Everyone always asks me if I’m bored, being on bed rest at the hospital. I understand the assumption that boredom would be the enemy here- but the reality is that boring days are my good days. I’m so grateful for each boring day. Trips to the bathroom alone can turn a boring day into an anxious day. (I won’t trouble you with the TMI here.)
Even on happy boring days, the number of tests, medications, monitoring, doctor and nurse visits makes the day pass by faster than I would have imagined. So for those who have always wanted to know what a day of hospital bed rest is really like, I give you my average day:
5:00 am (every 3 days) A nice early visit from the Phlebotomist to draw my blood in case I need a transfusion. (Such a happy thought to start the day.) Sometimes they come at 2am just for fun. And then they leave the door open when they leave and I’m too tired to do anything about it so I hear all the traffic in the hall until the nurse finally comes in and closes the door.
6:00 am First monitoring of the day. Nurse checks blood pressure, temperature, and babies’ heartbeats. Pricks my finger to test my morning blood sugar. (Is there a single spot on me that hasn’t seen a needle yet?) She asks a list of questions about pain, bleeding, vision, headaches.
6:30 am I try and go back to sleep.
7:00/8:00 am The resident on duty comes by to see how I am, to report back to the OB/ MFM team during their morning meeting.
8:30 am Breakfast. Oh how I hate the hospital breakfast.
9:30 am Nurse comes back to prick another finger to check blood sugars. If I’m over 140, she also gives me an insulin shot. Then I get all the morning pills: Iron, prenatal, stool softener (very necessary when on bed-rest as digestive system slows waaaaay down) and a medication for my gestational diabetes. She checks my temperature and blood pressure again. If temp ever goes above 100.4, that’s an automatic ticket to emergency c-section as it could be a sign of infection. My blood pressure has always been low, but if that went too high, that also would be a “go directly to c-section.”
10:00 am NST (Non-stress test) to see how babies’ heart-rates are doing over the course of 30-60 minutes. They position two hockey puck sized monitors on my belly, one on each baby, along with the “Toco” monitor to watch for contractions. Babies need to have a certain number of heartbeat accelerations that are 10-15 beats above baseline to show they are responsive and doing well. If heartbeats are too low or too high and don’t accelerate, that’s another “go directly to c-section.” If there are intense contractions (fortunately none yet) that would be another “go directly to c-section” as contractions can be a sign of infection since my water is broken and could cause a serious bleed due to my placenta previa. Even small contractions cause more bleeding.
11 am MFM, Perinatologist, OB and/or Hosptalist do their rounds and check in on me to give me updates and answer questions after they have their discussions about patients at 9:00 am. I know that the later they come to my room, the less concerned they are about me. It’s a good thing to stay down the priority list if possible.
11:30 am Shower. My favorite part of the day. I get to stand up and shower all by myself, washing all the goop off my tummy from the NTS and heart-beat checks. I have to shower carefully, making sure I don’t get my mid-line IV bandage wet.
12:30 pm Lunch. Oh horrible hospital food- which is even worse when counting carbs and portions for gestational diabetes. When I call the cafeteria to order, they add up all my carbs and make sure I’m under 60-70. It’s very humbling and aggravating. No wonder I’ve lost weight since I arrived a month ago. Most of which is muscle, I know- but hospital food doesn’t help.
1:30 pm Another finger prick to test blood sugars. Another insulin shot if I’m over 140.
2:00 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays are ultrasound days. I never know what time it will happen. Someone from “transport” whose sole job it is to wheel people around the hospital, comes to my room with a stretcher. I get wheeled to the other side of the hospital where the ultrasounds take place. They usually leave me in the hall until the technician is ready, which can be a wait. Then the technician wheels me into the ultrasound room and I get to see my babies (though the images are very unclear for me and most of the time the monitor I can see isn’t working.) The technician is under strict orders not to say anything about how the babies look, but I’ve gotten good at crafting questions to get some info out of them during the scan. These twice a week scans are biophysical assessments that check the blood flow from the umbilical cords, babies’ heartbeats, amniotic fluid levels, babies’ movements, and to see if the babies are doing practice breathing for the required 30 seconds. Along with the NST scores, there’s a total of 10 points on the scoring system. So far these two girls have had perfect or nearly perfect scores each time, even baby A with her compromised placenta and amniotic sack. The babies don’t always do their practice breathing for the full 30 seconds, but it sounds like that’s not too unusual at this age- or even at 40 weeks. These ultrasounds take a long time. But having this view into my babies’ world- this environment that I’m doing everything possible to preserve for them as long as possible- always cheers me up and keeps me going for another day.
3:30 pm The technician wheels me back out to the hallway, and I wait there- often feeling forgotten for 30 minutes- until someone from transport comes back to take me back to my room.
4:00 pm Back in my room. I read, crochet or have a breakdown cry. These breakdown cries happen at least once every three days.
5:00 pm E comes to visit after daycare most every day, with either T and/or grandparents. Sometimes they wheel me out to the garden for my 30 minutes allowed time in the wheelchair. Sometimes they bring dinner- which is a welcome break from hospital food.
6:00 pm Dinner. During which I hope I have eaten enough for babies, but haven’t eaten anything to set off my gestational diabetes.
7:00 pm Another finger prick to test blood sugar. Another insulin shot if needed. More medication- iron, stool softener and diabetes medication. Another temperature and blood pressure check. Check baby’s heart-rates.
8:00 pm Crochet while watching TV. Sometimes T stays over if our parents are staying with E.
10pm-12am The final check for the night, depending on the nurse and how rigid they are about my schedule. I’m supposed to have the last blood pressure/ temperature/ baby heart-rate monitoring at midnight, but the kinder more flexible nurses will do it around 10 to let me have a longer uninterrupted sleep.
And then I wake up and start again. If the babies are lucky, I’ll have another 34 days like this. I’m grateful for each one. Today is 29 weeks and 1 day.