So, we wound up in Labor and Delivery the other night.
It had been about 14.5 hours since I'd felt the baby move, and after trying several different little tricks (ranging from drinking juice/putting feet up, to prodding the stomach and clapping into my belly button like I was looking for an echo) that all failed beautifully, the OB nurse and I decided I should probably come in. The baby has been active for months, and has always recently been up for a little game of Seriously, Stop Messing With Me, wherein I push on the outside of his warm little water balloon, and he pushes immediately back. Now that he didn't want to play, the nurse was concerned and just wanted to check me out. I agreed. And so we went.
Doesn't that sound all nice and calm? Yeah, it wasn't.
Before the trip to the ER to be admitted, I took a couple of minutes to lie on our bed and beg the baby to kick, tears running down my cheeks and onto the pillow under my head. This is the absolute last thing I want to do, I kept thinking, I don't want to take precautions or run tests or make any move toward the possible answers to, 'what if the baby's dead?' I wanted to be healthy, with a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. I wanted to be like everyone else, damn it, and so I lay there and hoped that I could be. I concentrated so hard, looking for a flutter or jab, anything to tell me he was in there. When nothing came, I finally had to nut up and rally, heave my pathetic self off of the bed, and get going. Because sometimes you just have to get going, no matter how badly you don't want to be where you'll end up.
On the way out the door, The Boy (who had up until that point been very 'it's probably all fine, I'll follow your lead, you know I don't panic' about it all) asked, "What will they do? How long will we be there?" A logical question asked in a voice that sounded 20 years younger than the lips it came from. The only chink in his so brave armor. It made me see stars.
"Well," I said, "if they don't find a heartbeat, we won't be there long at all. They'll hook us up to whatever machine they have to monitor the baby, make sure there's nothing, then we'll make follow-up surgical appointments. We'll be home in around an hour, I'd guess, all told. If they do... I don't have any idea what will happen. I've never been down the 'making sure the baby's alive and oh, look, he is!' road. They might keep me, they might not."
I didn't want to be cold, but after my little pity party on the bed, I didn't have room for much else without inviting absolute hysterics. So I answered him as calmly and as matter-of-factly as I could, while staring at the ground and trying not to scream. I wanted to be able to tell him what would happen when they found out everything was fine, but I just didn't know. I had nothing to go on when it came to babies living.
But I have now.
The nurse (who looked like a meth addict when she shuffled around the corner into the waiting room. Her eyes were half-closed and she looked stoned out of her mind. I actually looked at The Boy and said, "Oh, I don't fucking think so," as he dragged me down the hall after her. Turns out, she'd been on shift for like 19 hours, so whatever. Maybe she wasn't high after all. That'll teach me to judge, but yeah, she was totally high) led us to a room, handed me a hospital gown, and insisted I change. I insisted she take the gown away, because I didn't need to change and it would just be wasted on me. Hospital gowns and the wearing thereof imply that hey, you're not going anywhere, sucker. Best be letting your ass hang out now, because we're in it for the long haul. So I bemoaned the gown. Oh, how I bemoaned.
Apparently, heavy meth use makes you pig-headed. She wouldn't relent.
Something I discovered as a result of losing our little battle of wills: Hospital gowns in L&D at our hospital smell like doughnuts. They do, for real. When I put it on, I shuffled over to the boy and made him sniff me, and he agreed. Ask him.
After leaving us in the room alone to (panic) settle in, Nurse McMethy came back and advised me that she'd be "using these white things to strap you down to the bed." To which I shrieked, "STRAPMEDOWNWHY!?" and flailed my rotund ass around, craning to see just what in the crap kind of restraints she was coming after me with. (I swear to you, I had the tiniest of flashes of shit, they finally caught me, they think I'm crazy because it runs in my family and now they're going to commit me and I'm never going to leave. They think I'm insane, and they'll take my baby and leave me here forever, those FUCKERS, where's my knife when I need it, oh wait I don't own a knife. Okay, so maybe it was a big flash.)
This obvious burst of obvious fear, at least, got more than a sloe-eyed blink from Trackmark O'Rehab, and she explained that the straps were to hold the sensors to my stomach, and the sensors were to monitor the baby. God. Duh. Well, fucking FINE THEN, strap away.
Speedball LeBongwater hooked said sensors to my belly and immediately clapped her hands and said, "I found the baby!" Now. She said this like I would say "Look, a Buick!" if I were digging in a sand box. Given the fact that I was pregnant and we were looking for the heart beat, her initial surprise did nothing to convince me of her sobriety OR experience in her field, because dude? Why so shocked? Is this your first time, are you THAT high, or did you expect my child to be dead? None of these is an acceptable answer, by the way.
Anyway, she turned up the machine and we listened to the heartbeat for quite a long while, while she talked about I don't know what and I cried some more, whispering "Thank you, thank you. Thank you, God, thank you."
The heartbeat started out very soft and very slow, which worried The Boy quite a bit. At this point, I was on cloud 9. I was elated that we could hear anything, and so far beyond worry that I couldn't possibly be bothered with the specifics of WHAT we were hearing. Eventually, the heart rate sped up to a respectable clip, which also worried The Boy, and the nurse attempted to pacify everyone involved by noting that of course it would fluctuate. There is a PERSON in there, duh. (Listen, Doper, you didn't seem to expect anything to be in there but some lint and a used Q-tip, so how about we don't lecture the patients about what is or isn't wherever, hmm? And really. Duh is not a professional way to answer patients that are a LITTLE ON EDGE.)
We listened to the baby thump and move -which I could eventually, finally feel- in response to The Boy's side of the conversation. I cried some more. The Boy finally smiled, the light of realization easing the stressed furrow of his brow when I said, "See. I told you he can hear you. I told you he knows your voice," and he could hear that it was true.
After about 30 minutes, Heroin Von Cokeaddiction assured us that everything was probably fine but, wait, she wasn't really QUALIFIED to say that, so don't hold her to it. She told me to get dressed while she shuffled off to find a doctor. Someone, she assured us, that would be all certified in babies 'n shit.
Turns out, MY doctor was the one on call, and we caught him right before he had to perform emergency surgery on a woman that had not been as fortunate as we were. He told me to make an appointment for an ultrasound with his nurses (He stressed the HIS part of the nurses, trying not-so-subtly to stay an arms length away from our mutual friend) and told me to do kick counts three times a day, coming back in if the numbers were too low.
So here we are. Tomorrow morning is the ultrasound, and we'll find out if there's something wrong or if the kid was just feeling relaxed. Really, really, really relaxed...
Can I tell you I've been a wreck since the hospital? And I haven't been treating anyone very nicely because they're all loud and stupid and I just want to sit here and concentrate on the baby kicking and they won't just go the hell away and leave me to it? And that I'll be a wreck until my doctor looks at me and says, "It's okay. Breathe. Everything's going to be okay." because I am so, so scared? Can I admit, just here, that my head hurts so badly not from the stress itself, but because I've been scowling/squinting so hard as I listened internally to those little kicks for the last couple of days, that I'm actually injuring myself?
I'm crossing my fingers until they break. I would pray, but I don't know that God wants to hear much from me in the way of bargaining. And so I just ask for strength. I ask for the grace not to take this out on The Boy. I hope for peace. It's all I can do. It's not enough, but it's all I have.