I had two very sudden, strong coughing fits yesterday, and during the second one I noticed that I was coughing up blood. Um...everyone who coughs up blood on TV is, like, dying, so I tried calling the nurse hotline offered by our hospital to see what I should do. There was a 40 minute wait just to talk to a nurse, so I called my midwife. She reassured me that in the past she'd had another woman who'd coughed up blood during late pregnancy, and that she ended up being totally fine. My midwife told me to go in and make sure, but that I was likely just coughing hard enough to break capillaries in my lungs which is easy to do in pregnancy.
Let me tell you, the 19 year old male receptionist couldn't kick me out of Urgent Care fast enough. Apparently after 20 weeks of pregnancy you can't go to the ER or Urgent Care because the baby might just pop out or something. He tried to get me a wheelchair (I refused) and told us to go straight to labor and delivery
Once I got to L and D, they got me into a room and told me to strip and put on a gown. Whoa, what? Apparently the kid from Urgent Care called up and told them I was having trouble breathing and dizziness. He made that up. Once I explained that no, in fact, I was not going to pass out, they let me keep my clothes on. Then they hooked me to an electronic fetal monitor.
I know what EFMs do, but this was my first experience wearing one. Basically two velcro straps hold two plastic sensors on your belly. One monitors baby's heartbeat and one monitors contractions. It was terribly uncomfortable, and I had to sit in this weird, semi upright chair that was surely designed as a torture device for pregnant women. I had to wear it for about 25 minutes before the midwife on call came in to check me over. While we waited, Nate and I thoroughly enjoyed watching baby J try his darnedest to kick my belly sensors out of position.
The midwife on call came in and assured me that baby was fine, and I wasn't in labor (I already knew this). Then she poked at the baby for awhile, looked in my throat, listened to my lungs and told me she didn't know what to tell me. She went to consult with the doctor on call. When she got back she asked me a bunch of questions about my poop (seriously, how is that connected to coughing?) and then told me they were going to check my hemoglobin and platelet counts. Oookay.
Fast forward another 25 minutes (during which I still had to wear the stupid EFM while sitting in that godawful chair) and my hemoglobin and platelets are both normal. So they sent me home and told me to make a follow up appointment with my doctor in the morning.
The sad part is that I actually had to sign hospital admission and discharge papers for my 50 minute stay in L and D. I will probably be disputing that bill, because all I did was sit around in an uncomfortable chair and read a magazine from 2005 (seriously). That should not count as admission to the hospital.
I had a follow up with my doctor this morning. He told me that he thinks it was caused by a combination of breathing dry air from the air conditioner, the baby pushing up on my lungs and diaphragm, allergies, and coughing hard enough to break capillaries. So he sent me home too.
The moral of this story is that my midwife is awesome. I called her with an update and she recommended lots of water and slippery elm capsules (which I have yet to find since our co-op is sold out). This visit also further reinforced that the hospital is not the right place for us to have our baby - I'm glad it's there if we need it, but this was not a very enjoyable experience. I say no, thank you to wheelchairs, uncomfortable torture-chairs, EFMs, automatic blood pressure machines and waiting around for someone to help you.
Also, don't believe everything you see on tv!