The Scare

On a Friday night in February we were out to dinner with Ryan’s family. We had a great time catching up with each other and the conversation quickly turned to talking about the triplets and flashing forward to the future and what it will be like to have 3 little ones in our lives in less than 9 months. Dinner was delicious and we even all indulged with having some dessert.

Everything seemed fine…

As I stood up to head to the ladies room before heading home, I immediately felt a flowing sensation. As I kept walking I continued to feel the flow, and as I made my way out of the dining room and down the hall I reached down and touched the front of my pants and they felt wet. I looked at my fingers and they had blood on them! My heart started to race and my breaths became short. As soon as I made it into the stall all I saw was blood everywhere – more  than I have ever seen before. I felt like I was on the verge of hyperventilating. Worry and questions consumed my mind – “What is happening, why am I bleeding?” “Am I losing the babies I so desperately longed for so long?” I quickly tried to tell Ryan’s mom before she left the ladies room. While I washed my hands she went to get my coat. I felt numb and in shock at the same time.

When I came out of the ladies room the look on Ryan’s face made me so sad, I could see the worry all over his face. The fun and happy mood of the night was gone – just like that. Ryan’s dad left immediately, he was going straight to our house to pick up our dog, Hope, and take her to their home for the night. Ryan’s mom was coming with us to the hospital and I was so relieved she was coming with us. I felt like we would need her and not want to be going through whatever it was alone. Ryan’s sister and brother-in-law asked us to keep them updated – but in our own time. I sensed that they wanted to be there for us too, and I honestly wanted them there with us too, so I suggested they could come along with us if they wanted to and they were pleased to join us.

Getting to the hospital wasn’t easy that night as this was less than 24 hours after a snow/ice storm. Not only were the side roads awful, the highways were too. They were more like snowy ice ruts and we had to take it slow and steady in a time when we really wanted to hurry. We were just a couple of exits away from the hospital and saw a car a little ways in front of us do a complete 180. Luckily they didn’t hit anyone and they were able to keep driving. In a way, I think the road conditions helped keep our minds off of our situation.

Once we arrived at the hospital they tried to admit me as fast as they could even though all the rooms were booked. They put an order in for an ultrasound right away, but we still had to wait for a little bit. While we waited I had Ryan call my mom. The thought of calling her myself brought me to tears and I didn’t know if I’d be able to speak the words. All I could do was pray.

After waiting for some time a nurse finally called my name, and Ryan and I proceeded to make our way back to a room in the ER. They had me put a gown on and lay down on the bed, then they wheeled me to the ultrasound room. Once we were in the room the ultrasound tech explained that she was going to take some pictures of the uterus and babies, but that she could not tell us what she was seeing. The pictures would then be sent to the radiologist and the radiologist would relay the information to the ER doctor and the doctor would then tell us the information. As I lay there, Ryan sat next to me and held my hand tightly all while the tech took several pictures. My mind and heart raced, I wondered what she was seeing on the screen. I wondered how long it would take before we would know what was wrong. All I could do was pray.

Julie in the ER
Julie in the ER, trying to keep a positive attitude

Finally, the tech spoke. She said, “I’m hopefully going to put your minds a little bit at ease.” With that, she turned the screen for us to see the babies…and there they were…all 3 of them…Baby A, Baby B and Baby C, they were all moving and kicking around. She proceeded to show us each of their little hearts beating – she hovered over Baby A so fast that I missed seeing their heart beating so I asked her to show me again, I needed to see their heart beating. Then she moved on to Baby B and then Baby C. Ryan and I were both crying and feeling a little bit of relief. Seeing each of them made me smile and I almost felt like the babies were like, “Hey what’s the big deal, what are you two so worried about? We’re just in here hanging out.” I didn’t understand, they looked fine, they seem fine…why was I bleeding? The tech continued to take more pictures and take each baby’s heart rate. Their heart rates were good too. We still needed some answers.

After the ultrasound they wheeled me back to my room and we waited for word on the other details from the ultrasound and other tests from my blood and urine. While we waited, we had Ryan’s mom, sister and brother-in-law join us in our room. A little while later the ER doctor came in. He had spoken to the radiologist and a doctor from my clinic. The doctor explained that the ultrasound showed my cervix was “short”. I had never heard that term so I asked the doctor to explain that. He explained that when the cervix is short, it starts to open and when that happens it tends to lead to miscarriage. So, I asked, “miscarriage of one…or two…” The doctor lowered his head and said, “most likely…all three.” After that, I don’t remember if the doctor said anything else or when he left the room. I just remember sitting in the bed and feeling my heart pounding in my chest. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the heads of both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law’s head go down. I knew immediately they were praying.

Ryan came to my side and I started to cry. We held hands and our heads rested on each other’s. While I continued to cry, I began to tell Ryan I was sorry, that it was my fault this was happening. You see, after work that day, I decided to shovel some snow. The snow was really heavy and wet and after about 5 minutes, I decided to call it quits. I thought I was beginning to overdo it. Ryan reassured me it wasn’t my fault and not to blame myself. A few minutes later the doctor came in and saw us. He must have known what I was thinking because he immediately started telling me the exact same thing that Ryan had told me: this was not my fault, I didn’t do anything wrong and not to blame myself. I tried to believe what they were telling me but I still felt responsible.

We waited for the other test results to come back before they could release me and let me go home. After waiting a while longer I was finally released to go home, the blood work and urine results came back fine. They gave me instructions to take it easy over the weekend, they explained that I wasn’t on bed rest, but that when this happens to women their instinct is to put themselves on bed rest (which is what I wanted to do).  They explained to me that if the bleeding got worse or I had terrible pain to return to the ER. I should say, pain was the one thing I didn’t really have. I felt a little achy and on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst pain ever…I was at a 1 or a 2.

We finally arrived home around 2:30 in the morning. It wasn’t easy but I tried to sleep. I spent the rest of the weekend resting and thankfully the bleeding subsided. We were so emotionally drained and physically exhausted from the excitement that we didn’t accomplish anything all weekend long.

I already had a routine appointment scheduled, so a few days later I went to the doctor. The babies were still doing great, they seemed like they had grown since we last saw them just a few short days ago. The ultrasound nurse told us we were probably right, that they grow fast at this stage. As she measured each baby we saw Baby A doing a headstand for us!!

Of course, on the top of our mind was the question of the “short” cervix and what we could do to prevent miscarriage. The nurse looked in the ultrasound and took some measurements. “No, your cervix is long, not short and it is closed.” This was a bit baffling to us. She continued to explain that the muscles can contract, so stress or other tension might cause it to shorten, perhaps, but in the ultrasound things were looking good so far. Their assumption was that the bleeding was caused by a subchorionic hematoma (bleeding in the outermost membranes around the babies). Our research would later indicate bleeding like this happens in the first trimester of 20% of all pregnancies.

At the following appointment I met with a doctor and I was still concerned about my cervix and the bleeding episode. I asked more about the bleeding, and the doctor admitted the ER diagnosis was a mistake and that my cervix was never short. The bleeding really was most likely a subchorionic hematoma or a blood vessel in me that had burst. The way things were looking in the ultrasound, it seemed that neither of these were cause for further concern.

Although these scary symptoms were not as bad as they seemed, there has not been a day since that we don’t worry about our babies. I’m told by other parents that we have nothing but a lifetime of worry ahead!

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