Parental Practice

Consciousness – also known as that annoying time between naps. I’ve received a lot of advice on arriving babies. One of the big tips – get some rest now, because you’ll never sleep once the kiddos arrive. So apologies for the lengthy duration between posts, I’m constantly trying to nap.

Sadly, I’m beginning to suspect that the hospital has a policy against letting patients sleep. I know I’ve previously posted a bit about this via the beeping machines. But now I’m here for the long haul; I’m confined to baby jail until the boys make their grand debut.

The maternity ward in this hospital is divided into two sections: Labor and Delivery and the Mother/Baby unit. Normal parents arrive in labor between 36 and 40 weeks and spend some quality time in an observation room. Then if they’re not sent home, they journey over to L&D. They labor there for a while and eventually a baby emerges. Everyone oohs and ahhs while the dad packs up mom’s bag and a nurse wheels the happy family over to a Mom/Baby room. Here, the mom learns some baby bonding basics, collects all the congratulatory pink or blue flowers with “It’s a Kid!” balloons and packs the child into an infant car seat. Dad pulls the car around and away they zoom (driving approximately five miles per hour).

Then there is my category of patients. The ante-partums. Apparently, this means mom’s who are still pregnant. It took me until my third excursion here to figure that out. I’d always assumed we were anti-partums. – moms who were desperately trying not to partum (have the baby). This group is moved from L&D to Mom/Baby once we are deemed “stable.” (Of course, I have a sneaking suspicion “stable” may also mean “We’re swamped with mommys-to-be and you are hogging a bed while you notably don’t have a baby.”)

The staff in the Mom/Baby unit are absolutely terrified of us ante/anti types. My first clue of this was when I first arrived in the unit during my first visit. “Where’s the baby?!” the nurse exclaimed. (I immediately wondered if I should be concerned about babies being accidentally left behind in miscellaneous rooms here…) Mom/Baby’s solution to us complicated patients is to view the computer charts as godlike. If it’s not on the computer, it’s not happening in their unit. And I’m pretty sure sleep isn’t noted on any chart.

I am currently on a medication that requires administration every three hours. Before I take said meds, nurses need to check my blood pressure and pulse. Additionally, the babies’ heart rates and my contractions must be monitored twice a day. And finally, nurses need to check in periodically to listen to my breathing and ask me if I’m experiencing any pain or if I need anything. This list doesn’t include other staff such as housekeeping and nutritional engineers (cafeteria runners who deliver the hospital food.) This means that even with the best case scenario, I can only sleep in three hour bursts.

After an initial battle with nurses about my medication schedule, I thought things might calm down. (The nurse insisted I took a pill at 9 a.m.)

“…and I still need X medication.”
“No you took X at 9 a.m.”
“No I didn’t. I always take it at 10 p.m.”
“You took X at 9 a.m. The computer says so.”
“I did not take X this morning. I have been taking it at 10 p.m. since 2001.”
“Here, let me show you. See? The computer says you took it at 9 a.m. this morning.”

Then a nurse would take my blood pressure and pulse before giving me another of my medicines. (Mind you, I took said medication at home without this hullabaloo, but I digress.) If my pulse measures over 100, the computer tells the nurse to withhold medication and check with a doctor. You guessed it – my pulse consistently registers at 101 or 103. So the nurse must then call the doctor for a waiver (doctors have yet to say anything other than “Yeah, that’s fine”).

Growing increasingly cranky, I negotiated a deal with the doctor. No more vital signs during the night. The nurses would simply show up, give me my pills and go away. Still waking me every three hours, but an improvement nonetheless.

That morning at 1 a.m., the nurse arrived. She insisted on taking my blood pressure. I meekly protested, but was rebuffed because “the computer said so.” Too tired to properly bitch, I acquiesced. Then she pulled out the stethoscope. Verging on a pediatric tantrum, I suggested that she should perhaps go check with the doctor at that very moment. I would spend the time trying to regain feeling in my arm after being squeezed as though the blood pressure cuff was trying to make orange juice. The nurse returned to inform me that the “safe zone” was actually midnight to 5 a.m., not 7 a.m. as I insisted. Awestruck, I firmly stated that 5 a.m. would have to do – but it was currently 1 a.m.

We’ve since gotten that little misunderstanding straightened out. But the interruptions keep coming. Housekeeping will charge in like gangbusters. Dietary folks have poked their heads in to ask if I’d like my meal, or if they’d like me to hold it until I was through with my nap (they don’t seem to notice that they have thus effectively ended my nap). The maternity ward door has an alarm that goes off anytime someone doesn’t buzz in. Most of the monitoring machines have angry beeps that yell at me during any given session.

Strangely, I don’t mind being here nearly as much during this trip. I know I’m here for the long haul, and I’m happy to sacrifice my freedom so the boys don’t have to spend as much time in their baby jail. And it’s not like I’ll get much more sleep when we bring the boys home.

But the constant interruptions are still driving me mad. And my door now has a very large angry red sign saying, “DO NOT ENTER. CHECK WITH NURSE.” Not that it’s stopped anyone…


Filed under Bed-rest, Hospital, Pre-natal

2 Responses to Parental Practice

  1. Joanne Hamann

    Do you think it’s too late for me to become a “nutritional engineer?” I love that term!

  2. Pingback: The Tiny Two Toddler Transition | Stream of the Conscious

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