A Bit of Excitement

July 27, 2012 by Jennifer Carsen

Generally speaking, when you start your day with a coughing fit that results in an unexpected release of pee all over the bathroom floor (I swear, Eric is going to have to start putting newspapers down for me), it’s safe to assume the day will pick up from there.

Yesterday, not so much.

I had a regularly scheduled ob/gyn appointment followed by an ultrasound to ascertain the position of the Chickpea – who has been flipping all over the place like he’s trying out for Cirque du Soleil. Due to a scheduling conflict at my doctor’s end, however, the appointments were switched so that the ultrasound was first.

The good news was that the Chickpea has indeed positioned himself head-down, as babies are ideally supposed to by this point in the pregnancy. The bad news was that his heartbeat was slightly elevated. My thinking was that he was simply in a high cardio zone, due to his vigorous training regimen, and/or irritated by being repeatedly poked in the head with the ultrasound wand. (He kept hiding his face behind his little fist, like he was trying to dodge the paparazzi.)

Although his heart rate slowed down a little bit by the end of the ultrasound, it was still slightly elevated, so they brought in a nurse to talk to us.

Nurse: “I think you may be a little dehydrated.”

Me: So I should drink some water when I get home.  “I was on a course of prednisone this past week for my asthma – I think that can also dehydrate you?”

Nurse: [Eyes wide, visibly trying to tamp down incipient hysteria] “Prednisone?? Who gave you prednisone?” she demanded.

Me: I got it from some guy in the alley behind the gym. “My primary care doctor. I went in on Saturday because I was having trouble breathing. He told me I was far enough along in the pregnancy that it would be fine. I was going to mention it to Dr. N at our appointment today but I haven’t seen her yet.”

Nurse: “I hope you don’t blame yourself for this, dear.”

Me: Well, the heroin last night was probably a bad idea. But I feel pretty OK about wanting to breathe. Selfish mommy. “Uh, no – not at all, actually.”

Nurse: “Well, good. Moms can be so hard on themselves. So anyway, you’re heading over to L&D, and – ”

Me: “Um, L&D?” Lunch & dinner? Lottie & Dave’s? Lollipops & doughnuts?

Nurse: “Labor and delivery.”

Me: “At the hospital? You mean now?”

Nurse: “Well, yes. I thought someone had told you. For tests. And fluids.”

Me: “Will I still come back here later for my appointment with Dr. N?”

Nurse: “No, she’s over at the hospital. I’ve called ahead; they know to expect you. You’ll see her there. Don’t worry – everything will be fine.”

I think everything is fine. I’m a little worried about you, though.

Eric and I dutifully trooped three buildings over to the hospital, where it quickly became apparent that they weren’t quite sure what I was doing there. They admitted me to a delivery room – Eric thinks it was actually the same one I had Lorelei in, though I wasn’t really at my most observant the last time I was there – and hooked me up to a fetal monitor.

The Chickpea’s heart rate never strayed from the normal range of 140-150 BPM, confirming my suspicions that he was simply happy to get away from the onslaught of the ultrasound wand.

Despite the dire concerns about my potential dehydration, and potentially devastating course of prednisone, nobody was in any hurry to give me IV fluids. They did give me a small cup of cranberry juice in an attempt to “accelerate” the baby, which was confusing because I thought the entire problem was that he was overly accelerated in the first place.

We also got a battery of questions so extensive that I was wondering how long they were planning to keep me there. By the end of it, I was actually concerned that maybe I’d never leave. The only ground we left uncovered, I think, was my feelings about Kenny G. and whether I’m an “over” or an “under” when I set up a new roll of toilet paper:

– Are you religious? Do you want anyone to visit you while you’re here?

– How do you learn best? Visual, oral, video, or other?

– What was the first day of your last period? It was a long time ago, lady.

– This is your first child? Huh – I don’t seem to have any record of your daughter’s birth here, so I’m going to have to ask you all those questions, too.

– Have you ever been tested for Mercer? I lived in a dorm called Mercer when I was in law school…I think that’s the only Mercer I know about.

– Do you have a living will? Advanced directive? Are you an organ donor? What, exactly, are you planning for the rest of my stay here?

– Have you had intercourse in the last 24 hours? You know I can’t even see my feet these days, right?

– Are you married? (Interestingly, she never actually asked whether the nice man sitting in the corner was, in fact, my husband – or whether he was the one involved in anything fun I may have been doing over the last 24 hours.)

[Right about here, she bobbled my file and sent a cascade of papers swirling around the room. Eric managed to refrain from commenting that maneuvers like this could be why Lorelei’s records had gone missing.]

– How much alcohol have you been drinking during the pregnancy? (My answer of “Maybe one drink a month or so” was quickly followed up with, “Any other pattern of substance abuse?”)

– When was the last drink you had? I don’t remember, but can I have one now?

– Any big life events in the past month? We’ve adopted six ferrets and a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. 

– Due date? How was this calculated? They looked on that little spinning paper wheel and told me – back when the first day of my last period was more fresh in everyone’s minds. 

– Where’s the thingy where they got the baby’s heart rate? (I swear she actually asked me this. I pretty much pled the Fifth from this point forward.)

Fortunately, the on-call doctor (not Dr. N, but another doctor in the practice) finally arrived, figured out that some wire had gotten dreadfully crossed somewhere, and mercifully released us from the clutches of Nurse Harpo. “You look great, the baby looks great, go on home,” she said.

My auto-generated discharge papers helpfully noted that I was “evaluated to see if you were in preterm labor.” No, I think I was just there as part of a double-blind study on pregnancy and exasperation.


  1. They asked me those questions when I was in labor with Eloise and I was SHOCKED by the number and contents of them. Glad everything is okay.

    • jcarsen says:

      Thanks! I have been wondering if they’re going to ask them all over again when I actually go into labor–I’m going to lobby very hard for them to just refer to the previous answers. Don’t know if that will fly or not.

  2. Tonya says:

    Fellow New Hampshire mommy blogger here and stumbled upon your blog. What a fiasco! I’m glad all is okay, though. As a mom of four, I sometimes wondered during my OB appointments if they really knew what was going on!

    • jcarsen says:

      Thanks so much for writing, Tonya! So excited to check out the blog of a fellow NH mommy blogger 🙂 And I bet, just with the law of averages, that the OB probably really didn’t know what was going on at least once during one of your 4 pregnancies…

  3. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition, amIright? Sheesh.

    • jcarsen says:

      No kidding! I really wasn’t ready to recite my complete medical history (and beyond) off the top of my head that afternoon.

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