About three months ago I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This was not a huge shock to me, as diabetes is just about as common in my family as a love of food and alcoholism. Maybe we should look into that.
Anyway: it hasn’t been as scary as I thought it would be. I can have whatever I want, I just have to keep track of the carbs. So I can totally have my favorite breakfast: chocolate covered cream filled donut. See, all that happens is that if I have one, I can’t eat anything but cheese and chicken breasts for approximately the rest of my life.
For awhile, I would get that panicky feeling like I might kill someone for the M & M residue underneath their fingernails, and there were a few extremely embarrassing nights when I would feel myself starting to cry when Mitch made himself pasta for dinner and I had to make do with vegetables and chicken. But these days, I’m not craving much.
When I entered third trimester, my doctor told me that I was going to start having twice a week NSTs– which stands for Non-Stress Test. I thought this sounded fantastic. In my mind, I was picturing a nice man with glasses coming in with a little Baby Cosmo magazine and giving Skirty a quiz called “OMG– HOW STRESSED ARE WE?” All the questions would be multiple choice and would involve lots of acronyms and explanation points, and Skirty and I would roll our eyes at some of them.
But now that I’ve had about a dozen non-stress tests, I don’t know why they are called a non-stress test. Because what they are doing is testing to see if your baby is under any distress. So, really, what they are looking for is stress. And they want you, as the jar of clay that is baking this baby, to be as calm as possible. Which is not always easy to do when they come in and look at the monitor and give that doctor frown that means something is bad even when their mouth is telling you that it is ‘okay.’ They don’t even get enthusiastic about the word ‘okay.’
Last week, they found some of that stress they were looking for. Well. Maybe they didn’t. It’s quite possible that Skirty is just a drama queen like her Mom and wanted to upstage us all and freak us out. And if that’s the case, mission accomplished Skirty. Soooooooo can’t wait for you to do this when you’re seventeen.
I came in and they hook you up to two monitors. One measures contractions, and one measures the baby’s heart rate. Then I have to press a button every time she moves. Her heart rate is supposed to go up fifteen beats for fifteen seconds and then come back down until she moves again. For twenty minutes.
So one day, she didn’t move at all. So my nurse comes in and gives me a can of grape juice. Oh….. oh…. oh god. Have any of you given up sugar for three months? That grape juice was about the best thing I’ve ever had in my mouth, and the nurse laughed at the expression on my face. Skirty moved a bit this time, but her heart rate still wasn’t going up like they wanted it too.
So they came back. This time with candy.
Oh man. I couldn’t even be polite while I ate that 3 Musketeers bar. I can’t even remember what it tasted like, I downed it so fast. Once my doctor left the room, I picked up all the crumbs from my chest and ate those too. I laid back in the chair and licked my teeth. I closed my eyes and tried desperately not to compare it to the nasty sugar free chocolate that I’d been getting by with. And by ‘getting by’ I mean keeping myself from having some major nervous breakdowns whenever one of the kids I’m potty training pees on the floor. Which happens. At least three times a day.
This time Skirty passed. On the way back to work, I patted my belly with satisfaction. Thank you, baby. I thought. Mommy and Skirty. Will work for chocolate.
The next week, however, Skirty failed the test so badly that they didn’t want to jump through any hoops. They sent me straight to the hospital for an emergency ultrasound called a Biophysical Profile. They score the baby on five areas of general health. A score of 6 is marginal. Anything under that is ‘abnormal.’
I spent that whole afternoon crying and researching different reasons why you might fail an NST and what a bad score on a BPP might mean. Mitch has suggested that next time I’m pregnant we just disconnect the internet completely, or at least restrict access to google, because I always end up reading things that are terrifying and happen to almost no one. But I have to do the research, because of the kind of lady I am. I always feel better if I have something to study. Partially so that I know what’s going on. Partially (mostly) because I don’t trust anyone and want to have the background information to scream at them if I feel like they are messing up.
I don’t know if any of you are control freaks like me. But if you are, let me warn you about getting pregnant. It’s terrifying.
Skirty scored a 6 on that first one. I cried all night, didn’t sleep at all. Mitch slept, but woke up about every thirty minutes to hold me and rub my shoulders. He doesn’t always know exactly what to say, but he knew what to say right then.
“She has a heartbeat. Something might be wrong with her muscles, something might be wrong with the way her heart is connected to her muscles. But she has a heartbeat. Just focus on that. As long as we have that, we will find a way to deal with anything else.”
