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
-- 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
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!