This week we had a major scare. Late Tuesday night I began passing lots of bright red blood. We visited the maternity hospital, however by the time we arrived I’d stopped bleeding and after a speculum examination the doctor was unable to determine the reason for the bleed. They performed a trace of the baby’s heartbeat and seemed happy enough that it was a healthy rate and so at 4am they attributed the bleed to my ectropian cervix & let me go home. At 8am I woke up for work and went to the toilet. I hadn’t bled overnight but when I stood up after using the toilet I began to bleed all over the floor. I quickly put a pad onto my knickers and rang the hospital. “It’s probably the ectropian again” they said “but come in just to be sure”. By the time I’d walked into the bedroom to tell The Boy I’d soaked my way through the sanitary towel and was bleeding all over the place. In my daze I didn’t think to check which hospital I should go to and assumed it was the one nearest to me as the antenatal assessment unit (AAU) was open from 8am. We eventually arrived at the AAU (rush hour was definitely not on our side), only to be informed that I’d made a mistake – emergencies such as this had to be seen at the maternity hospital, not my local AAU, as they didn’t have any doctors on-site. Within fifteen minutes they’d bleeped a consultant, checked baby’s heartbeat (still fine) and an ambulance had arrived to take me across to the correct hospital – blue lights, sirens, the lot. As luck would have it The Boy is really good friends with one of the paramedics assigned to transfer us. It was surreal but nice to see a friendly face – although she looked genuinely frightened when she realised it was us. One of the midwives cancelled her clinic to accompany me and The Boy drove separately and met us there.
I was taken to the delivery unit and hooked up to the CTG machine that monitors baby’s heartbeat, movements and uterine activity – i.e. whether I’m having any contractions or not. All seemed fine. Again, they couldn’t work out the cause for the bleed but by this time I had soaked through another pad so they could see for themselves it was serious. I was admitted overnight and had regular observations taken of both me and the baby over the next thirty-six hours. They also scanned the baby which revealed that he or she had grown really well since the last scan and there was no evidence of any bleeding inside the womb. The sonographer also checked the placental and umbilical cord blood flow and they were fine too.
The medics have ruled out the ectropian because I bled too much, plus I hadn’t had intercourse within 24 hours so there was no reason for it to bleed without any kind of “trauma” to bring it on. They ruled out a placental abruption – again, because there was too much blood plus I wasn’t in any pain. It wasn’t a clot because the baby’s heartbeat was too good – plus they would have seen it on the scan. So the only diagnosis left was “unexplained cause”.
They discharged me on Thursday night with advice to rest, but not too much as this could cause a blood clot – no pressure to get the balance right then! My community midwife arranged for me to be seen every day for a week to check baby’s heartbeat for reassurance which was amazing of her. The next day I returned to the AAU that I’d thrown into such a panic earlier that week. Apparently they’d been ringing up the maternity hospital to check on me as they’d been so worried! They repeated a CTG on the baby which again was fine, however my pulse-rate ranged from 106-120 (anything above 100 is abnormal) so I was advised to rest more. Yesterday and today my pulse appears to have settled and I am feeling a bit happier about things. My community midwife has just been to visit me at home and the baby’s heartbeat is fine at the moment.
So here’s my dilemma. I feel well and the baby seems to be okay at the moment. So I feel that I should return to work. But my midwife thinks I should be signed off for a few weeks because it might happen again and the baby’s life is at risk. Ridiculous as this might sound I’m not sure what to do for the best. If I go off for a few weeks chances are that my work might insist that I start materity leave early and if all goes well with the baby I’d rather not lose out on precious time that I could be having with him or her next year by starting my leave early. On the other hand, more importantly, I don’t want to risk having no baby at all just because I want to maximise my maternity leave. All the medics and other midwives have said that bleeding can just happen and that it can be fine, but having lost multiple pregnancies already do I want to take that risk? Would it help? Undoubtedly my work is busy and incredibly intense and under my new boss I find myself working late almost every day. In addition I was getting up early, rushing to the swimming baths before work, and then trying to fit in some yoga at the end of the day. The day I began to bleed I remember I’d texted The Boy saying “I feel like death”. Perhaps I’ve been pushing myself too hard? I wonder if there’s a way to reduce my hours and my caseload instead? When I initially found out I was pregnant my boss referred me to Occupational Health at five weeks pregnant. I’ll be twenty-nine weeks tomorrow and I’m still waiting for an appointment despite having chased it twice.
After everything I’ve been through I can’t quite believe that I’m facing the possibility of losing this baby, particularly as it seems to be developing okay. I know that the right thing to do is to ask to be signed off now and hope for the best. But if I stay off work will I let myself get even more worried about losing the baby? Is it better to have some distraction? Having read through this I think I’ve talked myself into visiting my GP and asking for some time off. My baby’s life is just too important.
What would you do?