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Shannon's twin pregnancy journal

Weeks Twenty-Nine & Thirty
~ My Confinement

August 7 ~ I apologize yet again for another lapse in my journal updates. I was using my husband's laptop computer to stay connected while here at the hospital, and it suddenly died. Just today, Peter managed to get it up and running again (thank you, Love, you know how much I needed this!).

On arrival here at the hospital with my latest pregnancy complication, total panic didn't immediately set in. Not even when I heard the words, "You are not going home." First, there was the shock that this thing had happened. It wasn't supposed to be like this! There was some relief that I was in a place where my babies and I could be helped. There was hope that everything would turn out well. Denial about just how bad it might be. It wasn't supposed to be like this ~ so it isn't.

Panic began to creep in when two weeks had passed, my condition was fairly stable and I began to notice things around me. The pink walls. The "whoosh, ching, ching" of the pump that continuously fills the air mattress under me (meant to prevent bedsores)~ a noise I barely noticed before has become a deafening roar. The windows that don't open. The sound of a newborn baby crying from down the hall, silenced as the door to my room swings shut. The hospital staff who come in and out at all hours to stick me, poke me, monitor me. The menu that never changes. The infrequent visitors (most of my family and friends are more than 200 miles away) who come and then leave. Everyone leaves but me. And that's when the panic set in.

After two weeks, I could no longer convince myself that I could do this (lying in bed like a time bomb, forty miles from home) indefinitely. I told my doctor if everything was still stable in two more weeks (when I reached 30 weeks), I was going home to "do my time." At that point, he agreed. At least I thought he did. The following week (last week), when he came in to see the still-very-pregnant me, he said "I hope we can have a healthy conversation about your plan to leave next week." Another one of my doctors (four of them rotate on call) told me Dr. T. was getting nervous. I just laughed ~ until this week.

Tuesday, August 4, just four days before my planned escape from "Hotel Miami Valley," Dr. T. came in. Our conversation went something this . . .

Me: You need to set up everything for my home care before Friday.

Him: I can't do that.

Me: Why not?

Him: I can't allow you to go home. Not with your placenta previa and ruptured membranes.

Me: But why did you agree when I said I would go home?

Him: Because I never thought you'd make it this far.

Me: You never thought I'd make it 48 hours, or a week, or two weeks, or even three. But I have. FOUR weeks on Friday. I just want to go home and gestate for a few more weeks.

Him: (shaking his head) Your uterus already measures 39 weeks. All of my placenta previa patients are delivered by 38 weeks. From here on out, you WILL bleed. You could bleed to death before you ever got back here. Then there's the ruptured membranes. You WILL become infected. If not closely monitored, you will go from "minor, we can treat it with antibiotics" to major sepsis for you and the babies within a few hours. I can't approve your discharge and home care.

Me: But I can't take this anymore!

Him: You certainly have the option of discharging yourself against medical advice. I can't make you stay. But if you leave, you put yourself and your babies in grave danger. This is the best place for you to be.

So that's how I find myself feeling as though I am starring in some modern day remake of "Sophie's Choice." My choice being to lie here and go not so quietly insane while waiting for something terrible enough to happen so that my babies will be better off outside of me than inside. Or, go home to my family and take the chance of killing all three of us because I have no home care and I'd be an hour away from this hospital which is the nearest one equipped to deal with 30-34 week babies. Some choice. No choice at all.

My response to all of this? For lack of a better way to describe it, I lost it. I refused food. I refused my medications (oral antibiotics to keep my white blood cell count down and iron to keep my red blood cell count up). I refused to talk to the nurses I had previously joked with. I blocked my incoming phone calls and told Peter to stay away. And I cried. A lot. I couldn't stop crying for two agonizing days. On the third day, one of my nurses called Dr. T. Even though he wasn't on call, he came to my room where I was lying in bed staring into space with red-rimmed, blood-shot eyes. "What's going on?", he asked. I didn't answer. "I can't help you if you won't talk to me," his voice was soft, caring. The tears returned (had they ever really stopped?) and the "I wants" poured out of me.

"I want to go home. I want to hug my kids anytime I feel like it. I want to sleep next to my husband. I want to pet my cat. I want to smell the roses blooming on our bushes. I want to use my own bathroom. Eat my own food. Sit out on our deck at night and stare up at the stars. Wear my own night gowns instead of hospital gowns or the gowns friends have bought me because Peter can't find any of mine at home. I want to hear my kids argue and the TV turned up too loud and the ring of my own telephone instead of hospital sounds and the roar of my air mattress."

Dr. T. waited for me to wind down before he started talking. "You know, you are doing such a wonderful thing for your babies. They're up to three pounds now (as measured via ultrasound this week). Thirty weeks is so much better than 26 weeks. But each day more is even better. We can't do an elective c-section just because you want to go home. I know you don't really want that anyway. I know you CAN do this. You won't be pregnant much longer."

Somehow, I wasn't comforted. Adding one more "I want" to the list ~ I want to be 38 weeks pregnant (or 36, or even 34) and delivering two healthy babies.

I was still crying when Peter arrived last night. He wheeled me outside at 10:00 PM, held me and handed me tissues. He tried to convince me to eat something. Finally, he sat there in silence looking just as lost as I felt. Back in my room, he made the convertible chair into a bed and stretched out to listen to the babies' heartbeats on the monitor. Over the sounds of the monitor, I heard him start to softly snore. And then, I swear I heard babies cry. The door to my room was closed so it couldn't have been real, but I heard and they sounded hungry. And I started to cry again. How could I ignore the cries of hungry babies? When the nurse came in to take me off the monitor and asked if there was anything she could bring me, I requested a grilled cheese sandwich. She was so happy to hear me ask for food, but the cafeteria didn't reopen until 2:30 AM . . . could I wait that long? After three days without food, three hours was no big deal. I was dozing when she brought it in, still hot and gooey. I ate every bite, then promptly feel asleep.

This morning, Peter left to go to work and for the first time this week, I didn't cry at the sight of his back going out the door. I ate some of my breakfast and filled out a menu for the rest of the day. Then I washed my face, brushed my hair and went outside in my wheelchair. That's where I was when the psychiatrist Dr. T. had called came looking for me. He told me he was there to evaluate me for possible treatment with antidepressants. I told him I didn't need them. We talked about my childhood and past (as if I needed some past trauma to contribute to the making of this nightmare?). He asked how I feel lying in my hospital bed. I told him about my almost uncontrollable urge to throw a chair through my second floor window. "So you can jump?", he asked. "So I can breathe," I answered. He laughed and agreed I didn't need drugs just yet. His final recommendation? That I should stay right where I am for the good of myself and my babies. As hard as it is for me to accept, I know that he and the others are right.

There is something so unreal about leaving your home for lunch one day and not returning for weeks and weeks. And something so real about the imagined cries of hungry babies in the night.

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