39 weeks… and a scare.

Well, by all three of my due dates (ha) I’m at LEAST 39 weeks along today.  If not further.  🙂

And after the day we had on Tuesday, I’m especially grateful.

I woke up on Tuesday and felt wet.   I immediately panicked as I remembered all of the contractions I had felt in the middle of the night.  “Oh no, my water broke but my labor hasn’t actually begun.  This is not good.”

But then it went from bad to worse.  I turned on the light and didn’t see water.  I saw blood.  Lots and lots and lots of bright red blood.  It pooled under my bottom and smeared across the bed as I slid to one side.  I’ve read plenty of books and taken a few classes on pregnancy and childbirth, so a little bit wouldn’t have frightened me.  This was insane.

I like to think I’m a pretty even person when it comes to medical problems.  I’m typically someone who would say “It’s probably nothing” before I would assume the worst.  But at that moment I was petrified.  Really, really, really scared.   Oatmeal and I both flew out of the bed.   I went straight to the toilet, where more blood spilled out across the bathroom floor and into the toilet.  I frantically dialed our midwife.   She answered on the first ring, and it was decided within less than a minute that we would go to the hospital.  She called the hospital for me to let them know we were on our way, and I called our neighbor.  It was less than five minutes before Oatmeal and I were dressed, I had carried Poppyseed downstairs, and my neighbor met me in the driveway and took her out of my arms and into her house.

As we sped down the highway, I was 100% sure that something was very, very wrong.  I was scared to death.  I kept thinking back to a birth story I read online a few years ago.  The mother woke up in a pool of fluid and thought her water had broken, but it was blood.  She barely made it to the ER in time for an emergency cesarean and the gist of it was that she had undetected placenta previa.  Her placenta had ruptured and the baby was in definite distress.  She is lucky, and her baby is lucky, to be alive.  She was also planning a home birth at the time, and the previa had gone undetected because she had declined any ultrasounds.  I just shook my head as we drove down the highway, thinking to myself that I had three ultrasounds in my second and third trimester that detected a very low placenta.  But at 34 weeks, one last ultrasound had shown that it had moved to 8cm away from the cervix, putting it in the “safe zone.”  I feel very guilty for this now, but to be honest, I was thinking that the sonographer must have been wrong when she told me it had moved.  “I’ve probably had previa this whole time and it has ruptured, and my baby has been without oxygen and nutrients for hours and now I’m going to lose my baby.”  This was what ran through my very, very frantic head as we pulled into the ER parking lot.  The only reason I didn’t completely lose it was that I felt three very distinct kicks on the way there.  That made me calm down, because I knew that Middle was strong enough to kick.

I was admitted really quickly, which I was beyond grateful for.  I don’t remember the several faces that got me situated in Labor & Delivery, but I remember everyone was so supportive.  The first thing they did was put a monitor on my belly and turn on the sound of that heartbeat.  My own heart just about burst with relief, I was so grateful to hear that it was strong.  One nurse reached for my wrist and started to put a needle in, and I asked her what she was going to give me.  She replied, “I know you are planning a birth with a midwife and you want everything to be all natural, but this is in case you need a c-section.”  I shook my head and said something like, “I was just asking because I’m really overwhelmed and scared.  If you tell me that I need something or that my baby needs something, don’t worry, we will do it.”

I saw a couple of resident doctors, and there was a physical exam as well two ultrasounds.   I wasn’t dilated much (just 1cm), they couldn’t feel or see a source of blood, I was no longer bleeding, and the ultrasound showed nothing more than a healthy baby and healthy placenta.  I was repeatedly asked how much blood I saw, which was difficult to describe for some reason.  Finally I pulled out my iPhone and showed the resident doctor a picture that I had snapped of my bed right before we rushed out to the car.   She took a look, raised her eyebrows and said, “Okay so when anyone asks you how much blood you saw, you should tell them it was much more blood than a period, and that if you had been wearing a maxi pad you’d have soaked it several times.”  Okay, got it.

