web analytics
September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Home » Sections » Family »

From The Greatest Heights (Part VIII)


On our first day in the antepartum unit, one of the nurses mentioned how critical every moment of pregnancy really was. “One minute in is worth two minutes out (in an incubator).”  We weren’t really expecting a premature birth, but her comment put a fine point on the importance of the care my wife was receiving.

While the word “routine” is not one often associated with a long stay in an antepartum unit, it didn’t take long to get a feel for the daily schedule. The high-risk doctor would always visit first thing in the morning and, as in any hospital stay, the rest of the care was provided by nurses.

In this unit, nurses changed shifts every twelve hours. We quickly learned that certain nurses were more friendly and ready to answer our questions and requests, while others were not as helpful.

I had this internal debate about the best way to treat the nurses. On the one hand, it was important to be nice and appreciative, but what should we do if we truly needed something and found ourselves with an uncooperative nurse?

I spent almost every night with my wife in the unit, and I was always on top of every aspect of her care. The nurses all knew that I was watching very closely.  Nurses are often accustomed to taking orders from doctors, and I determined that being strong, firm and direct with the uncooperative nurses would bring results. In the worst case, if a nurse still refused to comply, I told her that I would page the doctor for resolution. That almost universally did the trick.   I decided to use these strategies when absolutely necessary, as I did not want the nurses to start to resent working with my wife.

I often brought candy and pastries for the nurses’ station, thanking them profusely for their assistance, but they did take me seriously, and when I decided it was time to make a stand, they normally listened.

At each change of shift, the new nurse would come in, take my wife’s vital signs and listen to and time each baby’s heartbeat. Twins can be tricky, as it can be hard to be sure both heartbeats were detected or if the nurse listened to the same heartbeat twice.

Fortunately, I am very sensitive to sound, and after the first couple of shifts, I was able to hear the difference in the pitch produced by each baby’s heartbeat.  Within a week, when an ultrasound was conducted at the same time as the heartbeat detection, I was able to tell which heartbeat belonged to my son and which to my daughter.  My wife would normally look at me during the process, and I’d tell her if it we were listening to the male or female baby’s heart.

Nurses always seem to be in a hurry when they change shifts, and I regularly stopped the nurse from completing her checkup by informing her that she had listened to the same baby twice. Their reaction was almost always the same, moving the monitor to find the other baby while looking at me to determine if it truly was the second baby.

About 50 percent of the time, even with the adjustment, they found the same baby again, and I made it clear that they needed to locate the other baby before they were done.  In a way, these were strong bonding moments. I was able to hear and identify my children’s heartbeat on a daily basis. While I closed my eyes to concentrate on the sound to determine which baby we were listening to, I smiled.

Boredom was inevitable, both for my wife and for me.  While there is no question that it was much worse for her than for me—I was at work for 10 hours a day, including my Ph.D. courses and had plenty of studying to do—there is only so much you can do cooped up in a room.

We talked (often with a social worker assigned to help us deal with the issues we were facing), watched TV and waited for the next visit by a nurse or a doctor.  Often I would sit and watch the second hand on the clock on the wall, tracking each minute and thinking how each one represented another “minute in.”

I settled into a routine. I would come straight from work or school, grab dinner at a local pizza shop, spend the night on the pull-out couch, wait to hear what the doctor had to say in the morning and then rush off to work.

On Shabbos my wife “lit candles” on the room lights and I made Kiddush and hamotzie. While we ate together, she was limited to diabetic hospital food.

Shabbos was incredibly boring. We talked and read, but we were unable to watch TV or speak on the phone. Those days seemed to last forever, but I am very glad that I was there with her.

We were concerned because one of our favorite nurses was Jewish and we didn’t feel comfortable having her be mechallel Shabbos for my wife’s care. We didn’t ask her to turn on or off lights or adjust her bed on Shabbos, but she took the initiative and did what she thought my wife would want anyway. She wouldn’t take no for an answer, and we were powerless to request a different nurse.

Cell phones were not allowed on the unit as they could interfere with some of the medical equipment. The only phone she could use was the hospital phone in her room. Sadly, even though my cell phone number used the same area code as the hospital, our neighborhood was outside of the hospital’s calling zone. That meant my wife had no way to call me when I was at work.

That was quite disconcerting. She had no way to contact me if she had to discuss something, wasn’t feeling well or had to make a medical decision. I called her regularly during the day to make sure everything was alright, and to see if there was anything I could do, but that just added to an already overwhelmingly stressful situation.

While we were doing everything “right,” inserting an emergency cerclage, full time inpatient bed rest, and the constant supervision of doctors and nurses, things were not improving.  My wife was having contractions, even though we were at less than 18 weeks. Her gestational diabetes continued to get worse, thereby increasing her insulin and making her diet more restrictive.  She needed protein on a regular basis, but there were not that many options available, especially for the small protein “snacks” she was supposed to eat throughout the day. I asked a Rav about waiting between milk and meat (cheese was a great snack option). He told us that she could do whatever needed to be done, but if it was at all possible, she should try to wait one hour between meat and milk to fulfill at least the most lenient minhag. That psak opened her food choices and made her diet much easier to follow.

