One morning, when I was around 5 and a half weeks pregnant or so, I woke up to use the restroom before work and noticed a couple droplets of thick blood hit the water in the toilet below. There was a light smear of blood on the tissue paper, and an even smaller amount in the underwear I wore to bed the night before. I had gone to bed with severe cramping, thinking that it was due to the insanely salty seaweed crisps I had eaten the night before. I swore to myself as I laid in bed that night that I wouldn’t be eating those again. The cramping was still persistent that morning, and the blood I was seeing made my head spin and my face go white. My husband had already left for work that morning, and a million and one thoughts were racing through my brain; “Is there something wrong with my baby?” “This can’t be implantation bleeding – I’ve already seen an ultrasound of the baby on my cervix, right?” “Was I having a miscarriage?”
I immediately called my OB’s office and scheduled an appointment to come in that morning. I let my office know that I would be in later, hoping I would get good news at the doctor and would be up for work afterwards. I curled up in my bed until I had to make the 30 minute drive to the baby doctor. I got there early thinking they would take me back before my appointment time – clearly my distress was greater than any of the other women patiently sitting in the waiting room, right? [Yea, right].
While I waited for that door to open with the amazing sight of a nurse calling my name, I texted my husband. He assured me that everything would be okay, and to keep him updated on whatever news I got. I had also been communicating with my mom and sister – my sister always seemed to help me keep my head on straight, and they told me to think positively and not to let me get in my own head about what could possibly be going on: “Wait for the doctor. They are the experts.” “Everything is okay.” “Don’t make assumptions”.
But I couldn’t help it. I sat with my iPhone in my hand, Googling everything I could about my symptoms: “Early pregnancy bleeding with small clots and cramping – not a miscarriage”. Emphasis in my head on the, “not a miscarriage” part. I always put that bit at the end of my search, hoping I would find SOMETHING that had all of those keywords in an internet forum for pregnant women or an article on The Bump website… ANYWHERE that would offer me the reassurance of another woman’s experience similar to mine that didn’t end in a terminated pregnancy. But I didn’t. Every situation ended with the same conclusion: pre-term miscarriage.
I should have listened to my family.
By the time I had been led to the exam room and undressed, I was greeted by a doctor I hadn’t met before who immediately gave me the most comforting hug. I needed that more than I could have ever explained to her. She performed an internal ultrasound on me – it was too early to detect a heartbeat yet, but there my little babe was – a jumbled bunch of cells, more closely resembling an egg yolk than a baby at this point of my pregnancy. I felt a sigh of relief, but the OB let me know that it was still very early, and that miscarriage was still a possibility. I wasn’t out of the woods yet. This could be just the very earliest signs that my pregnancy was ending. The transducer was covered in blood and I felt sick.
I was sent down to the lab to take blood to ensure that I wasn’t Rh negative, and to test my HcG levels to see if they were in the right range for a 5-6 week pregnancy. I was so overwhelmed by nervousness:
“Was I losing my baby?” “There was a lot of blood on the doctor’s ultrasound equipment.” “It’s still a possibility that I could miscarry…”
I ran into the bathroom and my head began to spin. I felt like I had drank an entire bottle of tequila – the tiny, white-tiled, hospital bathroom was spinning out of control. I threw up into the toilet. I had made myself so nervous I also need to use the bathroom. I sat on the toilet and tried to control my dizziness. In the toilet I saw what I didn’t want to see: white clots of what I assumed were tissue.
“This isn’t real”, I repeated over and over to myself. I had just seen my tiny little baby on the ultrasound screen, and now, a short walk down the stairs from the exam room to the lab, and I was having a miscarriage.
This couldn’t be happening.
I tried to make my way to one of the sweet girls at the desk in the waiting room of the lab, and began to have a panic attack. I was still spinning at this point, and the poor girl behind the desk grabbed me a trash can that I began dry heaving over. Everyone in the waiting room stared. But I didn’t care. I didn’t even notice.
