Getting to the third trimester of my pregnancy was trying, but I have to include that normal, happy pregnancy things did sometimes happen. I had a baby shower with friends from high school and friends from work, which meant there was all sorts of cute baby stuff piling up in our shitty little apartment. My mom did her fair share of adding to that pile for her first grandkid. We were batting around name ideas (unnecessarily, because I’d already decided long ago.) and I put diapers on Coke cans. It’s hard to say how things were between my ex and I at this point, because we didn’t actually spend a lot of time together.
I was still struggling to work, trying my hardest to show up every day. He lost two jobs by this time and was looking for a third, but most often he was with friends I didn’t know, hanging out in places I didn’t know. He would usually be gone or leave shortly after I came home from work, and he would come home well into the early morning. There were fights and arguments and tears, but it was what it was at that moment. I turned my focus to trying to figure out what help I could qualify for to cover the upcoming delivery costs the baby would have that wouldn’t be covered by my insurance. Baby Your Baby was running commercials pretty much hourly, and I started there.
I know it’s a trendy to assume that every single mom is living the easy life collecting all the free money that’s out there, but I can tell you straight up that’s not every case. It didn’t matter who I called or what I said, at the time of my pregnancy I couldn’t qualify for any help at all. See, minimum wage in 1996 was $4.75 an hour. I was rolling in dough, making $6 an hour, but my ex at one point was making $10! Granted, it was a very brief point, and it was no longer the case, but it had happened, and that meant he was capable of making that again. So, as far as these agencies were concerned, we didn’t need any help, he just needed to make $10 an hour again. With all the people I spoke to, not once did I feel like there was any concern on the other end. To them I was just another irresponsible single mom dealing with what I deserved. I tried until there was nothing left to try, and then I never tried to get help again.
Getting denied the help I knew I was going to need was devastating, and the stress only added to the stress I was already dealing with. From the looks of it, the only help we were going to get was the sample cans of baby formula my aunt scored for me. I had no idea what my baby’s side of the delivery cost was going to be, but plenty of people were ready to share their nightmare stories of difficult deliveries, preemies, etc. and their $50 doses of Tylenol, and $20 cotton swabs. I knew that I would be required to stay in the hospital for 24 hours, and all we could do was hope that everything during delivery went smoother than pregnancy. If not, those costs were going to be on me.
Visits with my mid-wife continued to stress me out as well. By the time I delivered I’d gained 54 pounds, and that weight gain was a constant issue in my appointments. Eventually, I was so huge and swollen that I just didn’t care anymore what she said. I bought size 11 slide on sandals for my size 8 feet, just to find something that fit. We were dealing with a hot Utah summer, and our apartment had no A/C. I spent my evenings wrapped in a bed sheet, sitting in front of our only room fan, and eating ice chunks. I kept bags of ice in our freezer because drinking water was usually harder to keep down than eating it. Yes, I was still constantly, unexplainably, throwing up. We weren’t doing tests to find out why, though, because they’d already told me to just stop gaining weight.
One day in July, at 36 weeks, things started to feel different. My body had been sending out alarm bells all day, but I was trying to ignore it. To this day, I hate feeling like I’m giving into panic. I hadn’t eaten for at least that day, and even my ice was starting to make me nauseous. By evening, things were feeling scary. And when, after only ice, I started violently throwing up, I knew I needed help. Life didn’t include cell phones at this point, so I called a few friends looking for my ex and when I couldn’t find him, I gave in and called my mom. That night at the ER was so traumatic that I still remember all of it. From the coldness of the nurse who got me set up in the room, to the faded scar on the top of my right hand from her carelessly pulling out my IV. At least it was covered by insurance. If not, who knows if I would have given in.
To most of the nursing staff that night I was a whiny girl whining about being pregnant, and that was made obvious by the way they interacted with me. Mean Nurse #1 was not impressed when I came back from the bathroom without a urine sample. I explained until I was blue that I had been throwing up since the beginning but over the past 24 hours it had gotten worse. I explained I was trying to survive on ice and that was making me throw up. I was throwing up ICE. It made sense to me I couldn’t pee, but she ordered a catheter to get a test. My guess is she was going to prove I was trying to hide drugs, never mind that wasn’t part of my own history.
The catheter was excruciating, and pointless. They couldn’t get anything from my stressed, dehydrated body, just like I told them they wouldn’t. There wasn’t anything to get. I remember telling the ER doc, who was actually nice, that I couldn’t do this anymore and hearing him agree. He was the first medical professional to say I needed to be induced. He told me that night that I needed to talk to my OB because I needed to have this baby before we both died. Yup. That’s where we were. They sent me home and I called my OB first thing. I was in tears, recalling the ER experiences to the midwife. I told her that I needed to be induced and have the baby because something was very, very wrong.
“Oh, no, we’re not going to induce. This is your first pregnancy and sometimes they’re hard, but you don’t want to be induced. You’re not even due yet.”My Midwife
To be continued…