The head doctor announced that my wife was 6 weeks pregnant and having a miscarriage
I never saw this one coming. It came.
It was a Thursday morning. I work at a state-funded school for special needs students, supervising a maintenance and cleaning crew. I also hire and oversee all contractors and am the procurement department.
I am a very basic person and am not set up for this thing that happened. My mind is a dude’s mind, not wired for all of this. Well, enough about me, this isn’t really about me. In fact, I played a very small part.
It happened about two weeks ago. My wife called me around 11:00 one morning on a Thursday, in September. She called me from her cell saying she felt "off". This was the exact way she put it. She’s not dramatic. She is always in decent health, never letting on if she doesn’t feel well. She just plows on through the day, very high energy.
Now let me talk about her for a moment. My wife is terrific. She is my best friend and the mother of our teenage son. She is a patient mom. She is a happy independent spirit, way smarter than I’ll ever be, is classy and down to earth all at the same time if you can imagine that.
Always there when I need her, she is not only beautiful but is the owner of the bluest set of eyes you'll find here on earth. Back when we were dating she could turn heads nearly everywhere we went together. And for all of the right reasons too. She still gets many looks.
I’ve known her for 18 years and watched her mature from a 95-pound girl who rode horses to this warm motherly figure who takes care of each of us. She still giggles like a 4-year-old and never forgets anyone’s birthday often to a fault going out of her way to remember others. And she has this incredibly sharp memory. Really I mean like people from NASA would be jealous.
Imagining life without her is pretty scary. I’ve yet to meet anyone who can tolerate me, I’m very high maintenance. She has the best sense of humor and I’d be lost in New York City without her when we go there. She has family there and knows certain parts of the city like the back of her hand and is as comfortable there as she is in a barn mucking stalls.
On Sunday nights she makes sure we are ready for the week ahead, finds our stuff when we lose things and when crap goes wrong, somehow magically makes it better. I wish on this Thursday two weeks ago I could have made things better for her, but I fell short.
She was driving home from work. Said she was going to take a half a day, didn’t feel so hot, felt "off". This is the word she uses when she wants to make light of stuff and not worry others. Not worry me, specifically.
Shortly before noon, I got her second call from her cell. I couldn’t quite hear all of it, it was muffled and something like, "Please come home". Very quiet and gasping, not herself at all. Then the call simply faded.
Now I happened to be conducting a training class for hazardous material procedures for personnel at my school until noon that day and my part of this training was almost up. I tried to call her back many times but the phone just went to voice mail. I tore home. Luckily the school is just 10 minutes from our house.
I rolled up in my truck and was alarmed to see an ambulance in our driveway. Someone was being lifted into the open doors of the ambulance. The someone was a small figure on the stretcher, covered with a blanket. EMT’s were buckling the person in. This turned out to be my wife.
Now to the best of my knowledge, I don’t think my wife had ever even been in an ambulance before, never. She has never had a car accident, never smoked pot and hardly smoked a regular cigarette. She has lived one of the most sheltered lives I have ever seen. This was a shock to me and I can only imagine what had happened.
After a very short rushed conversation with the head EMT, I found that she had called 911 herself but then probably passed out shortly afterward. According to the EMT’s, there was extreme blood loss, I stared at the stained carpet in our house, then sharply realized I had to snap out of that; no time to stare at what looked like the scene of a violent attack.
I locked things up in a hurry and it was agreed that I should follow them in the ambulance. I wanted to ride in the ambulance, but they suggested I follow so I did as told. While still able to speak she had suggested to the EMT’s a bad stomach ache, they told me maybe appendix. The EMT told me all of this. But I felt he was holding back. I had no idea why or about what.
I leaned over to try and tell her I was there. She was not conscious and only for a moment did her eyes flutter open. I was taken aback by the fact that her eyes did not register seeing me and rolled back in her head. Her complexion was normally rosy and healthy. She wore makeup but not tons of it like some women do. For the moment though her skin was pale with large gray circles under her eyes. For a second I thought she might have been dead but wouldn’t allow myself to finish that thought.
So I followed the ambulance closely. There were lights on with sirens on at intersections. This was all strange to me. She was the one who fixed all of my problems. She never had any of her own. It couldn’t be happening. I was not ready to handle any of this. I hope I don’t sound like too much of a self-absorbed SOB. I would really do anything for my wife. She retains such an innocent nature, I would defend her fiercely to anyone or anything.
Today I got the feeling I could not help though. But now I had to focus on staying right behind the ambulance. I looked at my hands which were shaking. How in the hell my wife had driven home with her stomach cramping was beyond me. We have a manual transmission and I can only imagine what it must have been like. She has the highest threshold for pain out of anyone I know, male or female. But then again I find women are less whiny than most guys.
So we rolled up to Hartford Hospital’s trauma entrance where I was told to park in a specified area for ER patients. I couldn’t work the machine that let me in a gate at first and got frustrated. Then it opened up, glad it did as I was ready to bust it open. I parked and sprinted out toward the ambulance, not taking my eyes off of it. If anyone saw me, they must have thought I was crazy. Not too far from the truth right then either.
The EMT’s had already taken her inside and the stretcher was being moved through the automatic doors, really fast. Way fast. A few nurses in scrubs and a guy in scrubs, maybe a doctor, (I don’t know) were already sticking things into my wife’s hands, probably IV’s, and they were giving orders to other staff in that unclear hospital language you only hear on television.
