As you know if you've been reading my blog, I've been very lucky so far to have a really healthy pregnancy. No complications, no spotting, overly positive results of my NT scan. Great stuff. Well, last night I realized that you're really never safe from the utter and sheer terror of pregnancy.
After I wrote my post last night about cooking dinner like a real human being, I was on a roll. I decided hey, why not keep it going? So my husband and I managed to have really good Tuesday-night-sex. Apparently too good. Because right after we finished my husband looked down and said, "Oh my god you're bleeding." The worst words to ever hear while you are pregnant.
I looked down and saw heavy drops of blood down my thigh and bright red droplets on the white sheets. Red on white. I instantly got very calm. I told my husband that it was ok, that this can happen during pregnancy and could he please get me some toilet paper? I felt so proud of how calm I was being, until I realized that, unbeknownst to me, there were tears streaming down my face.
My husband dealt with his panic and anxiety by going into fix-it mode. He brought me fresh tissues, discussed the quality/color of the blood (I know, weird in any other situation), changed the white sheets, held me, reassured me, everything active. I, on the other hand, just sat there holding tissues to myself, checking the blood every few
minutes seconds, and literally and figuratively "trying to hold the baby in." I kept saying that to him, "I'm just trying to keep her in" and "I just want to see her right now."
We didn't know what to do. Everything I knew about bleeding during pregnancy was that bright red blood is not good. And that what was on the toilet paper. On the sheets. Google said bleeding can be normal after sex in the second trimester, but to call your doctor. We didn't know what to do at 12:00 at night. Call our doctor?? Go to the ER? Wait it out?
We decided to monitor and wait. I didn't have any pain, no cramping, just the blood. It kept coming for about two hours or so? It felt like forever. I finally fell asleep with nightmares of empty ultrasounds or worse, ultrasounds that showed something disfigured or missing or just very, very wrong with my baby.
The next day I called the doctor's office as soon as it opened and my doctor said she wanted me to come in that afternoon. Ok, good. But of course, part of me wished she had said, "Oh no big deal, just wait until your regularly-scheduled appointment on Monday. This is normal....don't worry." But she didn't. She said, "come in."
So I made it to work, went through the motions like a zombie, and cancelled my poor, neglected clients and then rushed back out the door around 1:00. When I got to the doctor's office they made me wait. I waited and waited in excruciating agony. Being at work was better. Sitting in the waiting room, listening to call after call in which the receptionist reassured other bleeding women (seriously 3 calls in the 1.5 hours I waited...why is pregnancy so terrifying??) and trying to hold myself into the chair so I didn't float away.
Finally, the nurse took me back. They have this little "Lab" area where they take your blood pressure, vitals, etc. It's basically just a hallway with other patients, nurses, etc, walking by. The nurse doesn't greet me or anything, just says, in a brusque, rushed way, "Are you still bleeding?" Heads turned to look at the poor pregnant lady who might be losing her baby. My head snapped up and I looked at her in shock and dismay before I could get my expression under control. She realized her mistake and went to escort some people out of the area. When she came back I quietly told her that there was still some blood but it was brown, old blood. She cut me off and just said, "okay."
Finally, after more waiting, the doctor. I was hoping for information, answers, reassurances. But she was clearly rushed and had fit me into an already busy schedule. She was doing her best. She said that some bleeding is normal because the cervix is very sensitive during the second trimester, but she seemed surprised by the amount of blood I described (like a light period). She thanked me for calling and said, "Whenever someone is bleeding, I want to see them." Well, sounds like a good policy to me. And then she popped the ultrasound wand out and went to business. You guys, there was one terrifying moment where I thought I saw a big empty cavernous sac with no baby and then BOOM - there she was. I was still frantically searching for her heartbeat when the doctor starting laughing and smiling and saying "everything looks great - wonderful heartbeat -and oh look! she is sticking out her tongue!" And she was. In and out like a little lizard. Like she was saying, calm down Mom, everything's fine. You're being too serious.
And that was that. The appointment was over. No internal exam. Just checking the baby and placenta to look for heartbeat and lack of bleeds (I guess?). She prescribed no sex for 2 weeks and then "we'll see how it goes." And then she rushed me out the door and onto her next appointment where I'm sure the next women was having her own equally emotionally-laden moment. I wanted more, but she was satisfied and Baby looked content and happy and so that's what I got.
I'll tell you what. As my husband said, this was a completely "horrifying" experience. Sitting in the middle of the night, hoping a piece of toilet paper will hold in our dreams, feeling terrified and shocked....all after just starting to settle in and feel safe. I realized that it's no longer about "losing a pregnancy." It's about losing our baby. This baby. Not a baby, but this baby. The one who has a gender, and a name, and has become a real part of our family. I felt like the bleeding wasn't happening to my body, but to my baby, and I wanted to keep her safe and had no idea how to do it. And the funniest thing is? The part that made me feel most like a parent? The only thing that made me feel better - that comforted me - was my baby herself. Sticking her tongue out at me and laughing at me like, hey, Mom, get over yourself. I'm just over here, doing baby things.
My husband is a wreck too. He didn't get to come to the appointment today (no way with his work schedule last minute) and he is still reeling. He is struggling with feeling responsible and frightened and powerless. Both of us assumed different roles last night. I know those roles will only continue to solidify until we actually meet our daughter and fully become parents, but I will tell you what...I feel a lot closer to being a Parent today than I did yesterday.
Sorry for the terrible photo quality here (picture of a picture), but I have to say, this is my favorite ultrasound photo yet. I really feel like it screams comfort. She's curled up, snuggled in, and if you look close at the actual picture, you can tell her tongue is sticking out. We are so, so lucky to have that picture.