I learned yesterday that my health insurance now requires that all women less than 34 weeks pregnant with symptoms of labor go to the other hospital. As in, the hospital where I delivered Natan (old hospital) and not the hospital affiliated with my current doctors (new hospital). I knew that after January 1, my insurance would no longer be covering deliveries at new hospital, and was very glad to know my due date falls on the right side of the cut off. But I didn’t know this additional immediate detail. I’m not happy about it. At all.
How’d I learn that? By having contractions. Lots of ’em. (I’m okay – skip to the last 2 paragraphs if you just want the details of my condition) Off we went to the old hospital, which I know is also good, so I perhaps just ought to be grateful. But I’m not so fond of it. Starting with the worst memory that isn’t their fault. But beyond that, there’s a lot wrong with that place. First of all, it’s a freaking labyrinth. As I walked from the parking lot to L&D, I remembered the same frantic walk so many months ago when I knew I should not be walking so far but had no choice. I wondered why, when new hospital manages to have nice old men with wheelchairs to take you the 10 steps from the entrance to the elevator and then 10 more steps from the elevator to the check in desk if you need it, old hospital can’t manage the same for a walk about 50 times as long and vastly more convoluted.
Upon getting into the waiting room, I compared the dinginess of the old to the fresh cleanness of the new hospital. When another pregnant woman and her male companion arrived reeking of fresh cigarette smoke, I lamented the tiny size of the room with stained and faded carpeting. I couldn’t escape from them.
After what seemed like a very long time we were taken back to a room for the examination. A midwife examined me, which is fine. Except she called me “sweetie,” and said “I know, I know, it’s so hard” as I tried to explain my history and physical condition. Oh, and she told me my cervix was measuring around 1 cm and she could feel the baby’s head was very low. I sort of panicked but not completely because my rational side was asking, “How can that be possible? Where the hell is the stitch?” Lo and behold when a doctor performed the ultrasound it revealed my cervix was still over 3.12cm and the baby’s head was not low. When the midwife later performed her examination again, with that knowledge, she found that my cervix had returned to a long state and the baby’s head was no longer low! She said that could be because I was now resting. I’d been resting all day. I know these things are variable, but the 1cm seems ridiculous. The distance between the bottom of my cervix and my stitch has been twice that since the start. And I could feel the baby’s butt in my lungs anyway.
But the monitors were catching the contractions, more than they liked. So I stayed overnight. Of course, since I arrived there at 3:30pm and by the time that decision was made it was 7:30pm, I was hungry. I asked if I could eat. Nurse said no. Doctor said yes. Nurse said a different doctor told her no. A different doctor came in and said no. Nurse came in again and said doctor said yes. I said but the doctor just said no. Nurse went out and came back with the word from the attending physician, Yes. Of course by then it was 9pm and the cafeteria was closed. There were other options and a little hunger is no tragedy. When it’s food, it’s humorous.
When it’s a tocolytics regime, however, it’s not. Imagine the above story, only it’s last December and food is replaced by indo.methacin. And I’m supposed to have it every 3 hours and my last dose was at 3pm. And the problem is not that I’ve just arrived but I’ve switched wards. And instead of laughing at the doctors’ inconsistency, the nurse responds with “indo-methacin isn’t a tocolytic and there’s nothing in your chart about you getting those anyway.” And behaves as if she’s just discovered that I’m a drug seeker. Of course she’d be forced to apologize later, through her gritted teeth, and wouldn’t be treating me anymore. The next nurse would be extra compassionate and infer that the previous one is a known b*tch. But really, how does that help resolve a 6-hour lapse in treatment?
Thus the food flap was small but not confidence inducing. I remembered I’d promised myself at the beginning of this pregnancy that I’d bring a notebook to each encounter with a doctor and would write down everything so at least we wouldn’t get confused. But my current doctors and new hospital have been so freaking consistent and have presented such a unified plan for care that I’d forgotten that vow. Many opinions are good, certainly, but it’s probably not the best approach to fight them out in front of the frightened patient and her husband.
Finally, I’ll get to the point. I’m fine. Quite good actually. My hips and back and butt are sore from the night in the hospital bed. My other parts are kind of sore from all the prodding. But the great news is that the contractions didn’t change my cervix any over night. And the fetal fibronectin results came back negative, which means I’m very unlikely to deliver in the next two weeks. The nurse midwife said it has an accuracy rate of 85%. But then a doctor said 95%. And yet another doctor said 98%. For whatever all that is worth. It’s a good test. I seem to have a urinary tract infection, however, and that may have caused the contractions. My uterus got very calm after they filled me 4 bags of IV fluids and an antibiotic. That makes me concerned about dehydration. I will talk to my doctor about it next week when I go back. I know it’s important that pregnant women drink a lot of water. And I do. I drink way way more than the recommended 8 glasses a day – 4 times that at least. I wake up thirsty in the night and drink at least 3 tall glasses of water over the course of my 8 hours in bed. Seriously. I keep getting reminded to drink lots of fluids, and I try to explain how much I really do do that. I think we need to look into this further. I’m getting sick of insisting that I am drinking lots of water only to be told to drink more water. Especially if I’m contracting because of dehydration.
The most exciting news though, perhaps, was that the baby’s actually measuring as big as the average 30-weeker! As in he weighs over 3 pounds! Considering my fears that this will happen early, that’s fabulous news (although I realize the measurements are not always precise). Because of the fetal fibronectin results and because my cervix seems to be holding up, the doctors decided not to do steroids. They want to hold onto that option in case I do go into labor early because it’s apparently best to administer the shots as close to delivery as possible, but they can’t be done more than once. Can I write again though that he’s measuring big! That’s an incredibly comforting thought. Off to rest and drink even more water. We’re spending record amounts on toilet paper, I tell you. And I’m still pissed that I can’t go to the new hospital again until I’m at term.