Nope, Bannock has not yet arrived. She is still firmly ensconced in my womb, unaware that she is about to experience the worst day of her young life. I like to remind myself that no matter how painful/traumatizing labour might be for the mother, it has to be infinitely worse for the poor baby who is being squeezed from a warm amniotic sea, through an incredibly small tunnel that will actually make pieces of her skull overlap, and into the cold, cruel world. Todd and I often watch Bannock happily kicking my ribs, and say “Poor munchkin. You have no idea what’s about to hit you.” And then we have a good laugh. There’s already some great parenting happening right here…
We have had several weeks full of fun, assorted sicknesses. For me, it started out when Todd flew to Singapore for a weekend conference. As soon as he was safely out of the country, I got hit simultaneously by the flu and false labour. I’m sure that anyone who has previously given birth wouldn’t be too concerned with the false labour, but as a first-timer, the first taste of contractions is pretty shocking. Todd started looking for earlier flights home while I was busy hacking up a lung and phoning our doula. In the end, Todd made it home, Bannock decided to bake a little longer, and the doctor gave me antibiotics for a throat/chest infection.
A week later, I had mostly recovered, when Todd and I decided to eat street food for dinner. We kept exclaiming over the delicious chicken satay, which is ironic considering the utter havoc it wreaked on our guts. After 24 hours of intestinal distress, the situation was basically under control when I visited my OB/GYN for a regular appointment. I mentioned the food poisoning episode, and – this being a private/for-profit hospital – he eagerly referred me to a Gastroenterologist. The Gastro then eagerly informed me that I should really spend the night in the hospital for rehydration and monitoring. I figured, “what the heck. Might as well get some serious bang for my baht/buck out of this insurance policy,” and agreed to stay.
No sooner had I murmured the fateful words than the nurturing began. Suddenly, an orderly with a wheelchair appeared to take me to my room. I started laughing, and said that I could walk, but the nurses looked appalled and said “you are pregnant.” So I sat in the wheelchair, and tried to look like an invalid. Once I got to my room, a steady stream of overly-attentive nurses appeared. They took my blood pressure, inserted an IV, and inquired about the content of my guts. They then informed me that any time I needed to use the facilities, I had to call the nurses station: “Madam. You go pee-pee, you call.” Considering that pregnancy makes me “go pee-pee” approximately 30 times a day, this was a bad joke, but the cute nurses were unrelenting. I drew the line when one of them tried to come in the bathroom with me, though.
I spent the next 24 hours lying in bed flipping through a truly dire array of tv channels – when you are excited by the opportunity to watch the same episode of “Cupcake Wars” twice within 12 hours, you know it’s bad – and eating the same meal in four slightly different formats. Apparently, the gastroenterology department has decreed that chicken and mush is THE appropriate food for distraught intestines. The first time, it was ok – mashed potatoes and a slab of some sort of ground chicken. When I woke up to the same slab of ground chicken and gravy accompanied by something that looked like potatoes but tasted and smelled like rotting eggs, I was less than pleased. Lunch was a bowl of broth with a few noodles and ground chicken balls. To end the cycle, I was served the exact same dinner as the previous evening immediately before I checked out of the hospital. I never want to see ground chicken again.
The nurses fluttered in and out of my room throughout the day and night, and at one point even offered to shower me (I firmly declined their generous offer). As the day dragged on, I started to wonder when I would ever be allowed to leave. After being visited by various insurance agents and doctors, I assumed that my stay must be over. As if on cue, the steady stream of nurses slowed to a trickle, and I was left to contemplate Adam Sandler’s acting ability for several hours with no interruptions. When a nurse finally set foot in my room again, I asked her when I could leave. She looked surprised, and said “You want to leave?” Yes, yes, I did. 30 minutes later, I was finally allowed to put my own clothes back on, and, miraculously, walk out of the ward (although a wheelchair was offered).
The humid air outside the hospital tasted like pure freedom. Next time I get food poisoning, I think I’ll drink some Gatorade and take a nap.