About five weeks ago now, I had a lot of pain in my stomach. I'm having twins and I have fibroids, so pain in my stomach is not foreign. At that point in the pregnancy, I could usually shift or do deep breathing to make it go away. Not this night. So I started to write down the symptoms and the times they were coming.
Sharp shooting pain, every 3 to 4 minutes or so and a hard belly. According to everything I'd ever read these were contractions. But I'm a first time mom and I didn't want to over react and I didn't want to go to the hospital, if I didn't have to.
My bedtime at that time was 8:30 and it was about 10 p.m., so I tried to see if I could sleep it off. I woke up about at about 2 a.m. and it felt like my stomach was on fire. I started preparing to go to the hospital. I called the on-call doctor and she agreed that I should go in.
My boyfriend wasn't over that night and I didn't want to bother him in the middle of the night (I know now that this sounds crazy now, but that was my thinking), so I took an Uber to the hospital. I get to the triage at about 4 a.m., they plug me up to the monitor. Both of my babies had heartbeats and were moving. THANK GOD! Until they put me on the monitor I was just preparing for the worst. This was a huge relief.
Then they told me, I'd be on the monitor for a few more hours. I called my mom and probably freaked her out, but someone needed to know where I was. The triage was cold and sterile, so didn't call my boyfriend. I didn't want to him to sit there staring at me while I was in too much pain to sleep sleep and make a big deal if it was nothing. I just tried to keep my mind off of the pain doing other things. I read a magazine, ate the food I'd packed, browsed social media...
Some residents came in at 5-something, then the attending doctor came in at 6:30 a.m. I was like cool, I'm going home to get some rest. Nah. They confirmed that I WAS having contractions. Actual contractions, not Braxton Hicks. My cervix has shrunk (a sign a preterm labor) and I was dilated about a centimeter. Before they could release me, I either had to stop having contractions on my own or they would give me meds to stop them, but I couldn't just peace out. They'd be back in a couple of hours. *Sigh*
So I wiggled around in this uncomfortable triage bed for two hours, someone (not the resident, not the attending, a physician's assistant, I think) came and checked me again. No real changes, I'd have to stay longer. I wasn't scared, but I was tired. It was at this point, that I decided the next time I go to the hospital in the middle of the night, I need to pack a real bag and more food.
Also, 3 professionals and two nurses have had tools and their hands up my vagina and no one had even bought me dinner. I was pretty preturbed.
11:30 a.m. attending doc comes back, she says my cervix was longer, but I was still dilated AND she needed to check herself because I'm having twins and she didn't want to make any assumptions about what the other people checked (Fam, if you don't trust your staff, why should I?). Next time, I may just say listen, no residents, no PAs, no nurses, send the real doctor in here because this is vaginal trauma at this point.
She feels around. I figured the reports her staff had given her were fine. I was on my way home. I figured wrong. The contractions hadn't slowed down enough, they admitting me into the hospital. She said prepare to be here all night, maybe overnight. This is not at all what I was expecting.
This is when I finally called my boyfriend and told him to come in. I also had to email my job and tell them I might not be coming in on Monday and to hope for the best. Everyone knows that I'm a high risk pregnancy, but it still sucks to send these communications.
I also have to strike a balance between "stay calm" and actually "this is a big fucking deal." It's an art, really.
I was transported from the triage room to a real room with a real bed. I walked through the hospital with an IV in my arm, some hospital footies and my ass out for all too see, just like on TV. From all the poking and prodding I was bleeding like I was on my period. This was particularly upsetting as one of the only positive physical benefits of being pregnant is not bleeding. I just think they're too rough at the doctor's office.
Anywho, by the afternoon my boyfriend was there, they delivered me hospital food which was despicably gross, a friend had come with real food and I had talked to my mom for about an hour or so about what was going on. She had a cauldron of prayer warriors praying for me and I felt very supported.
More medical pros came in (not the five mfs from the triage, different mfs) and said I could go at 5 p.m. if my cervix stayed the same and had not shrunk again. A PA comes at 5 p.m. and says, the doctor will be back at 7 p.m. WHY LAWD WHY?!?!?! But then I reminded them that they said I could go at 5, so they called the doctor with the results and she agreed that I could leave. It takes about an hour to get all the paperwork done and get dressed.
We take an Uber home and I confirm that I'm not working Monday as I haven't slept in 24 hours and am slightly traumatized from the whole experience.
The diagnosis: I was dehydrated. And dehydration causes early contractions, which could lead to pre-term labor.
I downloaded the drink water app and committed to drinking 16, 8oz glasses of water (a gallon) a day. When I started tracking my water intake, I realized I hadn't really drank as much water as I thought. Although, I always had a water glass with me, I hadn't been guzzling like I should have been. I was sipping really. And while going to the bathroom every hour and sometimes 2-3 times and hour sucks, being in the hospital about to deliver babies who are not ready to be delivered (and the excruciating pain) sucks MUCH WORSE!
Here's why I'm proud of myself:
1. I listened to my body and took heed of what I read. While pain is not always dangerous, pain and a hardened belly is dangerous. Having never had a contraction, I didn't know what it felt like, but I paid attention to the signs and got to the doctor's office.
2. I remained calm. After I got out of the hospital and either told people what happened or had to check in with coworkers, a lot of people said "well thank God it wasn't that serious." Well, it WAS that serious. Thank God that I caught it in time and that it didn't get worse. I think it's important to call things as they are. Having contractions so early on in the pregnancy is very serious and scary and dangerous, but I kept my cool and managed my own panic.
3. I called for help. I don' have family in New York, so I called all of my friends or all of the connects that people put me in touch with to ask for things like food and company and prayers. The first three people (outside of my boyfriend) that I reached out to were not available. I did not get discouraged, I just kept dialing numbers until someone became available.
4. I called who I wanted to call for support. I had a bunch of people say "oh, you should have called me." Well, sometimes managing other people's fear and concerns takes a toll on me. And if you tell 10 people you're in pain, you have to follow up with 10 people to tell them you're ok. I have a big supportive network, but the more people you involve in a crisis, the more stress it inevitably causes. I called who it was absolutely necessary to call and I got what I needed from those calls.
5. I didn't push myself. We took an Uber home instead of taking the train, even though taking the train crossed my mind. I didn't go to work on Monday or check my email during the day, even though I got out of the hospital Sunday night and probably could have made it if I pushed myself (And I had a lot to do that day). I put my personal wellbeing above saving money, or delivering at work. I made the right decision.
The more I think about all the decision I've made like on that scary night, the more I'm convinced that I have what it takes to be a mom. To put things in perspective. To listen to my instincts and to be realistic, not fairytale-ish. To put the health of my daughters above everything else. More and more, I'm looking forward to being a mom and doing it my own way.