It’s a little ironic that as I sit typing this two days before Ben’s second birthday I look out the window to see an odd November snowstorm. It’s almost as if history is repeating itself only this time the snow has decided not to stick and I’m not pregnant. But it seems as if it’s almost fated to help me figure out how to put this all down in words. If you didn’t read yesterday’s post you’ll need to other wise this won’t make any sense.
Part 1: there goes my hero
The drive to the hospital was short, walking distance really but as I wasn’t sure what was going to come of this I moved my car. The parking lot was deserted, not many takers after 5 on Friday. This was the same hospital where I had Evey so I knew my way around pretty well or at least enough not to get lost. The last time I was here I’d had all my paper work filled out in advance and it was a quick stop at the desk before I was put in a room. This time I hadn’t gotten that far. Thirty-three weeks with my second child was cause for a little procrastination. As I road the elevator to the maternity ward my mind was a complete blank but my stomach was full of violently fluttering butterflies.
When I reached the desk to check in I told them my name and that my doctor had just called to let them know I was on my way over. The nurse very politely said yes, they were expecting me. The floor seemed very quiet as if the snow covering the outside had silenced the world inside the hospital. It was eerily different than the last time I was here.
The nurse quickly hustled me off to a room. It wasn’t a delivery room. It was a room for women who had a need for preterm hospital stays. It didn’t sink in right away but eventually it did, this room was designed for women like me.
She gave me a gown and asked me to just remove my shirt and put the gown on, I could keep my jeans on. She gave me a few moments then came back with fetal monitors and a contraction monitor and an enormous stack of paper work along with a laptop on a cart. As she hooked up the fetal monitor she muttered a couple of times that it wasn’t working. She’d be right back with a different one. The second one had the same problem. Then I heard it. She gasped softly and whispered, “It’s halving the number.”
I processed that over and over in my head for a minute. “It’s halving the number.” What number? Then I saw it. The fetal heart monitor read 167, a normal steady sinus rhythm for an unborn baby. I asked the nurse what she meant after trying to figure it out. Her reply stunned me. “The monitor is only picking up half of the baby’s heartbeats, it’s not able to keep up.” Sitting on the hospital bed I did some fast math.
334. 334 beats per minute.
“What does that mean?” I asked. She didn’t answer right away. When she did answer she only said the doctor, a perinatologist, would be in as soon as she was done with another patient to talk to me and answer my questions. I don’t remember much of what happened when I was talking to her after that. I know we went over the routine questions and she entered my information into the computer, apologized that she couldn’t get me anything to drink until we talked to the doctor and asked if my husband was on his way.
As I sat and waited I studied that tiny room to keep my mind from running wild. I studied the wall color, a pale pink salmon. The locations of the chairs, one to the left of the bed. The locations of cabinets and lack of TV. In my studying I glanced at the contraction monitor. There was a distinct wave patter on the monitor and on the paper. I was having mild contractions every three minutes. What was going on?
Within 30 minutes Chris arrived. He rushed in, gave me a quick hug and sat next to me on the bed. Had I talked to a doctor? What was going on? Was I okay? Was the baby okay? He was shaking, tears gathering in his eyes. I don’t know was all I could say. The nurse came back in at that moment and filled him in on the little I knew so far and told us the doctor would be with us shortly. We didn’t wait long.
Wheeling in a freestanding level two ultra sound machine the perinatologist entered. She apologized for the delay. For the second time that day I was loaded down with gooey gel. As she started the ultra sound she gathered some basic info. She wanted to know if we knew the sex. No, we didn’t but at that point I didn’t care anymore and told her as much. She smiled and said there was no need to change that now, trying to ease me fears.
Moments later the avalanche started. When was your last ultra sound? Two weeks ago. Did they mention the baby was getting too big? No. Were there any abnormalities? No. Has the baby’s movement slowed? No. The last ultra sound was two weeks ago. Yes. There was no problem with the baby’s size? No. Did they mention any heart abnormalities? No. Has the baby’s heart rate been fast before? No. Were they concerned about size? No. How big for your first child? 9 pounds even. Have there been any other problems? No. Are you sure no one mentioned anything about the size. Yes, I’m sure.
I was becoming frustrated. Every moment of this pregnancy until today had been easy. There was nothing complicated. I didn’t know what was wrong. No one had told me anything was wrong.
She wrapped up her questions and said she needed about 20 minutes to talk to the OB on duty and go over the numbers and she would be back to talk to us soon.
In silence, we waited.