Friday, April 25, 2008

The Observation Ward

The women on the observation ward shuffle from their rooms, their eyes tired and red, their pregnant bellies huge under their hospital gowns as they tug their IV poles along with them to the bathroom.

Just a few hours or days ago, they were the glowing pregnant ladies you saw waddling down the street.

In a second, everything changes.

Yesterday, I wore my new green wrap shirt to work, proud to show off my belly. I had a lunch date at my favorite French restaurant. I had a conference call at 4.

Then I went to the bathroom and found blood in my underwear.

"Get down here," said the doctor.

"I'll be back this afternoon," I said to my boss, but as I said it, I was fairly certain it was a lie.

At the doctor's office, they hooked me up to the fetal heart monitor and the froggy-frog sounds of Spicebaby's heart filled the room.

I felt the contractions before I saw them on the monitor. So that's what a contraction feels like, I thought to myself, just before the doctor told me I had to go to the hospital.

Spring Street was bright and sunny. I waddled along next to Spiceboy as he hunted for a cab.

To everyone else on the street, I was just another pregnant lady in a bright green shirt.

My room at NYU looked over the East River, out to Roosevelt Island and the Coca-Cola sign.

The contractions came and went, came and went. I would feel them first, then Spiceboy and I would hold hands and watch the little spikes on the monitor.

When the third round of contractions began, Spiceboy looked at the monitor with despair. "Please stop," he said.

The nurse gave me a shot that stopped the contractions but made my heart race and my hands shake. I tugged my IV pole to the bathroom, trying to keep the back of my hospital gown closed.

"Possible placental abruption," said the doctor. "High risk for pre-term labor. No way to know for sure," she said.

"Bed rest," she said.

So here I am, back at home. The contractions have stopped for now. My green shirt is hanging in the closet. I don't know when I'll get to wear it again.

The panic comes and goes, like clouds passing over the sun.