The nurse pulled at the heavy roll of an oversized tissue covering & patted it down over a patient bed in the day assessment unit. There were two beds in this room and I would occupy one until a bed on the ward became available. I made myself comfortable - pulled off my beanie hat that had preserved all the heat underneath and shook off my oversized coat. If I was in a cartoon feature, there would surely be steam escaping out of my head & reaching the dated ceiling.
Again, like all the times before, out came my growing but petite bump as the squidgy cold stuff went on and the nurse searched for the baby cocooned safely inside. I could hear the doctor making arrangements for me from afar and I tried to keep tuned in with the conversations around the room but unfortunately my eavesdropping days only taught me to follow one conversation at a time in quiet scenarios. I was certainly not a professional at this feat, but perhaps my aim now was to master it to keep on top of my fate... *don't worry i know its 'haraam/forbidden', but come on, do you blame me in this scenario?...*
I was strapped up and connected to the CTG machine, and given my clicker to keep a note of every baby kick I felt. CTG is short for Cardiotocography. Yes, I had to google that! It records the electrical activity of the heart, not my heart though.. the baby beats. Alhamdulillah (All thanks to God), baby was content, happy & aside from the absent blood flow, seemed to be creating the perfect pattern of heartbeats that consistently met the criteria the nurses were after.
Baby was kicking away, and apart from this overload of information I had received in such a short space of time, I felt fine. Perhaps confused and full of questions but health-wise I had not faced anything abnormal.
The doctor came over to my bedside peering over her glasses at me, with her hands together in a fist.
"We need to give you two steroid injections in preparation for premature delivery. This will stimulate the development of the baby's lungs to give baby a better chance of survival for life outside the womb. I will hand you over to the nurses now and one of the midwives will give you the first injection - we will get you up onto the ward as soon as we can, but in the meantime, ensure you have your hospital bag, and..." She continued with her sentence but my mind screamed, HOSPITAL BAG!? That's right, I ate my words the very next day after joking around with my midwife about not having prepared my hospital bag yet.
I had nothing. Nada. Not even free samples or an Emma's diary pack. Come to think of it, I still had not collected anything from my midwife, let alone went out my way to sign up to any form of promotional baby products. Stuck in my thoughts and worrying heavily as to what was yet to come, I was beginning to get impatient. Where were they with that injection? It was roughly 6pm, and the day was passing by in a hazy blur. We have this saying in Lebanon that goes a bit like 'getting information out of a pipette'...I kept being given blips of updates, but they were definitely not satisfying my hunger to know more.
Finally, the head nurse appeared with a plastic container that held the injection I was going to be administered with. She was apologetic for the delay, but was convincing in reassuring me that it was for my own good. The second injection had to be given exactly 12 hours after the first one; she said I would thank her for the wait in the morning when I would be awoken to have the jab. Sure enough, I did the math and I certainly did not want a 4am or 5am wakeup call for a steroid injection!
"Will this hurt, how will it feel?" I asked her.
"Well, you'll feel some coldness around the area as it spreads and you can better describe it to me after you've had it." she smiled, and then asked if I was ready.
I bit my lip. Hard. And clenched my fists, holding back tears. I felt every turn, corner and alleyway that it spread through my veins as the injection was now fully inserted into my right thigh. She congratulated me on my bravery and said all done! But the pain was not all done at all!
"That HURT!!" I blurted out in despair, whilst holding onto my leg. "Well, did you want me to tell you it hurts like hell!?" the nurse responded with a cheeky look on her face. "Good news too, your bed is ready on the ward - are you ok to walk?"....
Am I ready to walk? Am. I. ready, to, WALK!? The pain was excruciating and it kept on increasing. My leg was spasming and I felt like it was turning to jelly. With a brave face, I got up off the bed and was ready to be escorted to my new quarters.
Why is it that hospitals always look like a maze to get around? A grim, gloomy maze. No greenery, that's for sure. As we reached the doors of the ward, I began to feel a sense of familiarity. This ward was made for me.
CEDAR WARD - Cedar, the national tree of Lebanon; an evergreen conifer that can reach 40m in height. It is the national emblem of Lebanon and is widely used as an ornamental tree in parks & gardens...Was that just pure coincidence that a bed would become available in this particular ward? It reminded me of the sorting hat in Harry Potter... I could have ended up in Maple or Aspen, but no, I was chosen to be in Cedar. I smirked to myself as I was ushered through the doors, finding the amusement in that moment.
I was hoping I would have my own private room, but asking would surely mean pushing my luck...After all, why should I get special treatment? My eyes began to scan around the ward sizing up the various bays and the people in them. Some seemed quieter then others, but I would not be offered a choice. I followed the nurse into Bay C - Thank God, a bed with a view! When I say view, it was no lavish garden; but the car park. It would do just fine as opposed to being enclosed by a wall and hospital curtain. God knows how long I would be stuck here for, but at least I could people-watch from above at the people coming and going outside; a bit like the SIMS actually. I used to love playing SIMS in my younger computer-geek days. Although, I must admit it didn't quite match up to my love of playing Red Alert or Civilisation, but it helped fulfil my enjoyment of interior design, world-building and art. Sat on my hard metal bed that needed plumping, fluffing and a new mattress, I felt like I had entered into an open-ended prison sentence that had begun without my consent. It seemed like there was no end in sight.
I was introduced to the night shift staff that had just been given their hand-over from the day team, and as I made myself comfortable in my newly appointed bed, reality began to sink in. I was having this baby. Not in 3 months time, but any day now. This was really happening and I had no control in my hands to change anything. This was God's plan for me and it overruled every appointment & every commitment I had for the foreseeable and immediate future.
The nurse came over to set me up on the CTG machine again - this machine was going to be an extended part of my body from now on. It would follow me around wherever I went and I would face monitoring checks every 4 hours. Yes, that even meant overnight - prodded with the fingers of strangers, poked by the cold steel plate of the monitoring leads and disturbing the peace of my slumber. The only time I could have to myself was disrupted by this piece of bleeping technology. After all, it was my immediate link to making sure that my baby was doing well and gave me the reassurance of what I wanted to know more than anything.
"Lights out, ladies." Darkness fell in the bay, but the glaring lights of the corridor beamed bright as day. I turned my face towards the window and waited for my eyes to become restless of staying awake.
The 12pm monitoring soon came, followed by the 4am; until eventually we reached the 12 hour checkpoint of the next steroid injection. Tired and weary, I lifted up my night dress half asleep and pointed at my left thigh. This leg was to be the next victim. I dropped my head back onto my paper thin pillow, closed my eyes and endured the pain to follow.