The Roller Coaster Ride No One Wants To Be On

Before I get started, I want to warn you that this post might not be the easiest for you to read. I might go into details that make you feel uncomfortable, so please don’t feel like you have to read the whole thing. Let me also reassure you that we are okay.

Where do I begin? In July my husband David and I found out we were going to be parents. The first trimester and up until pretty recently, it was a pretty easy pregnancy. Not much morning sickness, no real worries. Three ultrasounds showed us a beautiful, healthy, growing baby. Last week (or at least I think it started last week) I started noticing some spotting after I’d been on my feet, or been active for long periods of time – like after a day of work. When I say some spotting I mean just like a small streak in my underwear and a bit of red when I wiped. I had more spotting than that right at the start of the pregnancy, and I knew that the worst thing I could do is stress about it. I made the conscious decision that if it got worse I’d call the midwife and if it didn’t I’d still talk to the midwife about it at my next appointment.

On Wednesday I went to work, came home, picked up David, went to pick up a package at the post office, walked around staples, went to dinner with some of our family, then went shopping for a couple of hours. At the end of all that I was relieved to find that I hadn’t had any spotting!

Thursday morning, I woke up when it was still dark out to find that my pj pants were wet and I had to go pee. I worried that I’d wet the bed in my sleep. I went to the washroom, and turned on the light which is something I rarely do at night, because I find it wakes me up too much and since I get up to pee at least three times in the night, I like to be able to fall right back to sleep. Anyways, with the light on it became all too clear that I had not wet the bed. Looking at my pants, the toilet paper and the contents of the toilet I was faced with every expectant mother’s worst fear. I called David to come to the washroom. I don’t know what I was expecting him to do. Maybe I was hoping that he’d tell me I was seeing things. But he just confirmed what I already knew. That was a lot of blood.

He hugged me, and I started to cry. I told him I didn’t know what to do and he asked me what time it was. He was very calm, but something in his eyes told me he was just as worried as I was. We went back to the bedroom, and I looked at my phone to find it was around 6am. I realized my alarm would start going off in less than a half an hour, so there was no point in going back to bed. I grabbed a pair of underwear and put a pad in it. Then I asked David if I should get ready for work. He looked at me and shook his head, saying “I don’t think you’re going to work today.” I nodded blankly and asked what we should do. David booked my absence from work for me, and called the emergency paging system for our midwife and she called us back very quick.

David talked to her first as I lay on the bed, trying not to think. After a little while David handed the phone to me, so I could talk to the midwife. She asked me if I was feeling any cramping, and I had to admit that I was, though it wasn’t bad cramping or very painful. She asked me about the bleeding and I had to admit that it was very heavy. She asked me how much blood had accumulated on the pad since I put it on, like was it the size of a dime or a quarter, and I had to tell her it was all over the pad. I could feel my heart breaking as she told me she was so sorry I was going through this. I knew what she was going to say, and I couldn’t hear it. I couldn’t even try to control my sobs as I asked her if she couldn’t just tell me everything was going to be okay. She said “I wish I could, but I’m so sorry I can’t.” I asked her if there was any possibility that everything was going to be okay, and she said that there was such a small possibility of that happening she didn’t want to give me a false sense of hope. She advised us to go to the ER, they’d do an ultrasound, confirm what was going on, and at that point we could call her back to discuss what our next steps would be.

As we left the apartment I sent a text to my siblings, some work friends and two of my oldest friends that said “Please pray hard. We are heading to the ER because I’m bleeding a lot. The midwife says I might be having a miscarriage.” As I typed those words, I knew what truth they held, but I refused to give up hope. I kept praying for a miracle. Most of me knew that there wasn’t hope, but I refused to let that little glimmer of hope die out because I knew that that little glimmer was all that was keeping me together. Walking to the car I thought of the baby blanket I have been working on for Widget, and I wondered what we would do with it if… I tried to push the thought from my head, but before I could I realized the blanket was still so small it would easily wrap up our lemon-sized baby. Would we be able to see our baby? Could we bury our baby in that blanket? Would we know if our little Widget had been a boy or a girl? I looked at my husband and in my mind I told God that we couldn’t lose this baby.

