Friday, January 1, 2010

Sometimes being safe IS being sorry

We made it back!!! It was a bittersweet return, because although it's nice to sleep in my own bed again, we had an absolutely wonderful time with our families. The visit really went as perfectly as it could have, save one little snag...

On Tuesday morning, I was feeling some strange, well, feelings in my lower belly. The tough thing about a shortened cervix is that you really have no indication of how it's doing on a daily basis, without the help of an ultrasound wand. And on top of that, there are differences in being pregnant with twins from being pregnant with a singleton, so I often am not sure if a certain sensation is due to the fact that I'm carrying double this time or if there may be a problem.

DH mentioned that he'd feel better if we went to the hospital for a cervix check before we flew home. My gut said that it was probably just Twin A doing acrobatics down below, but I didn't want DH to worry, and of course I would also feel better after taking a peek. He suggested we head to one of the two "big dog" hospitals we had located in advance should a problem occur, but due to the fact that I wasn't really concerned, I said I'd rather just go down the street to the closer hospital. I figured we'd wait an hour or two for our turn with Wanda the invasive ultrasound stick and be on our merry way. We had plans for dinner and then wanted to catch my sister-in-law playing in her high school alumni girls' ice hockey game.

But first, my friend Sarah came over in the morning with her two adorable kiddos, and we spent some quality time catching up for the first time in years while Bean completely ignored our guests. Then DH and I headed to one of my favorite Midwestern restaurant chains for lunch, which was right next to the hospital.

We showed up at the ER (as they instructed when DH called ahead) and they wheeled me to L&D. It started off well -- they gave us our own private room, the nurse was very friendly, and the resident doctor bore an uncanny resemblance to Sarah Chalke. But it all slid downhill from there. Because suddenly we were stuck in the tight, clammy grasp of The Hospital System, with no local doctor knowing my history to guide and advocate for us. And the thing about The Hospital System is that they don't really give a crap what you are hoping to accomplish on the visit. They become liable for you, and they will run whatever tests they want, and you will follow whatever advice they give -- otherwise you find yourself with a huge stamp of AMA ("against medical advice") on your forehead, and I think it's like going AWOL, they are allowed to shoot you on sight as you run from the hospital. Oh, and worse, insurance can refuse to pay for care because you left without completing treatment.

It's not that they weren't nice (they were lovely, in fact), or concerned about me and the babies. I think that they were a bit too concerned, actually. They monitored the heartbeats and my uterus for hours. They ran an fFN test, which came back negative, meaning that we can be 97% certain that I will not go into labor within the next two weeks. Dr. Elliot Reid performed an external cervix check, saying that I was not dilated but was 50% effaced. Apparently two attending doctors met to discuss my case because OH! MY! GOD! TWINS!, and both were horrified that I was allowed to fly in the first place. I remained calm through all this, letting them go about their agenda and remaining unconcerned and unconvinced there was a problem. Because of the limited size and services of this particular hospital, it was obvious they weren't familiar with cases like mine. But still, a date with the strangely elusive Wanda was not possible... not here, not now. Because they don't have the resources (no MFM) and my uterus was a bit "irritable" (I wanted to argue that it was probably just following suit as the rest of me slowly grew irritated), they wanted me transferred to their larger hospital for a consult with MFM. *sigh*

Fortunately the nurse talked the squawking doctors out of making me go in an ambulance (seriously?!) and let DH drive me over. By then it was near 7 pm, obviously too late to be seen by MFM. I would have to spend the night *double sigh* and get my ultrasound FINALLY in the morning. The doctor I saw that evening was definitely not from Scrubs (he forgot to take his happy pill that day) but at least he was reasonable. He reviewed my chart and saw no reason to give me any of the drugs suggested by the docs at the previous hospital. I sent DH home around 10 pm and waited for 11 pm when the nurse would come monitor the babies again. I was absolutely beyond exhausted at that point.

