Labor day weekend 2007 was one of those perfect weekends. Mike and I went to a college football game, had breakfast with a great friend who was visiting from New York City, celebrated another friend’s birthday, and I did a lot of shopping for clothes to accommodate my expanding belly. While Mike and I got ready for bed that Monday night, we talked about how we wished we could do the weekend again. He reminded me that I had a fun week ahead – I was going to San Francisco the following weekend to visit my Bay Area friends, but before that, we were going to find out the sex of our baby. Still, I was filled with the laziness and dread that comes after a long weekend. I climbed into bed and whined, “I don’t want to go to work tomorrow!” To quote the musical genius of the Pussy Cat Dolls, be careful what you wish for ’cause you just might get it.
That night, I woke up on top of the covers. Los Angeles was in the middle of a serious heat wave, even by late summer standards. I was covered in sweat from head to toe, and the baby was pushing on my bladder. I stumbled to the bathroom without my glasses, hoping to stay in that semi-conscious state that would allow me to fall back to sleep easily. I used the toilet, and when I reached to pull my shorts up I noticed that my legs looked like they were streaked in mud. As I moved my leg closer, I caught a glimpse of my underwear, and it also looked muddy. This is when my mind woke me up fully. I looked in the toilet and it was full of dark, reddish-brown water. I then realized that I hadn’t been sweating in bed – I was laying in a pool of blood. I called to my sleeping husband, “Mike? I think I’m bleeding.”
He ran into the bathroom and confirmed that my legs, underwear, and the toilet were bloody. He went to page the doctor, and I stood to clean up….and blood gushed out of me. “Oh my gosh!!” I shouted, “I’m bleeding everywhere!!!” Mike left the doctor a very frantic message, and then we quickly got dressed to go to the hospital. We were pulling out of the garage when my sleepy doctor called my cell phone. I explained what was happening and she asked, “How many weeks are you again?” “Nineteen” I said. “Well…at this point either one of your blood clots disintegrated, or you’re having a miscarriage. If you’re not in pain or if the bleeding doesn’t get worse, stay at home and come to my office at eight.” It was 1:30 am.
The rest of the morning, neither of us slept. Mike went to the grocery store twice. The first time I said, “Get me any kind of pad except panty liners!” But unfortunately, all he heard was “Panty Liners!” Every time I moved, more bloody liquid would pour out of me. I was soaking an overnight pad with every gush. Mike and I were freaking out…except, the baby was still moving. I could feel kicks and stretches and wiggles. I laid on the couch with a stack of towels under me, thinking about how I’d whined about not going to work. Little did I know I wouldn’t go to work again for over three months.
When my OB saw me that morning, she seemed stunned to discover an alive baby in my belly. She did a thorough ultrasound, and was happy to report that (at that time) everything looked fine. She couldn’t pinpoint if my membranes had ruptured, and the amniotic fluid around the baby was at a normal level. The baby’s head had descended into my pelvis as if it was a week before my due date instead of more than twenty weeks away. The descended head was acting like a stopper in a drain. My OB told me to stay off my feet until I saw my specialist at the end of the week. The specialist, unfortunately, had much worse news.
It isn’t lost on me that the hardest part of my pregnancy began on Labor Day. The ten weeks on bed rest was the longest, most torturous two and a half months of my life. We could never relax, and the news about the baby got worse and worse – there was almost no amniotic fluid, her heart was enlarged, there was a strong possibility she had Down Syndrome, her lungs looked tapered, we were told to terminate the pregnancy. The only good news we ever got was when the baby would kick – and, when I reached 26 weeks, we found out the baby was a girl, our Madeline. I never went into labor, but those ten weeks after Labor Day were more taxing than 24 hours of back labor.
It’s been a year, and even though I’m not pregnant, I don’t think I’ll sleep well tonight.