Thursday, April 24, 2008

Friday, April 24, 1998 (day 76): A big scare

Getting ready for work the morning of Friday, April 24th, I noticed I was spotting again -- a combination pink-brown-red. I felt a wave of fear wash over me, but I decided to go in to the office anyway. I figured my family dr was in the city & I would be closer to him that way if I needed him.

Said goodbye to dh in the concourse of our office tower & headed up to my floor. Got off the elevator. Decided to stop in the washroom before heading to my desk. It was shortly before 8 a.m. I'm usually one of the first people to arrive at the office in the morning (then & now).

There was bright red blood on the toilet paper.

I headed back downstairs again, found a payphone & called my family dr's office. He told me I should stay home & rest. "But I'm already at work," I said, "Then go home & take it easy," he said.

I called dh & told him I was going home and why. I caught the next train out of the city -- went into the washroom on the train to check my pantiliner (the washrooms on the train are generally filthy, so you know how worried I was...!). I was back home in bed by 9:30, three hours after I'd left, without even setting foot in the office. I curled up in a ball & prayed hard. I was terrified.

I called dh to tell him I was home, & he said he was worried about me & would be on the next available train. He arrived home shortly after 11. "Come on, let's go to emergency," he said. Even though there is a local hospital just a few miles down the road, we decided to make the drive into the city (through Friday afternoon rush hour traffic! albeit mostly going the other way) to the downtown hospital where our family dr has privileges -- where the ob-gyn he'd referred me to practices -- & where our baby would likely be born. It is one of the largest hospitals in the city with one of the country's largest & best high-risk practices & NICUs. I guess we figured we would get good care there.

For all the horror stories you hear about waiting time in hospital emergency rooms, I was triaged immediately & I think we only waited about an hour before we were seen. Dh remained amazingly calm (he is usually a bundle of nerves in instances like this), held my hand & smiled encouragingly at me. The (young, female, Asian) doctor examined me thoroughly (including my first-ever simultaneous vaginal-rectal probe, yikes!) & said my cervix was closed & she could find no evidence that I was miscarrying. She said my uterus appeared to be the size of a small lemon.

Just to be sure that everything was all right, though, she wanted to send us for an ultrasound. THAT took awhile to arrange, but late in the afternoon, I got taken (in a wheelchair) from emergency up to the ultrasound area on the 5th floor. They tried getting an image through my stomach but the baby wasn't large enough yet to get a good enough view, so they did a transvaginal ultrasound instead (my first date with the infamous dildocam!). The technician pointed out the sac & a small area where she said the baby was. It sure didn't look like a baby yet to me, but then she flipped a switch, & I heard a sound. "That's the heartbeat," she said.

They gave me a towel to wipe the gel off of me, & called in dh, leaving the two of us alone together. "There's a heartbeat!" I said, & he practically doubled over in joy.

The radiologist came in to talk to us. "Did you know you have a bicornuate uterus?" he said. "A what??" I said (obviously I didn't know). He explained to me, drawing a picture, that most uteruses are shaped like an upside down triangle. Mine was shaped more like a heart. (During my later infertility workup, I had an HSG done, where the my uterus, illuminated with blue dye, was clearly visible. I thought it looked more like a slingshot.)

Was this going to be a problem? I asked. He assured me it wouldn't. I think he told me (someone did, somewhere along the way) about a pregnancy in which twins were delivered by C-section -- one growing in one horn of the uterus, one growing in another.

He gave me a piece of paper to give to my family dr or ob-gyn the next time I saw them, with a description of what they'd seen. (Of course I kept a copy for myself.) Here's what it said:

4/4/98 1645
Pelvic/transvag u/s
LMP 8/2/98 = 10w4d
Bicornuate uterus
Gestational sac L horn superiorly
Crown-rump = 2.4 cm = 9.1 wks
FH+. No bleed seen.
Myometrium very thin superior to gest. sac in L. horn.
L. ov = N
R. ov = not seen

It was mostly Greek to me then (& even somewhat now). From what I've learned in the years since then, the baby was already measuring a week behind & the uterine lining was "very thin" where the gestational sac was. The shape of things to come, perhaps?

Anyway, the bicornuate uterus thing was a new development, but the radiologist's matter-of-fact, not-to-worry attitude was reassuring, so I tried not to let it bother me too much. My cervix was closed, there was a heartbeat. There wasn't anything more to do except go home & rest. We arrived, much relieved and hungry, around 7 p.m.

The next day, I had brown particles in my morning urine, but my spotting had turned brownish pink again. We were scheduled for a dinner/movie date that evening with one of my friends from high school & her husband, who lived north of the city, but I called to cancel & stayed on the couch all day. Sunday, our family dr called to check on how I was. I told him about our trip to the emergency room after I'd talked to him Friday morning, but said things were looking better now.

At one point that day, I went to the washroom, & as I stood & flushed, I gasped & jumped as I spotted a clump of something white-ish swirling down the toilet. Dh insisted it was toilet paper, or maybe some cervical mucus. I wasn't so sure, but the spotting continued to decrease (and never did return), so I gradually started feeling more confident again.

I wasn't sure at that point if there were going to be more trips to the emergency room, but I decided it was time to come clean with my officemates. (Besides which, those tight pants were getting pretty darned uncomfortable...!) It was time to let the rest of the world know that I was pregnant.


  1. I had spotting too and they were never able to determine why.

    I am reading this and thinking how hard this must be for you to relive it. Then the next minute I think that maybe writing it is therapeutic for you. Anyway, I am thinking of you wishing there was some way to change the outcome.

  2. I too keep wanting to rewrite the end of the story. I keep wanting all those words of reassurance to have come true.

    Sending you hugs and thinking of you always.

  3. There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason with this spotting. Some women have it for months and still end up with a baby and for others, it signals heartbreak.

  4. Reading your memories I find myself still hopeful for a happy ending for you. Thanks for sharing.