Warning: If you’re at all squeamish with talk of blood or pain or women’s things, you might want to skip this post! Or have someone read it to you and substitute the words “blood, cramping and uterus” with “milkshakes, hugging and koala”.
As few people know, I had a miscarriage in late March which was the single most heartbreaking thing I have ever been through. As soon as we were allowed to try again we did, and I was pregnant immediately, just like the first time. About a week after I found out I was pregnant, I started bleeding. A lot. Scary bright red blood and cramping. Things that aren’t supposed to happen to pregnant people.
I called my doctor and was scheduled for an ultrasound at the hospital’s imaging lab since my obstetrician’s office didn’t have any appointments available that afternoon. Once there, I was bleeding profusely and the sonographer seemed surprised that I had bled on the table. Um, yeah lady, that’s why I’m here. She proceeded to do her thing and said the dreaded words, “I don’t see anything in your uterus. I’m sorry, it must have already passed.” Mike and I both broke down and held each other as she left to phone in her report to my doctor’s office. How could this be happening to us again? This wasn’t fair. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. For as long as I can remember, all I have ever wanted to be was a mom, why was this happening?
As we rode home from the hospital, my phone rang and the doctor on call that evening very pleasantly told me that it might just be too early to tell at 5 weeks if there was still a baby in there or not. She was trying to be very reassuring and very sweet, but all I could do was try not to cry long enough to utter words like, “okay” and “uh-huh”. She told me to come into the office the next day to have my hormone levels checked to see where they are and if they had gone up from my last test a week prior, this might very well still be a viable pregnancy.
I was programmed to expect the worst after our miscarriage and I was just trying to accept the fact that this was happening again. Though this time, in a much more horrible way since I was bleeding and in a lot of pain. My earlier miscarriage was what they call a missed miscarriage – the body doesn’t recognize that the baby’s heartbeat has stopped and it just hangs on to the pregnancy. Your body still goes through all of the normal pregnancy symptoms, your uterus grows, therefore making your belly grow, you still have all of the food cravings and aversions and morning sickness. It’s such a false sense of reassurance. This time I just knew I was miscarrying because how on earth would a baby be able to survive after losing so much blood?
The next day I went into the doctor’s office for my blood test, still feeling horrible and sad and pessimistic. It was a Friday and I spent the rest of the day completely terrified of the call I was going to get saying my hcg levels had fallen from the previous week and I was indeed losing the baby. The day was over and I didn’t hear a word from my doctor’s office. I was kind of relieved, to be honest, because I couldn’t bear to get horrible news over the phone and cry more tears. I spent the weekend in bed, still bleeding and just felt depressed. By the time Sunday came around, I was pissed that the doctor didn’t call me. On a whim, I decided to check the online patient portal that my doctor’s office has available for test results and correspondence. In the past, the recording of such results has been spotty at best, but I thought what the heck? And this is what I found, “very reassuring rise in your pregnancy test. Hopefully you have an u/s scheduled next week so we can check location and viability. Yeah!!! congrats!”
What?! I mean, WHAT?!?! “Mike? Mike! Omg, read this!!” I said, shaking. The response I got was something along the lines of, “What?? Wait, you’re still pregnant??” We hugged and cried and smiled and tried not to get our hopes up too high lest they be crushed again. We immediately texted our parents on two continents and just sat there wondering what was going on. I called the doctor’s office as soon as possible on Monday morning and was scheduled for another ultrasound the following day.
I was shaking, I was nauseous, I was numb as we sat there in the waiting room awaiting our ultrasound. I have never been so nervous in all of my life. We were called back and as I settled onto the exam table I was terrified. Mike grabbed my hand and I just waited. The sonographer immediately said, “I see a heartbeat.” I cried. I think I managed to get out a, “Really??” She smiled and said, “Yep. Look at that flickering.” And there it was. The most beautiful sight I have ever seen. I was gobsmacked. We both were. This was perhaps the most amazing moment of my life. I was in shock, still am most days.
