Tuesday, July 31, I was in bed thinking all was as it should be, Dave woke up and left for work. Work in Portland, you ask? A few months ago Dave’s brother Dennis and Dave’s best friend, Justin, bought a church. Dennis and Justin are business partners/property developers. They bought a church and now they have offices at the Alberta Abby (as they call it). No really what we like to call it is the Downtown Abby because it is close to Downtown Portland and we think we are funny because we are making a Downton Abby reference. Dave left, asked me to take it easy, I cleaned, did what I do and I got ready for lunch. Dave would be home at noon and we were meeting a good friend, David Roy, and his wife. We would be meeting his wife for the first time and had just reconnected with him after sixteen years, which is an important plot point. Our friend is this most awesome guy and really if it were not for him, Dave and I probably would have never really started hanging out. I have always been grateful. We saw our old friend a few days before at a get together and the night had gone so well that we set our lunch date.
I was excited to meet his wife. I was excited to renew our connection. I met him through an old boyfriend and we reminded each other that this certain old boyfriend always would say, “Once you meet David Roy, you will like him better than me.” Guess what? My boyfriend was right. David Roy and I became besties and Dave and I were always sad that we had lost touch. Lunch would be a good thing. Dave and I arrived first, were seated and our friend David arrived Portland style (on his bike) and dripping from the afternoon heat and humidity. He warned us that his wife was bringing Che, their dog, and asked if we wouldn’t mind eating outside. David’s lovely wife arrived. I had already been to the bathroom once by that time. We were all seated and I just thought I was continuing on my miscarriage way. Our food arrived, I felt another gush and excused myself from the table. By the third time this happened I had to excuse Dave as well. He had the car keys and I needed more supplies. Ok, so, how do you tell your friend you haven’t seen in a million years and his wife that you just met, “Um, so I have bled through my protection three times in an hour. Every time I go to the bathroom the tissue expelled is greater than the time before?” So weird. I know I am telling the internet, but like I have told those who have asked, “I control the output and I do not have to look into your eyes and tell you this.” It’s true. My blog is a little space I hope you come to, but know you chose to be here. Does that make sense? Anyway, the conversation was actually really good. We caught up with each other, learned about Geology and made jokes about my old boyfriend. We had to. The best one. . .wait. . . there are two best ones. I will tell the appropriate one here. So one time years ago my old boyfriend and I were driving from Minnesota to Utah when he noticed that there was an outlet mall near Mount Rushmore. Instead of seeing Mount Rushmore (understandable) or the Black Hills or Deadwood (not understandable), we went to the Ralph Lauren Outlet. Hilarious. As David Roy and I parted ways, we promised not to lose touch again. I started realizing there may actually be a problem. Every single time I have miscarried it has always been the same. Always! I have super bad cramps, lose a lot of tissue for a day or a few hours and then it’s like a regular heavy menstrual cycle. That whole process happened the day before at the park. At this point I was bleeding more, not less.
In the car I remembered the Sage words of my OB, “If you soak more than one pad an hour, go to the ER.” I was soaking three. I called her and wanted to make sure I was not overreacting. “Beth, if this does not settle down in two hours, you need to go in.” I called another Portland girlfriend for hospital suggestions (thank you, Carrie) and waited. While I waited Dave and I picked up the boys and then we took Dave back to the Abby while the bleeding only increased. Trying to keep my mind off of things and knowing I would have to break our OMSI date, I asked the kids if they wanted to go and get ice cream from Ruby Jewel. “Of course we do.” Kyle sweetly responded and then Eli inserted, “Mom, do you know this will be the sixth time we have gone to Ruby Jewel since we came to Portland.” I didn’t know it was six, but I knew it was up there. We made our way over to the Mississippi Avenue neighborhood of Portland where I enjoyed my Salt Lime/Burnt Orange Sorbet combo. I had no idea that it would be the last thing I would eat for hours (which to me felt like days).
My kids are tweens. They know I have been pregnant and have been very good about helping me and keeping my crazy pregnant behavior to themselves. Now looking way back in early June I should have known I was pregnant that day I was dead dog tired at the after school talent show Pogo Practice that something was up. I didn’t. I bet my boys did. I just thought it was the LMFAO-Party-Rock-disorganized-mayhem of trying to get six distracted boys to learn their pogo routine. That day and always my boys have had my back. These past months when I missed hikes with their friend’s mothers, Kyle and Eli did not say anything like, “Hey so my mom is pregnant. She really can’t go on a hike because she thinks she is going to puke.” I have asked them to keep my secret and have also told them the truth along the way. So on our ice cream adventure it made perfect sense to give them the heads up. “Ok guys, you know because of last night I lost the baby, but now things are getting a little weird so we may go get things checked so I will be ok.” I told them while driving back to our Portland digs. “Mom, we just want you to be ok.” Kyle quickly said.