David tasked me with writing out notes on the spotting and stuff that had happened in the days leading up to this. It gave me something to focus on other than just spinning in my head. It got me about half way to the hospital before I finished.

I cried and prayed the rest of the way to the hospital and when we got to the ER I asked David if he could do the talking for me. He said he’d try but they’d probably want to talk to me as well. We were called into triage and the nurse asked me why we had come to the hospital. I opened my mouth but not a sound came out. David, my hero, stepped in and explained while I wept. They drew three vials of blood, then took us straight into a room. I prayed out loud for our baby and after a while I asked David to pray with me. He prayed that both me and the baby would be okay, but that if that wasn’t God’s plan, that we’d find a way to be okay with it, but if at all possible we really wanted to keep our baby.

I don’t know how long we were in there before the doctor came in to talk to us. It’s all a blur, I don’t know if he had the ER portable ultrasound machine with him the first time he came in or if he came back with it. All I know is that after what felt like only a matter of seconds after he put the wand on my abdomen, he said “Well, that looks good.” For a moment I was so offended! I couldn’t believe he would use the word “good” to describe any part of finding out we had lost our baby! He pushed the machine to a point where David and I could both see the machine. He said “There’s your baby, and do you see the heart beating?” I said “no.” On that fuzzy screen I really couldn’t make sense of any of the blurry splotches. He pointed out the heart and I thought I might see it fluttering. Then as if on cue, Widget’s hand came up almost like (s)he was waving. I felt such relief. I can’t even describe how it felt. I cried more.

I asked David to send a message to the family. He had to leave the room to find cell service to do so, but after a while he returned successful. I asked him for my phone so that I could have some form of distraction, and we found that periodically throughout the wait, my phone would get a burst of cell service and I’d get messages from family and friends offering their support and prayers. And David and I were able to send updates in a similar way.

I was allowed to go to the washroom after that and I was faced with even more blood. I had to change my pad and put on one of the super thick diaper pads that the hospital stocks. I was very disappointed to see the blood, and I wondered what it could mean if Widget was doing fine like we saw on the ultrasound. On my way back to my room, the nurse who had been taking care of me asked if I was hungry, and there was no denying that I was. She got me a breakfast tray with cheerios, yogourt, banana bread, milk and apple juice.

A nurse came in with a Doppler machine to try and find Widget’s heartbeat. The way she moved the wand around and how little pressure she was using, I wasn’t surprised she couldn’t find it. She called for help from the maternity department. The head of the department came and the way she moved the wand around, I knew that if it was there, she stood a much better chance of finding Widget’s heartbeat. Sure enough she found the fast thumping that I have come to know is my baby. And true to style, Widget moved away before she could get a clear read on how fast the heartbeat was. She found Widget again a minute or two later, and again Widget did what widget does and moved away from the Doppler. I was so happy that our baby was moving around and behaving just how we have come to know him/her to behave.

The doctor scheduled us to have a more detailed ultrasound done with a better machine and an ultrasound Tech, but that was going to take a few hours to get to. He said that since Widget seemed okay, the bleeding may have been caused by bruising near the placenta. That was the only possible explanation he gave. He said the ultrasound would give us a better idea of what was going on.

The hospital was cold. I was wrapped up in blankets. The nurse came in to tell me they needed a urine sample. Luckily, being pregnant, I can pretty much always pee! I was again disappointed to find that the bleeding was still as bad. Dripping even. It was quite difficult to get a urine sample. I was so frustrated and I just wanted to know for sure what was wrong with me.

It was some time into the wait for the ultrasound that David finally allowed himself to stop being my rock for a moment and acknowledged all the feelings he had kept inside. He told me that one of his first thoughts when we were leaving the apartment was about the blanket I’ve been making for Widget, and what we were going to do with it. I held his hand.

