Post-Bleeding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Last Wednesday, at 25 weeks of pregnancy with one surviving twin, I went to the bathroom to find bright-red, fresh blood completely soaking my incontinence pad, leaking onto my underwear and dripping into the toilet bowl beneath me.    

As directed by the doctor on call, my husband drove me immediately to labor-and-delivery.  After the bleeding was deemed non-emergency—meaning not necessitating my son’s way-too-early birth—I was checked into a “permanent room” in the women’s hospital, where I continued to bleed for 1 ½ days. 

Late Sunday morning, Dr. O, one of the members of my high-risk pregnancy team, released me because it had been more than 48 hours since my last bleeding episode.  I am now on bed rest at home, unless my placenta previa kick starts another bleed, upon which I will have to be hospitalized again.

I am thrilled to be home, able to spend my days with my nearly 5-year-old son and my nights with my husband, after he returns from work.  But, I’m not as relaxed as I expected to be.   And, it’s because every time I go the bathroom, which is ridiculously often due to debilitating urinary frequency, I’m afraid I’ll find blood.  And, every time I’ve slept since returning home—one afternoon nap and two nights—I’ve had nightmares that I’m bleeding again.

I was terrified every time I urinated at the hospital too, but I didn’t have nightmares.  Maybe it’s because I felt my baby and I were medically safe in that environment—as safe as we could be, considering I have no control over whether my placenta bleeds or not.

Here at home, I can’t page the nurse.  I can’t have a team of medical professionals assisting me and my baby within minutes.  Well, actually I can, if I call 911, because the local police and fire departments are within three minutes of our house.  Plus, I’m within just 15 minutes of the hospital, and it’s unlikely anything too serious would occur before I made it there.

It’s impossible for me to explain the horror of being pregnant, not pregnant enough to safely deliver, and seeing all that blood.  I don’t think I’ll recover from that initial trauma until long after my baby boy is born, hopefully at full-term. 

I know the daytime fears and the nightmares are normal reactions, and I hope that, as each non-bleeding day passes, I will be freed from some of this anxiety.  Until then, I need to remember that Dr. O said it’s rare for placental bleeding to result in pre-term delivery.  And, even if I bleed again, I can get help within minutes. 

Now I need to give my son a refresher course on dialing 911.

  1. Jenny
    January 21st, 2010 at 00:21
    Reply | Quote | #1

    I had that type of bleeding with my first pregnancy, so I can relate. The cause was different (unknown at the time) and it was terrifying. I cried and cried the first night, convinced I’d lost my baby and unable to get ahold of the doctor (pager problems.) I was put on complete bedrest for 2 weeks and still had episodes. The doctor gave me a 50/50 chance. Of course, it was good, the boy is 13 now. But I felt your terror of going to the bathroom and seeing blood for the whole rest of that pregnancy, and during the next one too. I think with my youngest, I was over it, somewhat. The cause for me was a cervical polyp, once it was removed, the bleeding slowly went away. I hope that you are able to stay at home on bedrest and keep that baby inside as long as possible, until 37 weeks at least!

  2. mk
    January 21st, 2010 at 11:05
    Reply | Quote | #2

    Hi, Jenny:

    Today is the sixth day that I haven’t bled, AND I didn’t have any nightmares last night. Well, I had nightmares, but none related to bleeding.

    I’m happy for every additional day my little guy stays put. Tomorrow I’ll hit the 27-week mark, so three more months to go…


  3. Jenny
    January 22nd, 2010 at 09:14
    Reply | Quote | #3

    That’s good to hear. So near and yet so far. : ) Every day that passes is a huge positive for your baby, and hopefully the previa will move, at least some, so it’s not as risky. Think about 37 weeks, that’s the minimum. My twins were born then, one did have nursing problems, but they roomed in with me at the hospital.

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