A few days after bed rest ended, the episode started. Day 1, I felt unusually nervous. I made constant trips to the bathroom. I found I couldn’t even sit comfortably though there was nothing wrong. By the end of the day, I slept from exhaustion.
Day 2 brought on what felt like menstrual cramps. It would come about 15 to 20 mins apart for a few seconds and leave. As I was suffering from gas from the beginning of pregnancy, I assumed this was another manifestation.
The pain got worse and I found myself clutching at pillows for every episode. I could only lie down the entire day and squeeze my eyes shut during those shocks of pain. Night was the worst. No position, no pillows, nothing helped. It pained constantly.
Could gas pains be this bad? Were these what they called Braxton Hicks?
Morning of Day 3, I could sit for a few minutes and walk gingerly. Though a bit better, we visited the doctor. I thought she would tell me I was hyper worried for no reason and gas pains are normal. I could almost see her laughing at the panic.
However, the panic should have been stronger. Strong enough for me to have come in a day earlier. As soon as she saw my gait, she worried. What? She was the most composed of humans I had ever seen. Immediately she ran tests and it was obvious I was having contractions every 5 minutes – at 22 weeks! I was admitted urgently and given tablets every 20 minutes and an injection every 30 minutes. The contractions subsided for some time, though my panic had just hit the roof. It was back to family for rescue again. They came as soon as they could.
That night was terrifying. It was a horrible cycle of pain adding to panic, panic triggering pain. After multiple rounds of medication, I finally slept from utter exhaustion for a few hours.
Next day morning the doctor told us the that despite the contractions, cervix was closed. That meant we were fine right?
No. The cervical length was 2.2cm, the cut off being 2.3cm. It was too risky to send me home. I was advised a cervical stitch. An operation! Me? I had never been admitted in hospital before pregnancy.
I had never even visited people in hospitals because that’s how scared I was of hospitals. Was I to undergo an operation?
I could feel the room close in on me and for the first time in pregnancy, I cried. But it was imperative that I gathered myself, fast. The surgery was due in an hour. I mustered all my strength and faith in God. I grasped my family’s hands and allowed myself to be wheeled in.
The operation required an anesthetic that would make me numb waist down. The prick itself was nothing and I could feel the numbness set in instantly.
In a few seconds it started. The shivering. Uncontrolled shivering of every part that wasn’t numb. Teeth chattering. Of course my hands and body were tethered. The doctors went about their business as usual and the operation was complete in half an hour. The shivering continued unabated even after I was wheeled out of the theater. It might have subsided after an hour – I had lost all sense of time.
I waited outside the operation theater. Apparently, I was there for 5 hours for want of a ward. Those 5 hours were a daze of slowly lifting numbness, flatulence and …. loneliness.
I was blessed. The stitches did not pain and recovery was smooth. Only I was very weak and hyper vigilant. The operation had made me gassy and every gas pain made me jump. This time the doctor did laugh and tell me I was panicking for no reason. I was sent home with advise of bed rest till delivery.
I will never know what triggered the contractions. But in this entire nightmare there were many bonuses. A gifted doctor, family that rushed to my side, surgery that was pain free and a smooth recovery. I came home thankful that we were safe and went right back into that loving embrace of family.