Bed rest lost its novelty after three hours. I thought I’d enjoy snuggling on the couch and reconnecting with Oprah, snoozing and reading for at least a few days.
Instead the day yawned in front of me with empty, heavy hours. Daytime TV and repetitive commercials of ‘Slap Chop’ guy who exclaimed ‘you’re going to love my nuts’ did little to stave off the doctor’s stern warning earlier that morning.
“Can I work from home?”
Dr. Oswald squinted while he looked directly at me from his rolling medical chair. He responded in a harsh voice that sounded like a father scolding a child. “You are on the maximum amount of medicine allowed. I’m adding a new pill. We can schedule a c-section next week.”
What? Was I hearing him right? I was only 27 weeks pregnant. I couldn’t have the baby so early.
I must have been shaking my head no – or responded in some way – because the doctor said, “No?”
No. A million times no. I called that morning because I put on five pounds overnight. I wanted to be cautious on the side of paranoia. That kind of fast weight gain could be a sign of preeclampsia, something we had been watching for because I had it with Jay. My blood pressure had been high, but easily controlled, before I was pregnant. Switching to meds safer for pregnancy threw my body into all kinds of havoc. Thankfully, the cardiologist was able to straighten it out – or at least I thought.
“If we can’t get this controlled, we’ll have to deliver right away. When this goes, it goes fast. You started early.”
The doc was referring to my initial signs of spilling protein and blood pressure issues at 15 weeks, and the possible swift switch from hypertension to preeclampsia.
“I don’t have to work from home. I didn’t realize …” I was stunned. We couldn’t be at this point already. When he mentioned the possibility of an early baby last time, I thought maybe a couple of weeks sooner – not months.
I had been completely clueless about the diagnosis with Jay. I didn’t realize the dangers when I was put on bed rest with warnings of early delivery.
This time I researched – and what I read was frightening. While only five to eight percent of pregnancies are affected, it is the leading cause of premature birth and, worldwide, maternal death.
“I want you to understand how serious this is. Did you carry to full-term with your other child?”
“Yes. He was born two days before his due date.” My hands shook as I lifted my glasses to wipe away tears. “I understand this is serious. I don’t have to work from home. I just thought with my laptop – but obviously the baby is more important.”
The nurse startled me when she spoke. I’d forgotten she was in the room. “You have a laptop?”
The doctor wrote in the file on his lap. “Whether you’re propped up watching TV or typing doesn’t make a difference. You can work from home – but no going into the office. No sitting at your desk or at the table.”
“OK.” At this point, I didn’t even know if my job would allow what I was asking. I’d just thrown it out there to see if it was a possibility.
Before the visit ended I was handed a new prescription, lab papers and told to report to labor and delivery Saturday for further tests.
Whether I would be admitted that day was up to the results. In the mean time all I could do was settle down and watch former stars in made-for-TV movies on the Hallmark channel.