Did you know approximately 1 in 1000 pregnant women will get a kidney stone? Not as common as say, heartburn or hemorrhoids, but ladies, if you are one of the unlucky ones, brace yourself. Even though pregnant women are carrying around an extra 25-30 pounds, the presence of a tiny stone weighing no more than a feather can send you screaming bloody murder to the ER. Being pregnant doesn’t necessarily increase your chances of getting a kidney stone but let me tell you from experience, the retrieval of the stone can be a WHOLE lot more complicated. Between popping prenatal vitamins and a craving for milk rivaled only by a street cat, I was unwittingly setting myself up for a calcium disaster.
I’d had a fairly normal pregnancy for the first 7 months. And then one night it happened. I awoke to shooting pains in my abdomen. I was certain it was either A-early labor or B- trapped gas from the large pepperoni pizza I’d inhaled at dinner. Barely able to walk, I headed into the ER. After 4 long days of tests and narcotics to control the pain, X-rays showed a kidney stone.
The baby’s head was resting on the stone, complicating matters. The doctor in charge, who wore white patent leather shoes and was averse to eye contact, told me the best option would be to insert a small hole in my back where a tube would be implanted. This tube would run into a urostomy bag, where my urine would be collected until I gave birth, at which time the tube would be removed, as well as the offending kidney stone. Just to make sure you are tracking, I was being asked to wear A PEE BAG FOR THE FINAL 8 WEEKS OF MY PREGNANCY. Have I mentioned I work full time in an office setting?
I sat on the hospital bed, opening and closing my mouth like an obese goldfish, unable to speak. My husband asked why they couldn’t try first to remove the stone and should it not dislodge, then insert the tube? The doctor shrugged and said, “Yeah, I guess we could try that.” I tried to question him through sobs, “Holy shit, are you sure this is an actual procedure? My husband works in technology and is not remotely qualified to aid in your decision making process!” It appeared I’d somehow offended them both by this statement.
Fast forward 24 hours and I was flat on my back in the operating room. As an added bonus, I had 5 med students staring at my pregnant vagina. I can only imagine this image eradicated all ability for them to engage in sex for the following 6 months. Because I’d had an epidural, I was numb to the prodding and poking. I was doing my best to avoid looking in their general direction and then I heard it, “I GOT it!” There was some back slapping and congratulating (towards the doctor, not my vagina) and finally the doctor presented me with the offending stone in a small plastic cup. “In case you want to show your family” he muttered self effusively.
I had a stint put in for a week for my nether regions to heal properly and I will spare you the details of getting said stint removed. Fine, in order to take it out you have to have a full bladder and I peed all over the doctors table as they were removing it in front of the doctor, two nurses, my husband and both my grandfathers (God rest their souls).
They say during labor all modesty you once had fades away. If you need practice before the big day, having a kidney stone is one way of eradicating any shred of humility you may have left.