So, your dad doesn’t want me to write about this, because he thinks that it might worry people (who read my letters to you) unnecessarily. I think though, on reflection, that it’s part of being pregnant and I want to tell you about it. And there were some funny moments.
We had planned to get to Dunedin yesterday and catch up with J & J for the afternoon, which, especially as we haven’t seen them at length in a coupla years, we were both looking forward to. But it didn’t quite work out that way. We got an extended stay in one of the birthing suites at Dunedin’s hospital, St Mary’s, instead. I wanted to take photos at the time but your dad was pretty stressed out and didn’t want me to, so no pictures for you, just the story.
I had a little bit of bleeding which started on Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t a massive amount, so I wasn’t worried about it, as I’ve read that lots of women get bleeding sometimes during their pregnancies. And I read a forum that people who are due in the same two weeks as me post on, and lots of them have had bleeding episodes, and so I know its pretty common and usually, once you’re past week 12 or so, works out fine. Since you’re now 21 weeks closer to joining us than when you were first being prepared by my body as a little polyp waiting to burst forth into an egg, I wasn’t too concerned cause you’ve got yourself well settled and my last scan showed that my placenta was anterior and more importantly, high; also, my cervix was shown as fully closed. Apparently the placenta being low and having bleeding is generally more of a worry. But, you have a good spot, which is important, and I knew that so wasn’t too worried.
Went to bed on Saturday night and felt fine, so all good. But by Sunday afternoon, after flying from Christchurch to Dunedin and getting to our hotel, I was still bleeding a little and a little bit worried. I was feeling perfectly healthy and hadn’t had any cramping, sickness or other bad signs, but your dad and I just wanted to check, especially as we were planning on heading off on a cycling trip on Monday. We both thought that getting on bikes and heading into the NZ Central Otago region where there aren’t too many doctors was perhaps best done after we got some medical advice.
We thus tramped through Dunedin to the 24hr medical clinic, where we didn’t have to wait long before we were seen by an absolutely lovely and thorough female GP. She took a history and read the little pregnancy history card that I now carry with me everywhere. After a quick external feel of my uterus (which by the way she said was ‘a cute little shape – sticks right out and is very round like you swallowed a ball’), she got the little ultrasoundy/doppler machine going and checked your heartbeat. Which was, as expected, all normal and good. Again, she explained this was a good sign as you weren’t distressed or worried about what was happening. She then phoned the hospital and had a chat to the obs registrar, who suggested we should come in for a check. Which is how we ended up in a birthing suite at Dunedin’s hospital.
St Mary’s has a number of birthing suites, a few of which were occupied with women, who, from the sounds we could hear, were in various stages of labour. We were put in one at the end of the ward. A big room decorated in hospital green and more green. With a shower and toilet, a single hospital bed and a couch. The furniture was dwarfed by the size of the room. Clean but old. I had a bit of a cry at that point, as that’s when it became pretty real to me that something might be wrong. I was ok before that, it just hit me for a few minutes. After a quick cry I was feeling better again. But hungry as we had missed lunch. Your dad thankfully managed to get to the cafeteria and back before the midwife looking after us made it in. Thankfully because after asking us a few questions she immediately placed us under ‘quarantine’. Apparently the South island of New Zealand and St Mary’s are the only places on Earth where the superbug MRSA (or something like that) hasn’t yet reached. And as I’ve been admitted to hospital in Australia in the past six months, until proven that I don’t harbour the bug I need to be quarantined… So quarantining meant that the door was shut, no-one allowed to visit (small chance of that anyway), and any medical staff having to be gowned and gloved in disposable plastic stuff before they came in the room. A bit novel. I then had to swab a bunch of my orifices so they could test them for said superbug. Your dad got quarantined with me.
Again, as there are no photos, you’ll have to picture it. Me and your dad in a big green hospital room. For hours. Waiting for the doctors to be free. Apparently there were some births with complications (twins and other stuff) happening. We had our books and a yahtzee game, so we passed the time ok. But the door was closed and we weren’t allowed out. And there were some interesting noises coming from the other rooms. I use ‘interesting’ in a broad sense. More like very loud distressing screaming at regular intervals. It kinda freaked me out but I was strangely calm at the same time. Your dad listened intently, then remarked, “She’s doing it wrong. According to the Janet Balaskas Active Birthing book you’re supposed to work WITH the pain. Not against it.” Ha. On one hand I was pleased – he’s obviously read the book from cover to cover (which is good cause I asked him to and it might help when you come). On the other hand, if he says anything like that to me when I’m trying to get you out I suspect I will try to deck him.
After a while a nurse came and took some blood to go and test to make sure your blood wasn’t in my blood, or something like that (protein testing); and some other things. I forget. She missed my vein and was really bad at it. But nice in person. I coped. I would have passed out from that a few months ago, but the common taking blood thing is starting to make me slightly more used to it. She went away. After a few hours, the intern doctor on rotation came to take my medical history. She was obviously new, and not an obstetrics person, ’cause she asked some funny things and didn’t know stuff like that you can tell which ovary the baby comes from if you get an early ultrasound (you came from the right).
When the doctor finally arrived, she was a lovely but slightly distracted-seeming woman who had obviously had a long day. The intern was in-tow. And what followed was what I’d write as a comedy skit about obstetricians if I were to write one. Picture two doctors, both of whom are distracted and keep forgetting they are supposed to be in quarantine. There were at least 9 changes of gloves for the main doctor as she starts to examine me, then changes to surgical gloves, changes back to non-surgical gloves, thows them, forgets new ones, swears when she remembers, gets new gloves, throws gloves as she thinks she’s finished, then I remind her that she told me she was going to do ‘x’, she recalls, forgets gloves, swears, gets new gloves. Repeat repeat repeat. Add to the distraction a non-functioning or poorly functioning light. Picture me on bed with legs up and two doctors crawling around on floor trying to peer up my fanny: Main Doctor: “well, this light is terrible. Can’t see a thing. Can you see anything?”; Intern: “no, can’t see anything”. Etcetera. I felt like I was in a Fawlty Towers episode: “Visit to the doctor”. Me trying to breathe cause it was a bit painful, but at the same time almost having an out of body experience when I can see how comical the situation is if it weren’t so serious. Your dad alternately trying to comfort me and not be alarmed at the circus going on at the bottom of the bed.
After a lot of gloves, a lot of discussion and lots of feeling around, we determined that we had no idea where the blood was coming from but there didn’t seem to be too much. We had a look at you on the ultrasound and you looked happy and good, and again your heartbeat was fine, as was my bloodpressure etc. And my cervix was still sealed. Did a little test which looked a bit like a litmus test on a long cottonbud which indicated that there was no amniotic fluid leaking out. A good thing, cause the doctor explained that the hospital had a policy of non-intervention if you decided to come along early before the week 24 mark. Which didn’t give you much of a chance if that was what was happening. So amniotic fluid would have been bad. But there wasn’t any. And the blood was slowing.
Didn’t ever find out if I had the superbug as those tests didn’t come back before I was finally discharged. Doctor said all was good, just probably a bit of random bleeding, which is pretty common. She said that the bike riding wouldn’t affect it or worsen it at all, but of course if anything happened to come back into the hospital if needed. And whatever they did seemed to make it stop.
So, your and my first birthing suite experience. Hopefully no more until you actually join us. Though we could make like a general tour of hospitals around Australia and NZ and do a comparative review….
love you. we’re glad you’re ok.