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12/05/2004

Bronzing the disposable jumpsuit

(picking up the story, as the one who was mostly conscious at the time)

I was already a little bit nervous (ok, a lot nervous) because Julie's idea of mild discomfort is being stabbed with red-hot icepicks. So you can imagine my disquiet as I waited patiently for the supermarket pharmacist to explain to someone that they would get a refund as soon as they brought in a legible photocopy of their father's insurance card before asking, "What's the way to the nearest hospital?"

Guess who didn't know. The pharmacist behind the counter conferred with the other pharmacist and decided the best thing for me to do was hang a left out of the parking lot, get on the highway by the Dunkin Donuts down the road, and follow the signs because the hospital was somewhere near the next exit. Of course it wasn't, it was at the exit before that.

I'm going to skip over the part about waiting an hour to see the triage nurse (Julie made the mistake of walking up to the desk to sign in, instead of snagging a wheelchair at the door) and then being told, "You're pregnant, we can't even examine you down here until you've been cleared by Labor&Delivery."

When Julie got to the part of the medical history that involved having both placentia previa (requiring a preterm c-section) and gestational diabetes (which kinda wants the baby to stay in as long as possible to finish baking) the OB on call said under her breath, "You got to be kidding me" and I started to get scared.

We stayed that way most of the afternoon and into the evening (I can't really vouch for Julie's emotions since she was mostly passed out between pain and a hit each of morphine and demerol), especially after the obvious things kept coming up negative (the littlest bit of sludge in the gallbladder on ultrasound, no fetal distress whatsoever -- the nurse had to keep adjusting the fetal monitor as batman turned cartwheels out of range). It would have been nice to have had something to do, but other than patting Julie's head there wasn't much. (We thought about calling my aunt or sister or Julie's parents, but what would you say -- "Julie is terribly sick, nobody has any idea what's wrong, and there's nothing you can do to help, just thought you should know"?)

About 930 the OB came in with the answers from the 8 o'clock blood tests: bad liver enzymes were up, platelets had fallen by half in the past six hours, in another few hours they would probably have fallen far enough for surgery to be unsafe.

Was there any time for steroid injections to mature Batman's lungs, I asked (this is called "the bargaining phase").

One nurse started Julie on her various drips and another handed me the nonwoven zippered suit along with mask, hat and booties (did I mention I have kind of a long torso so that I had to hunch over and couldn't really sit down properly?). Then everything else happened with all deliberate speed.

I patted Julie's head some more, we made small talk with the anesthesiologist -- who did a bangup job: she didn't even feel the things he said she might feel -- and at some point someone said "there's the head" and a while later we heard some infant-crying sounds. I peeked up over the drape that separated me and julie and the anesthesiologist from the interesting part of the OR and saw a little blood-spattered butt and torso with the umbilical cord still heading down into the incision, then sat down again. Half an hour, thousands of additional words of small talk, three or four countings of medical supplies and a fine running stitch with only a little dogleg at the end later, that part of things was all over.

As Julie's nephew once said, "May you please never let me do that again."

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