Today began with yet another trip to the hospital, sent by my OB. A regular monitoring appointment with higher than usual blood pressure combined with a splitting headache that did not respond to multiple doses of tylenol over 14 hours or so (headaches can be a sign of pre-eclampsia) - and off I was sent. I really don't mind - at this stage I'll take all the poking, prodding and monitoring in the world if it means I get a live baby at the end. But I think both my OB and I knew what the likely result would be: blood pressure came down again once I was lying on my left side in the hospital, headache responded to migraine medication and all the labs came back totally normal. So home again. I slept the whole afternoon like I was sleeping off a bad bender.
This rollercoaster ride is no fun. It feels like I'm riding blindfolded, and have no clue when the double loop or death defying plunge is about to come. I don't mind being at home reading and watching movies - that part is fine with me. But I hate the uncertainty that each day brings - things are fine at the moment, but what about 2 hours from now...2 days?...2 weeks? I never liked rollercoasters anyway.
While at triage this morning, I shared a room with a young girl I never saw, but of course heard (as if those privacy curtains actually provide privacy!). She sounded to be a teenager, at most a young twenty-something. She was all alone and had been there overnight - being monitored because at something like 24 weeks she was having frequent contractions that she herself couldn't feel. She was pissed off, she wanted to go home to her other baby and wanted to get back to her job. But from the doctors' perspective, she wasn't going anywhere fast.
As part of my professional life, I work with teenage parents. I am a great believer that young parents can and do parent well -- although they often need different kinds of support than adult parents might. The conversation this young woman was having with her doctor broke my heart. The doctors wanted to do an internal exam because they believed this young woman might have an infection that was causing the contractions -- if the infection was identified and treated, the doctors explained, the contractions might stop. The young woman was balking at the idea of an exam involving a speculum. The doctor tried to probe why - was the pregnancy voluntary, did she have a history of sexual assault? But at no time did the doctor say 'look, if you have an infection and we don't treat it, not only may your baby come early, but your baby could die!' There was vague mention of a possible nicu stay. But mostly there was a lot of condescending talk about how she made the choice to get pregnant and now she has to have an exam like an adult would. It was an exercise in unbelievable self-restraint that I didn't pull back the curtain and talk to her myself. Luckily in the end she reluctantly consented to the exam. But yet again I am infuriated at how the medical profession so often conspires to keep the veil of silence around stillbirth and infant death.
Down off my soapbox now. And back to bed.
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