD! IT WILL BE THE MOST PERFECT URINE YOU HAVE EVER ANALYZED!!!!" Mercifully, she allowed me to pee in a cup. Which was a good and kind thing, because I can tell when I have a bladder infection and I knew I did not, and plus don't catheters GIVE you bladder infections?
Anyway, excellent urine sample obtained, gown on, now for the monitors. Easy, right? Ha! See, the monitors are all big, and because there are 2 babies, the plan was to get a heart monitor on each baby plus a contraction monitor on me so they can all monitor together. Except the problem with 23 week babies as opposed to the full termers they are used to, is that they still have enough room to get the hell AWAY from the heart monitor, which seemed to be exactly their plan. Actually that was plan B. Plan A was to ATTACK the monitor when it was put anywhere near them. I don't know what it was they did not like: the cold gel, the pressure from the monitor, the noise, but it became evident that the babies were INTENTIONALLY kicking the monitors with all their adorable might. This was making the nurse laugh, which of course was making me laugh, and the whole thing was turning into a giant three-ring circus. Eventually, after like 30 minutes, she managed to get a heart rate on both girls. Then she put the contraction monitor on. Mind you, I had not had a single contraction since the word "catheter" was muttered like 40 minutes ago (hey, maybe we found a cure for pre-term labor!). Then she started with the interview portion of our competition, featuring such exciting questions as: spent any time in jail in the past 2 years? ever gotten a positive result on an HIV test? diabetes? high blood pressure? exposure to measles, mumps, chicken pox? About halfway through I just told her to put me down for the most boring answer to every question, because I really had nothing exciting to share. She replied with "Oh, you would be surprised the answers we get sometimes..." and when she got to the "Have you had anything in your vagina in the past 24 hours?" question I REALLY wanted to reply with "A live weasel, 4 cumquats and a cinnamon candy cane" or something, just to keep things interesting.
By then it was 7:00 and time for the nurses to change shifts. So we said goodbye to Nurse Catheter and hello to Nurse Digital. Nurse Digital got the crummier end of the deal. First, she had to do the Fetal Fibronectin test, which is where they swab the cervix to be sure that you are not shedding a protein that would indicate that you are in fact in premature labor. I guess she looks at cervixes all the time, so maybe she doesn't really care. Then the waiting game began, monitoring contractions while waiting for the test results to come back. The monitor managed to pick one up here and there but nothing to write home about as far as I was concerned. By 8:00 the test came back negative (hooray!) and I figured we were out of there home free. Nurse Digital told us she was just going to call our doctor and let her know how things were, and she'd be right back. She returned and said "OK, all we need to do is a digital exam on your cervix and if it is still closed you guys are out of here!" I thought, "Yay! Just one more little thing, a digital exam, and we can go eat." (By this time Dearest was pretty hungry.) I waited for her to bring in the digital machine that she would use to do the digital exam. Instead, she sat on the edge of my bed. And put on a glove. And put a lot of goop on the fingers of the glove. And still I'm sitting there, like a trusting child, waiting for the digital device she was going to use. She told me, "Just relax, this is going to be a little uncomfortable," and still I was a little confused. It was the second or third time that she JAMMED me in the cervix with her fingers that I realized... "Oh THAT kind of digital? Like with your DIGITS. NOW I get it!" Ow ow ow ow ow... "So sorry dear. I know that's no fun. Good news, cervix seems to be closed. Doctor wants you to take it very easy, lots of fluids, let us know if things pick up again so we can check you out."
I'm thinking "Yeah, right lady. This evening started off with threat of catheter and ended with your digits prodding my cervix. I think next time I will just stay on the couch."