I knew the miscarriage was coming because of the pain. The spotting was concerning, but it wasn’t until the dull ache in my uterus became unyielding lower back pain that I finally began to allow myself to think the unthinkable. I was going to loss the baby. Standing in Target with my father and husband I began to come unhinged. The pain combined with the sinking sorrow that had begun to seep through my being left me feeling empty and frightened. I cried, standing helpless looking into their frightened faces.
Leaving my dad and husband in the store to finish the shopping I went out to the car to lay down. I had noticed all week that my lower back would begin to ache a bit if I stood too long, I wrote it off as part of pregnancy, but this was different. I lay on the warm leather of the backseat of the car, curling into myself and the small hope that this was normal… But knowing deep in my soul, that it was not okay.
I spent the rest of the day in the warm afternoon sun in my father’s living room. Laid out on the chaise with my hand on my stomach, I imagined that it all might still be okay. This might still pass and we’d be fine. I thought to the baby, “Please stay with me, I want you more than you know. Please, please stay.” Arching my back and rubbing my stomach to relieve the tension, it gradually eased as the afternoon light faded into early evening. I thought maybe it would be okay.
Saturday morning I woke and used the restroom. After wiping I stopped and stared. The smallest bit of tissue, just the littlest bit of deep reddish brown bloody clot remained on the paper. My heart sank deep inside me to where I almost couldn’t retrieve it to get myself together and leave the bathroom. I called my mother in to assess the color of the blood, to reassure me, though we both knew silently to ourselves this might mean the end. Without acknowledging the inevitable, we decided I should bring an extra set of clothes with me to Napa that day, and some pads “just in case.”
With the distraction of hosting my best friends bachelorette/birthday party all day, I managed to feel all right, even forget that it was possible I wouldn’t make it through the day with my baby. I couldn’t allow myself to sink into fear, I needed to stay positive and calm for the baby and for myself. Too afraid of scaring my husband, I didn’t let on that we might have cause to wait and not continue sharing our happy news. I chauffeured friends through Napa from winery to brunch, to winery again feeling happy and pregnant, and proud to announce to the tasting room hosts “I’m expecting so I won’t be tasting any today, thank you.” It felt honest and true, I still had to believe we’d be fine, this could still pass and we’d have our little one…
By late afternoon we arrived at a very nice sparkling winery, excited to close out the day with more bubbly and girly fun. As we entered the winery grounds we went over a bump and I felt a slight pop… Like something snapped inside, not painful, but a distinct change. After depositing my friends at the wine tasting room I snuck away to the bathroom to check that nothing had changed. It had.
I knew it had begun, I stared at the paper, and the mark that the miscarriage had begun… I stood there, still.
Shutting down slowly and methodically each compartment of my heart and soul so that I would be able to exit the stall, wade through the throngs of jolly tipsy people, and find my friends again upstairs. If my world was going to be crushed to pieces, I was not going to let it ruin my best friend’s special day.
While finishing up at this last winery I snuck away many times to use the restroom. “Pregnant ladies, you know?! Can’t keep us out of the bathroom!” I’d say shakily before stealing away to check that it hadn’t gotten worse. By the time we headed out to the car it seemed stable again, no excessive bleeding, a “safe” color of spotting again, maybe we’d be okay. I had texted my husband to let him know… “I can’t talk now. If I hear your voice I’ll lose it. When I get back we should go to a doctor. It’s time to make sure everything is okay. I’m scared.”
The hour long drive blurred past. I tried to keep up with the casual happy conversation and not let on that my world was ending. My heart breaking. I was shaking inside. Things seemed to start speeding up when we reached the East Bay. The blood getting fresher, and more consistent, I could barely hear what people were saying to me. When I pulled up in front of my Mom’s house I could barely hold anything, I was so numb and afraid.
I saw my 7 month pregnant sister coming to meet me in the street, my husband, my mother. Everyone seemed as nervous as me. The gravity of the situation pressed down on us, we spoke but it seemed silent and dark around us, words couldn’t break through the weight of the air. It seemed the world had gone silent and I was alone even with the people I love the most.
The world moving past slowly, as if I was dreaming, we reached the ER at Alta Bates. My mother checked me in, I could barely hold the pen to write my name. My hands and head didn’t feel connected. We were told there would be a wait. Waiting, for what felt like ages, the pain in my back and uterus would come in waves flowing through me steadily, growing, and then pulling away like a tide. I knew it couldn’t be much longer, but I still hoped. “I want my baby.”
