Monday, June 08, 2009

Fear Has a Name

...and it is early pregnancy bleeding.

I think seeing it last night may have been the shock of my life. It was so incongruous – like the last snowfall of the season when you've already unpacked all of your spring clothes. My husband was grilling dinner and I was about to start my laundry. I went to use the bathroom and there it was. And no, it wasn't the brown color that I'd heard is rarely anything menacing. It was bright red, like the clear start of a period. I yelled for my husband and together, two keystone cops, we fumbled for a phone and the number for the doctor on call.

I had two options, she said. Wait to come into the clinic tomorrow to see a doctor or go to the ER now. She did not recommend the ER, she said – so busy on a weekend night – but admitted that some women are not emotionally equipped to wait until the morning. Um, yes, I said – that would be me. She told me she would make a note that I was coming in.

We waited for about 45 minutes before being called back. I felt like I was bracing myself as I hurtled head-on toward a Mack truck at 80 mph. I was trying to prepare myself for what the impact would feel like, how I might survive the collision. My husband kept reminding me how sure I had been on Friday that we wouldn't see a heartbeat. You told me it was probably a 1 percent chance it would be good, he said. Well, I said, now I think there's about a half a percent chance. No one has ever accused me of being an optimist.

I finally got called back. They wanted to start with a pelvic exam, but the nurse questioned my husband being in the room: You really want him in here for this? Lady, I wanted to say, we have been through IVF and a miscarriage together. You really think there's anything he hasn't seen at this point? I verified with him that he wanted to be there and we both said yes. She began the exam, and told us two things: one, that the opening of my cervix was closed, which could be a good sign; and two, that she saw the bleeding and "some tissue." What kind of tissue? I asked. She didn't know. She would have to send it to the lab for analysis to know for sure. I wonder what the lab would've said about a big clump of Crinone, which is what the attending ob-gyn later told us she thought it was. Good going, nurse. Way to calm me down.

The next step was an abdominal ultrasound. She saw the sac and yolk sac in my uterus, but did not see a heartbeat. But don't worry, she said. These abdominal ultrasounds don't really tell us anything. You need a transvaginal ultrasound for conclusive information. Which means that clearly, that test wins the award for most useless exercise of the evening.

They took five vials of blood, had me pee in a cup and told me to wait for someone to come get me for the real ultrasound. When they finally did come and get me, relief and fear set in: in just a few minutes, we would know. On the other hand, we would know.

My heart hammered as the ultrasound tech and radiologist peered at the screen, which was turned away from us. The radiologist finally told us calmly, I do see a heartbeat – I will tell you more about it in a minute. Which I took to mean, there is something wrong with it. But when, after an eternity, the tech removed the probe, the doctor told us there was a heartbeat of 136 BPM. He mentioned a small ring of blood around the sac, but said that mine was measuring at 10 (whatever unit of measure they use), and they only worry if it's 25 or more. So no signs of impending miscarriage? I asked. Nope, he said. It was the same feeling I used to get when I studied all night for an exam, walked in thinking I knew nothing and got it back with a huge A planted on the top. They released me a while later after I spoke to the ob-gyn. And at that point, my bleeding had stopped.

This morning, my doctor was incredibly reassuring. She told me how often early pregnancy bleeding happens, and how the vast majority of women go on to carry to term. She told me that the fate of this pregnancy is already sealed – that we're just spectators, waiting to see what this embryo will do. That at this point, the signs are good. And – once again reading my mind – she repeated that there is nothing I have or have not, can or cannot do to influence the outcome. All we can do is watch and wait.

I've survived a lot of waits through this process. If anyone has any thoughts on how to make it through this one, they are most welcome. Also welcome: any happy stories on your friend so-and-so, who had bleeding and now has a gorgeous baby. I need all the optimism I can get while I wait.


Minta said...

Oh, sweetie! What a nightmare! I'm so sorry that you had to go through that, but I'm so glad you got a positive outcome. I know (from experience) that there is nothing anyone can say or do to make the waiting any easier, but I truly do hope the best for you and that the time until you get to hold your miracle flies by.

Amanda said...

I was on the edge of my seat reading that. Oh, how scary.

Drs. can say early pregnancy bleeding is normal all day long, but it's also a terrifying as anything you can imagine at this point I'm sure.

I don't really follow this blog anymore, but is an IVF pregnancy and had some really scary bleeding early on and is apparently just fine at 36 weeks now.

Anonymous said...

omg, what a scary experience. i am so glad to hear everything turned out okay and your babe is doing okay. i hope that was the end of the scariness and its smooth sailing from here on out.

Anonymous said...

Sorry you had to go through that frightening experience. I hope the bleeding goes away, and I hope you don't have to go through anything like that again.

JamieD said...

I am so sorry! I wish I could give you a big hug.

I don't know if you read but she had multiple episodes of bleeding and should deliver her baby boy in the next couple of weeks.

Thinking of you . . .

Ashley said...

It is TRULY amazing at how related our pregnancies are!! I cannot BELIEVE that we both had bleeding on the same damn day!! THANK GOD that we both have good outcomes. Fear definately does have a name...! I will continue to pray that both our pregnancies go great!! (((HUGSS)))

kirke said...

ACH!!! Sorry you had to experience this....very scary, but I'm so happy to hear everything turned out okay. It seems like there are so many cases of early pregnancy bleeding, and all of the blogs I read where this happened had a happy ending. Does that help at all?

