UCSD Emergency Department. "If the bleeding gets too heavy,
you should probably go to the hospital.”
Friday evening, my unborn baby slipped from my body in a mess of blood and pain and disappointment. The day had not started out well. I awoke Friday morning to find I’d begun spotting. I called my OB after dropping my three girls at school. A nurse took my call.
“I’m 41 years old,” I told her. “This is my sixth child. I’m 12 weeks pregnant. I saw Dr. R. at 8 weeks, and the baby was fine. She did a sonogram, and we saw a heart beat. This morning when I woke up, I saw that I was spotting.”
“What color is the spotting?” the nurse asked.
“Rusty. It’s not too heavy.”
“That’s pretty normal,” the nurse assured me. “If you start cramping or the spotting turns bright red or gets as heavy as a normal period, definitely give us a call.”
I worried my way through the day. In the early afternoon, cramps wrapped themselves around my midsection. By late afternoon, a sharp pain began to grow in the middle of my burgeoning belly, a distinct sore spot three inches below my belly button. Jack came home early from work. “I’m spotting,” I told him. “And I’m having cramps. I haven’t told anyone here because I didn’t want them to worry.” Jack’s parents had been staying with us for the past week and a half for our second daughter Angela’s first Holy Communion.
“Lie down,” Jack said. “I’ll watch the kids.” I lay down on the couch. Jack went out into the back yard to start the coals for the teriyaki salmon he planned to grill for dinner. I felt a tearing inside, right where the pain had been growing below my belly button. A rush of amniotic fluid and blood soaked my dress. “Jack!” I called out. “Something’s happening.
Jack ran into the house. “What do you need?” he asked.
“Are you okay?” Rebecca asked.
“I don’t know, Sweetie,” I told her.
“Is the baby okay?” Angela asked.
“I don’t know,” I lied. I didn’t cry. I switched into crisis survival mode. I wrapped the towel around me and headed upstairs. “I’m going to change clothes,” I told Jack. “Could you call the OB and bring me the phone?”
When Jack eased open the bathroom door and handed me the phone, his eyes were red from crying. I heard him shoo the kids out of our bedroom. I told Dr. D, Dr. R’s partner, what was going on.
“You could stay at home and let things pass,” he said. “But if the bleeding gets too heavy, you should probably go to the hospital.”
“I’m uncomfortable with this much blood,” I answered. “I think I’ll go ahead and go to the emergency room.”
Jack’s parents stayed with the kids. At the hospital, Jack ran into the emergency room and got me a wheelchair. “It’s really crowded,” he told me as he helped me ease into the brown plastic seat. “I hope we don’t have to wait very long.”
We did. After checking in with the triage nurse and registering with a clerk, we sat in the waiting room and waited. Every ten minutes, Jack wheeled me to the bathroom so I wouldn’t make a mess all over the waiting-room floor. After an hour had passed, I started to feel woozy. My skin broke out in a cold sweat. I felt nauseous. My head began to feel as though it were floating somewhere above my body. I told Jack, “You need to tell the triage nurse that I’m going to pass out.”
Jack wheeled me back to the triage nurse’s cubicle. “My wife says she’s going to pass out.”
I don’t remember the next few minutes. When I started to come to, I was in another room. People were lifting me from the wheelchair onto a gurney. Someone cut my clothes off and covered me with a warm blanket. Someone else stuck an IV needle into my hand. Everyone was moving very quickly. Everyone was being very nice to me. “How are you feeling, Sweetie?” a nurse asked.
I couldn’t answer, but I nodded my head slowly up and down.
Jack stood nearby and answered questions about how far along I was and what had happened during the day and right before I passed out.
The rest of the evening passed slowly. I had a long sonogram to see if anything remained of the baby. It didn’t. Jack sat beside me while I lay on the gurney and various doctors and nurses came by to check on me. My bleeding wouldn’t stop. Jack and I talked and cried. He held my hand during a few painful procedures. He told the nurses when I threatened to pass out again.
Finally, around midnight, they wheeled me into an operating room. A kind anaesthesiologist named Dave put an oxygen mask over my face. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in recovery. “There was still a lot of tissue,” Jack told me. “The D&C went well. The doctor says you’ll need to take it easy for a few days.” When Jack kissed me, his face was wet again with tears.
At three a.m., I crawled into my bed at home. Jack wrapped his arms around me and wept like a baby. When I drifted off, I slept without dreaming.