Monday, July 23, 2007

Not as upbeat as it should be

Friday was 20 weeks. I had a post planned; it was going to marvel at how normally everything has been going this pregnancy. It was going to go into some detail on the screening ultrasound: the two kidneys, the heart with four chambers, A. getting teary, etc. It was going to discuss how in my opinion 20 weeks is not halfway through the pregnancy, since 1. Most first-time mothers go well after their "due dates" and 2. The pregnancy didn't really start at the beginning of my last menstrual period.

Instead of posting, I spent five hours in an emergency room on the other side of the country.

I was on a two-week long trip visiting a distant university. I helped run a workshop in my field for a few days and then was working with some colleagues on the project that's funding my postdoc position.

Two days before I was to fly home, I had a lovely dinner out at an Indian restaurant with my ex-boyfriend and his newly pregnant wife. I adore Indian food, but it makes me gassy. While waking the next morning, I had a ginormous fart. Really, an excellent fart. But during the fart, I also felt some liquid moving through my vagina. I'm not sure if my readers are familiar with this phenomenon; I certainly am. Whenever I get my period my farts do a lot of the work of getting the blood moving downwards.

Anyway, I figured it was just that extra cervical fluid so helpfully provided by pregnancy. But I'm your standard paranoid pregnant person, so without opening my eyes, I slipped a finger inside my vagina to gather some liquid and wiped it off on the white motel sheet next to me (oh yes, housekeeping loves me). I half-lifted my sleep mask and opened one eye.

Brown. What? Mask comes off, other eye opens, and I stare at the sheet. There's a clear brown fingerprint. I'm immediately up and into the bathroom, wiping myself vigorously and checking the colour and origin. There is no doubt that my vagina is leaking dark brown liquid.

I called my midwife's office back home and the nurse told me to go to the E.R.

They saw me very quickly, but then they wanted to monitor me for my initially high blood pressure (See the previous post, re white-coat hypertension) and then the OB/GYN department took 3 hours responding to a request for a consult.

Also there was a bit of confusion over my dates. I told them I was exactly twenty weeks. Twenty weeks is the borderline for whether they'll see you in the E.R. or send you to L & D for continuous fetal monitoring. Then the nurse brought out one of those wheels and told me I was nineteen weeks. I told her I was pretty sure I was twenty, but I wasn't going to argue with her when she decided she knew better. I spent the time waiting for the doctor double-checking my math (March 2+140 days=March 142=April 111=May 81=June 50=July 20. See? 20 weeks). Then the doctor came and did it on his PDA, and got the same answer I had. But they decided to see me in the E.R. anyway since I was there and right on the border.

They did an ultrasound and everything was fine, which I already mostly knew because I can feel fetal movement pretty frequently. Then they did a pelvic exam. The doctor saw two lesions on my cervix. To me, lesion is a somewhat frightening word. I associate it with bad things, like AIDS and cancer. However, it appears that it's medical speak for "damage" or "something looks a little funny." He asked about a pap smear: I had one in February and it was normal. He also asked about STDs; I was checked for all the common ones at the beginning of the pregnancy and they were all negative.

When the OB/GYN consult came back, it was suggested I might have endometriosis on my cervix. I have no idea how they came up with that; my googling indicates that cervical endometriosis is relatively uncommon. I haven't really had any symptoms of endo, although in retrospect I do have somewhat painful periods.

I didn't get a definitive diagnosis; they told me to follow up with my own care providers. I called my midwife's office today and lengthened my appointment; they gave me the last appointment of the day this Thursday. I'm worried that I should have instead gotten an appointment with the OB, since I'm not sure if midwives are trained to look at abnormal cervices.

The worst part was sitting there for 5 hours without food. I left as soon as I got up; I didn't have breakfast. I was smart enough to grab an apple on the way out and ate that in the waiting room. They asked me early on if I was lightheaded; good thing they didn't ask later. You don't leave pregnant women for 5 hours without food! The other bad part was poor A. back home. I sent him a quick e-mail (followed by a brief msn conversation) telling him I was going to the E.R. for vaginal bleeding; he didn't hear from me until almost 6 hours later.

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