“She did not” I’m staring at one of my best friends with eyes wide open, encouraging her to say more with a playful smile. She’s recounting an incident that occured last Friday night. It’s one of those lunches you’ve planned and reluctantly cancelled twice, and you remember why they are important to keep after the first couple of minutes. She’s older than me and I’m hanging on her every word, she is one of the best story tellers I know. “Enough about that” she swipes the air with her hand, “how are you feeling?” I’m slumped in my seat just a little too much. She is one of 4 people in the world with the knowledge of my very early pregnancy. “Ugh” I sigh, ” Hungry all the time but can’t seem to stomach anything. You know the drill.” I know she knows, she’s birthed 4 children of her own. “Ugh” she makes a face and slumps back herself in acknowledgement. She doesn’t probe. She knows I’d rather talk about the adorable shoes she just bought or indulge in harmless gossip so she distracts me with it and I love her for it. “Alright hold that thought I gotta pee” I stand up and roll my eyes as I announce my private business. She gives me a chuckle and takes one last sip of soup, “I’ll get the check” she says. “Don’t you dare pay for me” I say getting up but I know she will. The cafe is small, tiny in fact, and the bathroom is situated practically in the kitchen. “Is this okay to use?” I ask the woman making sandwiches behind the counter. “Go for it” she says without looking up. I walk in and tell myself that once my belly starts growing I won’t be able to fit in here anymore. I sit down and my heart sinks after hearing three loud unexpected splashes in the water. The inside of the toilet looks like a murder scene.
I grab her by the arm and tell her we have to go. I have my jacket tied around me. “What’s wrong?” she asks me with a concerned yet controlled look on her face. (She’s an ex-police woman; I have never seen her rattled.) “I’m gushing blood” I say with a shaky voice. My eyes are staring off into space, I’m in shock. We’re in her car and I’ve asked to sit on something so I don’t stain her beautiful interior even though I know it’s the last thing she’s thinking about. My jacket is already soaked. I’m looking out the window on hold with my Doctor trying to mentally tally if it was really was only 4 people I’d have to upset with bad news. The doctor comes back on the line and tells me to get to the closest hospital. I look up and realize she’s already driven us halfway there. She has seen everything. And she knows exactly how to fill the space in that 30 minute car ride.
We’re in the waiting room at the local ER and the nurse is asking me detailed questions about what’s coming out of my body. “Are you cramping?” A little, I answer. I want this part to be over. I want them to confirm what I already know and move on to the next part. I’ve convinced myself of the worst (how could what I saw be anything else?) but I’m numb to it. We are like hurdled cattle moving from the take-in area to an open-style exam room separated by hanging curtains on sterile metal rings. I’m walking next to an 80 year old woman in a wheelchair being pushed by what seems to be a drunken family member. My friend is walking next to a man with a bandage over his eye who keeps bumping into things. Behind us trails a group of scantily clad adults that keep asking questions in a language I couldn’t identify. No one was answering them but that didn’t stop them from trying. So this is what the inside of the ER looks like at noon on a Monday. One look from her with a raised eyebrow and I’m actually laughing. That small release makes me realize how tense I’ve been.
I’m sitting on a crisp white bed and she’s in the chair next to me. I’m happy I’m not alone. The blood is starting to soak through the sheets. “Oh no” I whisper. She hands me a package of Junior Mints from her purse and as I’m scarfing them down in substitution of the lunch I couldn’t eat earlier when I hear a young man’s too-cheerful come from voice behind the curtain. “How are we today?” he pulls the curtain open and reveals a smiling face “I hear we have a baby that’s not cooperating.” How words and expression cut through my reality. I’m totally convinced this baby is gone; how could he look even remotely positive? “Let’s check it out” he rubs the cool gel on my stomach and I lean back to stare at the monitor. “We’re looking for a heartbeat ladies, that’s all we need to see here…so fingers crossed.” How could he be so hopeful I think again, taking my eyes off the screen for a minute to look at the now-red bed, no one bleeds this much in pregnancy.
“YES!” I hear her shout; she’s jumping from her chair and planting a kiss on my forehead. “What?” I ask, turning my head back to the monitor. “Right there!” she chirps back, “I can see the heartbeat!” She’s had more ultrasounds than most in her lifetime. “We’re getting a strong heartbeat and the baby looks just fine” the Doctor says with confidence. A tear that had been waiting to fall for the last 4 hours, finally makes it way down my cheek. The young doctor sees my confused look and responds “I can’t diagnose anything in here aside from telling you there’s a viable human growing in your belly, but my guess is you have a harmless hematoma at the site of gestation. Talk it over with your OBGYN, I bet they see this often.” We thank him and he helps me off the bed. “Good luck!” he says over his shoulder as he moves to the next patient.
It’s 45 minutes later and I’m getting dropped off in front of my house. Chatting in the cafe now seems like ages ago. I can’t seem to find the right words after what we’d been through. “Lunch next week?” she asks me with a smile putting the car in reverse. “Absolutely” I smile back, letting my breath out, as I swing my blood-stained legs out of the car.
MIM TALK: Did you know 25% of women bleed from a hematoma while pregnant? Did you or anyone you know experience something similar? Most will clear on their own after the first trimester and are completely harmless, which was the case with mine. Sometimes I believe pregnancy is the closest we’ll ever come to magic…