Sunday, November 8, 2009

Not a great weekend

Note: I live in Australia, so if some of the dates/times seem a bit off in this post, just keep in mind that I'm a day ahead of most readers. Also, I'm sorry in advance that this is such a long one!

At about 6.30pm, I started spotting. It wasn't enough to soak a pad, but it was enough to frighten me. It was brown, which I knew meant it wasn't fresh blood, but since I'd been instructed by my doctor after my last scare to take any spotting seriously, Mr Bibliosaur and I ran to the car and drove to the emergency room. I held it together until I had to talk to the hospital staff, and then I just broke down into tears. I explained the basics - I was nearly 15 weeks pregnant with twins, having some spotting and had miscarried in the past.

The nurse escorted me to a bed and after a while, the doctor showed up - he asked me a few questions about my history, including how long we'd waited after the miscarriage in April to try to conceive again. "One cycle," I replied, "since that's all my doctor said we needed." The ER doctor proceeded to lecture me about how it was necessary to wait at least 3-6 months and we shouldn't have even tried before then; I just stared at him, confused and scared - what did it matter now how long we waited, when I'm already in the second trimester of another pregnancy? And besides, a little math easily showed that although we'd started trying again after a month, it took five cycles for me to actually get pregnant.

Just then a nurse came to tell the doctor that he had a phone call, and he excused himself. Since my room was right next to the nurses' station, we could overhear what was happening, and could clearly see that after he finished his phone call, he picked up the phone again and rang a colleague, asking them how long a woman should wait to get pregnant after a miscarriage. Mr Bibliosaur and I exchanged WTF? glances while listening to the conversation. After a minute or two, the ER doctor hung up and began working on a computer at the nurses' desk - trying to keep things light, Mr Bibliosaur and I joked a bit about him looking up symptoms on you can imagine how startled I was when the doctor eventually returned bearing a printout of this page from regarding how long to wait to conceive after a miscarriage. Seriously?

The doctor's next question was if I'd had a blood group to test if I was rhesus negative for this pregnancy. I said no, but I had for the previous one, which had demonstrated that I had a positive blood type. The ER doctor insisted that we do another test, so my blood was drawn and Mr Bibliosaur and I sat in the room for a couple of hours, waiting for the results. Naturally, it came back showing I had a positive blood type, and the doctor said that the spotting was therefore nothing to worry about as it wasn't from to my body attacking the babies due to conflicting blood types. I just stared at him. He really thought that was the only potential cause of miscarriage? He wasn't going to examine me to see where the blood was coming from, or order an ultrasound to make sure the babies weren't distressed? He said no, these things wouldn't be necessary unless I started spotting again - I hadn't had any further bleeding in the three hours we were at the hospital - and discharged me. (For anyone wondering why I didn't I ask for a different doctor: I live in a small town, and from what I observed from my room next to the nurses' station, there is only one doctor working at a time in the emergency room on any given night.)

Two hours later, I started spotting again. I was beside myself - should I go back to the hospital? What if the doctor sent me home again? The spotting was still brown, not red - was I worrying over nothing? Eventually I decided that I wanted to head back to the hospital, so Mr Bibliosaur and I drove down again. This time, we waited for about half an hour to see a doctor, and during that time there was a shift change, which I felt privately grateful for - perhaps now I'd see someone who wouldn't need to google 'spotting during pregnancy'. Eventually, a new doctor came in and gave me a basic exam, listening to my heartbeat and lungs, and told me they'd like to keep me for observation until the OB arrived the next morning to check me out more thoroughly. An orderly from the regular ward would come down soon to escort me to the room where I would spend the night.

Mr Bibliosaur wanted to stay with me until I was transferred, and we sat in the room holding hands for several hours, with nurses coming in every 20 minutes or so to say that the orderly would be there shortly. When it became clear that the orderly who would arrive "shortly" wasn't going to be making an appearance anytime soon, I sent Mr Bibliosaur home to get some sleep. By that stage, it was in the very early hours of Sunday morning, and I wanted to make sure he'd be able to drive home safely - after all, if I wasn't going to be examined right away, there wasn't any point in his staying at the hospital all night.

