It’s six days since the bleeding. It’s only now I can bring myself to write about it.
I had driven into Dublin city centre to pick up my husband who arrived up from our home town. He would be flying out to the Middle East the next morning. While he tended to some business on one of the busiest streets, I popped into my favourite book shop for some brief indulgence in book browsing. We had decided to go for lunch in a cafe up the street, it would be a lovely treat together before he flew out, I was feeling great.
I have a vague recollection that I was absent-mindedly gazing at the Travel section when I felt them. Period cramps.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say they were period cramps I said to myself. But ha ha! They’re not. I had just spoken to my IVF nurse the day before about some aches in my lower back and left side. Very common she said. Don’t worry. So when I was standing at the Travel Section, and felt a wetness between my legs, I said to myself, that’s the pessary, and climbed up to the stationery section to peruse a few moleskins.
After a while, I sauntered up to the cafe, met my husband, ordered lunch and popped to the loo to change the pantyliner. Went in, pulled down my pants and F***. Bright red blood filled the liner. Jesus. It’s started. Another miscarriage. It’s OK, it’s OK I kept telling myself. It’s just like another period. It’s not OK. It’s not OK.
I don’t recall stumbling back down the stairs and through the crowded cafe to where my husband was seated. “I ordered you lunch!” he smiled across at me as I sat down. “I’m bleeding. I need to get to hospital” I choked. The colour drained from his face.
This is it. It’s f**king over, at six weeks. Six lousy weeks I got this time. Even less than last time.
We decided to go ahead and wait for our food – could be hours in ER – and I tried to stay calm. I really did.
But on my right, two women hugged and congratulated each other, celebrating some good news.
On my left, a middle-aged couple giddly compared bargains, delighted to be up in ‘the Big Smoke’ for the day.
The chatter grew louder in my ears, the tears started to fill my eyes and I couldn’t answer my husband’s concerned questions. The words were stuck in my throat. A wail of despair was in front of them, waiting to explode in my mouth.
The waiter came and brought us more water. I couldn’t look him in the eye. He must have noticed the change in our demeanour since we came in. He began darting worried glances at our table. I blew my nose. He probably thought we were breaking up.
I still couldn’t talk so I gave my husband my mobile to call our clinic, which was the other side of the country. While he was gone, I struggled to compose myself, prayed the waiter would not come over while I was on my own and I’d have to look him in the eye.
Goddammit why do these things always have to happen in public?
My husband returned and the clinic said they’d call me back. About ten minutes later they did. There I stood, on the side of the street, crying into my mobile to a nurse as people strolled past. Go straight to hospital she said. You need an early pregnancy scan. I rang the National Maternity hospital and they told me to come straight in.
It took about an hour – I have no recollection of time – before a doctor finally saw us in Holles St (the National Maternity hospital). By this time, I had filled another pantyliner with red blood and this time, there was a clot the size of a euro coin. Damn again.
The lovely young female doctor, who looked about 20, examined me and scanned my abdomen with a cranky old scanner. She couldn’t see anything. Here we go, more empty scans. I knew I needed a proper transvaginal ultrasound scan. Can’t you do it now? ‘I’m sorry, they close at 4’ (we were there since before 2).
She didn’t know what could have caused the bleeding, but said miscarriage was one of the possibilties. She took a blood test for hCG and told me to return on Sunday for another one, and told me to come in on Monday for the proper scan.
We drove home in silence. I burst into tears. My husband nearly crashed into another car.
I went straight home to bed and started mourning another loss. I was afraid to move. The bleeding stopped. My husband flew out on Saturday morning and I had more brown spotting but no red bleeding overnight. I had a few drops of bright red blood on Saturday evening. Nothing Saturday night and nothing Sunday morning.
In I went to the hospital again for my second hCG test at midday on Sunday. We’ve a change of plan for you said a nurse. This immediately got me worried. A lovely midwife sat me down in a scan cubicle and I braced myself for the worst. My youngest sister was out in the waiting room. I had a shoulder to cry on.
Your hCG on Friday was 22,000 she said. You can see something at 1,000 so we’ll definitely see something at 22,000 she smiled. It’s a good job I was already lying down. This time last year, my hCG struggled to reach 1,000 at 9 weeks. Now I was 22,000 at 6 weeks.
She did an abdominal scan first and found a sac. Thank you Jesus, there is a sac. Next an internal scan. I was still in shock when the nurse pointed to a little bean with a pulsating flickering centre. You see that flickering? That’s your baby’s heartbeat.
Flicker flicker flicker.
After so many empty screens, after over three years of TTC, three failed IUIs, three failed IVFs, miscarriage, we finally had something to look at on screen.
She took some measurements, said everything looks normal for 6 weeks, 5 days. She said 1 in 5 women bleed during pregnancy. It could be the cervix, they don’t know. But she was so happy with what she saw, she said I didn’t need to have another hCG test taken.
She said she’d put me down for another scan in 2-3 weeks not because she was worried about anything but just to reassure me, given my history and that this was an IVF baby. She gave me a print out of the grey blob and told me to resume normal activities.
I had some light brown spotting Monday morning and again yesterday evening (Wed) which has me worried all over again. Have any of you had similiar experiences of bleeding during pregnancy?
My IVF nurse rang on Monday and gave me a lecture about threatened miscarriage and how important it is to rest, ‘no dashing about!’. She was the opposite to the hospital nurse. ‘I think we’ll still scan you on Sept 3 just to see what’s happened since the bleeding’ she said ominously. In other words, the baby could still die.
I’m now terrified of what I’ll see each time I go to the loo. It’s four days to my next scan. Please God let this baby live. Now that I’ve seen that flicker, I don’t want to let it go.