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Absolute Fear

Warning – topic is bleeding in pregnancy which some might consider TMI; but if you are an expectant mommy, or daddy that might need to calm an expectant mommy, it might be worth the read.

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Yesterday was the scariest day of my life. I woke up with a killer headache that I just couldn’t shake and I spent the morning mostly lying around in semi-darkness, drinking water and trying to “get over it”, as what else are you meant to do when pregnant. At 12h30 I went to the toilet and when I wiped there was a fair amount of bright red blood. My heart stalls momentarily and then starts racing even now remembering it. I felt as if I left my body for a while there.

I immediately phoned Brett and simply said “I am bleeding” and he came flying home; I phoned the doctor to tell them I was coming which is when I started crying, changed my clothes and brushed my teeth, just trying to remember to breathe – I can actually see myself doing these things in my mind. I was outside at the gate when Brett pulled up and the second I saw him I started to shake somewhere deep inside of me, my poor little girl must have thought there was an earthquake.

I remember Brett driving to the doctor, trying to reassure me, saying over and over everything was fine and would be alright – I remember it as if it happened to someone else though. All I could really hear was the terror of my own thoughts and my own voice in my head saying my little girl’s name over and over and begging her to be okay while awkwardly cradling my own belly.

We were at the doctor’s office within about 10 minutes of me seeing the blood and then we waiting a while for him to finish with his current patient, it could have been minutes or hours as I stood shaking and unable to stop crying in Brett’s arms in the waiting room. When another young couple arrived, obviously early in their pregnancy and all happy and excited to be there, I felt guilty and went to sit outside the doctor’s door so I wouldn’t upset them. I vaguely remember the man giving us a tissue and asking how far along we were, I can’t remember if I answered him now and I feel bad about that too.

My doctor usually has a calming effect on me, though I almost screamed when he led us to his desk to ask some questions as opposed to going straight into the exam room to make sure she was alright. To be fair, the first thing he asked me as we entered the office was if I was still bleeding and if there was any pain – to which I answered no. A few more questions and then he did an internal exam and a scan. My uterus was still firmly closed, the blood was not coming from the baby or her home; the doctor said she was wriggling around on the scan and you could clearly see her heart beating away (although he has a seriously old, 2D, 10cm screened scanner and so all I saw was black squiggles, he sounded confident and said everything was fine).

A pregnant woman produces between 25 and 50% more blood while pregnant, your blood vessels enlarge to accommodate this and are often closer to the surface of the skin (as you can most likely see by the veins that are or will soon be crisscrossing your body). “Spotting” or light bleeding is fairly common, in the same way that you might experience nosebleeds, and some women even have it throughout their pregnancy; and this is apparently what I experienced. The doctor has put me on bedrest for a week and I am to go back immediately if there is any cramping or pain or clotting.

Now, I remember everyone including my doctor mentioning “spotting” in the first trimester, and how it is common and not always cause for alarm as it can be simple implantation bleeding or the like – and I was prepared for that “spotting”. I had not however heard that this could happen into the second and third trimesters without it signalling an issue so when, at just short of 23 weeks pregnant, I suddenly had blood, I felt violently ill and was convinced I was losing my baby.

You will no doubt be wondering why I have put “spotting” into inverted commas and the reason for this is simple – I think the name is deceptive and can lead to undue panic. I think doctors (or at least mine) should be clearer about what “spotting” is; I had an image of some spots of blood, for some reason darkish in colour in my underwear, which was absolutely not what I experienced. There was nothing “spotty” about it, there was a fairly large and repeated amount of bright red blood and it didn’t appear to be lessening. I will never for the rest of my life forget that colour and at the moment I don’t feel like I will be able to go pee for the rest of my pregnancy without suffering irrational anxiety – which could prove to be an issue since I need to pee approximately every 5 minutes, 24 hours a day.

If you use books or other sources, you will find that the definition of “spotting” is in actual fact any light bleeding, similar to what you may have at the very beginning or end of your period. It can vary in color from pink to red to brown, and can have a variety of causes – from the unknown and completely innocuous to the serious. None of this is to say that you should not be concerned if you start “spotting” at any point in your pregnancy. Whatever it is, if it is new – go see your doctor.

Of course my doctor alleviated some of the instant panic, but the catch-in-the-throat that you can’t quite breathe past, grey world-from-a-distance fear only really began to ease off a little after I made it to this evening with no fresh bleeding. Even the odd tapping and rolling in my tummy that I know is our little girl doing her acrobatics makes me nervous for now.

As yet an extra precaution, I have booked another scan at the Fetal Assessment Centre on Tuesday morning so that I can see her clearly for myself and so that the doctor there can double check everything is as and where it should be. Brett and I are going on our mini “babymoon” from Thursday evening to Sunday and I will only be able to truly relax and enjoy it once I am 100% sure that everything is okay. And to be honest, I will probably only begin breathing easy again after I have seen her.

To all the other mommies-to-be out there who have, or may yet, experienced this or worse, my heart literally aches for you. There is no way to truly express the fear that overcame me or the anxiety that still hovers over me like a physical presence. I think I truly became a mom yesterday, knowing absolute fear for my child and knowing that I would give anything and everything including my own life to keep her safe.

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