But why was I bleeding? That’s when we found out that I had a subchorionic hemorrhage (sch). A subchorionic hemorrhage is bleeding under one of the membranes (chorion) that surrounds the embryo. Somehow in the course of implantation and where I was at 6 weeks, I had a bleed in my uterus and it had formed a clot, yet still had active bleeding. No one really knows how these happen. It could have been a twin that didn’t survive, or a tear that happened by chance when the egg was implanting. No one knows and no one knows how to stop it, it either has to heal on its own or it destroys the pregnancy. My doctor gave me the standard answer on these things, “We will just have to wait and see. Let’s try to make it to 12 weeks.” Mine happened to be right above the cervix (lucky me), so that meant a lot of bleeding. Sometimes these things reabsorb into the body, but since mine had an easy exit, it used it. Frequently. Over the course of the next 7 weeks, I had a major bleed at least once a week, sometimes more. What constitutes a “major” bleed, you ask? Are you sure you want to know? You can turn back now if you want to and I won’t fault you…
A major bleed for me lasted approximately 12 hours, sometimes longer, and involved a ridiculous amount of blood. Bright red, scary blood. We’re talking at least a few cups of blood each time which is much, much more than a normal period that runs over the course of a week. At times, I would sit down on the toilet and it would sound like I was peeing, but it wasn’t urine. It just poured out of me. Also included in this glorious journey were a lot of clots passing. Anywhere from dime sized to palm sized. PALM sized. The size of my freaking PALM. I cannot tell you how terrifying that was. That was much larger than my baby at that time and if I had not found a wonderful online community of women who had gone through this or were going through it themselves, I would have freaked out. And gone to the ER on many, many occasions.
Along with all of the gore, came intense cramping. It literally felt like a bear had reached up inside my abdomen and was ripping out my insides with its razor-sharp claws tugging and pulling until nothing was left. Let me tell you, hours and hours of running to the bathroom, cramping and trying to sleep is not fun. These major bleeds usually happened overnight for me, some nights I would lay down for 20 minutes and then be up and running to the bathroom to sit there in agony for 20 minutes, then start the cycle all over again. A few nights I gave up and made a bed out of towels on the floor in front of the toilet and just cried, shaking on the cold tile.
Needless to say, my doctor wanted me to be on modified bed rest until it cleared up and also to come in for weekly ultrasounds. I cannot tell you how much peace of mind this gave us. To be able to see that little heart beating away each week, and later an extremely wiggly baby, after losing copious amounts of blood usually the day prior was so reassuring. During my last major bleed I remember praying over and over that it was finally leaving my body. As a matter of fact, I did a lot of praying over those 7 weeks. A lot of it was during big bleeds and consisted of things like, “Jesus, please keep my baby safe… Jesus, please make the pain stop… Jesus, please keep my baby safe… Jesus, please heal me… Jesus, please protect my baby… Jesus, please help me get through this…please Jesus. Please Jesus.” It was a mantra that I whispered over and over until the pain had stopped and repeated over and over again as the next waves of pain washed over me.
During my first ultrasound at the high-risk doctor at 12 weeks, we saw a perfect, active baby as per the usual and were so happy. One thing neither Mike nor I noticed, however, was the ever present dark blob to the right of the gestational sac that we were used to seeing. You know, that blob that kept growing and was touching the corner of the placenta and seemed to never want to go away? Mike asked the sonographer, “Do you see the sch?” His reply was, “Nope. I’m not really seeing anything…” I almost leapt off that exam table and hugged the man! I could not believe this was finally over!! Could this really be over?? I think I asked, “Seriously? You really don’t see a bleed??” about 27 times.
The perinatologist came in afterward and confirmed that there wasn’t a bleed appearing on the ultrasound anymore, but to keep it to “princess” status for the next two weeks to continue to heal. I felt like I was in a dream. The most wonderful dream I have ever had. I am not completely out of the woods yet, but the fact that the hematoma was gone and I made it past 12 weeks is HUGE. And when I had my regular ob appointment the next day, you should have seen my doctor’s face when I told her it was gone. I think she was as overjoyed as I was.
so much has happened since i last posted, that i don’t quite know where to begin.
