My best friend is pregnant with her fourth child. Last night she called me at 10:00 and asked me if I’d take her to the hospital…she had tripped over a baby gate in her house and had been having contractions for the past two hours. She’s only 24 weeks along, so this was not good. Of course I took her! (Though when I hung up, my husband said, “you’re kidding! She needs to go to the hospital? She sounded so cheerful on the phone…” Well, that’s my dear friend, L.! She could’ve been barely conscious, sitting in a pool of blood, and she’d still try and act like it was no big deal. Frankly, I’m surprised she didn’t try to drive herself to the hospital — but I’m sure glad she didn’t!)
She walked out to my van just fine…and we chatted all the way to the hospital like it was no big deal…I was surprised we didn’t have to stop at Admissions when we got there. They sent us through the emergency area and up to labor and delivery where they hooked her up to a fetal monitor. Oh yeah. She was having contractions all right. Every 3-5 minutes!
They gave her a shot of something that was supposed to stop the contractions (though they warned her it would make her really jittery and she’d feel like she was having a caffeine high). She definitely had that caffeine-like high, but didn’t stop the contractions. So they gave her another shot an hour later. And another an hour after that. That third one turned out to be a mistake. Oh, my God! Her entire body quaking! The contractions intensified and started coming one on top of another. The baby was kicking, which was making her even more uncomfortable. She had an almost unbearable headache. And her pulse rose to 160!
And of course there were five women in there at that time…five women and one doctor (I don’t know how many nurses), so nobody was coming in to help. I have new respect for what my husband went through when I was in labor. I’m not sure which is harder — being in labor yourself or watching someone you care about go through it (and this is the third time I’ve done that, so I’ve now watched more labors than I’ve experienced…)? You feel so HELPLESS!!! You want so badly to take the pain away, but there’s nothing you can do other than go get them some water, breathe with them, hold their hand, rub their back…but somehow it just doesn’t seem like enough. And then in my friend’s case, there was the whole this-shouldn’t-be-happpening fear underlying it all. They did check her cervix and she wasn’t dilated at all, so that was good news…but she was having some pretty intense contractions…and they just didn’t let up. They were every 3-5 minutes all night long.
I never for a second wished I wasn’t there…in fact, I was touched that she wanted me there…but wow, what an experience!
When those shots didn’t work, they gave her a pill. In fact, they brought a new pill every fifteen minutes for the next hour, which was the maximum dose of that medication. When they maxed that out, they had to give her an IV. And the stuff in the IV was pretty nasty (actually, they tried some other stuff in the IV before they brought out the nasty stuff…but they ended up needing the nasty stuff)…and eventually it slowed the contractions.
All through this she kept apologizing (to the point where I would’ve hit her if she wasn’t already in so much pain!) and trying to act like it was no big deal (like not telling the nurse that she was going to DIE if she couldn’t go to the bathroom NOW or having to be told to call her husband and check in with him…and then when she did check in she just told him, “Oh, I’m fine” even though the contractions were NOT stopping and her entire body was shaking and she had a splitting headache and her pulse was racing!) I don’t think either of us expected it to go on as long as it did…with each medication they brought in, I assumed it would stop the contractions and they’d send her home. But once they put in that IV, she was there to stay. She’ll have the IV for 24 hours and then they’ll see what happens when they take it out.
I stayed until her husband came at about 6:15…and it sounds like she’s stable now (I talked to her on the phone a couple hours ago). Hopefully the worst is over. Hopefully the contractions won’t start up again when they take the IV out.
So now I know what it’s like when someone goes into labor too early (I didn’t know that pre-term labor could be just as intense as the real thing!) if I ever want to write about it. My husband gave me a very appropriate T-shirt for Christmas — it says, “careful, or I’ll put you in my novel!” Very true…
BTW, I’ve managed to stick to my two pages a day rule…even today. Maybe I should always have a new book going where every single day I sit down and write one two pages on it before I do anything else? That might be a good way for me to manage my freelance life and not take more than I can handle…it’s definitely a good way to ensure I’m producing new stuff…