Sadly, her contractions were having an effect. Her cervix, the only thing keeping the babies in her womb, continued to shrink. More drastic action would be necessary. The doctor revoked her bathroom privileges and any sense of dignity and independence was now gone, with still almost 20 weeks to go!

Then the news got even worse. A day or two later, the doctor told her that she could feel the amniotic sack bulging through the cervix. This was very serious, as she told us that there was no way they could force it back in without rupturing it and the babies could not survive without it.

Aside from a bedpan, my wife would now need to have her bed on a 45-degree incline, with her feet raised in the air for the duration of the pregnancy. It was so hard to believe; we had gone through so much and things just kept getting worse.  Still, I had to believe that everything would turn out OK. We hadn’t come this far to lose everything now!  I knew she and the babies would be fine.  She had the best care, and we were doing everything we could. That hope, and my very life, would come crashing down a couple of days later.

About the Author: Chaim Shapiro, M.Ed is a freelance writer, public speaker and social media consultant. He is currently working on a book about his collegiate experience. He welcomes comments and feedback at chaimshapiro@aol.com or on his website: http://chaimshapiro.com/


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “From The Greatest Heights (Part VIII)”

  1. My next article will be in the Rosh Hashanna issue of the Jewish Press!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Former Auschwitz guard Oskar Groening watched as Nazis murdered Jews.
Ex-Auschwitz Guard Charged with 300,000 Counts of Accessory to Murder
Latest Sections Stories
Ganz-091214-Fifty

Today, fifty years and six million (!) people later, Israel is truly a different world.

Goldberg-091214

There will always be items that don’t freeze well – salads and some rice- or potato-based dishes – so you need to leave time to prepare or cook them closer to Yom Tov and ensure there is enough room in the refrigerator to store them.

Women's under-trousers, Uzbekistan, early 20th century

In Uzbekistan, in the early twentieth century, it was the women who wore the pants.

Schonfeld-logo1

This is an important one in raising a mentsch (and maybe even in marrying off a mentsch! listening skills are on the top of the list when I do shidduch coaching).

While multitasking is not ideal, it is often necessary and unavoidable.

Maybe now that your kids are back in school, you should start cleaning for Pesach.

The interpreter was expected to be a talmid chacham himself and be able to also offer explanations and clarifications to the students.

“When Frank does something he does it well and you don’t have to worry about dotting the i’s or crossing the t’s.”

“On Sunday I was at the Kotel with the battalion and we said a prayer of thanks. In Gaza there were so many moments of death that I had to thank God that I’m alive. Only then did I realize how frightening it had been there.”

Neglect, indifference or criticism can break a person’s neshama.

It’s fair to say that we all know or have someone in our family who is divorced.

The assumption of a shared kinship is based on being part of the human race. Life is so much easier to figure out when everyone thinks the same way.

Various other learning opportunities will be offered to the community throughout the year.

The new group will also deliver kosher food to Jewish residents in non-kosher facilities, as well as to kosher facilities where the food is not up to par.

More Articles from Chaim Shapiro
Careers-logo

Just a few months ago, I was having a difficult time getting a refund for a missing product processed via the customer service call center at a major retailer. After spending hours on hold and having my request denied, I sent a Tweet to the company’s Twitter account.

I have a background in counseling, and I can say that the biggest mistake that I ever made was refusing psychological help after we lost the twins. I was trying to keep my tough-guy facade going, and convinced myself that I could deal with the pain.

We had suffered through an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My wife had to go through labor and deliver our children to their deaths, and I was unable to save them or even give them a little warmth while they died.

Special Note: It is an unusual phenomenon that many bereaved parents share. We can almost see our age-adjusted children in our sukkah or running up to us during a family simcha. As quickly as they come, those visions seem to disappear as we go through the life cycle. They are hard moments made harder by the thoughts of not only what could have been, but what should have been.

I had to believe that things were going to be ok. They just had to be ok. We had gone through so much, had sacrificed so much and were doing everything the doctors told us to do. I remember speaking to a hesitant professor in my Ph.D. program about getting an incomplete in her class. The conversation stands out in my mind because, looking back, I can see how odd it must have seemed as I matter-of-factly told her I was too busy for coursework because my twins’ amniotic sack was bulging through my wife’s cervix.

On our first day in the antepartum unit, one of the nurses mentioned how critical every moment of pregnancy really was. “One minute in is worth two minutes out (in an incubator).” We weren’t really expecting a premature birth, but her comment put a fine point on the importance of the care my wife was receiving.

The best way to describe our emotions the morning of our major ultrasound was nervous excitement. We had survived a serious scare with a threatened miscarriage a few weeks prior. My wife was on bed rest at home, but we had no real reason to assume there would be any new problems.

It was only after we celebrated the great news that we were expecting twins that we saw the first sign of problems. First of all, my wife was losing, not gaining weight, even as the babies continued to grow normally. Soon after, routine blood work revealed that my wife was suffering from gestational diabetes.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/from-the-greatest-heights-part-viii/2013/08/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: