No matter how much I enjoy fictional drama, like, say, Downton Abbey, I hate it in real life, so let me say from the get-go that everything is fine. Still pregnant, and now I'm home and comfy and contemplating my slippers and my fleecy blanket.
I stayed in bed until 9:30 this morning because I had a doctor's appointment at 10:00 -- one of these health screening deals for the insurance to see if I could hit some pretty numbers that could net us money off per month, something worth shooting for in these days of skyrocketing premiums. The late rising time was an attempt to keep my blood pressure low enough to get a reading the insurance company would take. It was my main concern; fortunately, they don't take your weight or waist measurements when you're pregnant. My blood pressure at the midwife's on Tuesday was 130/90, which is pushing up into less-good territory.
So the nurse takes me back and makes chitchat while I settle on my side to nudge my reading down even further. And she puts the blood pressure cuff on and pumps it up, and then is silent.
"Hon, your blood pressure is 150/100."
The unfairness of this rankled. I had done all I could! I'd been drinking the water! I'd been eating the protein! I'd been laying down -- except yesterday, but I had to be up then for the kids' last class and performance, and anyway, I'd spent almost 11 hours in bed afterward, and what more could I do? Meanwhile the nurse was lowering the lights and cautioning me not to try to get up myself and tiptoeing away to get the doctor, leaving me to blot my welling eyes on my shirt sleeve since I wasn't supposed to go get a tissue.
The doctor took my blood pressure again and gave me the Eye of Doom and made noises about life of the mother, life of the child, the dangers of preeclampsia, and possibility of emergency c-section as I wept into the crunchy paper liner on the exam bed. He made a call and told me to go to the hospital and check into Labor and Delivery, and asked if I was okay to drive. I thought I was, the hospital being literally across the street. I had to sit in the car for a moment and pray that I could calm down enough to call Darwin, who rushed home to pick up the kids (whom I'd left home alone watching a movie, under the eye of Eleanor! I was only supposed to be gone for twenty minutes!) and drop them off with a very kind and flexible friend.
I won't lie: during my sixty-second drive, my main thought was, "Does this constitute 'grave reason'?"
I'm sure it's not original to cry while walking the hospital corridors, but it's pretty ignominious when it happens to you. It's also hard to fill out paperwork when you can't see through tears, but the nurses were kind enough not to make a deal about it. I heard a newborn crying as I was led back to triage and wondered if I'd hear my own baby crying soon enough. And I was tucked into bed and put on the baby monitor, and they took my blood pressure again.
And again, I said, "Oh, that's not fair!" That's a better reading that I've had in weeks. And the pretty readings kept rolling in. 126/80. 113/75. Darwin came and we did a bit of data collection: the blood pressure went up slightly when I got up to go to the bathroom, and stayed down when I did. The final reading was 134/82 -- not the lowest thing in the world, but worlds removed from emergency c-section territory. And another doctor came in and said my labs were fine, and I was fine, and I should rest up but I didn't need to be on strict bed rest, and the nurse came in and read my discharge papers, including warnings that I should stop smoking if I was a smoker, and that I should call my midwife if I experienced any of the signs of labor, which I know by heart after going the rounds with five babies, and that was it. Thirty minutes of alarm and four hours of nothing-to-see-here.
Now I'm home and wondering: what do I take away from this? I am grateful, very grateful, that nothing is wrong and that it looks like baby can safely cook for four more weeks. I'm very happy to be home again (though I did contemplate taking a shower at the hospital because it's been so long since I've been in a bathroom which you don't have to prep five minutes beforehand by flipping on the ceramic wall heater and letting the water run in hopes that it will be hot by the time you step in). But is there some moral here except the unpredictability of life? Have all my high blood pressure readings been anomalies? Do I go back on bed rest? Will anything I do make a difference?
And how is it that I ended up with the one OB-GYN in the US who had not heard of the Downton Abbey episode (spoiler alert) which featured death by ecclamptic seizure?
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