The night of March 7, 2016 I went to bed normally like any other night. Had a little difficulty falling asleep and woke up around 3:15am to use the bathroom, which had become my pregnancy norm. I rolled out of bed, stood up and placed my hand on my baby bump, which I started doing because sudden movements were sometimes uncomfortable, and began walking to my bedroom door to exit to the bathroom. Before I got to the door, I could feel this sudden gushing of liquid coming out of me. Thinking I was wetting myself from holding it in too long, I tried to clench my muscles and do the “pee walk” as I finished the three foot walk to the bathroom door walking like a speed walker.
When I got into the bathroom and pulled my night shorts down, I thought I would see my panties and the pad I had on (I wore one at all times because of the constant spotting) with bright yellow from urine. Instead, it was colorless, but the pad was completely soaked through, as were my panties and shorts. Completely confused from the time of night it was, but also thinking maybe I drank a lot of water before bed diluting my urine, I changed my clothes, put on a new pad, and went back to bed wondering what the hell that was…
Almost exactly two hours later I woke up having to go to the bathroom again. As I got to the bedroom door, again, the same thing happened with the feeling of liquid rushing out of me and not being able to stop it, although not quite as much as the first time. Again, when I pulled my shorts down and sat down hoping against all hope to see yellow urine, I wasn’t surprised to see nothing but colorless liquid all over my clothes.
Fearing the worst, I called my doctors office that morning and explained what happened throughout the night, and the asked me to come in for appointment. My husband and Mom went with me because I was too distraught and had a feeling that I knew what happened: I was afraid my water broke. At the doctors office, my doctor performed an internal litmus test of sorts to see if the liquid was amniotic fluid, stood up and confirmed that it was in fact amniotic fluid. He then pulled out his hand-held Doppler and listened for a heartbeat. There is nothing like the false hope of still hearing your baby’s heartbeat after your water broke so early. But there it was, swishing away as it had done every other appointment.
My doctor then sent me to the hospital they are affiliated with, that I also would have delivered at, to have an ultrasound performed by a perinatologist. First, a tech performed the ultrasound, and we (me, my husband, and Mom) could see the baby moving and the heart beating away. But I could tell right away something was wrong. You know how typically you can see black surrounding a baby in the ultrasound, which is the fluid? Nope, I could see there was hardly any fluid surrounding my baby, and my worst fear was confirmed before it was even told to us. After a few minutes, the tech said she was going to show the doctor the images and then the doctor would come talk to us. The doctor came in several minutes later and sat down at the machine. He began performing an ultrasound and explained how babies need a complete sack full of amniotic fluid for organ development and to prohibit infections. He said it appeared my water had broke and there was hardly any fluid left; he stated that even if the baby were to survive without the fluid until the 24 weeks mark, when a baby has greater chances of surviving outside of the womb, the baby’s lungs would be severely underdeveloped and would not have a great chance of survival from the point the water broke until delivery. He then stated I had three options: First, to go home and wait for nature to take its course with a managed miscarriage, but warned against this because often it leads to infections and I would have to continuously monitor my temperature and have a low threshold for uncomfortableness before getting to a hospital. Second, to be admitted to the hospital and have labor induced, but he thought this was also not the best option because oftentimes at this stage of a pregnancy, the placenta can be stubborn and it could be very painful and difficult to deliver. Third option was a procedure called a D&E, dialation and evacuation, which is similar to the more known D&C, but a D&E is performed after the first trimester and is used for “late miscarriages”, which is what I would be classified. Understanding that my baby would never be born, and I would never make it to the anatomy scan in a few weeks or do the gender reveal to our families that my husband and I had kicked around the idea of, I asked the perinatologist if he could tell me the gender of the baby. He looked around for a while, and had a difficult time because of the lack of fluid and the baby pulling it’s legs tighter to its body, but he finally said that his best guess was a girl. I was shocked because my entire pregnancy I thought the baby was a boy, except for that brief moment in the emergency room. When he left the room, the last image of the baby was still on the screen, and it showed the baby was undoubtedly a girl. No questions about it. I’m still surprised by that, although it doesn’t make her any more important to me than if the baby was a boy.
I was sent home understanding that my only real option was option three, as I didn’t want to chance the type of infection that can occur with a late miscarriage at home, or putting myself through a difficult labor. My doctor called later that afternoon to offer his sympathies and to explain his extensive background in performing ultrasound-guided D&E’s. My procedure was scheduled for two days from then, Thursday, March 10, 2016.
Those days, from Tuesday to Thursday, were so incredibly difficult, knowing I had my baby safely in the womb, yet so unsafe because of not being surrounding by fluid. Finding out I had a daughter that I was carrying, yet I would never be able to brush her hair, or read her a book, talk boys together, watch her graduate or get married or carry babies of her own, but yet was waiting to have this procedure to remove her from my body can only be described as living in hell.
My world stood still that day. But at the same time, Thursday and my D&E seemed to arrive more quickly than I would’ve liked.