Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hiccup #2: Can a Placenta Actually Do That?

Alright, two posts ago, I mentioned that everything in the pregnancy is going great because we are seasoned veterans. But I also mentioned that there have been two tiny hiccups so far in our pregnancy. One was what I blogged about last--the antibodies developing in my body due to my negative Rh factor and our children’s probably positive Rh factor. The second hiccup was perhaps made more terrifying BECAUSE of our knowledge of the antibodies present in my body.

First, let me preface this post by saying...it might make you squeamish. You might think it’s too much information, although I did try to write everything in as delicate a way as possible while still conveying facts and our feelings during that day. If that’s what you think, that’s fine. You are welcome to not read this post. However, I am a real person who had a real problem in my very real life. I guess if you can’t deal with reading about real life...you shouldn’t!

May 5th. At school we were planning a full-blown active shooter drill for that day. We have one of these every so often to prepare the kids in case there ever is an active threat in our school. We prepare the kids to run (leave the building as stealthily as possible and get to a safe place), hide (lock ourselves in a room and barricade), or fight (try to take out the shooter if the first two options aren’t available to us and we encounter him). By state law we have to have a lockdown drill of some kind once a semester. Soft and hard lockdowns are different from active shooter drills because active shooter drills mean it is our goal to get the kids out of the building. In case you’re interested:

Soft lockdowns--we can still teach class but no one is allowed to leave the room. These are used when administrators need to locate a specific student immediately but the situation is not dire enough to disrupt the schedule of the entire school. Also, this is what’s employed when the K-9 units are brought in to sniff lockers and the parking lot for drugs.

Hard lockdowns--we stay IN the building but lock and barricade ourselves in. Teaching stops. There is an active threat but it’s outside the building. We have used this during armed police chases that are going on in the area but don’t affect the school directly. However, a crazy person could decide to pop into a school and do some damage, so that’s why we lock down...just in case.

Active shooter/treat--we have a threat in the building and need to protect ourselves from the threat

There you have it. But I digress…

The staff had been preparing for weeks on how to move our 1,000 kids outside of the building as quietly and quickly as possible so as not to attract the notice of the “active shooter” (a police officer acting) while still being able to keep track of EVERYONE. Police were to be dispatched as if in a real incident to take out the “shooter” and medical personnel were arriving to take care of wounded students (theater students in make-up) so that everyone got practice on how to deal with this if it really did happen. I was nervous leading up to this because although there had been another drill of this caliber before, I was on maternity leave with Audrey. And it was the few days Kyle was in Guatemala, so he couldn’t debrief me on how it went. So I really had no idea how this was going to go and how I was going to manage my unruly freshmen class who had no idea how to be quiet or how to listen to anything…! This was estimated to take about three hours. No one enters the school property or leaves it during the three hours besides the police and medical personnel.

The morning of the drill, I woke up to blood. And, so as not to be too graphic, let’s say...blood that made me concerned for the well-being of our unborn child.

Not a lot of blood, but still, blood. Blood that didn’t go away when wiped.

Okay, this could be anything, right? It might not mean what I’m thinking, right?

I called Kyle in immediately to show him. We told each other not to panic. I would shower and get ready as usual and see how the bleeding continued. I told him to go back to bed to try to get more sleep since he didn’t have to be up for another hour.

Talk about the worst moments of my life! I have miscarried before, but that seemed to pale in comparison with this. That time, I had only barely found out I was pregnant, we hadn’t felt the baby kick, hadn’t heard a heartbeat, hadn’t seen the baby moving on an ultrasound. We hadn’t told everybody...oh, Audrey. How would we tell her? How could we explain? Why was this happening? Was it something completely benign? Was I killing it? I had a doctor’s appointment the next week, so it had been quite awhile since I’d had my blood tested to see if my antibody levels had increased. Of course, I became immediately convinced that I was killing my own child and couldn’t do anything to stop it. I couldn’t help but become hysterical. Was the baby even alive anymore? I wasn’t far enough along to feel movement consistently, only intermittently. Sometimes I didn’t feel anything for days on end, so I couldn’t rely on feeling movement as a good tell.

Kyle didn’t end up going back to sleep. Instead he was frantically researching online all the questions the doctor would likely ask when I called after the clinic opened. He did this so I could have a prepared answer and be monitoring myself over the course of the morning. And of course, this had to happen on active shooter drill day. If I decided to go to school, it wouldn’t be easy to leave. Do I need to go in to the doctor immediately? Is there any use in going immediately or would they want me to monitor carefully and have more information for them, thus an afternoon appointment? We were so worried and scared.

Kyle and I cried together for a short while, holding each other and telling each other it would be alright. Kyle told me it that if something had happened to the baby that it wasn’t my fault. We prayed together, and he gave me a priesthood blessing. We kept checking to see if there was any more blood to worry about. After my shower, there was nothing. Kyle reminded me that the doctor told me implicitly to come in if I bled at all. They would need to determine the cause for the health of the baby. However, if the blood was a result of a miscarriage, there would be nothing that the doctors could do to save the baby. It was done and it was happening. It wouldn’t matter if I went in immediately or a week from then. We’d learned that the hard way.

Since the blood was pretty much gone, we decided that I should go in for the drill and leave immediately after. I would be able to throw some subplans together, call my mom to have her pick up Audrey from the sitter and keep her overnight just in case I needed to have multiple tests done. I would be able to call the doctor’s office and set up an appointment and have some time to monitor my progress so they could make a more informed decision. Plus, the drill would certainly keep my mind on other things, so I wouldn’t fall to pieces all morning.

It turns out we’d done the right thing because when I called in, the doctor requested I have an afternoon appointment anyway to keep an eye on things. It was probably the longest three hours of my life. I had to call to set up the appointment from the bus garage, the safe haven where I took my students after we got out of the building (in case you wondered, we did NOT encounter the shooter, although he came in on the same side of the building I am on. We hid first in a locked closet and then snuck out when we received word via the intercom that he was in a separate part of the building. The administrators were able to monitor the shooter using school cameras. Oh, and...my freshmen knew how to be quiet on that day. And they were quite good runners as we got out the door).

After the drill was over, I left for the doctor’s office and got in right away. First they used the fetal Doppler to detect a heartbeat. What an excruciating moment while they were looking for it...but the doctor found it! Nice and strong, thank goodness. Also, she could hear through the Doppler that the baby was moving, although I couldn’t feel it. Whew. A vaginal exam told us the cervix was not at all opened, which would be the case if my body were preparing to expel the baby, so a miscarriage did not seem imminent. I wanted to throw myself on the doctor and hug her, but I just sat in relief instead.

So, why was there blood?

The doctor asked me all sorts of questions about my activities in the last few days, all of which yielded no information as to why I woke up to blood that morning.

Finally she said that probably what happened is the placenta detached itself slightly from the uterine wall, causing blood as a result. Ummm...is that normal? I had certainly never heard of it before. She said it does happen and is usually not a problem. The problem usually repairs itself and everything is fine. I had instructions to continue monitoring and if the bleeding came back to call. Also, I was to not do anything strenuous over the next few days. And no more lifting of anything more than about 40 pounds.

The blood never came back. Everything is still looking fine. But man...what a terrible, terrible day. I went and got ice cream after I left the doctor as a reward for me for all the emotional stress and for the baby for being good and staying alive. I was so grateful that I was spared having to deal with another miscarriage. The day seemed so much more beautiful after that. The weather really was pretty nice that day; I just hadn’t noticed it before. I felt peaceful and happy. I left plenty of messages for Kyle explaining that everything was okay so he didn’t have to wait any longer than he had to to find out. All was rosy in our garden again.

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