Day 7 - Traveling Home...Almost
Trip Start Aug 07, 2008
11Trip End Aug 13, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
This is when the rat race started. I approached a cab and explained the situation and he agreed to take me. The banks were not due to open for another 10 minutes so I first tried a news shop to see if I could buy something small, charge over the amount and get cash back. No go, not with an American card. I tried one other shop with the same results. Finally a bank opened but because the pin number I had was not being accepted they could do little to help. This is when I was really wishing James was along. Money, bank and credit card handling is his strong point and not mine. I leave it up to him to make sure everything is working and if I need cash just ask him. When we travel and need money I keep shopping and he magically appears with whatever I need. He can always figure out what to do and has a mind that is a steel trap when it comes to numbers. It's why he is my perfect half.
Normally, I can keep calm and collected in any situation but when I am pregnant my emotions are always just below the control level. I returned to the cab a third time crying out of frustration (my husband can tell you, I never cry!) and apologizing because I just couldn't seem to get things to work out! Now, if there is one thing I have learned about men it's that they can't stand to see a woman cry, especially when they are pregnant. Apparently, British cabby's are no different, at least this one wasn't. In his soft accent he assured me that it was going to be OK and that he had no doubt that I wanted to pay him! Since time was running out he suggested we go to the coach station and try to figure something out there. I was finally able to reach my husband but nothing new from that end, I was still out of luck. The cab driver then had a suggestion, "would I be able to mail him the fare when I got my card situation figured out?" I could have hugged him, he quickly wrote down his address just as the announcement was made to start boarding the 9:30 to London, I thanked him profusely! It goes to show that there is still faith in human honesty and I can guarantee he will be well compensated!
Once on the bus I was able to calm down a bit and as luck would have it not 5 minutes down the road my husband sent me a text with a new PIN number that the card company guaranteed to work. At least I would not be out of luck should something come up at Heathrow! The drive to Heathrow is about an hour and a half and after getting to know my seat mate over most of the journey ( A lovely woman off to visit her daughter and grandchildren) I dozed off for what she said later was about a ½ hour. I was already emotionally and somewhat physically exhausted.
We arrived at the Heathrow coach station right on time and I went in search of the Heathrow Connect shuttle to terminal 4. Everything is a long walk and since I wanted to minimize my steps, asked directions when ever I saw someone in an official yellow vest. Down 2 long hall ways and I was there, only to be told that the Connect was down and I would need to go back the way I had come and take the subway. So back I trekked through the never ending halls to the subway station only to arrive there and have them tell me that the Connect was running again and I should go back as it will be the most convenient for where I needed to end up. I asked them to radio again just to make sure because I was NOT going to do this all day! As I walked back for a third time I was thanking God for whoever it was that had invented the rolling suitcase as I was able to pile my garment bag and laptop case on top and just roll it along. Don't get me wrong, it was still heavy but not near what it could have been!
The Connect was indeed working so after a short wait I was aboard and soon at terminal 4. I checked in for my flight and was sad to have to check in my rolling case as I could not part with my laptop case and garment bag as the contents were too valuable to risk loss or damage. It seemed that my check in counter and my gate are always the furthest away possible and my 15lbs of electronics started to feel more like 50 after the first 10 gates. I was starting to feel winded and Braxton Hicks (small contractions) started to come on stronger and stronger with each gate so I was happy to finally reach my gate and sit down! I was very uncomfortable at this point and started to feel "off". I sat down and tried to relax to get the contractions to stop. While it is quite common to start feeling minor contractions in the second trimester they should not keep coming regularly or uncomfortably. I had a fleeting thought of getting out the yogurt that I had brought but never got the chance, they made the call to start boarding soon after I sat down. I stayed sitting until the last call and then dragged myself to the gate agent. I felt very weak and just wanted to sit down. I thought that if I could just get on the plane and to my seat I would be fine. I was met by one of the longest jet bridges I had ever encountered. Really it was a series of winding hall ways within the airport before even coming close to the actual bridge it's self. By the third bend or was it bend 15? I had lost count and nearly all consciousness as the room narrowed down to a small tunnel in my mind with only one end in mental sight...my seat. I wanted my seat so I could close my eyes, relax and get these contractions to stop, to put down my heavy bags and relieve my aching feet, to be finally on my way home to my protecting and caring husband and adoring daughters and my own comfortable house with short hallways and no long distances to get anywhere. What happened next is a bit of a blur and I'm piecing it together based on fuzzy memory and what others told me. I rounded the final bend and saw the aircraft down just another 20 feet or so. I remember leaning up against the wall, too tired to go any further without at least a short break. Someone was saying something but I could not understand. The next I knew I was on the floor waking up to a panicking blurry face, I had fainted. Then I went out again. I don't know for how long I was out both times but it couldn't have been too long. The second time I came to I was more coherent and was able to sit up and drink some water that someone gave me. A woman was shouting for help and asking if I was OK. A middle-aged gentleman told me he was a doctor and started asking me questions, my name, age, how far along I was in my pregnancy. I was quite shaken up and was crying for no apparent reason. Someone brought orange juice and I apologized for holding everyone up. A medic came and after doing some quick checks on the basic blood pressure, pulse etc, helped me stand up slowly and walk with support to a chair. More questions, yes I was traveling alone, no I hadn't felt the baby move yet, I didn't know what was wrong with me. I described my day and when I had eaten last, where I had been and what getting to the gate had entailed. My blood sugar levels were very low and someone handed me a KitKat Bar.
