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Jeanette's Pregnancy Journal

Week 24
~ The Baby's Coming!

This week began with painful contractions. They actually started during the weekend leading up. Initially I did not perceive them as being possible laboring contractions. I thought they were painful Braxton Hicks feeling that they could not possibly be contractions at 24 weeks. I did Internet searches of "painful Braxton Hicks" and came up with other first-hand accounts of such.

They started out coming q1-2 minutes, lasting 45 seconds - 1 minute. After two days of not being able to sleep because of the pain and discomfort and drinking loads of water just in case dehydration was the culprit, I phoned the nurse midwifery group that I was in the initial talks of arranging a home birth with during my lunch break. They encouraged me to go immediately to the hospital. By the afternoon, I was clearly struggling to stay focused despite the pain. That very evening I dragged myself to the hospital.

I made certain to eat something before I went in and tried to prepare myself psychologically for a possible premature birth. Leaving my daughter in the care of a neighbor, Syed and I proceeded to the hospital. Upon arrival, we were told that Syed could not stay with me because he is a man and men are not allowed.

I was placed under observation with a fetal monitor, given a drip of ringer's lactate R/L 1,000-- 125cc/hr, and an intramuscular injection of Vistaril 75mg, U/A (neg for infection) and checked twice for cervical dilation. My cervical os was found to be closed both times. Thank God! After about 12 hours and two residents later, I was discharged with no change in my painful contractions and a prescription of 30 tablets of 50mg of Vistaril in hand. I was told this can happen to many women, some carry to term normally, and to return if contractions continue (although my contractions had never stopped since arriving) and watch for bleeding and amniotic fluid leaks. The nurse told me to avoid sexual relations. I was told nothing about the constant pain and pressure.

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By my fourth evening with these contractions, I found myself just lying left-sided on the bed and timing them now at q4-5 minutes, lasting 30 seconds to 1 minute with a pain rating of 7-8 out of 10. It is difficult to walk from the strong abdominal pressure. My OB/GYN is not available or doesn't give a damn, one.

At this point, I am frustrated, sick of my damn bed, and psychologically unable to lie in pain for three more months like this. This pain is worse than labor. At least in labor, you are in pain--although increasing in intensity-- for 10-12 hours and then it is over and you have your baby. But, this crap just continues on and on. If I could just stop the contractions/relax my uterus, then at least I can return to a somewhat normal life. My Internet searches yield everything from calcium-channel blockers, magnesium sulfate, warm baths, herbs, to a glass of wine to relax premature contractions.

We are now seriously considering a flight to Miami. So, I sent my husband to the OB/GYN's office to pick up copies of my medical records from his apathetic and discourteous nurse/secretary. Syed says that he was asked to sign something and was never given a copy of it. Considering that my husband most likely did not understand what he signed because of the language barrier, I suspect that he signed something ultimately releasing the OB/GYN from responsibility for my health care.

I returned back to the hospital and was prescribed the tocolytic, Procardia 10mg q6h x 10 days. The pain subsided by the second dosage. Ten days later, I am pain free and back at work. However, we are leaving. We live in a U.S. territory where the health care is a throw back from the Stone Age. My husband was denied to stay by my side simply because of his gender. That sounds like the 1970's when my mother gave birth to me. I consulted with some of my OB/GYN nursing colleagues stateside and was told that Vistaril has not been given for at least ten years. I thought that I was an ideal home birth candidate and could have never thought that I suffer from pregnancy complications.

I did try to find another OB/GYN specializing in high-risk pregnancies, disillusioned by the first one and the inability to have a home birth, but was told repeatedly by phone that I am too far along and no one wants to assume the risk of my care.

The first OB/GYN would spend lots of time trying to sell us ultrasound packages with a convenient payment plan for couples instead of information pertinent to my care. There would be no individual appointments given. All patients were given the same appointment time and seen on a first come first serve basis. The waiting room looks like a factory of pregnant women. During my last visit, Syed and I arrived at 8am in the morning only to wait and wait because the doctor had yet to arrive. When he finally arrived the list seemed to be moving along and we were hopeful to get out before noon, but then he came into the waiting room around 10:00am and announced to everyone that he had a local television interview about his relief work in Haiti and would be back by 11:30am. Well, knowing that nothing moves here from 12-1pm and that 11:30am here is considered practically the same thing as noon, the nurse told us to come back after 1:00pm, but not after 2:00pm because they would surely close by that time.

We returned at 1:30pm and were seen at 2:30pm. For every prenatal visit, I have had to take an entire day off of work!

Multiple factors are influencing our departure. It appears as though my only birthing option is in the municipal hospital where I received sub-standard care; I cannot find another OB/GYN, although I am certain that there are great physicians that exist here somewhere; and I am simply exhausted. I already made arrangements with my daughter's school so that she can finish the last two months of the school year via Internet. I phoned the OB/GYN that I saw during my last pregnancy and they were more than happy to have me as a transfer patient. I've had telephone interviews with the nurses, transferred my medical records, and I've been placed on the June birthing list. My initial appointment is within two weeks time.

Jeanette

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