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Old enough yet unmarried 37:Love,betrayal and health

Dr. O.

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Continued from episode 36.

“I think the babies are coming” I managed to say as I was still feeling more pain. My expected date of delivery(EDD) was not until about 3 weeks time but there I was, having contractions at my own surprise party, I had woken up that morning thinking my day was going to be boring and uneventful, instead it was turning out to be the complete opposite of that.

All my friends were running around in confusion, they didn’t know what to do, apparently most of them had never been with a woman in labour before and even Chinedu who had experienced what it was like didn’t have good stories to tell; at least from his last experience. I could see fear in his eyes, he was probably scared of losing me to childbirth like he lost his wife.

“Take me to the hospital” I screamed in pain, I guess that helped to snap them into action because they had been running around aimlessly until they heard my screaming. Chinedu ran to get his car keys, Jumai offered to stay back to look after Sean, Chinedu’s friend went to get the door while Charly and Yemi helped me up and into the car. I must admit that if not for the excruciating pain, I’d have been feeling like a VIP with everyone fussing over me. Charly was using her scarf to fan me while Yemi kept wiping my face with a handkerchief even though I wasn’t even sweating and we were sitting in an air conditioned SUV; normally I would have done something to stop the madness but I was in too much pain, I just allowed them to carry on while I explained to Chinedu and his friend about how to get to the hospital where I had been booked.

 

We headed there immediately but unfortunately, as soon as we reached a major road, we got caught in traffic. The thought of even having to sit in the car for a second longer made the contractions feel ten times more painful when they came.

To make matters worse, Yemi kept rubbing my belly as if that was supposed to help; after giving her a few dirty looks, she probably figured I wasn’t enjoying the intrusion of body privacy and took her hands off immediately.
About an hour later, we finally reached a point where there was no longer any traffic, I was happy that we would soon reach the hospital but my joy didn’t last for long because we were stopped for inspection by some road safety officials. Sometimes, I really wonder what criteria those guys use when stopping vehicles on the road, I always imagine they play a game of “eeney meeney miney moe” and just jump out thinking to themselves “ehen! God don catch you today” when it lands on an unfortunate car.

Unfortunately for the officers, they had picked the wrong car to mess with that day. By the time I was done giving them a piece of my mind, they were apologising and wishing us safe journey.

Against all odds, we eventually got to the hospital. Yemi ran in to alert the nurses who ordered a porter to wheel me into the delivery room immediately. Everyone was ordered to stay out except for my husband and since I didn’t have one, I shouted for Chinedu to come in with me, I could see the joy on his face at being called in as my husband, he immediately ran and followed me behind into the labour room. Yemi quickly ran in to give me a hug before they closed the doors, she whispered into my ears saying “I know you can do it Tess, be strong!”, I just rolled my eyes and gave her the “what brand of weed have you been smoking?” Look. She and Charly had been so emotional since my contractions started, they were acting like I was the first woman in the world to give birth to twins. After she was done acting her drama, the nurse asked her to kindly excuse us but not before I called out to her to help me bring my baby things from home. Luckily I’d been preparing for this day for a while, I just didn’t know it was going to come so soon. I had my babies’ clothes and all the things I needed for the delivery packed neatly in a small travel bag at home,I called it the “delivery bag”. I think it’s a good idea for every pregnant woman to have one packed at least 4 weeks to her Expected Date of Delivery(EDD) because you never know if your baby might decide to make a grand entrance by pulling a surprise stunt on you.

 

I was given a hospital gown to change into and was told to lie on the bed while Chinedu sat on a chair beside me trying to calm me down every time I felt contractions. The doctor came in later to set up IV access on my hand and perform a vaginal examination on me. It felt so weird being a patient instead of a doctor, I was used to being the one giving the instructions and advice but here I was on the receiving end.

A Vaginal examination is done to assess progress during labour, the doctor or midwife will usually insert two gloved fingers into the vagina to assess the cervix (neck of the womb) to determine its position, how much dilated(widened) and stretched it is, how far the baby has moved down the birth canal and other necessary factors.
When the doctor was done with the examination, he told me I was 2cm dilated, I wanted to scream, “just 2cm after all this pain?” I didn’t even want to imagine what the pain would be like by the time I was fully dilated.

Chinedu was such a sweetheart, he was doing everything he could to make me feel better, rubbing my back when it hurt, kissing my forehead and giving me words of encouragement, unfortunately, none of it seemed to work, the pain got worse with each contraction. At one point when he was consoling me saying “calm down dear,it would be over soon” I wanted to scream at him and say “what do you know about giving birth?” then I remembered he was only doing me a favour by staying with me so I kept quiet and continued biting his shoulders instead. Yes! I was biting his shoulders, don’t judge me, it was my own way of coping with the pain.

A few hours and a couple of vaginal examinations later, the doctor came round to perform yet another vaginal exam to check how my labour was progressing, from the look of things, I didn’t seem to be progressing well even though by now my membranes had been ruptured, this is a process popularly known as “water breaking” to most women, it seemed my cervix had failed to widen beyond 6cm for too long, so he decided to augment the labour; to do this,he placed me on an infusion containing a drug called oxytocin.

For your information, if your doctor ever tells you he wants to augment your labour, it simply means he will stimulate your womb to make longer, more intense and frequent contractions to help your labour progress.
I always hear patients complain that it’s really painful but like the saying goes, it’s he who wears the shoes that knows where it hurts, The pain I felt after receiving the infusion was out of this world, I now understood why all my pregnant patients hated me so much after I placed them on it.

The next time the doctor checked me again, I still wasn’t progressing well,by then it was already past midnight. He used a small device called sonic aid to check the heart rate of my babies and that was when we realised there was something terribly wrong. “what’s the matter?” I asked him when I was finally able to catch my breath in between contractions, “I’m afraid there seems to be signs of fetal distress, your babies might be in danger if we don’t go in for a Caesarean section” he informed,

“Caesarean what?” I thought to myself, after all the labour pains I was still going to end up in the theatre? I had assisted in hundreds of C-sections before then and I knew it wasn’t a complicated procedure but I had to admit that I was still scared; the look on Chinedu’s face didn’t help either, he looked terrified, anyone that saw him would have thought the doctor had just said he was going to pluck my eyes out.

“I’m scared” he whispered looking at me with so much fear in his eyes, “almost this same time 2 years ago, I lost my wife during childbirth; I can’t bear to lose you too” he said squeezing my hands. At that point, I could almost swear I saw tears in his eyes, “isn’t there anything you can do to help? Is there no other option?” he literally begged the doctor, “this is the best option for the babies” I quickly spoke up interrupting him, “I’ll be fine” I assured, even though deep down I wasn’t sure I would be. Different things were going through my mind, what if the surgeon made a mistake and injured a nearby organ? What if I bled too much? Worse still what if my babies didn’t make it? I tried to hide my fears but the thoughts kept coming…

Click here for episode 38

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Dr.O is a graduate of the University of Szeged in Hungary who is on a mission to reduce the mortality rate in our society by creating awareness about preventable and non-preventable diseases and empowering people with the necessary knowledge and information they need to take charge of their health. checkwithdoctoro.com was co-founded by her as a means to fulfilling this mission. She is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) and Hungarian Medical Chamber certified doctor. When she is not busy looking for ways to make a difference in her environment, you can find her trying out new recipes in the kitchen or touring the world.