Then, to add to the stress they were asking for my passport. I had been carrying it in my hand since I checked in at the gate but didn't know what happened to it after I collapsed. A traveler's worst nightmare is to loose their passport. I knew my husband had a copy and could just fax it over it there was a problem but I was still concerned. I asked them to search my hand luggage and to find out if there were any cracks in the floor that it could have fallen into. It was no where. Now I was shaking and crying again. They made an announcement on the plane and it showed up quickly. The kind woman who had first come to my aid had accidentally picked it up with the stuff she had set on the floor when assisting me. I was relieved but not better. I knew I was probably going to miss this flight as the airline wanted me to be thoroughly checked out before attempting to fly again. They assured me that they would work out the flights whenever I was ready to travel again.
I was then taken to a local maternity ward and assigned a midwife. In the U.K. (and other parts of Europe) they still see pregnancy for what it is, a natural part of life and respond as such until it takes a turn for the worse then they treat it as a medical condition. Unlike most of our American doctors who consider the only natural non-medical part of pregnancy to be the conception! I chose to see a midwife at home as I am of the former mindset so was much comforted by the method of non-invasive treatment that I was receiving. I received what would be the equivalent to the prenatal appointment and all the tests came back normal but still I was not right. Then after feeling the baby give a few strong kicks, the first since I fainted I started to relax. Then more as they took the heartbeats which were normal and strong. The sound of my baby's heartbeat radiating through the Doppler speakers was like angelic music to my ears. My baby was OK and I could finally fully relax and focus on moving forward. I could also finally call James. I explained that "I was being checked out in the maternity ward and that the baby and I were fine" a passing nurse interrupted me to tell me I needed to turn off my cell phone so had to leave James with just that. After just a couple hours I was cleared to leave and return to the airport.
They called me a cab and I found an ATM in the main lobby. With baited breath I put in the card and punched in the new number I had been given. The "transaction processing" blinked back at me for what seemed an hour before clicking over to "Approved" and dispensing the cash. Finally things were turning around!! I withdrew enough to send to the cab driver in Southampton, pay this next fare and buy essentials for what I knew would most likely be an overnight stay unless by some good fortune there was a late night flight out.
On the way back to the airport I called my husband again "Aren't you suppose to be in the air?" was his first comment after hello. No concern, no panic... nothing, I was beginning to wonder what was the matter with him! I finally got to tell him the details of what landed me in the maternity ward in the first place. He had thought that it was more of a routine check required by the airlines! He had not figured out that there had been a problem. "Honey I collapsed on the jetway." Then the panicking and concern started. It took me awhile but I was able to calm him down and assure him that I was fine. I had just over extended myself, was dehydrated and had low blood sugar and my body in order to protect the baby had just said "Enough!" I was now feed, rested and hydrated and was on my way back to the airport and I would call him back once I knew what was going on with my flights. (By the way, I would like to give a shout out for AT&T for excellent cell coverage during all of this and crystal clear connection! At a $1.35 a minute it wasn't cheap but the piece of mind of being able to instantly connect with my husband whenever I needed to was worth every cent.)
I returned to the airport to find all of the Delta agent's gone for the day (it was 5:00pm). I called my husband to have him get on the line with reservations from that end to sort out my next flight. God was in control through and even though I was no where near my original departure gate, in an expansive international airport I was soon recognized by one of the security guards that had assisted me at the gate. She found a Delta agent who had come back to close out the computers and do a final "shut out the lights for the day" check. Another angel, he stayed late to straighten out my next flight. My best option was to transfer over the Gatwick and catch a midmorning flight out. This would save me a double connection or an overall longer trip which were the options I had if I stayed at Heathrow. I opted to transfer to Gatwick. It took awhile for them to locate my bag and provide me with a transfer voucher and after I secured a reservation at the Yotel at the Gatwick airport I was on my way over. Shortly before 8:00pm I arrived and checked into my micro room in the South Terminal. I was tired but new hunger pangs won out and not wanted to repeat the days events I went out in search of a sandwich. Now, this is why I like the Yotel, the micro/mini hotels located in the airport terminal it's self. The rooms might not be much bigger than a postage stamp but they are clean comfortable and convenient. One short elevator and you are in the middle of the terminal with restaurants and coffee shops galore. There was even a Marks & Spencers grocery so I was able to get a sandwich, sparkling water, bag of crisps (or Chips here in the US) and something for breakfast the next morning for a reasonable sum. 4 minutes later I was back in my room sitting on my soft bed and munching on a Caesar chicken wrap. I got on the internet just long enough to send out a couple important emails before going to sleep. Pillows and white sheets never felt so good. I set the TV to wake me up at 7:00am and set my phone as a back up alarm. I looked forward to a full night's sleep and the thought of finally getting home the next day.