Around 11:30 pm, it was finally lights out. I was laying on a bed of bricks, with two pancake pillows, a ridiculous excuse for a blanket, and bound by an uncomfortable monitor to keep track of whether I had any contractions overnight. By midnight, it was clear that despite feeling that every cell in my body had been drained of energy, I would not be sleeping.

At 3 am, after much tossing and turning and two Family Guy episodes, my nurse came in and gave me an Ambien. Which allowed me to sleep from 5 am to 7:30 am. All the sleep I would get that night.

By the time DH showed up on Wednesday morning, I was completely at the end of my rope. I was quietly sobbing from being beyond exhausted and uncomfortable. My last two days with my family were completely ruined, I was unnecessarily in the hospital instead of spending time with them. It was also, incidentally, the longest amount of time I had ever been separated from Bean. Fortunately, they didn't make me wait too long to see MFM. My cervix measured at 2.3 cm, which was not fantastic, but the MFM doctor said it wasn't alarming to her whatsoever. As other women have told me their doctors do, she feels that cervix checks in twins after 20ish weeks is pointless anyway, because it just shortens naturally. I wasn't having regular contractions, my fFN was negative, and everything seemed okay.

She said it was likely overkill, but she wanted me to have two steroid shots for the kiddo's lungs, just in case. She was fine with me flying the next day -- I would just need to stop by in the morning to get the second shot (they are delivered 24 hours apart).

So DH and I booked it off the grounds while keeping an eye out for snipers, with a newfound fear of The Hospital System and life on bedrest. It doesn't really make sense that two of the best words in the English language combine to make something so unspeakably horrible, but even my brief 24-hour peek into the world of bedrest was enough to completely freak me out.

Back at my parents house, it took me a nap, a shower, and several more hours to shake off the bad film left on by that hospital stay. I was pleased to hear that Bean had a great evening with both sets of grandparents -- one that was actually probably made a bit better by the absence of "mommy" to cling to. He went to bed without protest and slept through the night. My parents were practically glowing, they had so much fun at dinner and the hockey game. Either way, we survived, learned a lot, and have moved on.

Despite the disappointing ending, there were many great things to come out of our visit:

-- Most importantly, Bean had major bonding time with his grandparents and the rest of his extended family. He was appropriately spoiled but remained just as sweet and happy as always. He still wanted to check in with mommy, but he was much more open to exploring and playing with other people. It was really neat to watch.

-- I got to take a break from all the tasks of daily toddler care... I didn't change diapers, toast waffles, pull on tiny clothes, feign excitement to play football again, or give baths. While I do absolutely love being home with Bean, it was really nice to let my parents take care of those things temporarily. Especially when they were so happy to do so, and Bean obviously enjoyed it.

-- No having babies on the plane. 'Nuff said.

-- Speaking of the plane, Bean was once again a champ on the ride home. While we were at the baggage claim, a man who had been sitting near us on board commented to DH, "Your son was amazing on the flight. Is he always that well-behaved?" Yeah, he takes after his mama.

-- I absolutely luuuuuuurve my new SLR camera that we got for Christmas. I only know how to use about 3% of the functions, but it's already 300% more awesome than my point-and-shoot. It will be more difficult to post pictures on the blog now, because the files are so large that I won't be uploading all of them to my laptop. But I'll figure out a new system eventually. Hopefully you won't all abandon me in the meantime. Come on, I know you aren't here for my brilliant observations on motherhood.

-- My cousin Justin gave me MP3s from two Tori Amos concerts. I haven't gotten new music in a while and I'm looking forward to having something fresh for the car, until Bean finds the vocabulary to make his own requests. Knowing him, it will probably be the Michigan State University marching band CD.

-- My cousin Kimmie, a media buyer at an ad agency, explained to me why there are Chili's commercials in Seattle, despite the fact that the ONLY location is at the airport behind the security check (as bitched about in this post). She said that because most areas do have a Chili's that doesn't require a plane ticket for access, it's probably cheaper for them to buy a national advertising package than pick out certain markets. Okay, I can understand that. By imparting this insight, she has saved me countless rantings each time the commercial plays, and saved DH from having to listen to those rantings. Awesome.

