Hey Pregnant Ladies, Stress Really Does Cause Pre-Term Contractions.

I recently spent the night in the triage room of a poorly managed urban hospital for what was possibly pre-term labor. My contractions had lasted all day, and were regular and getting stronger, and my practitioner told me to go to the hospital in case it really was pre-term labor.

The intern who was dealing with me got on the phone with my practitioner, and I heard him say to her, “She’s on the nervous side.” The next time he returned to check my contraction printout, I said to him, “I’m sorry if I seem nervous and cranky. We’ve had a very problematic house guest for two weeks in our small apartment, and this is his last weekend with us. This [being in the hospital] is just the icing on the cake.” The intern and I had a good laugh, and he transformed from being a weirdo to being a reasonably decent doctor with a much more friendly bedside manner.

A couple days later, our guest’s last day and a stressful one at that, my contractions came back, but this time were accompanied by lower back ache and strong menstrual-like cramps. I decided not to call my practitioner unless I was absolutely sure I was in labor — there was no way I was going back to triage. I waited it out.

The guest (by the grace of G-d) left, and I scrubbed all signs of this person’s presence from our home. I took a bath, ate some food (I had been eating crow all week for agreeing to allow this person a two-week stay), and rested. My contractions subsided.

For two weeks, I had suppressed anger, skepticism, and the general feeling of my home being dominated by the extremely high-strung, reactive, and sullen behavior and demeanor of the house guest. My motto had been, “You’re in it to win it, and winning it means not getting mad.” For reasons too personal to reveal even anonymously, if the shitakes had hit the pan (and with this guest’s explosive nature, it was a genuine threat), it would have been an ugly situation indeed. I might have “held it together”, but the body manifests stress when one’s verbal expression does not.

Ladies, take my advice: If you’re anywhere near your due date, do not consent to having a volatile or otherwise stress-inducing house guest. You could end up in the triage room of a poorly-managed urban hospital refusing an ill-advised shot of Terbutaline from a brand-new cowboy of an intern who takes over for your reasonably decent intern, who b*itches loudly when your practitioner calls the attending physician and requests that he control the cowboy and to discharge you without the unnecessary, ill-advised, adrenaline-pumping medication.

To the cowboy: Not every patient at a poorly-managed urban hospital is uneducated and willing to capitulate to the whims of every doctor she deals with. And to G-d: Thanks for getting me out of the house and away from the guest for the night. Your oddly delivered (har) compassion was not lost on me. I thought I was going to crack, and instead I got two bags of IV fluid and about sixty pages of contraction graphs. It’s funny how Divine Providence is sometimes administered.

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