27 Weeks Pregnant: Trip #2 to Labor-and-Delivery

Today, my 13th day of bed rest, I had my doctor’s permission to leave the house.  Unfortunately, it was only to head directly to labor-and-delivery for the second time in the past two weeks.

I was first hospitalized on Wednesday, January 13, when I was 25 weeks into my pregnancy, because of pre-term bleeding resulting from placenta previa.  Dr. O, one of my doctors, released me on Sunday, January 17, 48 hours after my last bleeding episode, directing me to be on full bed rest at home, but to immediately contact my high-risk pregnancy practice if any of the following occurred: 

  1. An increase in baseline frequency of contractions
  2. Greater than 4 contractions per hour, not responsive to 1-2 hours of rest and hydration
  3. New backache
  4. Increased vaginal discharge
  5. Leakage of fluid
  6. Vaginal bleeding
  7. Cramping
  8. Pelvic pressure or feeling of fullness

I have been diligently on bed rest—and, since Friday, January 15, a non-bleeder.  But, this morning, at the tail-end of a visit from my friend Heidi and her son, I went to the bathroom and found “increased vaginal discharge,” #4 on the above list, and, based on its brown color and consistency, I thought part of my placenta had fallen out of me. 

I didn’t come up with this scenario on my own.  I know a woman who had placenta previa, who lost half—yes, half—of her placenta in the same way, resulting in her doctors telling her that her son would be brain-damaged due to the reduced nutrients and oxygen he was receiving from the remaining half.  He turned out just fine; in fact, he’s brilliant, rather than brain-damaged.  But, because of her story, and because of the type of vaginal discharge I discovered, I put two-and-two together and thought the same was possibly happening to me. 

Regardless, “increased vaginal discharge” is “increased vaginal discharge,” so I called my practice, one of the nurses talked to the doctor on call, and I was told to go to labor-and-delivery for monitoring.

I called my friend Heidi, because I’d promised I’d touch base after hearing from the doctor, and she offered to drive me to the hospital.

I packed up my belongings in case I was in for yet-another multi-day hospital stay. 

I packed up my nearly 5-year-old son’s belongings in case he had to spend the night with friends.

I called my son’s preschool teacher to prepare her for his arrival, because he knew I was returning to the hospital and briefly cried, asking how many days I would be gone this time. 

I called my friend Yana and made the arrangements for her to take my son after school and overnight, if I wasn’t released in time. 

And, Heidi and I were off.  

I’d assumed she would just drop me off at the hospital, but she said she was going to stay with me, that our friend Kristy was watching her two kids to free her up.  I warned her, “You might be in for more than you can handle,” but she said she’d be fine.

I checked in at labor-and-delivery, and, as the nurse in my practice had promised, the staff was waiting for me.  Katie, my nurse from my last visit, was my nurse once again.  She brought us up into a room, handed me a hospital gown and a one-foot-high elastic band to wear around my waist, and, after I changed, found my son’s heartbeat with the fetal monitors, which she placed underneath the elastic band, so they’d stay in place.

Heidi was sitting in a chair across from my bed, as Katie said that the doctor would conduct a vaginal examination with a speculum to see if she saw any blood or cervical dilation. 

I looked at Heidi and said, “I don’t think you’re going to want to be sitting there.”  She laughed, agreeing, and moved to the chair next to my bed.

Dr. H, the doctor in my practice who was on call, was in the middle of a C-section, so another labor-and-delivery doctor came in to do my exam. 

Sitting next to me, rather than across from me, Heidi would no longer have the same, unobstructed, well-lit view of my nether region as the doctor, but I still had to be naked from the waist down, providing quite the show.

Heidi reassured me, promising to focus on her iPhone®, so she wouldn’t see anything, which I appreciated, saying, “I have gotten to the point where I don’t care who examines me, but I don’t want my friends to see my vagina.”

The doctor, whose name I can’t remember, said she saw no blood, and my cervix still looks closed.  I’d brought my “increased vaginal discharge” with me in a small plastic baggie, so the doctor could examine it too.  She said it looked like mucus and that it was so discolored—brown instead of clearish—because it has soaked up the leftover blood in my uterus.

She said I was right to call, but that everything is fine, so, after checking with Dr. H, who was finishing up that C-section, she released me back to my life of full bed rest at home.

I was only away from home for an hour and a half. 

When I walked in my door, with Heidi following me with my mini suitcase and briefcase, because I’m not allowed to lift anything, I hugged her tight.  I can’t express how much I appreciate her staying with me. 

After she left, I called my son’s teacher and asked her to tell him that I was fine and already at home.  I called my friend Yana to tell her that she didn’t need to watch my son after all.  I called Fran Howell, executive director of DES Action USA, who’d left a message for me while I was at the hospital. 

And, then I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I was so emotionally and physically drained from those two hours of fear that I dozed on and off for three hours, while my son, when he got home from school, watched TV next to me.

I am so relieved that my baby and I are fine, considering I am only 27 weeks into this pregnancy.  I am so relieved to be back home.  But, it’s going to take me a few days to recover from this…

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