Four Months in the Mercy Hospital

imagesCAVBU7DKPart 7 in a Series on Pregnancy Loss

We found out we were pregnant with our fourth child at the beginning of 2006. We had previously delivered three baby boys mid-term. None of them survived their premature arrival.  We had a significant break from having babies but after some very helpful counselling we ceased using contraception and I fell pregnant very quickly. The pregnancy test was performed in the public toilets in the Richmond Plaza just outside the supermarket. I had felt a bit queasy and could only have been about four weeks pregnant. John and I caught the tram down to the supermarket, bought the test and I quickly ducked into the public toilets right there.  I was very shocked to see two lines indicating I was pregnant. I shouted through the doors to John outside ‘I’m pregnant”. I had the weirdest feeling of complete joy but immense fear and trepidation.

As with the other three pregnancies I started vomiting violently at 6 weeks. One interesting difference came at about 10 weeks. One night I was in bed at about 8pm, tired and worn out already. I was praying that we would have a baby girl as Girls are stronger at birth than boys and I suspected the baby would come prematurely.  I was also praying for a girl’s name as John and I never agreed on one single girl’s name during the other three pregnancies. He liked Veronica and Victoria and I loved names ending in a ‘y’ like Ruby and Holly. As I prayed for a girl’s name God spoke to me so clearly. He said to me ‘her name will be Poppy’. So many thoughts went through my head at once. ‘I’m having a girl, I love that name and what does the name Poppy mean?’ I yelled from the bedroom to John – do you like the name Poppy? He yelled yes. I yelled  ‘Look up what it means on the computer.’ God spoke to me again. He said that his meaning for her name was ‘she’ll be a sweet fragrance to who ever she meets’. The name Poppy just means the flower. It’s fragrance is said to be very beautiful but so subtle they’ve never been able to perfume it.

At 12 weeks I was hospitalised to have my cervix sown shut. From the surgical ward I was transferred to the ante-natal ward where I was to live for the next four months. Life in hospital was routine, boring and testing. I must admit it wasn’t a place of rest. The doctors would do their rounds early in the morning. John would arrive about 7 am and then leave by 8 am to catch train into the city to work. I would see him again at about 5.45 pm. There were two beds in my room and I had a wide variety of  interesting roommates come and go but there were four of us that were long timers that ‘did life’ together in this little ante natal subculture. While we don’t catch up a lot now that time was very special because of them. We nicknamed our little quartet the Mercy Mum’s after the name of the hospital. I think for the most part we kept each other sane.

I had an ultrasound every week to make sure my cervix was staying closed. Every night I would put my hands on my belly and pray for the safe arrival of my daughter. At 18 weeks I had the ultrasound that determines the sex. The technician asked me if I would like to hazard a guess as to the sex. I said emphatically ‘I don’t need you to tell me as I know I am having a girl’. She said ‘I’m not even that sure’. I said ‘I know 100 percent that I am having a girl because God told me’. She was very annoyed and when she determined the sex she said through gritted teeth ‘there is a 70 percent chance that you’re having a girl’.

I was the longest of the all the ‘long-termers’ that came on to the ante-natal ward.  Being an extrovert I enjoyed the turnover of roommates but why did they always arrive in the room between 2 and 3 am? The nurses would turn on the massive overhead lights and they would make no attempt to speak quietly. Often the patient was scared and in distress. I never got used it. And sometimes I never even got to meet them. They would buzz for the nurse at around 6 am and when the nurse arrived they would have this whispered conversation and before I knew it they would be wheeled out of the room. I assumed they were going to have their baby but one day the head nurse came and told me the reason. I snored so loud that they couldn’t sleep! I warned my roommates to invest in some ear plugs and had a pair on hand for the late arrival.

The most difficult thing of all was the separation from John. From the moment I got pregnant I was so sick that sex was the last thing on my mind and after I had the surgery we were no longer allowed to be intimate. On the rare occasions that I didn’t have a roommate we would pull the curtain around the bed, shut the door to the room and have naked cuddles. It was difficult to relax and the bed was so narrow that we could hardly fit but we were so desperate for some intimacy we did this as often as we could.

One of the highlights of my hospital live in was when one of the Pastors from church came in and prayed with me. He brought the elements of communion with him and I was overwhelmed with emotion as we celebrated the love of God together.  At the time I had one of the ‘Mercy mums’ in the room who was also a Christian. It was such a thoughtful and touching gesture that really left a beautiful mark on me. I missed my church family greatly and even though there was a chapel in the hospital I was not allowed to sit on a chair for a long time.  I had to stay lying down for most of my day and I never attended a service. I did spend a lot of time talking to the hospital Chaplin as I still grappled with many residual emotions and fears from the former three pregnancies. She had a multi-denominational faith – as I understood it – and really didn’t have any underlying love for Jesus. Nevertheless I enjoyed her company and she always stimulated my thinking.

I was fascinated by the high-profile lesbian couple that were my roommates for a week. We were worlds apart in thought, ideology and theology but we both thoroughly enjoyed having these big chats that they always ended in a greater understanding of the other. The funniest thing was that she snored louder than me. She had been transferred into my room after receiving a snoring complaint from her former roommate. The hospital in its infinite wisdom decided to put us together. I can’t imagine what we both sounded like chain sawing logs at night. We laughed together at our mutual disability and came up with a plan so we could both get some sleep. Because I was a light sleeper I couldn’t get to sleep if she was snoring – so she would have nap in the afternoon and then in the evening I would go to bed first with ear plugs in. Being a heavy sleeper she could get to sleep even if I was snoring. We made it work – we had to!

The biggest ongoing issue was the hospital food. Toward the end I could barely stomach it. Having had 3 prior stints in hospital with the other babies I knew what I was in for. I organised a ‘food roster’ and had an army of people bringing in 2-3 outside meals a week into the hospital. They saved my taste buds! Thank you! I had a small fridge in my room which was always stuffed with yummy food. John would also do a little grocery shop on the weekends. I craved cheese and bacon rolls, chicken dim-sims from the cafeteria downstairs and cold juicy watermelon. Unfortunately I had to see the dietician every week who frowned on any weight gain. She even got upset when I had some birthday cake on my special day. I hated her visits and the dreaded the scales she bought with her.

The two biggest essentials to living in the hospital are  TV and visitors. Some people refuse to pay the $5.95 a day for TV. We never even considered it. I love TV and I watched hours of it every day. I never missed Dr Phil but since coming home I’ve never watched it again. It seems I got my ‘fill’ of “Dr Phil”. I loved visitors especially cheeky ones who would sneak pizza in or hide in my room well after visiting hours often pretending to be a family member. They made me laugh and cry and for the time they were there I felt like a normal person rather than a medical prisoner.  Thank you to everyone who came and visited – it was always appreciated.

Wow…I didn’t realise I had this much to write about my stay in the Mercy hospital  but then I remember I did live in this little subculture for four months of my life! #How did I do it?

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo


4 Comments to “Four Months in the Mercy Hospital”

  1. Thankyou Catherine for this series of posts.

  2. Love your brutel honesty Katherine its always been a feature of your posts and that what makes it a little different from other blogs.

  3. Oh how i have missed side by side! Catherine….you are one fabulous woman and i cannot wait to catch up. Who needs Dr Phil when Catherines bloggs are around. Keep inspiring us girl!

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