Birth Trauma Survivor and Maternal Health Advocate

“It felt as if she were bleeding – but it wasn't blood that leaked out of her, not something that could be easily transfused. Instead she was losing her dreams.” Kristin Hannah, Firefly Lane

May 2011

I thought I was doing well without therapy.

The baby classes, hospital support group and outings with new friends kept me very busy that first year after Miss J was born. They were all Band-Aids on my wound, but I was still having trouble sleeping. I was still replaying the surgery and hemorrhaging, but I thought I was coping. I was a mom! I was resilient, strong-willed and determined to make the best out of every day.

There were plenty of distractions.

One day in May, I met up with a group of girlfriends and their babies for lunch at Grimaldi’s for pizza. The weather was perfect. It was warm enough to sit outside at a table on the patio. We were all so proud of ourselves for going out to lunch at a restaurant with a bunch of one year olds. We were seasoned pros and had grown accustomed to handling public meltdowns and restroom diaper changes. By now, the infants could eat “real” food. We watched our little ones devour their little cut up pieces of cheese pizza.

I had been having stomach cramps all morning and had some spotting in my underwear. The bleeding was not alarming to me because I had grown used to spotting since giving birth the previous year. I often wore panty liners or thin maxi pads every day because I never knew what to expect. I assumed my body was adjusting to not breastfeeding anymore and my menstrual cycle was having a hard time returning to normal.

When lunch ended, my friend *Natalie and I decided to take our two little girls to get frozen yogurt. They were thirteen months old and loved to hold and lick their own cones. It was hilarious watching the frozen yogurt drip down their faces while they scarfed it down.

We had only been sitting for a few minutes when I felt the cramps in my abdomen intensify and the blood that had been trickling into my panty liner was now becoming a full stream.

 “Natalie, can you watch Miss J while I go to the bathroom?”

“Sure.” She replied.

I took my purse into the bathroom and took out a super long maxi pad.

I pulled my pants down slowly. The blood was leaking from my vagina in a steady stream. I quickly took off the panty liner and put the huge maxi pad into my underwear. I pulled my pants up and washed my hands. Suddenly I could feel the blood spilling out from the sides of my underwear and start to trickle down my legs.

I paced around the bathroom in a frenzy. My heart was racing.

Am I dying? What is happening?

The maxi pad was full of blood in under a minute. I could hear both Dr. Chinn and Dr. B’s voices in my head “If you are wearing a pad and it fills with blood in under a minute, call us immediately.”

I changed the pad again. That one filled up faster than the first.

There was a huge roll of paper towels on the counter.  I ripped off about half the roll and stuffed my panties with it, and ran out of the bathroom.

“*Natalie, I’m bleeding. I have to go to Dr. B’s office right now.” I said.

I tried to remain calm for Miss J’s sake but I was unraveling inside. Thank goodness *Natalie was there. She is always calm under the most stressful situations. We strapped the girls into their strollers and ran out of the yogurt shop.

Dr. B’s office was just two blocks up the street from the frozen yogurt shop. I raced up the street as fast as I could, while pushing Miss J’s stroller. *Natalie and her daughter were right behind us. I felt the wetness seep through my panties and onto my butt.

Oh my God! Everyone can see the blood!

The blood had seeped through all of the paper towels and began to form an outline around my crotch area and was creating long stains down the front of my pants and down my legs into my shoes.

The short two block walk to Dr. B’s office felt like an eternity. Strangers look repulsed seeing me bleeding and running up the street.

I was embarrassed and humiliated.

Please God!  Not again.

 

*Name has been changed for privacy.

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