Now this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I became the….girl who ended up in a random hospital off 81.
Gosh, I really humor myself sometimes. But seriously, “flipped and turned upside down” would be the perfect way to describe the way the events surrounding my pregnancy impacted our lives. Before I go much further, let me just say that I am well aware of all of the positives of this story–we are okay, baby is okay, we are lucky and blessed that I stayed pregnant until 37 weeks–and so if it seems like I am whining or complaining at any point, well I am, because that is my journey. But I also have a healthy perspective on all of this. I want to share because this is way more common than people realize–however, I also want to tell it like it is because that’s what I do. This is also likely to be a long one. But when I googled “placenta previa” stories, there really wasn’t much out there that mimicked my story and so if you came here because you’re looking for a “how it turned out” story, hopefully this eases your mind.
Moving on and back to the beginning, this pregnancy was not easy from the jump. At our very first ultrasound, we were told to expect a loss. Same for the second– and our lives started to feel a bit like Groundhog Day, as we had experienced the same sequence of events just four months prior, when I had a D&C for a miscarriage in October of 2017.
However, much to our surprise, by 10 weeks, things seemed to correct themselves. Our too small baby suddenly became our “right on track” baby and we flew through the first half of the pregnancy relatively unscathed. I scheduled our anatomy scan “late” because we are “those” people who do not want to know the gender. So, at 20 weeks we saw baby for the first time in awhile. The scan went great and we met with the doctor afterwards. She was super positive, except for a small remark at the end of the appointment. “Oh, you have a marginal placenta previa. Don’t worry, it’ll move–they almost always do”. Jokes on her.
Naturally, I went straight to google. Marginal placenta previa meant that essentially, my placenta was lying too close to my cervix, a luck of the draw sort of condition where the baby cannot safely exit without the risk of hemorrhage.
Ya’ll, I don’t know how or why–but I just knew this was more than “no big deal”. However, she said I was fine to continue on as usual and so I did. We went to Tennessee where we hiked almost every day. I continued doing yoga. We went to the Whitewater Center and hiked the trails. I didn’t over do it but I also didn’t really take it easy because my doctor (and you know all the googling I did, too) said I was probably going to be fine.
Well, as fate would have it, it was totally not fine. At 27 weeks, I planned a super fun family picnic and as pregnant ladies do, I headed to the restroom as we were loading into the car. Our plans changed on a dime and instead, we headed into the doctor. Sparing you the details, I bled but it was minor and we were sent home on total bed rest for two days, told to take it easy for another five days, and if nothing else happened, to continue on like normal with the exception of pelvic rest.
We carried on like normal. Rob and I both went back to work, Austen went back to school and our lives took on the normal, hurried pace that they do every August. It is simultaneously super stressful but also my favorite time of year–I love meeting my new students, decorating my classroom and diving back into the routine of it all. I tried to rest as much as I could but its truly not in my nature.
Before we knew it, September rolled around and it was time to head to Pennsylvania for my sister-in-law’s wedding. If I am honest, I had reservations. I really wanted to go though because let me tell you, a Killian wedding is not to be missed! Plus, we love and adore the couple and I knew I would be super sad to be sidelined. Despite this, call it instinct, but I just felt really hesitant about going. I even asked the doctor to check me before we left (silly because I was only 33 weeks!) but it gave me some peace of mind. Still, I even took a copy of my medical records.
The wedding was a blast and everything went really well. At the reception, I even told my father in law that I felt better than I had in weeks. As we headed home, I confessed to Rob how hesitant I had been, even telling him that I felt silly because I had wanted to map out the closest hospitals to his parent’s house and now I could see what an overreaction that had been (lol–he was really mad at me later for this comment).
The entire first half of the trip, I could not get comfortable. My back hurt so bad but I chalked this up to being 33 weeks pregnant and riding in my husband’s beloved truck (eye roll).
Suddenly, while cruising down 81 and through a lovely town called Winchester, VA, I felt a warm gush. To be honest, I thought maybe I peed myself. As one does. Too embarrassed to admit this, I tried to sneak and check out the situation by putting my hands between my legs. When I pulled back a hand covered in blood, I somehow still tried to remain cool and calm. “You need to pull over”. Rob’s like….uhhh ok. “No, like to a hospital”.
This is where you can see how ridiculous and irrational I am. Really quickly, I realized that I would have to likely stay at said hospital so I instead asked him to stop at a gas station so I could “maybe just assess the situation and call my doctor”. Luckily, I married a rational man who just took me to the ER that just so happened to be off the exit he crossed three lanes of traffic to take. I could go on and on about how miraculous this part of the story is to me, but I will spare you for now.
Ultimately, we stayed three days in that tiny town. We had to send Austen the rest of the way to Charlotte with family. It was an incredibly emotional and difficult thing to experience. I bled twice more and we were informed that most doctors no longer recognize “degrees” of previa. Its not partial, marginal or total. It just is and it should all be approached with caution. Clearly, this was not the angle we had taken. However, it would be from now on–at 34 weeks, I was put on bed rest. Allowed to drive the additional five hours home but then was told to remain couch bound until 37 weeks when I would deliver via c-section (that story, for another day).
Ultimately, we made it. Our sweet girl arrived at 37 weeks and 2 days–one day prior to the anniversary of my D&C–a perfect redeeming moment. She is perfectly healthy and other than being super restless with cabin fever and dealing with the recovery of surgery, it truly has not been the end of the world that I anticipated. However, in hindsight I do wish that I would have taken more precautions from the jump. I wish I would have been prepared for my placenta to not move, made less likely by its posterior position. I wish that I would have been better informed. I wish that my husband and daughter did not have to be scarred by the experience of seeing me bleeding.
I am so grateful to sit here now with my newborn baby girl. Grateful for a positive outcome and modern medicine. I hope that our experience can add a touch of caution to someone experiencing this while simultaneously reassuring anyone with previa that, even with bleeding, there can be a very happy, sweet and snuggly, ending.