TRIGGER WARNING. DO NOT READ IF MISCARRIAGES / THREATENED MISCARRIAGES ARE A TRIGGER FOR YOU.
The 22nd of February was one of the worst days of my life… and I’m finally ready to talk about it.
How it started. I came home from work, went to the loo, and saw blood, a lot of blood. Bright red, blood. I wiped and I wiped and I wiped and with every wipe, there was more blood. I was 11 weeks pregnant, I was strangely calm, but at the same time, I thought I knew what was happening. With a calm voice and a lump in my throat, I called my husband, who lives 2,5h away during the week. He said he would call my gynie and that I should go through to Sandton Mediclinic. I said no, I’m close to Milpark hospital, I’m going to just go there, get a scan and see a gynie. He said ok.
On the drive there, I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins, like a hot rush of blood from my head, down to my toes. I felt calm, yet strong like I could’ve run to the hospital if I needed to. I was there in 5 mins, I had intense lower back pain but remembered thinking, just get into the hospital and then you can feel the pain, we can’t do this now. I’d parked on the completely wrong side of the hospital, as one does, in these situations. I was cramping and sweating and just kept thinking, that I need to keep walking.
That was when a security guard came passed on the hospital golf cart and asked if he could drop me off at casualty. I nodded yes and remember feeling so grateful. The pain was starting to become more intense and was getting harder to push aside. I remember the sky being bright orange and red that night and I thought, ‘when I look down, I see red and when I look up, I see red too, even the sky is bleeding.’
My thoughts were flowing at 100km per second. I remember looking up at the skying and saying ‘f*ck’ and then thinking:
- This is my fault. I blamed myself for the hours I work, and the stressful job I have, for being in this situation
- Was this my fault for feeling like I wasn’t ready to be a mom yet and thinking maybe I wished for this to happen and deserved it
- I remembered thinking, that even G-d is angry with me because he gave me a blessing and I took it for granted. That was when I took this pic, so I may never forget the way I felt this day.
- and then I thought to myself uh uh, I wanted this baby, I prayed for this baby and I started pleading with G-d for my baby to be ok. If there was ever a doubt in my mind, I knew then and there that I wanted this baby to be ok more than I had ever wanted anything before in my life
- I have been through so much in my life, especially within the last 6 months and I’ve always overcome it, but at that moment I knew, if this happens, this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and I won’t bounce back from this.
We arrived at the entrance. I walked in and the receptionist in casualty asked me what I was in for and I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t say anything. I just started tearing up. Thinking I couldn’t hear her, she then pulled down her mask and asked me again, in a louder voice, what I was there for. And that was when I broke down and said I’m 11 weeks pregnant and I think I’m having a miscarriage. That was the first time I had said those words out loud, and I started sobbing.
The receptionist respectfully and professionally lead me into the little room next to her desk, closed the doors, and said ‘ma’am, time is of the essence right now. we don’t have a gynae unit here and it will take about 1h to get a doctor to come through here. Garden City is maybe 5 mins down the road, please go there, they will help you.’ I said OK, thank you. I walked out of the office, ready to sprint to my car, through the pain, the cramps, and the tears. But at that time, the doors were closed and a man was holding a red flag up. The emergency helicopter was taking off and so we needed to stay inside. This maybe took 5 mins, but at the time, it felt like an hour.
I looked around for the golf cart and couldn’t see it. I asked security about it and he said they’ve knocked off now, so I started the walk all the way back, up the hill, to the other end of the hospital, to my car. At this time the pain was agonising, I felt like I could not breathe, I thought about calling an Uber, but then I thought no, I don’t know how long it will take, I need to just get there. I tried to run, but it was too painful. So I walked as quickly as I could and before I knew it, I was in my car. That was where I broke down. I let out a scream, a few cuss words and I banged on my steering wheel.
I was so angry. At G-d, at myself, and at the world. I was crying so hard at this point, I couldn’t catch my breath and the back pain was now unimaginable. And then a second later, I felt a calm energy come over me. I told myself to get my ish together and to get to the next hospital. I could then continue my breakdown there and feel the pain. But for now, I needed to get myself and my child to safety.
Park lane – which I would never ever ever in a million years recommend to anyone ever
I called my husband and told him what had happened. He told me that Park Lane was closer and that they definitely had a Gynae unit. So I went there instead. Security was super understanding and professional and got me a chair, they called the dr on call. The dr asked who my Gynae was and when I said who he was and where he was based he said to me ‘sorry, we have a Gynae department but we don’t run an emergency department here. I begged him to please do a scan and I said I have medical aid and cash and I will pay for it, of course, I’m not asking for free medical care and he said I’m sorry we can’t help you. I just turned around and ran to my car. Ran. I could no longer feel any pain and I was now in a flat-out panic. The adrenaline was flowing and I felt like I wanted to vomit. My pants were now damp with blood.
I called my husband and drove off to garden city hospital. At this point, my husband was swearing and crying. I put my hazards on, drove like a bat out of hell, and I was at the next hospital in what felt like immediately. I rushed in, out of breath, bent over, and at this point demanded to see a Gynae. This was a maternal emergency and was not waiting any longer. It had now been 30 mins since I started bleeding.
