Help Me Make it Through the Night

Watching the sun set from the fourth floor of the labour ward in a hospital in Chertsey (I know. Where?!!) and the Gladys Knight version of this song popped into my head. Nearly 20 miles from home and wondering if I’ll be a mother of three by the morning. It’s been a day of high medical drama but hopefully it will be one with an uneventful ending.

I woke up to get some water at 5am, thanked the baby gods through my early morning grump that no babies had come in the night and lay back down to sleep. Suddenly I was gripped by what felt like a proper contraction. Tightenings front and back, pain that left me not quite knowing what to do with my legs apart from cycle them like a beetle on its side. I woke G up thinking ‘this could be it’.

As I’d dozed off in the warm darkness of my scan the day before I felt almost cockily confident that we would make it to 34 weeks, which will be considered term for twins in my case. Talking through the possibilities with my straight-talking consultant Mr W at Queen Charlotte’s made the prospect of the remaining 6 week marathon disappear. We discussed the help they’d need feeding and how long we might have to stay on the ward. I walked away feeling like it was a sure thing.

I reflected on this at 6am as we sped off once again to our local hospital West Middlesex, having left a heroic but bleary eyed neighbour, Nicki, waiting for my two year old to wake up with his parents missing. We promptly had to stop half a mile later so I could open the car door and try desperately to spare the good people of Brentford the sight of early morning vomit on the pavement. It’s the first time I’ve been in too much pain to really stand, speak clearly or make decisions.

The husband is good at making me laugh inappropriately at times like this. It made me forget about the pain a bit. Every time we’ve passed the hospital since Lucas was born we’d shout ‘The Bean is Born!’ – a tribute to our friend’s son Max who adopted it as his catchphrase on a skiing holiday where I gamely cross country skied at 5 months pregnant (hard to imagine being so cavalier now). As we drove up to the hospital entrance today we shouted ‘Peas! At ease’. It figured. Lucas has always been our Little Bean. Now I’ve got two peas in my pod. Not time to come out yet Little Peas.

They moved me almost straight to labour ward, stuck a canula in each hand and monitors on my stomach for babies and contractions. The tightenings were coming regularly. Within an hour I looked like the very antithesis of the NCT brochure. Medicalised, wires and drips hanging off me with drugs to stop this and prevent that, and a steady stream of midwives and consultants filing through. By lunchtime the cavalry had arrived. My 80something in-laws had made it all the way down from the Midlands and I was being transferred by emergency ambulance to Chertsey (did I seem ungrateful when the doctors delivered the good news that they’d found a hospital with cots in their neonatal unit and I replied ‘Where the f*ck is Chertsey?’). Not a single neonatal cot in London. Never thought of that. Still, they promised me a small, friendly, high tech unit in leafy Surrey only 40 minutes (!!) away and it is all that. They’ve taken all the wires off me and even made me tea (in a teapot with a real mug!) and digestive biscuits. What luxury. The paediatricians came by to give me a heads up on what might happen in the labour room when the babies come. Up to 15 people in attendance. Like a seminar or a small recital. How weird. I will never moan about my taxes again.

It had better not happen tonight. Too far from home. Too soon. Too sad. How will G get here quick enough if it all kicks off? They say the difference between 27 weeks and 3 days, which is where I am now, and 28 weeks is significant in terms of chances of disability. So we have to hang in there.

Things have quietened down on the contraction front. In fact, a pleasantly peaceful afternoon was only happily disturbed by a brief manic visit from Lucas and daddy. He’s so much more tuned in to what’s going on than I’d realised was possible at two. His first question on the phone to me today was ‘Mummy ok? Baby ok?’. Too smart. This morning when he finally woke up he told our babysitter neighbour that his tooth fairy money (a pathetic bribe to stay in his new bedroom all night) ‘goes in the box’. It does indeed. His first savings.

He turns the hospital upside down when he comes finding excitement in mini games of hide and seek, sitting on the bed and drawing with me on the iPad, and today turning all the taps on and covering himself with water and having to run around bare chested looking like a little chav (ironically my autocorrect keeps trying to change this rather horrible word to ‘chan’. Serves me right.)

I’ve lucked out tonight. I was tempted to exaggerate my continuing tightenings so I could stay in my nice big room on labour ward but thought I’d better not, so they said they would move me to antenatal ward as my risk has gone down. As chance would have it all the ward beds are full so I got a cosy private room. Maybe a chance to sleep without the grunting, beeping, moaning and farting. But then I am still here. Will try not to wake myself up.

Wish us a safe passage till morning.

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