After what must have been another 30-40 minutes (my mom says we were there about an hour) I was called into the triage room where the older male nurse told me to have a seat. After standing up I could feel the blood flow had gotten heavier. Afraid to sit, I perched on the edge of the seat. “Make yourself comfortable, sit back,” the nurse urged, not fully understanding that was no longer an option.
“I’m bleeding, I cannot sit back. I am bleeding. I need something to sit on, I need to use the bathroom,” I pleaded and reasoned with him. He retrieved a blue bed pad from a drawer and offered it to me. Humming “Amazing grace” to himself (or to me, who knows), he entered my information into the computer.
How could he be so nonchalant about this? Couldn’t he tell it was an emergency? Why didn’t he seem to get the urgency? Why won’t he stop fucking humming!?!!??
He drew vials of blood from my hand because my arm veins were too hard to find.
My mother reasoned with him, telling him I needed to use the bathroom, but was afraid I’d lose the baby into the basin. He asked me to get him a pee sample and handed me a little cup. I responded that I couldn’t go without losing the baby. He stated blankly that I could use the bathroom in the waiting room because they didn’t have a room for me yet. We pleaded with him, “you don’t understand, I’m about to lose the baby!” My mother asked him, could we at least have something to catch it in? He gave her a plastic bin and another bed pad and sent me back into the waiting room.
He sent me bleeding and crying, back into the room, now full of strangers, with not an empty seat.
He sent me back out, to lose my baby into a plastic bin in a bathroom attached to a room full of strangers.
He turned me out into what felt like a fishbowl of eyes looking into my heart and watching me break.
I whispered to my mother “I can’t go to the bathroom, I’ll lose the baby,” I whispered to my dad, “I can’t sit down, I can’t stand in the middle of this room,” he suggested we stand just outside the door and let my mom wait for them to again call my name.
As panic began to crest in my mind I stepped out into the cool Bay Area night air and immediately, I felt what I knew had been coming…
“Please, please, let me back, I’m losing the baby,” I pleaded with the lady at the desk. Holding my long dress up to my knees, the blood rushed down my legs and began to fill the heals of my shoes. Sobbing and crying out to her, the lady seemed frozen and unresponsive. They still had no room for me. My sister banged on the door to triage and the humming nurse was there, but would not let us pass.
With no where left to turn, sobbing and bleeding in a room full of strangers, I realized they were not going to help me.
I ran for the bathroom and without even a chance to close the door I hoisted my skirt up and my world fell out, hitting the seat and fell to the floor.
The next minutes are a blur… My mother scooping it into the bin, holding me while I sobbed… my husbands face as he entered and saw it all, our souls laid bare on the floor in a dirty ER bathroom…
It’s funny where your mind goes in a moment like this. I was overly concerned about ruining my dress. Looking back I don’t even want it… But in that moment it seemed to me the only thing I had control of.
The humming nurse returned with a knock and said they had a room for me.
A little too late.
He stood there with a wheel chair with a blue bed pad on it… “Could we at least have a hospital gown to cover her?” My mother, sister and I practically hissed at him. What was I supposed to to do? Bare my ass and thighs streaked with blood to the room full of watching eyes? They had all just seen and heard the lowest moment of my life, with front row seats no less, they didn’t need the full Monty.
The idea seemed surprising to him and he returned with the gown. He at least wheeled me out facing away from the crowd. One small gesture to preserve any dignity I had remaining, after failing many times over.
Wheeling through the triage room, into a hall sparsely populated with hospital staff, I felt the heat of their eyes on me, my shame and sadness mounting and mounting until all I could do was cover my face in my hands and cry.
I rode that way until we entered the room and were finally in private.
The rest of the care that night was kind. The doctor spoke with me and she was nice enough. The new nurse was far more conciliatory and considerate of me and offered me some kind words and delivered the sedative and pain pills ordered by the doctor. The techs were kind and brought me heated blankets when I began to shiver.
With my parents on either side of me and my husband holding my hand, the doctor confirmed that the ultrasound had shown that all “products of conception,” had cleared out on it’s own and I wouldn’t need a D&C.
Time passed, phone calls were made. My mother helped me clean myself. My husband helped me change. My sister gave me water. My father stroked my hair. My heart kept breaking. My baby was gone.