Warning: this post is NOT for the medically squeamish… I almost threw up three times while writing it.
“I finally allowed myself to look up statistics for the first time. After our NICU visit, I felt optimistic enough to do so… If we can make it to 28 weeks, her chances of survival will be up to about 96%. Her chances of having a ‘serious, lasting disability’ are about 1 in 4 right now. I have to believe she’s going to survive. I want to believe she won’t have any lasting disabilities. We’re fully aware she’ll be immediately whisked away at birth for serious medical attention, but I’m in one of the best places in Michigan for that, which is a huge blessing. I trust God is at work. His plan will prevail. His plan will prevail.”
In the past 10 weeks, I’d bled 56 of 70 days. According to the average menstrual cycle, that’s like having 14 periods in the amount of time the average woman would have 2. Blood loss was nothing new. By now, we knew it’s cause – the abruption of the placenta – the interior wound that would most likely continue to bleed until I no longer had a placenta. Though it wasn’t keeping up, my body’s response was to clot where and when it could, creating a large hematoma at the site of the abruption and confusion via ultrasound as to what was placenta and what was clot.
And then on the morning of the 21st, I entered new territory yet again. In my morning blood gush rush, a large, golf ball-sized chunk of clot made its way out. I dry heaved and then called my nurse. The uterine irritability from blood/clot loss had spurred contractions once again and by 10:00 am I was back on the Labor & Delivery floor for my fifth time, acquiring my sixth IV and my third round of magnesium.
Throughout this stay, I continued to lose several golf ball-sized clots.
Plop. Gag. Plop. Gag.
I tried to spare my husband the details of the nastiness that was currently his clot-losing wife, asking him to turn his head or close his eyes at times. Naturally, and not unlike everyone else in the room, he was curious. To give him an idea of what I was going through, I shared with him an image forever ruined for us by this day – cherry pie.
This was the most disgusting thing my body has ever done.
And if getting help to use a bedpan isn’t the most humiliating thing I had to go through, having the nurses take my clots out of the room to weigh them certainly was. What kind of world was I living in that they were weighing what was coming out of my body?
This was also, however, the most fascinating thing my body has ever done.
The attending physician, Dr. M, spent additional time with me during this visit, marveling at the wonder that was a uterus that was supposedly sealed shut by previa yet somehow ridding itself of hematoma. He wheeled in an ultrasound machine with three nurses in tow to check if maybe, just maybe, what was assumed previa was actually hematoma and maybe the birth canal had been cleared given the substantial amount of clot I’d lost. But with his wheely-cart ultrasound machine, he couldn’t clearly see if a difference had been made by my body’s shedding of hematoma.
Having survived on flavored ice and contraband fruit snacks, contractions and clot loss diminished and by 6:45 pm the next day, I was brought dinner – chicken strips, fries and cheesecake with, low and behold, cherry pie filling on top.
Having scarfed down everything but the dessert for obvious reasons, I was sent back to my room on the OB Special Care floor. I’d remained pregnant through yet another visit to L&D – our longest and most disgusting visit, but one that gave me hope for about 24 hours that maybe even a small part of our chaos was going to resolve.
Dr. M ordered an ultrasound by the ultrasound tech to be performed the next morning. He was confused, like us, as to how I could lose clot from a birth canal that was “sealed shut” by previa. Could the perceived previa actually have been hematoma? Had my body rid itself of enough hematoma to reveal the possibility of a vaginal delivery if my breech baby, who had no amniotic fluid to swim around in and was therefore generally constricted to one tight position, could flip?
Only God fully knew what was going on. I choose to trust Him every day, and on this particular day, all I knew was His plan would prevail.
In the stats:
Gestational Age: 26 weeks, 4 days
Days of blood: 56
Days of bedrest: 77
Pre-Hospital Stay Doctor’s Appointments: 8
Days in the hospital: 27
IV starts: 6 (12 IV pokes)
Magnesium drips: 3
Trips to Labor & Delivery: 5
Sets of visitors: 50