It started as a normal workday except that I wasn’t drinking my usual cup of coffee. I decided to give up caffeine. That’s what makes this story all the more ironic. I just finished chatting with a colleague when I realized I was about to pee my pants. I hightailed it to the bathroom, dropped the drawers and that’s when I saw it: unmistakable brown discharge. I sat there for a minute staring, filing through my mental cabinet of stored information: discharge, miscarriage, symptoms, signs, blood, brown, red, pink, gray, clotting, tissue, cramping, early, common, warning, doctor.
In my head, I knew I had to call my doctor but not before I called my mom, a nurse, and my best friend who I knew would let me sob over the phone before directing me to think like a reasonable, rational woman and call the OB.
When I finally did call the OB, I was met with the annoying automated menu of choices. “To schedule or cancel an appointment, press one. To speak with a doctor or a nurse or for prescription refills, press two. If this is an emergency, go to the emergency room.” I pressed the correct number to get to my doctor and was greeted by a message saying “the doctor and her staff are not in the office today. Press one to leave a message for the on-call doctor.”
So I pressed one and left this quivering message with my name and birthday and a description of what had just happened.
It took 20 very long minutes to get a phone call back but I was scheduled in for an ultrasound within the next two hours. I immediately called my husband who left work to meet me at the doctor’s office.
While we sat in the office waiting, I looked around at the other women, all obviously pregnant and I wondered if this was the end of our road. I looked at my husband and said, “You know what’s going to happen, right? They’re going to do an ultrasound and we need to be prepared to not see a heartbeat.”
By the time we were called back, I was numb. I undressed from the waist down and the technician came in and turned off the lights and went to work.
Within seconds, we were able to hear a beautiful heartbeat – about 152 beats per minute. My husband, squeezing my hand, leaned over and kissed me as I choked back tears. “A heartbeat. That’s good, right?” The technician confirmed it was very good and went back to work gathering measurements and not saying anything else.
After what was probably only 10 minutes or so, she said something about everything looking good and no obvious cause for bleeding BUT…
At this point, I held my breath and waited to hear the bad news. She went on to explain that the yolk sac (what is that anyway?), looked bigger than it should at this stage and, that according to my last period, I should be 8 weeks and 3 days but the embryo was measuring at 7 weeks and 3 days. “No big deal,” she said. “You probably just ovulated late and that’s why the date is off. I’m sure the doctor will want you to come in next week for an ultrasound. Let me go show her these images and I’ll be back.” The technician’s last words before confirming that the doctor did want me back in a week were, “I’ve seen this go both ways. Fifty percent of the time it results in a normal pregnancy and the other fifty it ends in miscarriage.”
And that’s what we were left with. My yolk sac is bigger than is should be and the baby is smaller than expected and my chances of miscarriage are at fifty percent.
I’m sure you can guess how the rest of the day went. I never went back to work. I went home and changed into pajamas and crawled in bed with my laptop. My internet search for enlarged yolk sac returned results like “embryonic demise” and “probable miscarriage.” I sobbed and slept, sobbed and sobbed some more. My husband held me and tried to comfort me, though I’m sure he was feeling as much grief. My mom came over just to sit with me and together, we tried to make sense of what we’ll never be able to make sense of.
The only thing I know for sure right now is that our baby has a heartbeat and that has to count for something. I pray that Monday’s appointment will bring good news and I’ll laugh with my husband and say, “All that worry for nothing.” Until then, we wait with a capital W.