Mar 27, 2008

Instructions for Preterm Labor

Step 1: When your water breaks pray that you are incontinent. Surely 32 weeks is too early for the baby to come and perhaps you are plagued with yet another inconvenience of pregnancy.

Step 2: Go to the hospital to be checked out, and when the resident on call confirms that yes indeed your water broke, smile at her as you wring out your sweatpants which are dripping with amniotic fluid. After all, it could all have been in your imagination.

Step 3: Feel tremendous relief when you learn that amniotic fluid is mostly baby urine. If you keep drinking the baby will keep peeing thus keeping her inside the womb a little longer.

Step 4: Redefine your definition of bedrest because it does not involve resting.

Step 4a) Remember all the drinking you have to do to keep the baby inside? Go to the bathroom (which you share with three other patients) every hour while accompanied by your I.V. pole. I call this hospital two-step.

Step 4b) Don't forget to have your vital signs read and the fetal monitor adjusted every time you start to drift off to sleep because that is clearly the optimum time to be poked.

Step 4c) Don't panic when they put compression cuffs on your legs just in case the days of lying still in bed are causing you to form a blood clot that will kill you. Think of the vice-like grip as a gentle and constant massage.

Step 4d) And, when they come with your next dose of tri-something-or-other to stave off contractions and your pulse goes up to 130 give up closing your eyes all together.

Step 5) When your contractions can't be held off any longer and you are in labor the staff will want to pay a lot of attention to you and your baby to make sure you are doing all right. When it gets overwhelming, hide out in the bathroom for 20 minutes at a time. Just don't forget your slippers because tile floors are cold.

Step 6) When it comes time to push and the room fills with 15 people who are there to help you and the baby do not get performance anxiety. Focus on something more important. I recommend the pain of pushing a posterior baby out after 8 days of being in labor.

Step 7) AND THIS STEP IS NOT OPTIONAL Thank God for your amazing partner, family and friends who got you through this difficult week. Thank God for the hard working team of healthcare professionals who provided excellent care and gave you and your baby every chance to thrive. Thank God for the most beautiful sound in the world; the wail of a child who without the help of modern medicine would never have drawn her first breath.

Step 8) Wait for medical bills.

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