I muscled through for another hour and called Dave. “Hey, so I am still bleeding. Well, actually it is worse. We should probably get it checked. I am on my way to get you.” The hospital was close and we were on our way.
Dave dropped Kyle and me off. “Kyle, you come with me. You know hospitals.” I said while Dave and Eli parked. I checked in and then talked with the admitting nurse. She was very hung up on the fact that I have been giving myself two shots of Heparin a day for the past two months. I assured her she could call my doctor. I assured her that the dose was small and metabolizes quickly. I know about people taking you down the wrong medical path and was starting to wish I had never ever mentioned this lame miscarriage prevention treatment. I did and I was stuck.
Nevertheless she took me seriously and got me in a room fast. Calm. I was calm. When my male nurse talked to me, I was calm. “I am bleeding. I’m from out of town (he never heard the out of town part) and my doctor recommended I come in.” I asked him about D&C’s and what they could do. “Oh, we don’t perform D&C’s at our hospital (BIG FAT LIE).” He said. “Really?” I pushed. My nurse did not like that I did not want my IV in the crook of my elbow. Have you ever had an IV there? They hurt! He was utterly convinced that I was an idiot and that I was taking Lovinox (another blood thinner), not Heparin. “Um, Heparin is cheaper. I promise I am taking Heparin.” I insisted. He mocked. Do you want his name? I am still thinking I will write the hospital. Nevertheless when my situation became more critical (way more cool and interesting) he was there.
The kids had made their way to my room. I actually had a room. They were bored, hungry and Eli kept asking, “Mom, when will this be done? When can we leave? Dad, I am hungry.”
Dave’s consistent response was, “We are not leaving until we know what is going on with mom.” Yay, Dave!
iPod Touches were in full operation and Kyle turned my above TV onto the Travel Channel. “Mom, it’s Bizarre Foods! I love that show.” In between watching the Bizarre Foods guy eat Bull Penis (Yes, Bull Penis) I cramped. I bled and Dave took me and my IV to the bathroom. Over and over I went to the bathroom. The first bathroom to the right had pee all over the floor so I made sure to keep my sandals on. Yes, I asked my lovely nurse for socks and yes, he went to dinner instead. I texted a few friends, one being our ER doctor friend. Asked about Heparin. Made jokes about the nurse and waited for the doctor. Here is one of my texts:
“Doctor (super awesome doctor) just came in. He is so much better than the nurse. Agreed with me about Heparin (it has nothing to do with my bleeding and has already metabolized). If the nurse wants to be a doctor, he should go to medical school. Still bleeding and a ton of pain.” 7:15 PST
And by 7:47 PM PST my Park City girlfriend was texting me. Dave had just left with the boys and was coming back after he got them fed. I walked myself to the bathroom. I could not believe the blood. I could not believe the hours and hours of increased clots and bleeding. As I sat on the toilet, a giant clot flipped out and landed on my ankle. I know it’s gross. I just need to say it. I was in shock and a giant piece of blood clot was sitting on my ankle. So so crazy! I cleaned myself up, lifted my IV bag off the hook and walked back in the room. A sweet young med tech was standing there about to tell me something when I felt the gush. It felt like someone had just broken my water. “Um, I do not know what is happening.” I told her. “I think I need some help.” I just stood there.
“What do you need?” She asked. “I think I need to go to the bathroom again. Will you help me?”
“Of course. Whatever you need.” She said and I kept apologizing while saying, “I do not know what is happening. I do not understand.” We were back in the bathroom where I was still gushing blood. She helped me there and then helped me back. She was so much kinder than my nurse had been. Back in bed by 8:00PM there was a huge cramp and another gush. I heard my phone beep. It was my Park City friend. I asked her to text Dave. I think I knew I could text him to, but she was there so I asked her. Moments later I needed the bathroom again. I was confused. I was covered in blood and so scared. I came back to the room and found the Ultrasound Tech. She is in her sixties and when I said, “Please. Please. I do not know what is happening.” (Where was my nurse? Who the hell knows?) The Ultrasound tech asked my what I needed and when I said, “I need the bathroom again,” I could tell she was bummed that I was emptying my bladder, but she was lovely and kind. “Whatever you need.”
