(Part 1 of 3)
I was 10 ½ weeks along when the bleeding started. I was at my son's chess tournament and couldn't do anything about it at the time. Part of me wanted to rush to Instacare and ask them to schedule an ultrasound to check what was going on. It was a Saturday, of course, so the regular doctor's offices were closed for the weekend. I had promised myself I wouldn't see an obstetrician at all this pregnancy, and I really didn't want to deal with that. However, I knew the extent of my midwife's resources, and ultrasound for me at 10 ½ weeks was not going to be an option with her. I tried to push it all out of my mind and focus on my son's tournament and the rest of the kids while we waited the next few hours until we could go home.
By the time I got home I'd had some time to mull things over, and I no longer felt a need to rush off for an ultrasound, but I didn't know what to do. I decided to wait and see how I would feel and what would happen. The bleeding continued, and I was positive I was miscarrying. I was accepting it because I didn't want the emotional roller coaster of allowing myself to hope. I also felt a strange sense of peace when I accepted the possibility of another miscarriage. I called my midwife and told her what was happening. She tried to encourage me by reminding me that many women bleed during pregnancy and go on to have healthy full term babies. I couldn't believe I would be that lucky. After all, I'd just experienced a miscarriage less than four months earlier and apparently my body didn't want to carry another pregnancy to term anymore. At least that's how it felt. I felt broken.
My midwife's advice was to rest. Yeah, right. I sarcastically wondered if she'd be willing to come take care of my house and family so I could get the rest she was suggesting. I cried softly as she spoke, slowly breaking down as she tried to give me advice and encouragement. She admitted to me that she'd never experienced a miscarriage herself, and I thought it was clear in the way she spoke of it that she hadn't. The empathy I wanted wasn't there. There was no depth of understanding, only superficial knowledge. While I loved her and cherished her wonderful midwifery gifts, I realized I needed more support than what she was giving.
After getting off the phone I cried more. Gradually I pulled myself together enough to tend to my kids. Cereal for dinner. Whatever worked. I was in no condition to be cooking. The house was a mess and I felt helpless to do anything about it. My body was aching and bleeding, and my spirit was crushed.
Later that evening I reached out to some friends. I called a friend who'd had a miscarriage just a month earlier, and we consoled each other. I also called one of my midwife's apprentices who had shown up just after Liam's birth and had done his newborn checkups and helped clean up (another story for another time). I knew she'd had trouble conceiving and that she was a fountain of knowledge. I told her the situation and asked for some advice and support. It turned out she'd had two miscarriages herself and completely understood what I was feeling and experiencing. Her expressions were so heartfelt, and it was what I needed to hear. Not the words, the feelings behind them.
The next day the bleeding continued, no less and no more. It was bright red with tiny clots in it. It wasn't like a period, and it didn't smell like a period. This may be strange to share, but the smell was closer to what postpartum bleeding smells like. I thought to myself that this must be fetal tissue because of the color and smell, but I really didn't know for sure.
I thought about my options all day long. My midwife had offered to check for a heart rate with the doppler on Monday, and I was unsure whether I wanted to do that. If we could check and get a heart beat right away it would be wonderful, but if for some reason she was unable to find the hear rate I knew I would be a mess, and would want an ultrasound immediately to double check. It seemed to make sense to skip right to the ultrasound, but in order to do that I would need to schedule it with a doctor's office or hospital. I didn't know which clinic I should call if I did want an ultrasound, and I wasn't even sure I wanted one to begin with.
Another option would be to get quantitative blood tests over the course of a few days to check my hormone levels and see if they were increasing or decreasing. Once again, this involved going to a clinic and seeing a doctor, and more waiting than would be necessary with an ultrasound.
There was also the option of simply waiting. I did that with my last miscarriage, and it was torturous. Weeks of wondering and waiting, but that was mainly because it was too early to even check with the doppler, and a conclusive ultrasound was questionable. No, in this case it was far enough along in the pregnancy that I had the options of doppler and ultrasound at my disposal if I so desired.
I was an emotional wreck the entire day. It was just like the violent mood swings I'd had with my previous miscarriage, and it was a nightmare. There were also various times during the day when I lost my breath and had to stop and sit for a minute and just breathe. I didn't feel like I'd lost very much blood, but I felt drained and devoid of energy. The mess in the house continued to grow, and I did what I could with the energy and motivation I had, which wasn't much. Dinner was sandwiches.