Her colleague turns out to be a pretty, bubbly young woman whose name is also Jenny.
She winks her eye and jokes about the annoyance over being called “Jennifer” all the time even though her full name is just “Jenny” just like mine (does she not understand the seriousness of this situation: what if something is really wrong with my baby?).
My good upbringing forces me to forget about the issue and laugh with her for a moment about how people insists that my name is also “Jennifer” like I don’t know what my own name is, but I immediately feel guilty. As my doctor explains that the two doctors usually ask each other for advice and that she just wants this Jenny doctor to take a look at what I am now quite certain is some awful abnormality that they have somehow missed before, the dread is coming back taking ahold of my body.
The new doctor sweeps the wand like thingy over my belly, the two doctors again staring at the grainy black and white screen. My doctor points at something that I am again straining to see as she says “the upper pocket is almost empty, there is not enough fluid for the baby”.
Then it happens, it gets even worse: the exchange of words I since haven’t been able to forget. My doctor turns to her colleague (I feel like this is happening in slow-motion: how she slowly opens her mouth and how they exchange the words in some form of ultra-speed) “Does this look normal for 30 weeks (today) she asks” and the other doctor’s answer is simply “no”.
“No” I want to yell, “no”, what about my baby is not normal? But I remain quiet and motionless. Both doctors now leave the room, again without saying anything and I’m again left alone with the nurse.
She gently pats my knee and tells me with a sympathetic smile that she is sure everything is going to be okay “people have preemies everyday after all” wait what? I am so confused my brain feels like it’s full of cotton candy; it is like it can’t process any information right now. “Do not turn to the worst case scenario here” the plump nurse continues, probably thinking that she is using her super power to read my mind, which is not quite working since it is pretty blank at the moment.
I so do not want her sympathy right now or her advice, I simply want to be left alone so I can get myself together, oh and yes so I can cry a little. She tells me to “undress from the waist down” so the doctor can examine me when she gets back (there she goes again with her sixth sense) throws me a paper gown and leaves as well. I want to tell her to come back, I want to tell her that I’m sorry I thought I didn’t want her sympathy, because I do, I really do.
Maybe she is the only honest and real person here, someone who is actually on my side and can tell me what is going on. Instead of carefully taking my pants and panties off (motherhood’s grey pregnancy stretchy “under the bump” tights and black pea in the pod maternity panties) carefully folding them on a chair, “hiding” my panties in my purse (what?) I just sort of throw them of and they land all bunched up somewhere in the vicinity of the chair. I fight with the paper gown (I never know what side it goes on; in the back or in the front?) for a moment before I just kind of awkwardly wrap it around myself not really caring about “what is showing”.
In a moment of clarity I quickly text the nanny that I will be late asking her to stay another half hour, feeling sorry for both my son (even though I know he is in good hands) and the sitter who has already been with my wild (yet adorable) son for over 3 hours already.
When the two doctors come back in, they finally look at me and my doctor takes the chair (good thing my bunched up pants with attached panties weren’t on it) and sits very close to me.
She slowly explains that the water or amniotic fluid did look good in three corners (or pockets), the bottom and the left and the right one, but that the upper one is very low and that is not healthy for the baby. She needs the fluid to be able to develop and grow.
Really? I am very confused, so did my water really break? So why wasn’t I leaking constantly, why didn’t I lose my mucus plug and why hadn’t my contractions started? Had I done this to my baby somehow? Why hadn’t I called my doctor right away? What had happened with the rest of my water? All I had felt were those tiny trickles, the few little drops?
All I could think of now was that I was barely 30 weeks and that when I started “leaking” I was only 29 weeks, that is way too early (I thought about the nurse’s “preemie” comment) and I try to remember how developed a 30 week baby really is….or isn’t.
Up until now I still thought that I was safe somehow and that it was all going to turn out okay. As a psychologist I usually, myself seem to catastrophize things knowing that almost everything will turn out better than what my, at times, hysterical mind dreams up.
How come I’m not in labor already? I want to ask and don’t they have to deliver the baby within 24-48 hours because of infection or something like that? But I’m too scared to ask. The doctors tell me that it is most likely a small tear in the upper corner as they show me something that just looks black to me on the screen.
I keep repeating “but it was only a few drops”. The “Jenny not Jennifer doctor” leaves the room, no longer joking and smiling, and my doctor starts her gynecological exam, I flinch; it hurts, probably because my whole body is so tense, “try to relax she says”, hmm easy for her to say. She inserts something inside me and informs me that as far as she can tell I’m about 1- 1.5 cm dilated and also something about the cervix that does not sound promising: isn’t this what they talk about when labor has started? She asks the nurse to test the fluid pooling inside me (nice) on a test strip but I feel like an outsider and that they don’t actually share any information with me.
The next shock is when she tells me to get dressed and to go right to the hospital, “go straight to labor and delivery (what?) and drive carefully, or even better leave your car and take a cab from here and have your husband pack you a bag and meet you at the hospital. This is all happening way to fast.