The OB/GYN taps on my knee. It jumps like a grasshopper that has been sipping delicately at an abandoned can of Red Bull (do grasshoppers sip, like bees? Possibly). He frowns.
Brisk reflexes are a symptom of pre-eclampsia, he says. So while my blood pressure has responded well to medication and my blood work is looking ok, we are clearly not out of the woods yet. No chance of going home today then.
I google pre-eclampsia. Until now, it was a word that appeared in my pregnancy app and discussions on Mommy groups, but it was something that happened to other people. Now, it appears, it might be happening to me.
I am discovering that there’s nothing like wondering whether you have a life-threatening condition as a direct result of giving life to another human being. The baby herself is fine, busy and active. She even smiles mysteriously every now and then. Her mother is not fine. If this is pre-eclampsia, the longer this goes on, the greater the threat to my life – and to hers.
Better out than in, the OB-gyn says. He speaks quietly, but his words feel like flung books of facts landing – thwack! flump! – in front of me. The baby is around 28 weeks along. She weighs 1.2kg. They have given me steroid injections to help her lungs mature. But if she is whipped out now, she faces 3 months in ICU. 3 months of being in a ventilator instead of safely ensconced inside me. 3 months where I won’t get to hold her. 3 months, in short, of hell. Maybe more.
So there we are, grappling with the possibility of this awful unexpected yin-yang: her presence endangers my life, and in turn, my failing body places hers at risk. What a pair we are.