I don't know how long I waited in that room. Hours. First I continued to sit in the chair, still hopeful that the orderly would arrive at any minute. When it became clear that wouldn't be happening anytime soon, I miserably crawled up onto the bed in the room and curled up, trying to get some sleep. More time passed, and eventually the orderly did turn up with a wheelchair and took me up to the next floor, where the nurses settled me into a bed. I tried desperately to get some sleep, but I couldn't - the room was stifling, the bed uncomfortable, and I was scared and worried as the spotting continued throughout the night. As the sun rose, I drifted into an uneasy sleep, waking up a short time later when they brought in breakfast. Mr Bibliosaur arrived a little while later, and soon after, the OB entered the room with an ultrasound machine.

"I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to see you," he said. "They didn't call me last night to tell me you were here last night, and only just mentioned it when I came in this morning." Hearing the irritation in his voice made me feel better - I can understand why the hospital staff wanted to keep me in for observation, but I was confused as to why they wouldn't give me an ultrasound first to make sure the babies were doing OK. The OB seemed as annoyed by this as I was, so at least now I knew I wasn't crazy for wondering why they did things in the opposite order.

Before he started the ultrasound, he asked me for a brief history of my pregnancy - I explained about my previous miscarriage, then about coming to the hospital twice the night before. "Wait," he interrupted me in a startled voice, "a doctor sent you home the first time?" I nodded, and he gritted his teeth before asking me for that doctor's name. Clearly someone was going to get a royal asschewing, and I can cheerfully say that I had absolutely no compunction about giving up the first doctor to the OB's wrath. After a couple more minutes, the OB started the ultrasound...

...and there they were. Both twins, healthy and alive, moving and waving. The OB told us that although any spotting can indicate a threatened miscarriage, this looked like a very viable pregnancy, and unless the bleeding increased, he thought things should be OK. I was instructed to take it easy for a day or two, and an hour later, I left the hospital.

Yesterday I only had a small amount of spotting before I left the hospital and then nothing for the rest of the day, and I was hopeful I'd seen the last of it. But this morning, there it was again.

From my online research, it could be something as simple as a broken capillary, or sometimes at this stage in a pregnancy the body will expel some old blood that it no longer needs. But regardless of what's causing it, it's still scary and I have to constantly reassure myself that everything is OK. One of the lasting effects of a miscarriage is that you can never quite feel relaxed about a pregnancy, and since identical twins are an inherently high risk category, it's made me even more prone to worry - so even though I know and understand that this is likely nothing to worry about, I'm terrified that this light brown spotting will suddenly become heavy and red, that I'll lose the babies that I already love so much.

Lying in my hospital bed that night, I couldn't help but think of Legalosaur and wonder how she and her little one are doing - I know that what I experienced this weekend wasn't anywhere near what she has been going through every single day, and I am in awe of her strength. They've come so far and fought so hard...I hope they're OK, that they're hanging in there.


  1. I am so sorry you had and your husband had to go through this and had to deal with the idiots at the hospital. I am glad to hear the babies are doing well. I will say a prayer for you and your family.

  2. What a terrible situation, only made worse by that insensitive ER doc! I'm so sorry for the stress this has caused you. After a miscarriage, I also had scary spotting twice in my first tri, and it was terrifying. Sometimes there is no obvious answer for it, but I think taking it easy is good advice. In fact, I try to do that a lot these days just in case. Sending you lots of positivity and praying that your babies continue to grow strong in there!

  3. Glad to hear the babies are doing well. Sending you lots of sticky baby dust! I have no doubt the little pirates will continue to do well and grow strong.

  4. so glad to hear the babies are doing well. and i have to admit, i breathed a sigh of relief when the OB arrived - then did a little cheer when he asked for the other doctor's name. hang in there!

  5. Mr Bilbosaur here - confirming that it was a rough night. At least we discovered a good OB from all of this though.

  6. Just wanted to make sure they have checked you for a placenta previa. I'd assume they would do this, but then again the doctor did hand you an article from ABOUT.COM! (What's with THAT? Don't they have medical sites to print stuff from? Ugh, I hope you don't have to see him again!)

    I know previas can cause bleeding, so if the bleeding is unexplained you might want to just double check. My daughter had an undiagnosed vasa previa (umbilical cord grew over my cervix). The details are on my blog, but needless to say a lot could have been avoided with a diagnosis.

    Just thought I'd mention it. I'm sure everything is fine, and it sounds like the babies are doing well!