Tuesday, February 7 is when it all changed for me. It was a normal night followed by a normal day at work. Dinner with a friend, copious refills of hot water with lemon followed by good conversation, laughs and a hug goodbye. I came home, kissed my husband and settled into my cozies for the latest episode of Bachelor. I had to pee but thought to myself, I’ll just wait. I don’t feel like getting up right now. (As I write this, it’s hard for me to avoid any mode of self-critique, which I’m actively trying to edit out as I let these words / thoughts / moments slip out. Words that I have been delaying, a memory that I don’t want to relive. But, I am…)
And that’s when the bleeding started.
It was a moment of panic, an earth-shattering lifetime of walls closing in me, blood gushing and the paralysis of realizing that these beautiful moments that I had taken for granted, that these beautiful moments were physically leaving me. Had I taken them for granted – these moments? All of this? I screamed for my husband, tried to block the open wound that was waving through me with gentle, forced, desperate wads of toilet paper, unable to speak. Bone-chilling fear running through every single cell. Hadn’t I just felt her move? Hadn’t I just talked with my friend over dinner about how wonderful my pregnancy had been? My husband came in, the soothing and incredibly supportive force that he is – terrified, and yet he never would have revealed it. We called my sister who had been through a miscarriage and it took all of me just to say those words out loud, “I’m bleeding.” I’ll never be able to quite capture the fear, the anxiety, the thought that I might lose my precious little girl at just 18 weeks. 18 weeks. Something in that moment changed me, those steps that we took to leave the house before the hospital. It might have been when my husband locked eyes with me – his soft, patient, loving eyes – warmly held my shoulders and said, “No matter what happens. We will get through this. I love you so much.” I nodded a muted, silent yes. Unable to speak. It might have been moments before where my sister was telling me through the phone, just breathe. BREATHE. This was the last thing my precious baby needed – me going into a panic attack and losing all of my sensibilities; losing it to the physical manifestation of what I just couldn’t bear to wrap my head or heart around.
I’m not sure what it was. But we left, heads up. No crying. No fear. Just get in the car and go.
That journey to the hospital felt like a sad and terrifying eternity, the sluggish seconds and bright lights blurring themselves together as I squinted out the window. Would I be able to see her. Hold her. What would I tell everyone? How would I get through this, how would we get through this. In this forever-streaming river of a 4-lane freeway is where I thought I might actually lose it. Deep breaths. Deep, deep breaths. Deep, intense, desperate breaths – begging for air. Begging for this to all be a dream.
As we pulled up to the ER, I eagerly kept checking to see if there was more blood. It was sparse, dark and I had leveled out to what appeared to be spotting. As I clutched at the check-in desk, an inaudible version of my voice sounded, something weak and vulnerable – a person I didn’t recognize. “Almost 20 weeks, we’re almost 20 weeks. I have been bleeding. Please help me….” Those moments and interactions, sterile as they were, felt almost comfortable though in the methodical way that only frequent trips to Urgent Care and previous ER trips would be. Bright lights. Signature on the dotted line. Take a seat. As we sat and waited, I felt for her movements. Nothing. But. Silence.
To my left, a young man and mother crowded around a wheelchair where a young girl sat getting her blood pressure. I heard ectopic pregnancy come out of her mouth, “previous experiences with them” she said. She was going through this too. How am I here? I’m not her. This isn’t happening.
We checked into our hospital room shortly after, laid there cold. Bright lights again, bleaching their way into the despair and anxiousness that I had been denying, the sobering reality of which had me here – in the Emergency Room at 10:30pm on a Tuesday evening. My mom showed up along with her warm voice, as did the tears that I had been holding back with every fiber of my being. My mom and my tears made it real, either way – she was here and was going to support us. And, how I ached for this to be just support of what would ultimately be fine news. How I ached and pushed away all the things I couldn’t accept. We got blankets and we waited patiently for the doctor. And while we waited, and my husband kept whispering to me. He tried to cheer me up with the spoiler alert from the Bachelor. I laughed. And then in the uncomfortable silence that followed, I prayed.
Here is the prayer I put in my phone at 12:56am on February 8, 2017.
It’s very rary that I pray. Please don’t leave me baby girl. I pray for health, strong and consistent heartbeats, attachment until week 40 to the moment where you take your first gaping breath into this bright beautiful world that we will turn upside down for you if needed. Can you feel my heartbeat like I can feel yours? Can you feel how much I love you and will care for you? Your dad and I love you, please don’t go. Don’t leave. I’m scared, but I saw your heart pulse. Little flutters and patters and squirms. Like you know we were watching. I love you so much, even though I don’t know your name yet. You’re mine, you’re ours. Through and through. I’ll nurture you and love you forever. Stay with me, please, forever.
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
From that moment on, we had a series of good news. Audible heartbeats, visual movements. It wasn’t obvious what was causing the bleeding, but through an anatomy scan I had shortly thereafter that week and after another bout of bleeding and what appeared to be incredibly terrifying clots that followed, we discovered that I have partial placenta previa. My placenta is approximately 3mm away from my cervix – or the width of two pennies. And, as a result, everything normal that we had planned throughout the next few weeks has had to, unfortunately, hit the pause button. 5 flights, 1 babymoon, 1 sister/mom trip, 1 hotel room and 2 Broadway show ticket cancellations later, I’m officially on near bed rest. I’m working, but I’m not able to do any of the things that I envisioned myself doing throughout this pregnancy. No yoga, no walking the dog, no walks on the beach. No travel, no babymoon. No long awaited Hamilton (I bought those tickets almost one year ago).
And, while there is a small part of me that grieves that this pregnancy isn’t “normal”, my heart is unbearably happy and grateful that this happened – a reminder that I will always be a mom first, and the normalcy that we so often ache for will ultimately take a back seat for this little life we’re bringing into the world. Nothing is ever ideal. Life will never, ever be what we plan for. But our souls will adapt. Our agile hearts will grow stronger and our minds will help us navigate the next best step. That’s all we can do. Take this crazy wild adventure one step at a time.
I’m doing acupuncture twice a week now, have completely changed my diet to remove dairy and anything hard to digest – like cold raw vegetables (I heat them up slightly instead). Organic bone broth has become my drink of choice along with more water than I can imagine, along with listening to my body when I really need to pee.
I still won’t know what cause my bouts of bleeding. Or why my placenta started growing in the place that it did. As I sit here writing in San Diego, while I was supposed to be in New York, I can’t help but think of the wonderful things that I’ve discovered about my husband, my family – and most of all myself.
Where there is sadness, there is compassion. Where there is fear, there is support and wisdom. Where there is anxiety, there are hugs and the power of this magical thing called our breath. And where there are hard decisions, there is an undeniable intuition that I’ve only recently started to discover. One that guides me, relaxes me. Let’s me know that everything is going to be ok. While I have no doubt that there will always be this undercurrent of fear every time I look down, I take comfort in knowing that my mind and body are connected and that I can guide myself towards solitude, peace, and a lightness as I broach these next 20 weeks. I’m halfway there and feeling stronger by the day. Mentally, physically – and those little kicks as reminders sure are helping.
Ladies out there with previa, I know how terrifying your experience can be. Just know that I’m with you, in solidarity, and hoping that your cases (like mine) will resolve themselves naturally – just like our bodies know they should.