***THIS IS THE FIRST OF A SERIES OF POSTS WRITTEN EARLIER IN THE WEEK***
Magnesium sulfate, my darling old nemesis, it seems we meet again...you dirty rat bastard.
I would gladly nudge you casually down a flight of stairs if it weren't for the inaccessibility of such a thing in my present state. Plus, it seems we're tethered together via that peripheral IV which is anchored securely to my forearm so, I suppose the joke would then also be on me.
And so I am resigned to endure your heat, the weight of you sitting heavy on my eyelids and your persistent pressure on my temples.
This dance with intravenous magnesium sulfate is intended to suppress my third episode of early labor (in so many years) and lasted just about 20 hours in total. It left me boggy, headachy, and staggering a bit, like any self-respecting hangover might do, but it has granted me access to the 34th week of pregnancy; uncharted but highly anticipated territory. So I will try not to be too ungrateful...maybe.
Now, 12 hours later I am perplexing the night nursing staff with my frequent and undetected contractions. It feels all too familiar. The bag of tricks I have acquired in calming my uterus is running dangerously low, having exhausted shuffling and stooped trips to the toilet to empty my bladder, swallows of ice water (thus sending me back to the toilet), visualization and amateur bouts of meditation combined with pursed lipped breathing and occasional muttering profanities from behind closed eyelids, and scare tactics which include recounting the grizzly details of my past two deliveries to a bewildered looking nurse as she prods my belly and squints at the monitor.
Still, the contractions leave me groping the plastic bed rail and hissing through clenched teeth for a minute or so at a time, coming in regular 2-3 minute sessions, but they don't always register on the monitor and I am somehow feeling like a fraud or imposter or--at the very least--a giant weeny.
Thus, it seems I have moved into the mystery phase of this epic labor I have been experiencing at some level since my cerclage was placed at the dawn of my second trimester. In the early hours of the morning, my symptoms aren't aligning with what the medical books proclaim as gospel truth of labor and delivery. It's too early. It's too vague. It's real pain but they seem to want numbers and frequencies and bioelectric read outs and things aren't that substantial. Worst of all, I am not dilated beyond 1 cm as of 3 am, meaning all this pain is in vein. It's now 530am and although sleep is not an option for those of us in the trenches, we are calculating our next moves based on the desire to least inconvenience the next players (my doc, my husband).
The persistent though perhaps foolish optimism of my doctor and myself had the audacity to propose this morning would include a quick hospital discharge. I then envisioned the day would evolve into an cheerful afternoon of addressing Christmas cards and wrapping gifts. Perhaps this fantasy had been aided by the magnificent epidural I had received prior to the doctor digging the knotted piece of glorified packing strip known as my cerclage out of my hoo-ha. I appreciated it as it had been the only thing standing in the way of my delivering a baby until this point and also I wanted to murder it, as it was causing me increasing misery and varying levels of debility and general aggravation. the epidural provided a pain-free state I had forgotten was even possible. Those things are the shit.
The night before my (foolish?) optimism had sent my sleep-deprived husband home so he might dare to consider a full night of sleep on something other than a glorified vinyl chair. I was then administered the most worthless Ambian in the history of sleeping pills, and had begun contracting with some very convincing frequency and growing intensity starting around 2am.
When my doctor finally arrived at 10am, he finds me clinging to my bed rail, earbuds feeding me a soothing 'Genius' inspired playlist including artists like Sia and Alexi Murdoch and intending to help me remember breathe and also not throw myself out the window. He also discovered there hadn't been any real progression in the proceeding 7 hours. I was still dilated to only 1 cm. And because: Childbirth! There's an app for that!...I can tell you that my contractions were coming fast and furious at this point, lasting over a minute each at a frequency of 10-15 in an hour.
And yet, no official labor. We had spent weeks -- no, months -- taking every possible measure to ensure a strong cervix and now suddenly my cervix was proving itself iron-clad all on it's own.
Having made it safely to 34 weeks, a place where baby's immediate health is generally not seriously threatened by delivery, the doctor has decided to bail on all our previous efforts to keep me pregnant. No more nifidipine, no more magnesium. What comes will come. He instead orders a hot shower, a light meal, two percocet and the possibility of a nap. I haven't graced the unconscious world for greater than a 45 minute stretch in over 80 hours so once I've been escorted through the delicate process of showering one-handed with a seran-wrapped IV and persistent contractions, I swallow some cereal and 2 narcotics, crawl into clean sheets and a pile of pillows and slip into a 2 and a half hour coma.
I awake early in the afternoon to a relatively calm state of the uterus. Shortly after dinner, I am headed home. Feeling bewildered, but still very much pregnant.