My Own Labour Pains
Twenty-three years ago, I was experiencing acute pain due to a serious condition called cellulitis – also known as the precursor to flesh-eating disease. I remember this because it also coincided with the twins’ birth which we will celebrate this coming Friday.
That year, around mid-May, I began to feel a piercing, shooting pain all the way through my right leg. I tried to ignore it but instead of diminishing over time, the pain became increasingly intense. My leg started to swell and my temperature rapidly started climbing to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Immediately Dave literally dragged me to the outpatient clinic. Since we were so close to the birth of the twins, I did not think that I had time to spare for an unplanned visit to the clinic, but the pain motivated me to go anyway. This turned out to be a good decision. The doctor took one quick look at my leg, glanced at my temperature reading, and immediately sent me across the street to the hospital emergency.
Almost immediately upon entering the hospital, I was assigned a doctor, which is never a good
sign. Within a few moments, the doctor diagnosed me with cellulitis. Without proper care, patients
with this condition lose limbs, if not their lives. The treatment prescribed to me was a very strong
antibiotic that had to be administered twice daily through an intravenous needle. They needed to
begin my first treatment right away. I was relieved to receive medication, even though it would still
take days before I could walk normally again. Expecting an indefinite hospital stay, I was grateful
when the nurses informed me that I would be able to return home in between treatments.
Coincidentally, these treatments occurred at the same hospital where our twins’ birth mom’s
obstetrician practised, as well as the hospital to which she would be admitted when she went into
labour. The doctors were concerned about the continued swelling in my leg, and they wanted to
check for blood clots. I will not dwell on the details but suffice it to say that these were the most
painful tests I had undergone to date in my life. I knew I was in for a long haul when they told me not
to be too shy to scream out loud.
Through the pain and frustration, it occurred to me that perhaps this ordeal was meant to be my
version of labour pains. I felt fortunate to be incapacitated when I was, and not after the babies were
born. We knew they were due soon, but we did not realize that we would meet our sons even sooner
than we thought. As I sat stewing in my thoughts, the good news arrived that the antibiotics were
working and so I would fortunately not require an alternative and more aggressive form of treatment.
At the end of this awful day, I finally noticed that my leg was ever so slightly responding to the
medication. This timing was fortuitous, because early the very next morning, we would again receive
one of those phone calls that would change our lives forever.
We were startled out of our sleep early Thursday morning by the shrill ring of the phone. Early
morning calls usually signify momentous events, and this was no exception. Our birth mom’s water
had broken, and her mother was about to drive her to the hospital. I arranged to meet them on the
labour and delivery ward as soon as my morning antibiotic treatment was completed.
We passed the time by pacing up and down the corridor. We made quite the pair with our
matching intravenous needles sprouting out of our hands!