Gone to the Hospital

29 Jan
Warning: Some of the following might be considered graphic by the squeamish reader.
Michael made me breakfast this morning: scrambled eggs with green onions and feta cheese.  He had gotten up early to get ready to go hiking with Derek.  Derek picked him up at about 9:45; on the way out, Derek mentioned that he had his cell phone with him, just in case I needed to get Michael back quickly.  I told him I wasn’t worried about anything – I planned to go to church and tidy up the kitchen.  Our friend Barb was to arrive at 1:00 to do some work with us for the Young Yukon Government Professionals, an advocacy group at work.
I decided to have a shower before going to church, but as I was getting dressed, I had the peculiar sensation of peeing in my pants.  It didn’t take long for me to decide that my water had broken.
I decided to finish packing my hospital bag and do a little tidying while waiting for Michael to come home.  After a little while, the next-door neighbour called and invited me to come for tea with his wife.
"I’d love to," I replied, "but I’m just in the middle of some preparations."
"Okay," he said, "how about in about half an hour?"
"Well," I hesitated.  I couldn’t think of a good excuse to give him, except the truth.  "I think my water just broke."
He was quite excited about that and wanted to know if Joanne should come over to give me a hand with anything.  I gratefully declined the offer since everything was under control.  Feeling guilty about having told our neighbour before my own husband, I tried Derek’s cell phone.  I didn’t get through, but they called about 10 minutes later to let me know that they’d be back a bit late, as it was already noon and they were almost at the summit but not quite there yet.  I told Michael that my water had broken and he said (exclaimed!), "What?!"  I didn’t think there was any panic in him getting back if he really wanted to get to the summit, but he said the summit wasn’t moving and they’d get back as soon as possible.
I finished my preparations and started to make some lunch.  Then I thought I should call the hospital, since I remembered them saying I should go in if my water broke.  I talked to a nurse named Antonia and asked if it would be okay to wait for my husband to come home before going to the hospital.  She asked me a few questions (such as, "Are you having any contractions?"  To which I said, "Nope.") and gave me the okay to wait for Michael.  After that I called Barb to tell her not to come at 1:00, and then I called Melanie in Fort Nelson (she’s hoping to go into labour soon) and then my mom, my sister, and Michael’s mom.
Michael got home at 1:00, just as Lindsay called and another neighbour, Caroline, dropped by with a bagful of newborn-sized clothes.  What chaos all of a sudden!
Derek stayed with us for a quick lunch (potstickers) and then we packed up the car and headed for the hospital.I was pretty convinced that since the contractions hadn’t started yet, I would likely have a quick checkup and then be sent home.  Just as we were heading out the door, the power went out. 
We arrived at the hospital to find fire trucks and lights flashing at the front door.  A woman coming out of the hospital informed us that the hospital had gone to "code red"; apparently there was a small fire somewhere in the building.  A Commissionaire stopped us from entering, but we only had to wait about 20 seconds before the "all clear" was given and we were allowed to go in.
We got admitted around 2:00, and we took the stairs to the second floor, where the maternity ward is.  We were immediately shown to a room, and the nurses wanted me to pee in a cup (which I had to do in the dark because the power was apparently out all over the southern Yukon) and give them the pad I was wearing.  I know that sounds weird, but they do that to check the colour to verify whether it really is amniotic fluid that is leaking.  The nurse was a bit concerned about the colour; because it appeared to be on the brown side, she thought it looked like meconium staining.  That’s when the baby poops into the amniotic fluid, and it can be a sign of fetal distress.  On the other hand, when she tested it with litmus, the paper didn’t turn blue, the way it should in the presence of either amniotic fluid or urine.
I got hooked up for a "Non-Stress Test"; two different sensors monitor uterine activity and fetal heartbeat.  I was also given a button to press every time I felt the baby kick.  At first everything looked great, but after half an hour, the baby’s heart rate started to rise and stayed on the high side.  Apparently, my temperature and blood pressure were also a bit high.
Dr. Williams came in and we temporarily got rid of the monitoring sensors (much to my relief).  She did a couple of different internal exams, one of which seemed to show that I was, indeed, leaking amniotic fluid.  The other exam told her that my cervix was very effaced (thinning down), that the baby’s head was right down, and that, to my surprise, I was already 2 cm dilated.  By this time, it was about 3:00.
Because the meconium staining could have come about because of an infection, the doctor decided to put me on antibiotics and wanted to continue the fetal monitoring to see if the baseline heartrate would go down.  The nurse went to get the IV ready, and half an hour later, I was hooked back up to the fetal monitors and had an antibitoic and fluid dripping into my arm.  I had always thought that a needle stayed in one’s arm for an IV, so it was interesting to learn that it’s just a rubber tube in the vein.
I passed the time by typing up this account of events, and now it’s 5:15 and getting dark.  Dr. Williams was just back in again and noted that the baby’s baseline heart rate was back down to a more reassuring level.  I’m going to be staying the night in the hospital, but I’ll be allowed to take the sensors off and just get monitored intermittantly.
If my labour hasn’t yet started in the morning, it will mean we’ll have to consider inducing labour; they don’t want the baby to get any meconium in his or her lungs.  Dr. Williams asked if we had any opinions on induction, and I let her know that I would prefer to start labour naturally, although I want to do whatever is safest for the baby.  So for now we’re just waiting and hoping for labour to start sometime soon.  So far, all I’ve had is some minor cramping, nothing I would call a contraction.  It’s been 6 1/2 hours since my water broke, and now all we can do is wait and see.

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