NOTE: This piece describes a pregnancy loss in detail.
I was a pro at checking in to the ER, as this was my third visit during my pregnancy. I wanted to inquire about frequent visitor prizes. It was about 10:00 p.m. on December 8, 2011. “Brown blood” during pregnancy is fine because it’s old. This time there was “red” blood which is always a red flag because it is usually a sign of miscarriage. In the ER, you never know what kind of doctor you’re going to get. In my case, it was a resident studying to be a M.D. I could feel the springs in my back on the thin ER mattress as I stared into space. My husband, Che, kept reassuring me that everything was going to be OK.
The doctor came in and announced that we were going to do an ultrasound to check on the baby’s movement and the heartbeat. She rubbed the gel on my protruding belly. I temporarily stopped breathing until we saw movement and heard the rapid heart beat. I was released from the hospital at 3:00 a.m. on December 9th. As we drove home, Che asked if he needed to stay home the next day, as he was scheduled to leave out of town for work at 9:00 a.m. I reassured him that the baby & I were fine. If there was an issue, they would have kept me in the ER and I promised him that I’d be still until he returned Sunday. I had the day off from work the following day. I was exhausted from being in the ER the entire night and just wanted to sleep. I dropped Che off at the airport, drove back home and before getting into bed decided to go to the bathroom.
After sitting down, I felt a bit of pressure in my pelvis and then immediately heard a gush of water. I had never experienced it before and I understood that for every woman it was different. But I knew like all women had said I’d know that my water had just broken. I started crying and shaking. There weren’t any instructions in my pregnancy books for what to do when your water breaks at 5 months. I gasped for air a few times, put on my clothes and drove myself to the Emergency Room, which was about 10 minutes from my house. During the drive I immediately called my husband who was still on his flight and left him a voicemail. After checking in to the ER I sat down in the chair in an emotional & spiritual bubble unsure of anything else in the world except my name. After feeling like the process was taking way too long, I told the front desk I needed to use the bathroom. When I pulled down my pants, I saw nothing but blood… everywhere… My entire lower half was covered in it. It made me lightheaded. I cracked the door open and then screamed for a nurse. When she came and saw that both me and the bathroom looked like a crime scene, she ran in with a wheelchair and raced me to the back of the ER.
A new doctor, this time an OB/GYN resident came and explained to me that I had lost a lot of blood and everything after that sounded like we were under water – I couldn’t understand her. A new OB/GYN came shortly after that with the ultrasound machine and while the baby’s heart was beating I had lost all of my amniotic fluid so the baby didn’t have anything to swim in.
I couldn’t see anyone or anything as my eyes were swollen from crying. “Sometimes the body recreates amniotic fluid, and we have to wait and see if your body is going to do that” someone said. To me that translated into hope. We did a pelvic exam and my cervix was open. This was not normal and not supposed to be happening. The doctor said we’d wait to see if the sac would refill with fluid and we’d continue to monitor the heart rate. They said I needed to be moved to the labor & delivery floor so that I could be better taken care of. All I could think about was the baby in my belly who was probably gasping for air & dear life.
Once I arrived to the labor & delivery floor a pelvic exam was done immediately. The new face said, “OMG, the umbilical cord is hanging out…” I started crying… My dream of Che cutting the umbilical cord after a drug-free natural delivery had been shattered and I was told that I had two options. I could either take medication which would “induce” labor and allow everything to come out naturally OR I could be transferred to another facility for a D & C (dilation and curettage) which involved dilation and a special tool to scrape the uterine lining. It was explained to me that the D & C is also a procedure that is often used for abortions. To me it sounded like you can do this naturally or unnaturally so I went with the natural option.
Che & I spoke, as he was in total disbelief and heartbroken at how quickly things had turned around and he agreed that natural was the best option. It was also explained to me that my baby could not survive outside of my womb on her own (We were actually one week away from her being able to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit aka NICU). A blurry face told me I had to make a decision quickly for my own health & safety. I informed her that I wanted to deliver naturally.
My mother-in-law (a nurse) had been notified by my husband and she immediately took the 3 hour drive to Chicago from Indianapolis. She was joined by my grandmother-in-law who was an ultrasound tech in a past life. My two best friends, and two of my sorority sisters also crowded into the hospital room. There was no way that I wanted to be alone during this moment and all of these individuals had shared in the joy of the expected life that would soon change all of our lives. Thank God they could be in the room while I birthed my baby girl. The nurse gave me some medication to get my cervix to dilate and we all waited for the labor pain to hit…
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