Four years ago tonight I was laying in an emergency room, mourning the abrupt loss of my first baby, and trying not to bleed to death. I talked about it a little here, but there is more to the story, so I'm going to share it now.
For what it's worth, this is graphic. Read at your own discretion.
I was expecting a honeymoon baby, which was exactly what we had hoped for. I was 14 weeks along and had just begun to develop a tummy. I had happily gone to the thrift store just a few days earlier and picked up some drawstring pants that gave me a little more room. On the day before my second midwife appointment, I noticed a little spotting. I called my midwife and she assured me that there were lots of reasons why that could happen, and that since I wasn't cramping there was probably no need to worry and she'd see me tomorrow.
Tomorrow came and she was out for a delivery, so I saw her apprentice. Her apprentice was unable to pick up a heartbeat on the doppler, but apologetically told me that she was inexperienced at it still and that the midwife would probably do a better job. The midwife came to my house that afternoon to try the dopper herself...still no heartbeat to be heard. She assured me that were were many reasons for not hearing it at this stage and that it was still pretty early, but that we could arrange an ultrasound if we wanted to. We scheduled one for the following week.
That night I thought I had indigestion. I couldn't figure out what I had eaten that would tie my stomach in knots like that, but I laid out on the couch and watched a movie with Hubby and it seemed to go away. The next morning (wednesday) the tight tummy returned, and I was sufficiently bothered by it to call my mother and ask if she knew of safe herbal options for dealing with indigestion. I didn't want to hurt the baby, but was uncomfortable enough I even tried mint tea (and I HATE teas of all kinds). Of course it didn't make a difference, because it wasn't indigestion; it was labor. I didn't recognize it for what it was because I did not expect it. No one expects to go into labor at the end of their first trimester.
The cramps (contractions) came and went a little through the day, but in retrospect I realize that they were there all day. I went grocery shopping in the early afternoon. I had promised to teach a neighbor how to make bread, so when we got home from the store I called her and she came over, along with her two little daughters. We were chatting and adding ingredients when suddenly the pains became quite pronounced and I had to sit down for a while. I told her what was happening, and she assured me that she'd had similar pains throughout her recent pregnancy, but her baby had been fine. We continued to chat as we finished up the bread dough and set it on the counter to rise and then went into the living room. My discomfort had increased to where I can solidly call it pain. No position was comfortable--I sat on the chair, on the floor, laid down...nothing helped. I was sitting cross-legged on the floor when I felt a mighty WOOSH and looked down to see red. On the one hand I was miscarrying, on the other hand I had a clueless neighbor (whom I barely knew) standing in my living room talking to me. I said something about sorry to rush you out but I have stuff to do, and she left, none the wiser to what had just occured. I got up and headed for the toilet. As I pulled down my pants I found proof of my fears--a little ball of water, about the size of a grapefruit, and inside it, my tiny son.
I called to Wolf, who was 3, and asked him to bring me the phone. He did so, and was concerned about all the blood; but, trusting my reassurances that I would be fine, he returned to playing. Hubby had an evening class, and I knew he would not answer his phone, but I left a message. I told him that I was pretty sure I was miscarrying and to please come home. I didn't think he would check his messages until after class, but thankfully he left class to check it, and came straight home. Also thankfully, we lived just 5 minutes from campus. As soon as he got home he took Wolf to the neighbors (who happened to be Hubby's brother and his family) and then helped me get into the bathtub to clean up.
As I laid there washing up I realized that I was still bleeding. Hubby called the midwife and my mother, and also someone from church whom I was supposed to meet with that night (even on the brink of a major hemmorage I was worried about letting someone down). Hubby handled all the calls and then asked me what I thought about going to the emergency room. I felt weak and woozy, and had the distinct impression that if I tried to stand I would pass out, and that if I passed out I would not wake up, so I agreed that the ER would be a very wise choice.
At the hospital they gave me an IV to rehydrate me, something to ease the pain, pitocin to try to stop the bleeding, and a lot of warm blankets. Apparently I had retained part of the placenta, but after a couple of hours we finally managed to get it all out and the bleeding stopped, so they released me to go home. They were concerned about my becoming anemic, but said my hematocrit was ok so they let me go. (In retrospect, they probably should have kept me overnight, because my hematocrit dipped drastically in the following days, and if I had been on iron supplements it would have helped.)
My bread dough rose and rose and spilled off the edge of the counter. Hubby left the hospital to go get me some clothing, and I asked him to please take care of the bread. He assured me he would, but he didn't. I know he had more urgent concerns, but all night I kept thinking about the pile of bread dough and feeling frustrated.
The next morning, assured that I was ok, Hubby and I finally held our little son's body. At 14 weeks, most of a baby's parts are formed. He had fingers and toes and so many perfect little details. We held him for a while, took some pictures, and then put him on a blue washcloth in a pretty little wooden box and Hubby took him down to the hospital. I wish we could have buried him in our own yard, but we were renting and had nowhere to do so. I refuse to think about what they did with him. I can't. I do know that Hubby said he took the box to the nurse at the desk and said "this is my son" and she was very understanding and kind.
Sometimes I wonder how life would have been different if Thomas had lived to be born into our family. He would be three and a half now. Even though he didn't get to live in our family, he is part of it, because he changed us all.
Perhaps, someday, I will understand.