I was told I needed to wait, but that I would be next. There were three other people in casualty at this point, and all I could hear were the racial comments about white people not wanting to wait and demanding preferential treatment. These people then started complaining to the desk clerk about how unfair it was that I got to jump the queue. To which he replied, you have a nose bleed and that woman is losing her baby. They carried on arguing and I just started crying. I actually couldn’t cope with this, on top of everything else I was feeling.
There was a need to fill in paperwork, but at this point my handbag was in the car and I didn’t have my driver’s license on me so I’m emailing them copies of my ID, all while sitting and waiting and crying. I was in pain, I was in emotional distress and no one cared. It was business as usual and I felt so disappointed in our (private) healthcare system. If anything, people were annoyed that I was there. I never ever want to feel like a victim like this again. I was alone, I was scared, I had no control of the situation, I was cold and I didn’t want to be there.
After 1.5h I saw a nurse, who despite me still demanding to see a gynie and have a scan, she insisted that she needed to take my blood pressure, check my sugar levels, etc. I spent another hour with the nurse as she kept popping out to do I don’t know what. She then told me that she had a bleed when she was pregnant that her son is now 8 years old and that she hopes my situation will be similar. This made me feel a little better but I was so annoyed by how long things were talking.
I had now been at netcare garden city for 2.5h before I was taken to the ward. The male nurses were unbelievably professional, took a full history, and asked me to undress and get into a gown. They had great bedside manners, tried to make jokes to lighten the mood, and kept checking up on me and seeing if I needed another pad. As professional as they were, I hated everything about this experience. I was still scared, in pain, and unsure of what was happening. After another 30 mins, a very young locum doctor walked in. When I told her what I was in for she looked in over her head and she stepped out for a minute. She asked the nurses to bring her a few things, and she then went back to treat the kid in the bed opposite me, with a nosebleed.
I had to hear everything about the medication they put on the gauze to constrict the vessels and stop the bleeding etc. All while thinking… I could be losing my child and they’re treating a nose bleed. Where the heck am I? At this point, I just started screaming. The nurses came back and asked what was going on and I just screamed I need to see a gynecologist and I need a sonar now. They said the doctor will be with me next. And they again asked if I needed another pad. 15 mins later. After the nose bleed kid left, the dr looked irritated and came in. She then counseled me that any bleeding during pregnancy is called a threatened miscarriage and that I now had a 40% chance of having a full-on miscarriage and that this happens due to chromosomal abnormalities and that it’s sometimes better that this happens before 12 weeks. So that I didn’t have to make any difficult decisions. I went numb at this point. She ordered two panado’s and some water.
Oh, Baby baby
Then finally, after 3h of being in this sh*t hole of a hospital, the locum, who was fresh out of community service, finally did an external scan. This was all I had wanted for over 3h. And there she was. My perfect baby girl. She was moving, she had a heartbeat and it even looked like she waved at me, as her little hand was moving. My cervix was intact and was not shedding and everything seemed to be ok. The locum then did a manual examination, checked that the cervix was closed, and I was given two panado’s and told that I could go home. I was told to have bed rest for two days and to calm down. I was over the moon. I’ve never been so happy to get home, have a bath, and sleep in my own bed. My baby girl got a big talking to that day when we got home. I also had a feeling throughout my entire pregnancy, that I was carrying a baby girl, even though we only found out her gender at 17 weeks.
I made an appointment to see my gynie the next day. He told me if anything like this was ever to happen again, to come straight to him, which I wish I had done in the first place. I was put on a high dose of progesterone and counseled me through miscarriages and then assured me that we were ok, but that the rest was out of our control for now. My gynae was so calming, in control, and respectful.
There are 400 reasons why this could’ve happened, but what he suspects, is that the placenta attached to the cervix and then pulled away and that’s what caused the bleeding and the cramps. But he couldn’t be certain. I then took the rest of the day off to sleep and recover, before going back to the office. This is not an experience I would ever want to go through ever again.
What I learned through this experience:
– You will never understand what a miscarriage or a threatened miscarriage feels like (physically or emotionally) unless you’ve experienced one
– A miscarriage / threatened miscarriage affects you mentally and emotionally more than it does physically. And it’s extremely painful
– Go to your Gynae before going to the closest hospital. Not all hospitals have an emergency department or a Gynae department
– Park lane does not run an ED and even though they have the equipment and the expertise to help you. They won’t. Even if you have cash and medical aid. Even if you’re in pain and emotional distress #HypocracticOathForWho
– No one actually cares. Their life goes on, while your world is falling apart
– You don’t know how strong you are until it’s the only choice you have.
– A mother’s love for her child, will allow her to move mountains. She will drive and get to a place of safety when she cannot breathe, and while she’s in unbearable pain. She will pause a mental breakdown if it’s for the betterment of her child. A mother’s love is the kind of love that can never be explained. This pure emotion and love could change the world
I have never felt so helpless and so angry, at the same time. This day was a day between me and my maker. I have never been so scared and yet so calm at the same time. I have never cried so hard while praying for strength at the same time. This day made me realise that we are in control of absolutely nothing. All we have is right now. So reevaluate what’s important to you, who is important to you and how you live your life.