-- The visit to the hospital prompted discussions on how we would handle bedrest. My parents opened up the possibility of my Mom coming out here for a few weeks or a month before the birth to help out. Which then springboarded into a conversation about how DH and I can afford a part-time nanny to help out after the kiddos are born by stealing redirecting some money for a few months. This possibility makes me feel all squishy and giggly inside.

-- Also stemming from the hospital fiasco, the baby boys got steroid shots for their lungs in case they are born prematurely. I assume that means if when they are born full-term, they will have super developed lungs, and will probably emerge wearing Speedos and smoking a bong like Michael Phelps. While the weed thing I could do without, it does excite me and DH that we could save tens (hundreds?) of thousands of dollars on college when both boys get full swimming scholarships.

Unfortunately, sickness prevented us from seeing my brother and two friends while we were in town -- they were kind enough to keep their germies to themselves, even though I was severely bummed not to see them. Hopefully we'll be able to return to the Midwest in the fall with the babies and see everyone again.

Happy New Year!



Ji said...


sorry that you have to stay in hospital and do tests and stuff for such a long time, glad that you are not going to do labor within two weeks...

You must be tired, and kind of overwhelming, with support from you husband, your-in laws, and your friends around the globe, I am sure you will have a peaceful night of sleep tonight...

Speak to your twins and ask them not to be too naughty, listen to soft music to calm them down...

take good care
happy new year.

pray for you!

Kristina P. said...

Wow, that really sucks! I am glad you are OK and are still optimistic!

Red said...

Wow - that is an incredible hospital system. I guess big systems like that have to have one size fits all rules though.

It must have been great for Bean (and you) to have so much grandparent time. I think little doses of time away from mummy are good for them.

Glad you are home safely.

Lavender Luz said...

Cracking up about the swimmers. :-)

Glad things turned out OK. You had me worried for a minute.

Happy 2010!

AFD said...

You make my heart start beating a little faster sometimes when I read your updates...stop scaring me! And really, you don't HAVE to pay me when I come to visit in worries. And please, just call me your friend...nanny is too formal. Happy New Year!

Kristi said...

Holy mama drama! I am sorry you had to endure what you did, but at least the stay and the test results gave you peace of mind that your babes are staying put for awhile.

And yes, the grandparent break is awesome, isn't it? I enjoyed a week-long one of my own here, and it was fabulous.

Glad you had a (mostly) wonderful trip.

Kate said...

Oh my goodness!! After all of that, I'm glad that you are all okay, and it must be good to be back home. (I think I can guess which Olga's and hospitals you were at!) That's so funny about Tori Amos - I think that you were the person who first got me into her with a cassette tape of Under the Pink. I'm so so excited for your new camera! You guys will have so much fun with that. It is much easier to take pictures of food (still life), than little ones running around (we try with our niece and nephew!). Very funny about what your DH said :). Can't wait to see your pics. Oh, and I was talking with my sister last night and she said that she has started reading your blog! :) She was commenting on what a talented and funny writer you are!

Nicky said...

Really, going AMA cancels out future insurance coverage?!? I guess in some cases that might make some sense, but I'm also rather outraged in a "my body my decision" sort of way. Yikes.

I had to do the AMA thing during my pregnancy -- two doctors disagreed vehemently about something, so no matter which one I went along with, the other claimed that I was going against medical advice. I knew that I was making the right decision, but the forms they make you sign are ridiculous.

Glad you made it back in one (three?) pieces.

Beautiful Mess said...

WOW! What a fiasco! But I'm glad all is well!

Here's to an AMAZING new year for you and your family!!

lisawitt said...

holy moly! what a crazy time but glad you and the babies are okay and that you were still able to enjoy your trip! :) Happy New Year, 2010 will be great!

Anonymous said...

ugh, sorry to hear about that hospital stay, it sounds miserable, but I'm so glad that the rest of the visit went well. I had my first trip to see family with just me and Zoe, and I loved the fact that other family members were willing to take on toddler entertaining duty.