- i married the love of my life in Dallas (where we met in 2008) in May 2011.
- we had our big wedding in October 2011 in Seattle (where we fell in love).
- we bought a house and adopted dog #2 in March 2012.
- we got pregnant in January 2013 and lost the pregnancy in March 2013.
- i quit my job at a major corporation in April 2013 to recover and focus solely on myself and our family.
to say this has been a journey is to be putting it lightly. and i need to restore my sparkle.
- you have to stand in a long ass line for everything. even to go stand in another line.
- all escalators to the raised walkways are broken. always. especially if you’ve been walking stairs all day.
- it’s really windy. bring a hair tie. and a barrette.
- people on the street pass out little cards with naked ladies with stars covering their nipples on them. they think that if they snap the cards as you walk by and then shove them in your face you will want one. they are mostly wrong.
- i saw two different guys collecting every single nudie card they could. the snap must’ve worked on them.
- sequins are king. if i ever go back, i will be purchasing something sparkly and ridiculous to wear at night. or in the daytime.
- you will get lost in the hotels. you just will. the signs really don’t help you get out. they just trap you inside for hours.
- you can buy a margarita in a plethora of containers. we’re talking eiffel towers, blenders, five foot tall glasses, plastic guitars that are strapped around your neck. i must have an eiffel tower. i must.
- i will not stay anywhere but the venetian. omg the venetian…
- everyone and their grandma is either smoking or drinking or both. at all times.
- if you try to walk anywhere but the sidewalk at the airport you will get a whistle blown at you by a cop. welcome to vegas.
- if you don’t bring purell and use it every .006 seconds you will contract horrible, horrible illnesses that will last for weeks.
all in all, vegas was an experience. once i forget this three week germfest that is still currently residing inside my person, i might go back. but i am not leaving my hotel.
so. last weekend i found my dress. just like with love they are soooo right about just knowing when you find the right one. how cheesy, right? yeah, but i hate to admit that it’s also true. and of course it’s nothing like i thought i would be wearing on my wedding day. save for the fact that it’s white. ;-)
and today i notified the florist i met with a few weekends ago - the one who totally almost had a fight in a coffee shop with my bff - that i wanted to go with her. they made up. if the florist had *really* fought with my bff, it would have been on. like the donkey.
tomorrow i go pick mike up at the airport! ten amazing days spent with the most amazing man on the planet! just in time for valentine’s day (barf!), too. <3
so, i felt really bad about writing an email to the apartment manager. i felt bad that she, in turn, put a note on your door asking you to simmah dan nah. i felt bad that i had to email back a week later, per the manager’s request, to let her know that it still sounds like you’re disco pogo-sticking across every square inch of your beautiful one bedroom, one bath sprawling west seattle apartment. i felt uber bad that she had to call you to tell you that you’re. not. getting. it.
you’re a nice girl, why don’t you get it??? you seem smart. i’ve seen the medical books in your car. i think i am going to have to resort to hammering things into my ceiling. yeahhhhh… i’m gonna hammer your ass through my ceiling!!! i’m going to wait until 8am on a saturday though. and then 11:05am. 3:22pm. 7:04pm. 8:43pm. 9:09pm. and finally 4:13am sunday morning.
scratch that. i’m getting a jackhammer.
i just received the most wonderful sentence in my inbox.
"On January 10, 2011, we mailed you a notice that we have approved this I129F PETITION FOR FIANCE(E)."
you did?? really?!?!?! for reals though????????? this isn’t a dream?!?!?!?!?!?!??!
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! step one has finally commenced after over 5 months of watching, waiting, commiserating… (sorry, i go the way of the song a lot).
we are past the longest part of waiting in the dark for this visa to come through and i simply cannot be more excited. now for the next steps of medical exams and an interview at the us embassy in london (all for him). and MUCH shorter waiting periods!
praise the lord.