Thursday, March 8, 2018

My Scary Pregnancy Stuff - Part 2

[EDIT: Be warned this post discusses a lot of blood.]

So, at 6 weeks I at least knew that I was cleared of an ectopic pregnancy. Thank goodness.

Then, as things progressed, I had all the awful physical side effects as listed in one of my previous posts. But the good ol' scary question marks have reared their ugly heads twice more now. instance number one is as follows:

When I went in for the anatomy scan at 21 weeks, they found I had a Grade 3 placenta previa. That means the placenta is being a dick and is sitting at the opening of the cervix. While your eyes just glazed over there, I can sum that up to mean that if blood vessels rip there and/or shit doesn't move out of the way on its own, I'm in big trouble. You can hemorrhage out and in extreme cases, Mom can die within 10 minutes from blood loss. Things get pretty grave for baby, too. Your body still keeps pumping blood to the placenta to help the baby, but it's essentially like a garden hose just spraying out of control with the tap turned to full blast.

If they know you have it, but you don't go into early labour, your doc will book a planned C-section so no one dies and bleeds out. If you go into early labour, or you have placental abruption, shit goes bad fast and an emergency C-section is necessary to save mom's life.

I discovered that there were risk factors that increased my chances of having placenta previa. They include: 
  • Being old as fuck while pregnant (that's me, so yep, check)
  • Having had a baby already (here's lookin' at you Baby D, check)
  • Previously having a D&C (had that 12 days after delivering Baby D, check)
  • Previous scarring in the uterus (likely from infection after Baby D, check)
  • Late implantation of the fertilized egg (seems that way based on dates, so check)
  • Cocaine use (wait. No. Goddamnit I never have any fun.)

And while it often CAN self-correct, and you assume that description is a worst case scenario that likely never happens, I can tell you that I sat with my sister's legs elevated on my shoulders as she bled out on her bedroom floor in this exact scenario while pregnant with her second child. It was utterly fucking terrifying. And there was nothing we could do for her but hope the ambulance would arrive soon and somehow fix things. 

I remember chatting with my 2 year old niece at the time, pretending EVERYTHING WAS NORMAL and okey dokey so she wouldn't feel scared, while her Dad was on the phone with 911 running all over the house trying to find my sister's health card. It was surreal as my sister went in and out of consciousness. It felt like everything was moving in slow motion. I felt terrible that I was acting so nonchalant with my sister essentially dying on the floor behind me. I was just so determined not to let my niece see how dire the situation was. 

I eventually took her out to the backyard to play on the swings before the EMT technicians came in, until her Mommy was in the ambulance. We stayed out until it was dark. I vividly remember the ambulance lights flashing in the night sky from the driveway out front. I had to wait until they pulled away to go back into the house. And my God, all the blood. It was everywhere. The bedroom, the hallway and all down the stairs. And they would have taken her out by stretcher... so, WTF.

I don't remember putting my niece to bed, but I did, then I began sopping up the blood in a kind of numb state. We didn't all have cell phones then. I couldn't text or call anywhere for an update. I remember her neighbour came over and asked what was going on, as she proceeded to tell me it was God's will, blah blah blah as I wiped up pool after pool of blood. My sister was only 34 weeks pregnant so it was not a good situation.

They survived. She needed a blood transfusion. Her baby had to go to a specialized hospital. They were both so very close to dying. We later met up with the EMT to attended to her that night and heard even more horrifying details of what happened and just how close we were to losing her.

So as soon as I heard that I had previa, I have been on edge and afraid. In BC, where I live, they don't even consider it an issue until a scan confirms it is still present at 32 weeks - OR - you have bleeding (or a "sentinel" bleed which is like a warning that shit isn't quite right) at some point before that. Relatives (who are doctors) in another province were aghast that I wasn't being followed before that with regular ultrasounds with an obstetrician and that I wasn't put on pelvic rest, either. (No exercise, heavy lifting, sexy time, etc).

Apparently, as the uterus stretches and grows as you get farther along, the placenta can eventually move up and not be in the way. It's clinically insignificant what it's doing before 32 weeks, because the body won't have enough room for it to self-correct before then. So extra ultrasounds may show things improving a bit, or may not, but it doesn't really matter until further down the line. Makes sense, but it definitely not comforting to say the least.

I can tell you that it is a loooooong wait between 21 and 32 weeks. I still have almost three weeks until this scan. Until then, I can't fly, can't be too far from the hospital, can't do road trips, all that, in case I start to bleed. I continued doing spin classes, being careful not to slam my junk down hard on the seat or anything (since my midwives said to keep exercising as normal).

My body totally gave up on exercise just after 24 weeks. The anemia, sciatica and hip/butt pain have made it totally impossible. In the last four days just walking 20 feet I have almost passed out three times. No joke.

That can be attributed to my anemia. My levels are brutal. I am supposed to be getting an IV iron infusion very soon. It also carries risks, and can result in anaphylactic shock or severe allergic reaction. It's scary, I'm scared, but my levels are dropping too fast and my body is not tolerating the oral pills or liquids. Further that, if I DO get a sentinel bleed, or have previa that doesn't resolve, the already low blood and iron levels can mean an even more dangerous situation for me. So, fingers crossed that my body accepts the iron IV with little to no side effects, and I can carry on with this pregnancy hopefully better off and not scared to move, walk or drive.

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  1. I'm still here, but I'm a guy. Even regular happy easy pregnancies have info in them that is tough reading. This is over the top, though I understand where you're coming from and why you feel the urge to write. Sorry about being squicked. Hope you come out of it ok. Beats me how our race survived.

    1. Hope I haven't lost you as a reader forever. I put a squeakiness warning at the top of the post now. It's been tough, man. This is what has been going through my head but sorry it was so revolting.

  2. There are no words. Hopefully, things will begin to improve soon. Please take care of yourself. This is one of those times you have to put your own well being over that of anyone else around you, so that you can be there for them when they need to do the same. Don't be afraid to ask for/demand help.

    1. Thank you Unknown. The Hubs has been as helpful as he can be, and my daughter has really impressed me with understanding just how lame and limited I am right now. There's just so little I can do to help the situation.

  3. Nope, you haven't lost me forever. You don't get off that easy.

    1. Awe, that's a relief. You're a sucker for punishment it would seem, but I'm glad you're sticking around!

  4. Oh my goodness! Ok I get totally squeamish and found this a little hard to read, but HOLY SCARY!!!

    Hang in there lady - sending good vibes your way!

    1. Thanks Gia. I have to believe it will be all ok or else it's too scary.

  5. You, woman, are a hero. I hope someday your beautiful babies realize the sacrifices you made to bring them into this world and worship you like you deserve. Here's to your health and happiness.

    1. No, I am a first class whiny wuss, but thank you for the kind words!!
      I just want to live to see his birthday. And more of hers. And other stuff. Aaaaahhhh...

      I hope you are well!!


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