Justin said...

Ah yes, defensive medicine at its finest. I suppose the ob section of medicine practices defensive medicine in hyperparanoid mode (that's one rung above ultraparanoid, and one small step below paranoid schizophrenia). The AMA stamp is likely to avoid problems should you decide to sue them if your kids can't color inside the lines--clearly, the hospital's fault!

Let me know how you like the Tori shows! Just don't listen to the version of "Cruel" (from Chicago) around Bean! (That version totally trumps the rather calm album version.) The words on "Professional Widow" are muffled so you can't really hear them unless you already know them.

Coffeegrl said...

Crazy. I'm so glad that to hear that all' well that ends well. I often have the feeling (when we're here in Japan) that the doctors care too much about things that just don't worry me. I appreciate their concern but often it's things that a doc in the US wouldn't think twice about. What to do? Go with the gut I say. It sounds like you guys did absolutely the right thing although one always wishes that the medical system worked more efficiently no??

Jamie said...

I am glad you listened to your feelings and went to the doctor, even though the experience was poor. I did hospitalized bedrest for 5 days (also the longest I've been away from my son) and it was awful. However, don't ignore those feelings.

I am glad your trip went well overall.

We have a part-time nanny so I can attempt to work.You will definitely benefit from the extra hands. I about throw up every week when I pay her (can't say that on my blog - she reads it) but I do need the help. I also recommend a housekeeper if you can afford it. We can't right now and I wish desperately that we could. Accept any and all help. Meals are also a big deal -- if you can freeze things + do so. If your friends will bring meals, have someone coordinate a rotation (we had just moved -- all friends/family 3 hours away). Ask for gift certificates for food, cleaning, diapers, as gifts.

WiseGuy said...

Happy 2010!

Wow, the way it unfolded, it really was a good mood-buster...but tell you what, knowing how great Bean handled himself was so good....and that you and the babies are ok is so fantastic too....

Welcome back to the warmth and familiarity of your own bed!

Anonymous said...

Rest! I am glad you are alright.
Happy new year.

Martha said...

Welcome Home and I am so sorry for the stress of these hospitalizations. Best Wishes for a completely uneventful rest of your pregnancy.
Happy New Year to you and yours for a GREAT 2010.

Eve said...

What an adventure! Yup, your experience is my worst fear of going to an unfamiliar hospital. I'm on the opposite end now, in and out of L&D at the 'bad boy' hospital for big-time high risk pg patients, and they are almost a little laissez-faire for my taste at times.

I'm so glad you made it home and sorry that your dang cervix is shortening. I think it's SOOOO weird that I can contract like a mad women and have almost NO cervical change, and you don't have an IU and ARE having cervical change.

Sounds like you had a GREAT visit with fam though and made some great plans for bedrest. My mom is coming up for a week in January, and her announcement of this brought me to tears!

Keep those babies cooking!!!!!

IF Optimist, then... said...

Yikes! Going to the hospital saga was sooooo frustrating, even as an outside observer. Glad to know that the babies are doing fine and that Bean had a great time with his family. Hope that you will make sure to put your feet up and rest from time to time now that you are home. Big hugs and happy wishes for 2010.

Foster Family Blog said...

I'm so sorry the hospital visit was so horrible, but SO glad you're ok! On a totally different note, we got an SLR camera, too. I ADORE it, but also only know a limited amount about it. Oh well - lots to learn! Happy new year! Stay healthy!

Alana said...

Cracking me up with the weed smoking babies-in-speedos visual. Too funny!

Sorry for SO much time spent in the hospital, but glad you and the babies are still healthy and well.

Happy New Year! :)

Shelley said...

Wow, that sounds like quite an adventure! I'm glad to hear that you survived and that everything turned out to be okay.

Welcome home and I hope the next several weeks are uneventful!

Mrs. Gamgee said...

First up... a very happy new year to you, your DH, the Bean and your two precious ones!

Second... it sounds like you had a good trip (right up until the hospital fiasco), and it's great that you have some options in case bed rest becomes and issue.