Nyana wasn’t due until December 17th. She was supposed to be a Christmas baby. Yet the day I was admitted to the hospital to deliver her, I was wearing a sun dress and flip-flops. It was August 25th.
I’d spent a mundane week in the Okanagan, lounging in the sun and soaking in family. The chronic bleeding started while on vacation, and after a visit to the emergency room while there, I checked myself into St. Paul’s hospital for a day of observation when I came back to Vancouver. I was sent home on strict bedrest, and ten days later, at a routine visit with my OB/GYN, she told me that my case made her nervous, and advised me to go home, pack a bag, and have myself admitted to the maternity ward at St. Paul’s.
I spent a week eating the awful food at St. Paul’s and happily celebrated hitting the oh-so-sought-after 24 week mark, the point where babies are deemed viable. They gave me a steroid shot right as I reached twenty-four weeks, to strengthen Nyana’s lungs on the off-chance she came early. The nurses talked about moving me to a bigger hospital, as St. Paul’s didn’t have a nursery that could handle such a small preemie if I went into spontaneous labour. And on September 1, the beginning of my 2nd week in hospital, I was transferred to Royal Columbian in New West.
With the exception of the very cool (first ever!) ambulance ride through the city and out to the ‘burbs, I was miserable at Royal Columbian from the day I arrived. Where I’d had a private room with a jacuzzi tub at St. Paul’s, ten minutes from home, here I was in the ‘burbs, sharing a quad room with postpartum mums and families who literally came and left at all hours of the night. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to sit in a shared hospital room, trying desperately to hold on to your unborn child, and listen through the very un-soundproof curtains to new mums and new dads marvel at their new families. As the days wore on, my mental state got more fragile, and I could see it was getting difficult for Don to come out to New Westminster every day just to see his wife getting more depressed. I begged and pleaded and cried every day to be transferred to BC Women’s. Women’s was closer to home, and I’d heard that they had free wi-fi for everyone. I needed to be there.
And then my water broke.
I was exactly 25 weeks pregnant when a typical daily evaluation by a nurse determined that I was leaking amniotic fluid. They started me on IV antibiotics and put me under 48 hour lockdown. I was stuck at RCH for at least two more days. Doctors and perinatologists and pediatricians and nutritionists paraded themselves through my curtained sanctuary, laying out harsh statistics on premature births and cautioning me on all sorts of worst-case scenarios. While I never fully accepted it—not until the moment I was induced—the truth of the matter slowly started to dawn on me: I wasn’t being discharged from the hospital until I had this baby.
I had all but given up on a transfer to BC Women’s when a nurse came in one evening shortly before dinner and told me to start packing my things, because they’d found a bed for me at Women’s. To say I was elated would be an understatement. The ambulance didn’t come for me until 9:30, and once I arrived at my destination they kept me in admitting & observation for four hours, but as of September 6th, I had at least made it back within city limits, and so long as this child of mine was determined to come early, I was determined to ensure I was in the best hospital in the province for what we were about to face.
Compared to RCH, BC Women’s is a palatial retreat. Massage therapy students dropped in on the patients once a week to give prenatal back rubs. The lady who used to be your Girl Guide leader stopped in to do arts and crafts with us twice a week. The food was served to us on proper plates, glass plates. And the free wi-fi was anything but myth.
Days passed fairly uneventfully at BC Women’s. I had an ultrasound shortly after arriving that showed that my amniotic fluid levels were as they should be and they concluded I was no longer leaking. My water that had broken last week, was no longer broken. Go figure. I spent my days reading books and surfing the Internet, doing Sudoku puzzles and waiting for Don’s visits. I know it’s crazy, but I’m certain that 20 years from now—one night when it’s two o’clock in the morning and I’m waiting furiously in the kitchen for her to bring my car home—I’m certain that I’ll look back on the nights Don and I spent drinking decaf lattés and London fogs at Second Cup, fretting first about our pregnancy, and now about our babygirl, as some of our best times.
Two nights before I went into labour, a doctor I’d never met (and never saw again, I might add) came in and told me that I was one of the most stable patients on the antepartum ward and that I was a close candidate for homecare. I laugh in retrospect. I went to bed the next night with awful cramps. When the nurse came in to check on me at 4:30 a.m. I mentioned the cramping to her and she advised me to “go back to sleep and stop poking” at my stomach. I barely slept through the night and felt even worse when I woke up.
And then around 11:30 in the morning, my water broke. Again. If I wasn’t entirely convinced that it had happened at Royal Columbian, I was certain this time. Doctors were called, tests were run, I was sent directly to bed and instructed not to move. Because I’d already been given the proper course of antibiotics at RCH, the fact that my water had broken wasn’t an immediate risk. We thought we might even be able to get another three or four days out of the pregnancy, if we were lucky. But when 12 hours later I started running a high fever and Nyana’s heart rate skyrocketed, doctors became concerned about infection, and I was wheeled downstairs to the labour and delivery suite. I called Don just minutes before they induced me at 1:30 a.m., and five and a half hours later, I heard her tiny little cry for the first time. At only 27 weeks, her tiny little cry was the most amazing sound ever.
I took a beating during the delivery, and spent five days upstairs recovering from a blood infection while Nyana got comfortable in her solarium downstairs in the NICU. She looked so fragile and so fetal in those first few days. Before I knew it, five days had passed and I was being discharged. On September 24th, exactly a month after first being admitted to hospital, I was going home. Now we just need to bring our babygirl home.