Warning: Column may contain strong or potentially confusing language such as “vaginal heaviness.” It is important to note this language does not refer to my vagina’s weight, or her need to go on Jenny Craig, but rather an uncomfortable feeling down there. This kind of reader understanding is advised.
A few weeks ago I started experiencing vaginal pain and heaviness. I’m sure I do not need to explain what that is to you. Nothing debilitating, just mildly disconcerting. I mentioned it to my doctor at last week’s routine appointment and she was not concerned, chalking it up to the aches and pains common in second pregnancies, especially because I did not fall into any of the major risk factor categories for preterm labor. “Do you want to schedule a cervical check, just for peace of mind?” she asked nonchalantly. I shrugged in agreement. It was such a casually made decision, that if you’d been watching us from afar, you’d have thought we were discussing whether to get guacamole with our chips.
Fast forward to yesterday afternoon just minutes after my ultrasound, with my doctor literally SHOVING me out the door and demanding I get to the hospital’s Labor and Delivery ward to be monitored immediately.
“Can I go home first and –”
“NOW,” she barked, the door hitting me in the back.
Turns out, my cervix was short and beginning to thin out, putting me at high risk for premature labor. NOT a good thing when you’re only 26 weeks pregnant.
I sat in my car, which I just got back from the repair shop after more than three weeks of frustrating delays, outside of the doctor’s office and cried. I was scared. I called Mr. Candy, who was home watching Skye, and then my mom in hopes of calming down before I hit the road. But you know that annoying reflex that makes you cry even more when you start talking? Yeah, I have it. Ten-fold.
The tears continued to flow, despite my best efforts to buck up, as the resident at the hospital confirmed what my doctor had seen. The nervous, uncertain resident who shakily stuck an ultrasound up my vagina (have I mentioned how heavy it’s been?) and stuttered, “Yeah, yeah, I agree with your doctor. Not good.” Quite the confidence inspirer, this resident. Even my gay best friend knows his way around vaginas better than this guy. I was on the verge of giggling through my tears when —
“You’re going to be here all night, maybe weeks. The perinatologist will see you tomorrow, but I’m sure he’ll say you have to be on bed rest for the remainder of your pregnancy.”
Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Resident?
“That means I just can’t carry my daughter up and down the stairs?”
“That means you can only leave your bed to go to the bathroom. If we let you go home.”
Okay, you’re welcome to get that shaky ultrasound out of my vagina now, Skippy, before I push it out with a SOB.
They aren’t sure why my cervix is playin’ me like this. Stress and overexertion? My regular doctor thinks they played a large part, but the perinatologist begs to differ: “Nope. No way.” The good news is, Baby Freedom looks terrific — big, even — and I am not having any contractions and Mr. Candy has been able to rearrange his work schedule to look after Miss Skye. Not to mention the hospital serves amazing fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. The bad news is my cervix is dangerously short (.8 – 1 cm.* when it should be at least 3) and “unzipping,” as Resident Skippy eloquently put it, so I have to get painful steroid shots (ME: Omigod, that hurt more than I even expected. NURSE [REMOVING NEEDLE FROM MY BRUISED THIGH]: Yeah, I wouldn’t be able to handle it) to mature Baby Freedom’s lungs should he decide to make an early entrance. Plus, and this is really killing me, I cannot do anything for the next 8-14 weeks in fear of jump-starting labor. The thought of not being able to play with Skye as I would like, or put her to bed as I do every night, or really take care of her at all, is breaking my heart into a million pieces. Not how I’d imagined spending our last months together before the baby arrives, that’s for sure. Every time she and her dad visit me in the hospital, she reaches out for me to carry her and all I can do is sit here in my tiny bed and shake my head, hoping I can mollify her with Barney videos on my computer instead. When they leave, I blow her kisses with a big smile on my face — and break down into tears as soon as the door closes. Yeah, again with the tears. Hell, I haven’t cried this much since watching Steel Magnolias for the five-hundredth time last week.
I can tell you a lot of things race through your mind when a doctor says you’ll be confined to a bed for at least two months. Not only the concern for your toddler and unborn child, but also utterly absurd flashes of panic. Like, Whoa, my roots are going to be hideous in the baby delivery pictures! I wonder if my colorist does housecalls?
Tomorrow morning, they’re going take a peek at my cervix again. If it hasn’t gotten worse, I can go home and crawl into my own bed. Hallelujah. Not that I don’t love the hospital’s plastic pillows and the attached monitor digging into my side, of course, but there is no place like home. But if it has gotten worse…? At least TWO MORE WEEKS IN THE HOSPITAL.
Two. Weeks. At least.
In which case, I will have to actually resign myself to this place and ask my husband to bring deodorant. Because judging from the number of times the nurse asked me if I was going to take a shower today, my wiping-the-hand-sanitizer-under-my-pits routine ain’t cutting it. (True story.)
*Resident Skippy got it all wrong. The perinatologist clarified it’s actually 1.8cm. Just a slight difference. *Sigh*