The rapid response team made their way to me, and placed me in a wheelchair and took me to a room in the part of the lab I had never been before. Five women helped move me from the wheelchair to the exam table. My blood pressure had dropped immensely and my entire body had turned a stark white. I tried to explain to them what I had seen in the bathroom. There were now only two women left in the room with me. Although they never said it out loud, I knew they, too, thought I had miscarried. The rapid response director did her best to be comforting, and reminded me that no matter what the outcome, I was young, and that I would get pregnant again. She was so sweet, but I was devastated. They took my blood as I lay on the table. It took a good 40 minutes to get me to a stable blood pressure level.
I could never thank those ladies enough. In such an emotional (and embarrassing, now that I think about it) time, they kept my spirits up the best they could.
The rapid response director told me how she had to give birth to still-born twins at 26 weeks, but that she went on to have 4 kids after that. My heart broke for her right then and there. I couldn’t imagine. I had only known I was pregnant for maybe 2 weeks, and I was already so in love with this little baby… distraught over the fact of losing him or her, and here is this poor woman who had 26 weeks to bond with her TWO babies, just to say goodbye to them too early. She walked me out of the office and to my car. She told me to have hope, and that my doctor would call me with the blood results in a couple days.
Those two days were awful. More googling. More results I didn’t want to see. All sad stories.
Once the doctor did call, she told me my HcG levels were right where they were supposed to be! I was so excited. She then told me that I needed to come back to get more blood work done, as they needed to test my levels again to make certain they were still rising and had not dropped – thus indicating a lost pregnancy. In an instant, any relief I felt turned back to nervousness again. I raced to the lab to get my blood drawn. It was Thursday, and I knew I’d have to wait days through the weekend to get the definitive news of whether I was still carrying a baby or not.
The very next day, as I was still awaiting the news, I noticed more white clots in the toilet as I used the restroom. I cried on the couch in my husband’s arms. I just knew I had lost the baby and I was watching a miscarriage unfold before my eyes over the past few days.
I texted my mom and sister, “I am pretty certain I lost the baby. Thank you for all of your support. I love you both.”
I had wanted this baby. I was so happy when I found out I was pregnant. Was this really it? Was it really over? My family all tried to tell me that I was probably still pregnant – they wanted it to be true as much as I did.
After a late night trip to the grocery store that Sunday, I received a call from my doctor. I didn’t expect her to call me during the weekend, but she responded, “I saw how upset you were, and I knew you would want this information”. I did not think it were possible for this woman to have gotten any more amazing or understanding, but she knew exactly where my head was at, and she was right: I had been anxiously awaiting the news, even just talking about it with my husband as we drove home in the car.
The OB then said, “your HcG levels are increasing as they are supposed to! Just be careful, the bleeding is most likely residual, leftover blood cleaning itself out to ready your body for the long pregnancy ahead!”
And those white clots I thought were fetal tissue? “Probably white blood cells that lumped together during the ‘cleaning out’ process.”[!]
I wanted to kiss her through the phone. If I could have reached my arms through my iPhone and given her a hug as comforting as the one she gave me the first time we met in that exam room, I would have.
I was over the moon.
I didn’t have a miscarriage. I was still pregnant.
In fact, I had an amazing pregnancy; Easy, beautiful.. everything I could have wished for.
And now? Now I have the strongest, craziest, most amazing 10 month old baby boy I could have ever asked God for.
While I sit at my desk reminiscing about that stressful week, this is what lies behind me while I write this very post (if you are curious, this, too, is the only way I get to write):
While I know not everyone’s story ends like mine, and while my heart breaks for those of you whose story does in fact not end as mine did, I wrote this post with a small purpose. I wrote with as much detail as I could, because unlike all those stories I read and re-read on the internet that ended in a devastating loss, I wanted to provide even a glimmer of hope to those women who are experiencing these same symptoms who, too, are Google-monsters like I am. If I can offer even the slightest amount of hopefulness in my story while you await those blood tests, ultrasound images, or other indication, then this long-winded post has done its job.
I truly hope your story ends like mine did. I am all too aware that I am one of the lucky ones in this scenario, and even though I cannot attest to the pain of those who have suffered a miscarriage, I extend my deepest support to anyone in this situation. Remember to have faith, do your best to remain confident and positive, and most importantly, to seek the support from those people you love the most, because no matter the outcome, they will always be there to lift you off the ground when you are feeling your lowest.
All my love,