I’m convinced that staying in a hospital is nothing more than being trapped in the world’s worst hotel. The food is horrible, the accommodations are uncomfortable, and it’s harder to check out than the Hotel California.
This weekend was rough, as early Thursday evening the wife discovered that not only was she experiencing some particularly nasty cramping but she was also bleeding. Considering she was only a few days shy of her 31st week of pregnancy, this set off all sorts of red flags in both her mind and mine, so I promptly stuffed her in to the car and raced down to the hospital.
Have you ever tried to keep a pregnant woman calm, cool, and collected while your imagination is running wild? It’s not easy, and that’s exactly what I had to do on the drive to Lehigh Valley Hospital that night. It took Herculean efforts of composure to soothe my wife on the way to the hospital, as her mind was jumping ahead to the same place mine was going: there’s something wrong with our child, and we could end up having a premature birth. Being born at almost 31 weeks isn’t nearly as dangerous as it sounds, considering that a child is pretty viable at that point, but still it’s the farthest thing from comforting to think that you’re going to have your child stuck in the NICU for something close to two months: in fact, it’s positively terrifying, even when your hospital has an incredibly good reputation for caring for preemies.
It didn’t help that once we got there and we were taken into the triage room up in the Mother-Baby Unit that the doctor came in and started telling us what could be happening and that we might need to deliver if the worst-case scenario turned out to be true. This could have been either of two things: a major abruption, which is when the placenta tears away from the uterine wall, or pre-eclampsia, a serious condition that could lead to seizures during pregnancy. Either case can be super dangerous, especially in higher-risk pregnancies, and as a result my wife was admitted for long-term observation with the caveat that if either of these things turned out to be the problem, the hospital would probably induce childbirth right then and there.
If you’ve never subject to a lengthy hospital stay, you really don’t understand the particular hell you’ve got in store for you. Even the most comfortable hospital bed is a contraption so miserably uncomfortable that it was most likely designed by a Cenobite from the Hellraiser movies, and when the only thing you want to do is try to get some sleep but you’re interrupted every 45 minutes because of some other test the doctor wants to run on you, good luck waking up well-rested the next morning. In fact, you’re unlikely to get much sleep at all, what between worrying about whatever condition you could be suffering from and the near-constant stream of medical professionals coming in and out of your room.
It’s almost as bad if you’re there with someone else. Even though you’re not the one being poked and prodded, you’re most likely stuck wedged into the kind of chairs that Satan probably uses in his waiting room, scared, exhausted, uncomfortable, and cut off from the outside world. Luckily there was a reclining easy chair in my wife’s hospital room, but it was so threadbare that even that became an incredibly vile experience – especially since trying to sleep in a torture device like that is only slightly less painful than pulling out all your teeth with a rusty pair of pliers. And that’s not to say anything about the food they serve you in these establishments. Let’s face it: there were better cooks at Auschwitz.
Luckily, we were paroled after less than 48 hours of that hell, and all the tests my poor wife was subjected to ruled out both pre-eclampsia and a major abruption, as her cramping and her bleeding both stopped. The doctor’s best bet is that there might have been a very minor tear of the uterine lining, based on them finding no evidence whatsoever of any damage in an ultrasound, so our lovely visit came to a blessed end.
The only bright point was that more or less every single medical professional we encountered was fantastic. The nursing staff in the Mother-Baby Unit were all compassionate and caring, which made the stay not exactly tolerable but at least much better than it could have been. I’m also eternally grateful that both my wife and my unborn daughter were given a clean bill of health, though I’m not exactly looking forward to our next extended stay. With any luck it won’t be until the baby’s ready to abseil down my wife’s birth canal like a tiny, mucous-covered naked commando, screaming bloody murder with a bit of umbilical cord grasped between her gums like a combat knife.
How’s that for a mental image?