Just another wait....we are becomign pros at this.

Egg Factory said...

Hang in there! My best friend actually thought she started her period (it was that much), and had a baby at 38 weeks. It happens pretty often from what I can tell.

You're a wonderful storyteller. I'm eager to read more about your journey -- sending sticky embryo thoughts your way.

histmedphd said...

Egg, I think your other readers have given you good stories of hope. Now, what I want you to do is picture holding that new baby, celebrating his/her first birthday, wondering when the terrible twos will end, wondering why the threes are actually worse than the twos (and why no one but me warned you), hearing "I love you Mama", and arguing over whether s/he can borrow the car in 16 1/2 years.

This is really not to give you false hope. It's to encourage you to see that your doctor is right: you are a bystander at this point. Soon enough, you'll be an active participant and one of two loving and lovely parents.

You are always in my thoughts.

Michelle said...

Oh wow it was like I was in the hospital. I remember all of those things like it was yesterday. I am so so happy that you had a good outcome. that is such GREAT news.

I too hate it when they say that about early bleeding especially to someone who has been through a miscarriage before.

I don't know why they even do an abdominal ultrasound when it is early on. Just get to the one that works. I feel they are just trying to milk it for all the money they can.

I hope things continue to go and get better and better for you. You deserve it. ((HUGS))

Anonymous said...

That is nerve-wracking. I'm so sorry you had to deal with this, but I'm glad it turned out ok! Good luck!

annacyclopedia said...

I just came from the LFCA to offer you my good wishes. I had a bit of bleeding at around 10 weeks and went through a similar thing with going to the ER - it all turned out ok for me, but it was sure awful seeing that bright red blood and waiting to hear the u/s tech say that there was a heartbeat. I'm now 19 weeks, all is well and I haven't had any other bleeding, so I'm hoping it goes the same for you. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

sorry you had to go through that...but it sounds like things are okay.

thinking about you. this sucks. i know!

mkf said...

I came from LFCA to share my success story. I had a bleeding episode at 7 weeks and am now 36 weeks pregnant. I was diagnosed with a semichorionic bleed that was scary but resolved itself by 16 weeks. hang in there

Dianne said...

Yay, I am so sorry you had to go through that but what a relief!!!!!

PJ said...

Oh, I'm so glad you were able to get some assurance.

I also just read your last post and was so moved. I had a miscarriage in January, and a chemical in October. I just got my 2nd beta, and am pregnant again. Of course you know where I am, excited and scared all in one.

What moved me was the part about it all being out of our control. I think I needed to hear that.

areyoukiddingme said...

I don't know if this is helpful, but when I was pregnant with my daughter, when I really listened to my body, my inner voice, my ESP, God, whatever it was, I knew that this was the pregnancy that would succeed. But you have to put aside your hopes and fears and past experiences to hear that, which is really hard to do. Give it a try, and maybe you'll find some optimism (or at least a determination that this will succeed). Good luck. I'll be thinking of you.

Thalia said...

Me bleeding. A big gush at 11dp3dt and more brown stuff from there for about 2 weeks. Now 36 weeks pregnant. And in the pregnancy which resulted in my daughter, lots of blood at 13 weeks, drove me scatty but all was ok. Hang in there.

the Babychaser: said...

Two things:

1. Miscarriages hurt like fucking hell. So bleeding all by itself is different. (Okay, not always, but if you don't feel like something's clawing up your insides, you're probably okay.)

2. I've been told by my Very Trustable Nurses that IVF pregnancies more often involve bleeding. In fact, a couple of years ago I had a nurse tell me that she bled bright red blood through her ENTIRE pregnancy.

And, of course, the doc is right. You can't do anything about it.

You can do this. You've made it this far. So hang in there.

Heather said...

I had some bright red bleeding at 13 weeks that freaked me out. My doctor put me on bedrest for the rest of the day and to call if things got worse and to come in the AM for an ultrasound (which was a Sunday - my RE should be up for sainthood). Everything was fine and he said it was probably implantation bleeding.

And yes the rest of the pregnancy was fine. Our twin boys were born 9 weeks early, but they are doing fine in the NICU right now and I hope they'll be home soon.

Grade A said...

So scary, I remember it well. I ended up in the ER with bleeding just one day shy of 6 weeks. I had bleeding episodes two more times during my first trimester (one which lasted a week!!). Blah blah blah, first trimester bleeding happens to many women, but it is terrifying. At one point, they put me on a weekly schedule to hear the heartbeat-not for medical purposes, just so I would feel better. I am now 20w,4d pregnant and feeling much better. Hope this helps to reassure you a little.

Barefoot said...

Oh, how super-scary.

As a (hopefully) encouraging data point, I had all sorts of bleeding (red, brown, heavy, light) from weeks 7-10 and things are just fine with me at 13 weeks. It can be normal -- which of course doesn't make it any less terrifying.

Anonymous said...

Oh Egg, how scary! I'm glad that the bleeding has stopped, and that things look good. I don't know that I can give any advice on how to get through the wait, because I am an obsessive worrier and not worrying is just not possible for me. Your doctor is right though - there is nothing you can do or not do at this point.

If it helps, imagine all of us sitting and waiting with you, holding your hand, and infusing you with optimism. When is your next appointment?