The next day my doctor called and told me that they were doing a second BPP. “I’m not going to lie to you,” She said (BTW– I love it when people start sentences like this. It makes me start going back over everything that they’ve all ready said to me and wondering which ones were lies– must have been probably all of them since you suddenly feel like you need to start this statement with a freaking disclaimer), “After the test is done, I will let you know when and if you can leave the hospital. Get my meaning?”
So I spent three hours getting everything squared away at work so that everything was in place, just in case I wouldn’t be back for 6 weeks. Then my friend McKayla and I headed to the hospital, and Mitch (who couldn’t get out of work) went and stood in the best place at his cafe where he could knock over anyone who tried to make a phone call that night.
Also, I had to drink 46 ounces of water in the hour before the ultrasound. Again, if you haven’t been pregnant, my advice on this is just to pretend it isn’t happening. And also to bring a spare change of clothes.
BPP’s typically last 45 to 60 minutes. This one? About 20. Why? Because Skirty did everything she was supposed to do immediately. Through my elation, I found myself thinking, “You little shit.”
Then they sent me up to Labor and Delivery for a plain old non-stress test, just to double check everything. This is about when everything became the most ridiculous day ever.
First, they separated McKayla and I so that they could ask me a gazillion questions about whether or not I was being abused and whether or not I had, or have had, any STDs. Then I had to change into a gown, and then I had to lie down in the bed while they hooked me up to the monitors. Then they asked me all those questions again, along with a bunch of questions that I didn’t know the answer to, but could probably have been easily found within the Tome that is my Medical Records, which– I HOPE– they have access too. My father-in-law is always telling me not to make assumptions, so I suppose I should just be prepared for that when I go to the hospital to actually have this baby, I will have to explain every prenatal appointment I’ve had since June. Cuz that is kind of what I did right then.
And then the nurse said, “Are you in any pain right now?”
And I said, “You know… actually… there is this tightening in my belly.”
“Oh,” She said, and looked down at the monitor. “That’s because you are in labor.”
Finally they let McKayla back in and I cross-examined her to make sure that SHE wasn’t being abused or had any STDs. I figured that she deserved the same treatment that I was receiving. That’s what happens when you roll with me.
We sat there and watched my contractions for about two hours. During this time I called my mom twice, my husband twice, and gave McKayla the job of calling my mother-in-law to let her know that everything was okay. At one point during the conversation, McKayla looked at me in a sheer panic and I knew exactly what had happened.
“Oh God,” I said, “Is she crying? Tell her to stop crying.”
The doctor came in finally to let me know she was going to check my cervix. Have you had that happen to you before? It’s not the MOST uncomfortable thing I can think of, but its certainly up there. Basically, the doctor greases her arm up to her elbow and slides it up to touch your cervix. Every time this happens, while I am gasping for air and struggling not to punch anyone, I fight the urge to ask her to scratch the back of my eyeball.
Today a new exciting thing happened. A doctor walked into the room.
I mean, I guess I’m assuming he was a doctor. He was wearing scrubs, and had a stethoscope. But I think he may have been missing a part of his brain. Because he just walked into my room and stood there, arms over his chest, watching.
Um. Hi. I’m Adrienne. This is my vagina. Can I help you?
No one else introduced him either. They acknowledged him by nodding– which is good, because otherwise I might have thought I was hallucinating– but no one said anything to each other while my doctor disentangled her entire upper body from my cervix and took off her Hazmat suit and told me that I was dilated a centimeter, 30% effaced, and the baby’s head was no where even close to ‘engaged.’
Meanwhile, Doogie Howzer kept up his silent vigil.
In the end, Skirty ended up passing both tests with flying colors. Contractions stopped after I ate dinner and walked around the mall a little bit.
At this point, I have been told three times “THIS COULD BE IT” and each time I have come home…. still pregnant. Each time I have a false alarm, I keep telling myself “OK. Today is the day that you come home with a baby.” Each time this doesn’t happen, I find myself getting a little more cynical and in denial about the whole process.
I’ve started to feel a little bit like this might be the world’s biggest practical joke. Like in two weeks I am going to walk into my apartment and balloons were going to fall on me and someone in a tux is going to walk out and show me where all the cameras have been hidden and I’ll look down and see my formerly rotund stomach that was rotund only from spaghetti and riesling.
Obviously, rationally, I know that she will get here in due time and I will laugh hysterically at this tiny little minute piece of time that I was becoming impatient. Like– what am I so impatient for? This is easiest my daughter will ever be to take care of. But three times last week I thought that by the end of the day, I’d be looking into a face that that was half mine, half Mitch’s. And maybe she will smile at me and ask me if I remember the last time I had some real chocolate. And I’ll say yes, and she’ll wiggle her Krysl eyebrows at me and say,
“You soooooo owe me.”