The late-night drive to the hospital sometime before one's child is born is a rite of passage. Almost every pair of expectant parents I know has done it. Maybe there's a preterm labor scare, or the mother starts having contractions which seem to be trending longer, stronger, and closer together and the parents-to-be dash to the hospital to see if this is "really it," bringing their already-packed labor suitcase and strange new carseat along for the ride just in case. In our case it was some blood pressure readings which led us to call the Mother-Baby Unit late at night; their instructions were to come in immediately, so we did, and we wound up staying for a while.
There's no cause for alarm; baby and I are fine, though the staff there kept us for observation (and to work on titration of blood pressure medication) for a few days. The first night at the hospital I dozed a scant few hours of sleep, interrupted by the sounds of laboring women down the hall and the sudden startling (and startled) cries of newborns. The second night, although nurses woke me every few hours to check my BP, I was so exhausted from that first night that I actually slept in between the checks. Being able to get reasonably satisfying sleep in short snatches seems like good preparation for the early weeks of parenthood.
There were things about this adventure which reminded me of my stroke hospitalization a few years ago. This is the same hospital where I was a patient then. (Indeed: the stroke center is right down the hall from the wing where laboring mothers and their babies stay.) And there are elements of the hospital experience which feel the same no matter what one's in for -- the sounds and scents, the beeping of monitors, the tactile experience of getting an IV port or feeling an automatic blood pressure cuff inflate. Since I just recorded a podcast of a stroke poem for Qarrtsiluni's upcoming health issue, it's been surreal to revisit those memories.
Of course, in other ways this experience is entirely different from that one. Where the strokes came out of the blue, these late-term pregnancy complications are not a big surprise. (My history of hypertension all but guaranteed that this, or something like it, would arise.) And there's the awareness that at the end of this journey, God willing, we'll come home with a tiny person: that changes everything.