Long story short, I spent about 5 hours at the hospital.  I was hooked up to a fetal heart monitor the entire time, and it was concluded that I was healthy, Middle was healthy, and my placenta was healthy.  We never figured out where all of that blood came from, but Toni wondered if it could have been a ruptured varicose vein since I have had so many discomforts “down there.”  It could be that she’s right, but I’ve accepted that we will probably never know and am just thankful to be back at home!  At around 9am, Oatmeal felt like things were calmed down enough for him to leave and go pick up Poppyseed from our neighbor, Misti’s house.  He spent the rest of the morning at home with her while I stuck around in the hospital for some monitoring.

After several hours of sitting on the fetal heart monitor, the doctor who had been on call that morning came back into my room to check on me.  The conversation that followed surprised me.

Doctor: “What is your preference going forward?  You’re contracting every 3-7 minutes, so you may go into real labor very soon.  Would you like to go home so that you can continue with your plans to use a midwife and have a home birth, or would you like to have your baby here?”

Me: “Well I’ll be honest, when I originally decided on a home birth, it was based on my experience with my first baby.  I gave birth to her here and it was a completely uncomplicated, natural delivery.  So I planned to have a home birth as long as this pregnancy was the same.  But if you see any red flags at all – or heck, if you even see a yellow or an orange flag – then I will change my plans right now and have a hospital birth.  My midwife could just come and support me as a doula if that’s what I decided to do.  I don’t want to give the impression that I’m so dead set on a home birth that I’ll ignore a potential problem.  I want everyone to be safe.  So tell me and please be very honest, do you see any reason why it would be unsafe for me to just go home and continue as I had originally planned?” 

Doctor: “Lola, as you were talking to me just now, you shifted in the bed.  And when you shifted, I saw on the monitor that your baby shifted inside of your uterus.  That’s exactly what your baby should be doing.  You look healthy.  Your baby looks healthy.  I would say that you can safely proceed with a home birth, unless of course you have more unexplained bleeding.  If that happens then please come back.

I have to admit, I was pretty surprised to get that response!  And to top it all off, another doctor came in to discharge me a few hours later (with a team full of residents and students, Grey’s Anatomy style) and we basically had the exact same conversation.   He also said that unless I had any more bleeding, he saw no reason why I would be taking a risk by going home.

Definitely didn’t see that coming, but I’ll take it!  The world is crunchin’ up, people, and I like it!

Sitting in the hospital alone, really wishing I could wash my face or brush my teeth.

Sitting in the hospital alone, really wishing I could wash my face or brush my teeth.

I spent the next hour or so relaxing in the hospital bed and feeling so thankful and relieved to hear that sweet heartbeat.  It took forever for my discharge orders to be ready, so the nurse gave me an IV of water while I waited.  That bag full of water made me feel like a new woman, and the Braxton Hicks contractions stopped completely.  (This was a really good personal reminder to drink a lot of water when I got home.)

I was home by lunch time.  I haven’t had any more bleeding.   I spent the rest of the day napping when Poppyseed napped and then watching movies in bed with her.  I slept better that night and last night than I have in weeks, so honestly I’m feeling really great!  Or, well as great as a 39+ week prego with a LOT of pressure down there can feel.   I had a regular prenatal appointment at the birth center yesterday, and it went well.  Toni and I rehashed all that happened the day before and feel good moving forward.  It was a very, very scary morning, but I feel good again now that some time has passed.  Overall the only downside is that my mailbox will probably have some very hefty medical bills in a few weeks, and as it turns out, my waterproof mattress pad was not waterproof at all.  Our mattress is never going to be the same, but eh.  I’ll just tell our future housekeepers that Oatmeal is my second husband and let them wonder.  😉

I should also mention that my neighbor, Misti, was WONDERFUL throughout all of this.  Not only did she meet me in my garage at 6:30am and take my child so that we didn’t have to take her to the hospital, but she fed her breakfast, loved on her and even went back to my house to clean up the horror scene that was my bedroom.  She stripped my sheets, bleached them (a couple of times), wiped down my bathroom floors and spot cleaned my carpet.  Oh, and she brought us a paleo dinner that night, too.  I mean COME ON.  How can I ever repay her for that!?

I still predict that I’ll be pregnant for another week or so.   I just plan to sit tight and see just how long Middle will wait to make his or her debut!

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  1. Best neighbor ever! So glad everything is okay….that must have been really scary for you guys. Can’t wait to hear about the homebirth!

  2. Thank you, and you aren’t kidding! She is the best!

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