The ultrasound tech was not nice. She wouldn’t let David into the room with me, which on it’s own was nothing. But after we were in the room she asked me what they had done in the ER. I told her about the first blurry ultrasound and the nurse finding the heartbeat. She snapped at me “Then what are you doing here?” I said that the doctor wanted to see if he could find the source of the bleeding. It was so cold in that room and I was having a hard time controlling my shivering. She told me to get a grip on it, meditate or do whatever to try and stop shivering. I told her I was cold and she said “hospitals are always cold.” She asked me if I had had any previous ultrasounds, I told her I’ve had three. She asked why, and I told her Widget was a fertility baby. She then went into a rant about how they do too many ultrasounds for pregnancies, they used to do none, and doing them just make the moms more paranoid. She also complained that Widget was moving around too much for her to get the measurements she needed. I took that as super good news. She pushed so hard in some spots that they are still tender a day later!

I was so happy to be done with her. It was also nice to empty my bladder. This time the water was tinted pink rather than red, but when I wiped there seemed to be just as much on the paper.

David walked with me back to our room and we continued the waiting game. The doctor came in after a while. It was a different doctor than the one we had before, they’d done their shift change. the new doctor said there was no evidence of trauma on the ultrasound. He couldn’t give any explanation for my bleeding. He ordered another blood test, and it was a while before we saw him again. The nurse came in and drew my blood, and we waited. I was wrapped in blankets to try and keep warm. After a while I went to the washroom again and the blood had slowed and had started taking on a very slight brownish hue. When the doctor came back I shared that news with him. He pushed around on my abdomen for a bit and from where I was all that seemed to do was point out how hard the ultrasound tech had pushed.

Since the bleeding had slowed, the doc didn’t want to do any sort of internal exam because he didn’t want to restart or aggravate anything. He couldn’t offer us any explanation of what had happened, but he sent us home with the instruction that I should “take it easy” and go see my midwife the next day.

As we got out of the car back at our apartment it struck me just how much of a miracle it was that all three of us were returning home together. I felt emotionally and physically exhausted, but at the same time so thankful for how things had turned out.

Arriving back in the apartment I gathered up stuff that needed to be washed. After being out of the house for more than six hours, my pj pants were still damp from the blood. I also found blood on the bed and on my body pillow. Once again I was faced with the trauma that was that morning, and I was just so thankful that we had received a miracle in that our baby was still safe and healthy and I was doing better.

The bleeding seemed to darken and slow as the day turned into evening and the evening turned into night. David and I cuddled on the couch, just decompressing and allowing ourselves to feel it all. We talked, we were silent, we watched tv, we did nothing. But all of it we did together. I fell asleep wrapped up in his arms, secure in the comfort of his touch.

This morning I woke up, and found the energy to have a shower. After getting out, I was struck by how much we had gone through in 24 hours, and I couldn’t stop the tears from coming. I guess David heard my sniffles because when I opened the door to his office, he was already standing and half way to hugging me. I let myself cry in the comfort of his arms until the tears stopped. And I reassured him that nothing was wrong.

We went to the midwife today and it was a good visit. Her opinion was that I’m fine to return to work next week. But to keep an eye on things and to call her if the bleeding starts again – even if it’s not as bad as it was this time. I may have a “fryable” cervix which would make me more susceptible to bleeding. Being on my feet too much, being too busy, or being too stressed might cause spotting or bleeding if this is the case. But right now just trying to sit or lay down when I can, and trying to lessen my stress could help. The midwife is going to contact a local OBGYN for another opinion and they can further advise on what to do going forward.

Today David also got good news from his work, and on the way home from the midwife he mused that yesterday morning he was worried about losing his baby, losing his wife, and stressed about his job and today he has a healthy baby, a healthy wife and less stress about his job. He asked me “What do I even say about it all?” I told him “You say thank you.”

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2 thoughts on “The Roller Coaster Ride No One Wants To Be On

  1. Wow!!!! Annie, seriously, you should be a writer!
    I felt like I was right there with you going through that experience!
    My heart feels you! I don’t have the words to express how absolutely it warms my heart that you and David are there for each other!
    So beautiful!
    I will continue to pray for all of you and wrap my arms around you (virtually) in big warm hugs.
    💛💗 B~

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