The last two days, I got to experience the hospital's Birthing Centre. And I will say that it's great. It makes up for all my complaints about other parts of the hospital that are typically slow and require tickets and lots of waiting. But when you go to the triage at the birthing centre, all this changes.
I woke up on Monday at about 4am in the midst of a severe urge to throw up, and promptly did so. Followed by several similar episodes for a few more hours. At first I thought it might be heartburn and I tried a Tums, but soon discovered that this was something more serious - especially once I started losing fluids from other body parts too.
I waited it out until about mid-morning but realized this wasn't going to stop any time soon. I suspected some kind of virus and wasn't too worried about baby-boy's health but it's not good to get too dehydrated in pregnancy. And at 8.5 months, I was worried that could happen.
So off we went to the hospital, hubby and brother in tow. I arrived at the birthing centre triage area and dutifully dinged the bell that's at the reception there. Within 10 seconds a nurse whisked me through the door and put me straight into a birthing room. Kind of strange to be in a birthing room when you're not in labour, but I was soon grateful, for it has its own bathroom. Clearly the nurse had insight after hearing my symptoms.
I was asked to put on a stretchy tummy belt and sit on the birthing bed so that they could monitor the baby's heartbeat and make sure he was alright even if I wasn't. Nurse Bully came in and took over the room. As far as I could make out, she didn't seem to see a point of me being there, and over-rode the thorough and sensible intern's ruling that I should probably get an IV to keep up my fluids and maybe have some kind of anti-nausea medication. In the end, they tried me on apple juice first, which of course didn't work (I have a history of not being able to stop throwing up once I start).
A bit later, the Bully came back and sighed "OK, you want an IV, I will give you an IV. It won't cure you though."
Well, duh. I'm not looking for a cure for a virus that causes gastro-enteritis. I simply don't want to dehydrate. I tried not to engage her in too much conversation -- I'm not at all partial to being bullied and there was a big sign in my room stating that "we speak 30 languages but violence isn't one of them". Therefore, no verbal abuse was to come out of my mouth. Though I think Nurse Bully could have had a second look at the sign. If it applies to patients, why not also to nurses?
So there she was, with the IV. And I soon figured out why she was so against it. She couldn't effectively put one in. After screwing up twice on my left hand, and me nearly passing out from pain because of the nice big pocket of fluids that were now under my skin, she finally left the room. Thank goodness that she went to get someone competent to try on my right hand. I think I might have broken the non-violence rule otherwise. The new technician had no problem at all, and the IV was in shortly. Nurse Bully came back now and again to tut at my IV.
I got unlucky with this nurse. Everyone else in the centre was great. The intern came back to check on me and told me my own doctor would come by during lunch time. Which she did. I LOVE my doctor. She is totally sweet, adorable, kind and competent. She is relaxed and gives confidence and doesn't freak out with either going "nature's way" or using sensible "medical intervention". (I really hope she can be there for my birth - it's not guaranteed and I know she'll be at a conference on my due date).
All good, and I went home. Of course, they hadn't given me the anti-nausea meds thanks to Nurse Bully and I promptly threw up again when I was home. Hubby got some meds for me, and I started to feel better. Except that a fever crept in. At 100.4F (38C) I started to worry - as very high temperatures can be dangerous to the baby. Not only that, but I was massively uncomfortable: shivering, sore legs, the whole shebang. So I ended up taking some Tylenol on a pharmacist's advice to reduce the fever and it did the trick.
The next morning I felt a lot better and we followed up with a visit to my doctor that had been previously scheduled. All was fine, except that the doc had trouble picking up baby-boy's heartbeat. She wasn't sure if it was because the baby was moving too much, but it seemed the heart occasionally skipped a beat. I heard it too, and it isn't something I've heard in previous visits.
She said she wanted to be sure, so she sent me back to the triage area at the birthing centre. Here we went again. Again, I was whisked through in seconds. This time, instead of my own room, I just got to sit in a chair with a curtain around it. Again, I wore the stretchy belt with the paddles to listen to baby's heartbeat. They confirmed a slight arrhythmia, but said that the rest looked and sounded good (i.e. no indication of distress).
Of course, it didn't end there. They wanted to double-check with an ultrasound so off we went to the first floor. Now my experience at the ultrasound place thus far had consisted of large waiting periods. But it's different when you get sent there straight from baby triage. Within 5 minutes I was in a dark room, cold gloob on my belly and staring at a monitor. The specialist was a doll. She showed me the heart and said that it looked fine, from a structural/physiological point of view, but also spotted an occasional skipped beat when tracking it. About every 7 - 10 beats or so as far as I could tell.
While we were at it, she also checked baby's head, stomach, legs, scrotum (yes, it's still a boy), and weight. Apparently, he's now 6 lbs and 12 ounces. And he has chubby cheeks! What a difference from a few weeks ago when his face looked much less chubby. I'm trying to decide whether chubby is cute or not -- I'm more inclined towards the lean, but he's a baby after all.
She said that all seemed ok apart from the minor arrhythmia. Apparently this happens quite a lot, especially late in pregnancy, and especially because the machines are getting better at detecting minor cases (which was not possible in the past). And something like 97% of the time it fixes itself after birth. The technician called in a specialist to see it too, and the specialist confirmed all this. Basically, they aren't worried.
For the sake of precaution, they've got me booked in for an appointment at another hospital for some kind of super-duper specialist fetal echo-cardio testing. But of course, those people don't have an opening until Feb 15th. By that time, baby-boy could already be here. So we'll see. Like I said, no one seems to think this is very urgent.
As for me and hubby, we're really not at all worried. Up till now everything has been very well and this seems to be a common thing. I'm very hopeful that all of this will clear up on its own, once baby-boy is born.
But I do know that the birthing centre is a wonderful place in the hospital. While we were there, two babies were born. What a sweet sound to hear that little wail across the corridor :)