Do you know what seeing blood in your underwear is like when you’re pregnant? It’s like being hit between the eyes with half a brick.
I was at work. I’d just finished a desk-shift, and beyond feeling a bit heart-burny and sick, also very tired (i.e. exactly as usual), nothing was bothering me. I went to the loo, as you do. I looked down at the crotch of my bright pink knickers. What was that mark? What was that mark? I wiped myself, and the paper came away smeared bright red. I stood up and looked in the bowl, and the water was stained with red swirls.
I sat down again, and briefly considered blacking out. But this was a cubicle in a public toilet regularly patronised by the sort of student who pees on the seat, and, well, no. No.
I sat there for minutes, trying desperately to work out what to do, while my heart rate very unhelpfully accelerated from ‘sitting on the loo’ to ‘run from tigers run run run run TIGERS‘. Eventually I managed to wrench my fevered brain into some sort of order and decided to go back to my desk, email my boss to let her know what was going on, and walk slowly and calmly up the road to the very-near-by enormous hospital, where I knew they had an EPU, on account of having checked all these things weeks ago in Paranoid All-Contingency Planning Mode. Paranoia doesn’t mean They aren’t out to get you, haha.
And that is what I did. With a wad of toilet-paper in my knickers. For the dignity.
To my almighty fucking rage, my mobile phone had absolutely no signal in the area (how does a network that boasts of being the biggest in Britain not have coverage at the centre of the major city? And it’s been like this for weeks. I am so annoyed, and now it’s personal). And H, poor lamb, had gone off at dawn for a day of meetings at the regional office a good couple of hours away. Ach, I thought, even if I do get hold of him, he won’t be able to hold my hand. I’ll go to the hospital, and keep trying H, and if it’s serious I’m sure I can get them to call him.
The EPU (Early Pregnancy Unit, that is) at Enormous Hospital doesn’t take self-referrals, so I knew I had to go to A&E (ER to you) first and get them to refer me (see? See? I’d checked everything). A&E were in the middle of having half the walls knocked down, of course, and being very busy, but the receptionists were calm and kind. I had a 30 minute wait for triage, surrounded by little old ladies who had fallen over, two other bleeding-in-early-pregnancy cases (we resolutely avoided each-others’ eyes), the standard local eccentric covered in blood and bruises, a toddler with concussion, people in slings, people having picnics, people having bitter spousal arguments in whispers, and one chap who fell theatrically to the ground while shrieking ‘I’m dying!’ down the phone to his mother (turned out to actually be called ‘I skipped breakfast and felt faint’).
I tried slow, deep breathing, but it did not work. The triage nurse was all ready to send me over to the EPU for a scan, but of course he had to check my blood-pressure and pulse. And my blood-pressure and pulse were still both at ‘run from the motherfucking tigers!’ levels. That’s just how I react to a threatened miscarriage. When I was losing Pikaia the triage nurse actually hauled me off for an ECG, my heart was hammering so. I told the nurse I usually had perfectly normal blood pressure and heart-rate, and this was just how I panic, but he shook his head and said the EPU wouldn’t take patients who weren’t ‘stable’ in the cardiovascular sense. And a resting pulse of 122 was not ‘stable’. So he was going to take me through to A&E and get a doctor to have a look at me.
Did I mention they were in the middle of renovations? There were no available cubicles at all. I and some few fellow patients were all popped on a row of chairs in a corridor right next to three men smashing a new doorway into the next corridor. This was not relaxing.
I don’t object to the long waits. It was a busy urban A&E, and there were people having heart attacks and car accidents and head injuries and seizures to deal with. The staff I did see were kind, and did take a mo to let me know they hadn’t forgotten me every now and then. The noise was appalling. The having to talk to nurses about urine samples (mine was full of blood, because I was actually still bleeding vaginally) and, err, vaginal bleeding, in a noisy corridor, next to a grumpy man in a hoodie with filthy feet and fingernails was not ideal, but hey, the cubicles were full of power-drills and boxes of saline, and/or people with limbs hanging off, so we all just lumped it and pretended not to be listening to each other. They checked my blood pressure and pulse a couple more times, in which I calmed down to almost normal pressure but my silly heart kept thundering away at over 100 bpm no matter how carefully and slowly I breathed. The nurse who checked my urine agreed that I was a) pregnant and b) bleeding, patted my hand, and told me a doctor would talk to me soon. Soon meant after an hour and a half, which actually is not too bad for a busy A&E, but said wait entirely failed to bore my heart into submission.
The doctor, who had a charming Germanic accent and a cheerful manner, eventually examined me in a store-cupboard in which a bed and a screen had been hastily jammed. He took a history, blenched slightly at all the miscarriages, was mildly confused by the variety of drugs I am on, but acknowledged he knew nothing about IVF, was alarmed by the history of endometriosis and adenomyosis (‘that is not so fun, nicht wahr?’), and even more alarmed when he felt my belly and found that idiotic monstrous bloater Cute Ute was the size of a fifteen to twenty week pregnancy already oh for the love of Christ. ‘Adenomyosis,’ I said.
‘You,’ he answered, ‘have been attacked by all the devils at once.’ And he patted my hand quite thoroughly.
And by the time all this had happened, it was too late to refer me to the EPU, which closed mid-afternoon, regardless of the stability of my sodding heart. And that, Gentle Readers, really did piss me off. I am still pissed off. I didn’t act pissed off, because the doctor was clearly doing his best and thought the EPU were being dicks, both about their opening hours and their arse-covering policies, and because after all I was not lying on the floor weeping in a pool of blood, so I clearly was not an emergency. The doctor wrote me a referral for a scan tomorrow morning, either at Enormous Hospital, or at my Local Hospital of PTSD, and told me to go home and put my feet up, unless the bleeding got worse or I developed bad cramps, or felt faint or dizzy or got a fever.
He then asked if I – he paused, looking at my nerdy teeshirt and loose jeans and bright red sneakers – if I had a partner. I said yes, and he said, carefully, ‘And your partner wants the baby too?’.
‘Very much. We’ve been trying since we got married.’
‘Good, good. Get her err them, your partner, to look after you. You need lots of rest.’
Bless the man. Bless him to bits. I smiled and said I would. I quite like being politely taken for a lesbian, you know (that’s why I dress like I dress, I guess) (but if H were a girl, like hell I’d be doing the Being Pregnant part of the relationship, as I am clearly utterly shit at it. Oh, for a spare and healthy uterus in this marriage!).
And then I and my unstable cardiovascular system and leaky toilet-paper-wadded reproductive equipment waddled off to find a pay-phone and ask H to come home and look after me.
By the time I got home, the bleeding had stopped, and I am now doing brown spotting. I have not had any bad cramps (slight constant cramps being my modus operandi since I discovered I was pregnant) or any other alarming symptoms. But I spent the evening with my feet up anyway, and we got pizza.
Poor H. When he got home he was paper-white, cold to the touch all over, and absolutely clammy with sweat. I don’t suppose his cardiovascular system was entirely stable either.
I am going to call Riverside in a minute and ask their advice. Given that Scary Symptoms have stopped, I’d rather avoid PTSD Hospital and just go for my planned scan tomorrow, if everyone agrees it is safe and reasonable to do so. But I am not going to work today. Bother work.