Notes on a hospitalized pregnant woman Pt. 49

An old friend, who is also a doctor, (and whose ex-wife was a Maternal-Fetal Medicine OB) has been keeping up on my hospital life. He noted that I was likely being induced at 38 weeks based upon something called the HYPITAT trial. This study was a landmark, published in The Lancet in 2009. 

In the HYPITAT trial, pregnant women with gestational hypertension or mild pre-eclampsia were studied to see whether induced labor reduced severe maternal morbidity. Doctors undertook a multicenter, parallel, open-label, randomized, controlled trial in six academic and 32 non-academic hospitals in the Netherlands between 2005 and 2008. The study concluded that induction of labor is associated with improved maternal outcome and should be advised for women with mild hypertensive disease beyond 37 weeks’ gestation.

I was feeling better with the exception of the pain that was becoming a constant hammer to my head for the last few evenings. Dr. Luikenaar came in and I told her that I was no longer freaking out about the induction date. We talked about how insane Ted Cruz and Mike Pence and these “more polished” conservatives were, and I thanked her for not being a republican. 

Breaking News: Two million people urged to leave their homes in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina as Hurricane Matthew nears. Florida Governor Scott says: “The storm will kill you.” Matthew. Katrina. Wilma. How is anyone supposed to take these names seriously? Matthew was my 4th grade friend who liked drag races and dogs. Matthew isn’t a lethal hurricane that kicks 2 million people from their homes. Wilma is Fred Flinstone’s ginger wife, she’s not a 185 mph tropical cyclone.

My head’s been pounding and I ask Dr. Luikenaar if I can have anything other than tylenol. She orders me a Percocet. The nurse brings me a Percocet and three warm blankets because my heat is up to the max and I’m still shivering.

“Have you ever had Percocet? Do you know what it is?” Anne asks. Percocet is an oxycodone and acetaminophen (Tylenol) mix for moderate to acute pain. It’s also a muscle relaxant. I knew a couple of people who’d been addicted to it. Like Vicodin, they’d abused it for the warm and fuzzy twilight zone feeling. I’d probably had it in college. 

“Still doing okay?” I’m a little tired but my headache is still hanging around. She brings a cup of soda and I flip the channels back and forth between Project Runway and Men in Black. I find myself talking to Heidi Klume (“God you’re a bitch), and Will Smith (“please make me a man in black”), and decide maybe the Percocet is doing something, just not to my headache.

After Trump, aren’t you sort of curious how other show hosts would handle a presidential campaign? Will Smith would probably be a democrat, and and hang out with Justin Trudeau and Obama. Heidi Klume would probably be a fascist.

Hurricane Matthew killed over 300 people in Haiti. Now it’s hitting Florida. There appears to be a Hurricane Nicole tagging behind Hurricane Matthew. As Matthew is supposedly headed for a downgrade to a Category 3 storm, Nicole is upgrading to a Category 2. It’s like a Shakespearean tragicomedy.

Besides weather updates, TV is half commercials and half football. One commercial shows a lady getting an ultrasound but the baby wants a bag of Doritos dad is eating, and I google “guys want to be pregnant”. 

On one site called “Is It Normal?” a guy says, “I want to be pregnant but I’m a man. Is this normal?”

One man replies: “I think,but I’m not sure, that the cure for this feeling is trying to stick a watermelon up your ass, as to experience childbirth in reverse. If this doesnt work you could try eating lots of junkfood and buffets until youre about 350 lbs,this way you would look pregger and could wear those cute little maternity dresses you’ve been eyeing.”

Another man says: “Go to your local Abortion Clinic, wearing scrubs. Go to the dumpster out back, search for a red ‘Biohazard’ bag, choose a dead fetus of your liking, take it home…”

And a third man says: “You can try getting fucked up the ass… Who knows, maybe you will have the first butt baby.”

95% of the answers are less than empathetic. The main conclusion I can draw is most men don’t envy the sacrifices women make in pregnancy and labor, which isn’t surprising because it also seems that a lot of men have no grasp of how much work it is for women. And if they do, that’s why they keep their distance. And if they’re not the type of guy to keep their distance, they’re also probably not the type of guy to frequent sites like “Is It Normal?” My husband would probably get a kick out of “Is It Normal?” when he wasn’t busy on LiveLeaks or Reddit.

My head is throbbing and I have heartburn. I don’t think Percocet or Pepcid work. With an ice pack on my forehead, I chatter to the night nurse. I tell her about my great grandma and her 17 kids.

“Is it true that heartburn means a baby with a full head of hair?” I ask Sherry. 

“What about storms triggering more labors?” Yes, and there are more “crazy people in the ER” when the barometric pressure drops. 

 “…a drop in barometric pressure is associated with the rupturing of the membranes of the amniotic sac, causing a pregnant woman to ‘break her water,’ ” says obstetrician Dr. Jennifer Ashton. “The link between weather and lunar cycles extends beyond childbirth; there are associations between migraines, other headaches and musculoskeletal pain.”

So maybe that’s why my head is pounding: garnering long-distance feels for Hurricane Matthew, girlfriend Nicole, and their 17-foot wave dance across the coast- potentially the greatest storm in Florida since 1851. 

A reporter for CNN is standing in Palm Bay, talking about Hurricane Matthew. He’s talking about the storm but his eyes are saying: “Why the fuck is this my job?” Another reporter from Cocoa Beach is talking when the sound cuts out and the camera is just shaking around in the rain.
What do women do when they go into labor during hurricanes? At the hospitals empty? Are there more labors and no doctors? Is it completely dark and empty?

According to research by Janet Currie of Princeton University and Maya Rossin Slater of Columbia University, stress is the most significant side-effect of living through a major storm, and newborns are more likely to have health complications if mothers are in the first or third trimester at the time of a hurricane. When there’s a storm, modern technology and epidurals go out the window. 

Robbie Prepas, a nurse and midwife, delivered 20 babies during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2011, Melissa Farrish went into labor in Long Island during Hurricane Irene. According to The Riverhead Patch, the hospital’s power went out in the middle of her C-section. After the emergency generators came on, baby Hailey was born. The delivery was natural birth for Melissa, who was born 26 years earlier during Hurricane Gloria.

It appears that some doctors- whether in blizzards, earthquakes, or cyclones, do remain at hospitals and ride out storms to help their patients, including unlucky pregnant women. 

My head pounds. Dakota kicks interminably. My stomach churns. I think I hear my brain creak.

“Ride out the storm,” says CNN’s Michael Holmes in a soaking red coat. “Stay calm. Stay pregnant.”