In those moments Dave came rushing back to the room, leaving the boys in the car. “What do you need?” He asked. “I don’t know.” She inserted the ultrasound wand and I felt something I never want to feel again. For the several minutes she was viewing my uterus from every angle, blood was flowing out of me like a faucet. I whimpered. I did not cry. I kept asking her what was happening. “Oh honey. I know. I know.” She kept saying. “I know what you are going through. There is a lot of blood.” I was, in a way, giving birth. She showed me the gestational sac on the screen. There was no baby. No joy. I was exposed, worried and lying in a pool of blood — blood I have only seen in really bad horror movies. I just kept bleeding and my blood pressure, kept dropping.
Finally, really, finally, I guess I became serious enough for my nurse to pay attention [insert Super Man theme music here]. He came in my room and my lovely Ultrasound tech said, “She really needs something for the pain. You need to help her!” Because the Ultrasound tech is lovely, she also insisted that he is a good nurse. I think he is a good nurse when things interest him. He confirmed with my doctor and gave me a shot of Dilauded. I was not hooked up to a blood pressure cuff at the time and have no idea why. I asked Superman, my male nurse, if he would take my blood pressure. “I feel dizzy and I do not feel right. Please. Please take my blood pressure.” He handed Dave a blue plastic barf bag, slipped a blood pressure cuff on my upper left arm, and cautioned Dave, “If she throws up, come find me.” I felt the pump, pump, pump of the cuff and watched my blood pressure go down, down down to 77/33. “I don’t think that is ok.” Superman immediately lowered my bed and said, “Oh, it’s fine.” Once my bed was lowered, my pressure went back up to 81/43. I know enough about blood pressure to know that once it goes too low that the body starts shutting itself down. I knew if I kept bleeding and my blood pressure stayed low that we would have a bigger problem.
After the nurse left we texted our doctor friend. When we shared my blood pressure numbers with him he insisted, “Push your call button now!” And this is an ER doctor dude who does not scare easily.
I whimpered. I cried. I could not believe the intense and continued pain. The pain medicine as continued as it was too, wasn’t helping. I asked Dave, “Am I going to die?”
“No. No Beth. You are not going to die. You are going to be ok.”
And earlier tonight while Dave and I talked I realized why I didn’t die. I listened to my OB and even though my nurse was not listening or initially even respecting me, I knew where I needed to be, I remained calm and I held my ground.
My blood pressure did not stabilize. They kept switching IV bag after IV bag. We stopped counting at around ten. The bleeding only got worse. I heard the phrases, “packed cells and blood volume,” over and over. Yet through it all the doctor kept saying while simultaneously being freaked out, “You are so healthy. You should have already had a transfusion. Wow. The altitude is saving your life. I cannot believe this.” I couldn’t either. Because I live at 7,200 feet (yes, that’s right) and was now at approximately sea level, I had some extra hemoglobin.
Right before surgery I was able to change out of my second completely blood-soaked gown. I asked the med tech if it was bad and she shook her head in compassionate alarm. Earlier and when I could still walk, she had just wrapped the other blood-soaked gown in a sheet when she took me to the bathroom. I was able to see the tremendous amount of blood on the bed. “Only really bad head wounds or gun shot victims have this much blood,” I thought. She, Dave and I removed my second gown. I saw clots stuck on fabric and the heavy red stains of what I had just lost.
We spoke with the OB surgeon and conferred with the ER doctor. I really had no choice. “We need to do a D&C. We need to stop the bleeding.” I had surgery. I made it through. I was able to go home in the middle of the night. Best part of the experience was when Justin brought the boys back to us. Earlier I sent a text to Dave’s brother and sister who live in Portland. Dave’s sister only knew I was pregnant the night before and Dave’s brother had no idea. I sent the text asking if they could come get the boys. Justin already knew. Justin and Denny took the boys for several hours. I wanted them back. I wanted to see them. They came in my room, helped me eat my popsicles. I could tell Eli was freaked out. Last time he was at the hospital was when Kyle was sick. I asked Eli to come snuggle and told him it was ok. He fell asleep next to me.
Friday Morning, August 3, we were in bed. The phone rang. It was the surgeon. I thought she was just checking in on me. She was. We were leaving for Utah that day. She wanted to make sure I was taking my antibiotics and also wanted to tell me that the Pathology Report had some unusual findings. “They did not see any products of conception in the D&C. Would you like me to call your OB in Utah? I would like to call her.”
We both think I must have passed everything earlier. Tomorrow I go for blood tests.
[to be continued]