The EMT’s each had grabbed a corner of the sheet my wife was on and in a flash had moved her onto a table in the ER. And they all seemed to be moving fast. Again it reminded me of a movie or something only it was for real. The head EMT had asked for my wife’s blood type. This was the only coherent thing I could recall on that afternoon. I had told him AB negative. Later I found out that less than 2% of the American population and likely the world has this. Maybe this was what the fuss was about.
There was talk about a ruptured spleen or appendix. I caught the term hemorrhage more than a few times, which I understood. This I knew was not good. They allowed me to follow her into the small room in the ER with the table. I tried to hold her hand twice, but each time I let go. There was a pulse monitor on her finger and two IV’s in both hands already and I felt weird holding them, but it also felt wrong not to hold them. So I kept trying to hold her hand.
The blood had come from somewhere in the hospital. It arrived on a special cart and was a big deal when it came, like as in they announced it loudly. Maybe they do not have requests for this sort of blood often? They had called in advance for it while she was on the ambulance evidently. In less than a minute or so they were running a bag of it into her arm.
I was amazed at this group of people. Like a pit crew at a race, they swabbed her arm, got the thing positioned and get the enormous needle into her. in less than a minute. It was a huge needle too. I am a grown man of 42 and the thing absolutely frightened me. They all worked seamlessly as a team. They were fast. Either they do this often and do it well, or else they really had to do this in a hurry.
I was being asked a lot of questions, among them, how long had she been feeling like this? When had she last eaten? Her age, what was it? Was she allergic to anything? Wait, I knew she couldn’t eat stuff like shrimp or lobster. "No shellfish," I called out. I didn’t know if this was particularly helpful but I was pleased I had remembered something vital.
Was there any chance she might be pregnant? The last question nearly knocked me over. I brushed it away, saying nah, no chance. Each year my wife gets an IUD adjusted and I believe it was like 6 years ago she actually got it.
My wife and I are in our mid 40’s. I was not prepared for the blood. It gushed and was bright red and didn’t stop. It stained everything around it and was all over the floor. Although the ER staff must see blood often and they all worked through it their voices grew tenser and louder each time blood came.
I was asked if my wife had any history of hemostasis or anemia issues. I had no idea what that meant. I know anemia is an unhealthy blood count, but the other part lost me. So I asked them to explain it and please give me a crash course.
The way they put it to me was that her blood was not clotting or coagulating as it should and they were not able to stop it. They could slow it down but it was not stopping on its own the way bleeding ought to. Was there any history of a thing called hemophilia in her family? I told them I had no idea, which was true, I did not. In our nearly 18 years as a couple, I don't recall ever actually seeing her bleed like from an accident. Having our son was different.
This was the first accident I had ever seen her have. And I think I remember hemophilia on the Discovery Channel and only men had it or else it was some disease that only affected certain types of people that had incest or recessive genes, they had to be wrong on that one.
She was starting to wake up now and it was awful. My normally beautiful wife was pale and scared. Awakening to a group of people standing over her with lots of needles and instruments was not cool. It wouldn’t be cool for anyone. It all happened fast, way faster than I understood. She lay there on the white sheets straining to breathe, fading in and out I’ve never seen her helpless or scared like that. She is always the one that does for me. I was no help, just there.
I tried to make eye contact and smile slightly but I could feel my smile was not a smile but a forced facial expression. We looked away from each other. Nobody was talking or telling us what was up. It all seemed unsettling. We are one of those couples who have no real problems. Health, finance, relationship, it’s really all good. Other than today of course.
After about a half hour had passed where people wearing scrubs and gloves sopped up blood with disposable bandages, prodded my wife’s stomach and asked many of the same questions we had already answered, we were fed up and ready for answers.
At that point lucky for us both, the head doctor came into the room we were in and was holding a clipboard with some paperwork. He seemed to be about our age. Could have even been a friend of ours. His expression was serious and focused. He introduced himself, said he was sorry to meet us under these circumstances, then announced to us that my wife was about 6 weeks pregnant and was having a miscarriage.
They couldn't be sure of the timeline. He said he was very sorry. We were floored, hadn’t figured on this at all. My wife said this was not possible as she had just gotten her period a day ago. The doctor replied that it had not been a period after all, but instead, this. Any cramps had not been cramps, they were contractions.
A brief silence settled over all three of us. It was the longest silence I have ever experienced. We stared at one another and I reached for my wife’s forehead to gently smooth her auburn hair back. We were both oblivious to the fact that about four other staff, all dressed in scrubs had entered the room and had been moving things around.
They were setting up parts of the table where my wife's legs would go, started to mix stuff in containers and were putting masks and gloves on one another. My wife again said that this couldn’t be possible because she had an IUD and got it adjusted annually.
The doctor replied that the IUD had perforated her uterus and they had just removed it. He went on to describe the pregnancy to us.
It was no normal miscarriage we were in the middle of. This was ectopic, or in normal terms, the egg had traveled to be fertilized in her tube and the fetus had stayed there and ruptured causing hemorrhaging and tissue damage.
The doctor said that after a dilation and curettage where her uterus was scraped, they needed to remove the fetus from the tube itself and then the bleeding would stop and it would be over. It was a surgical procedure that would take an hour, would involve general anesthesia and was not optional.
Until they got the fetal remains out, the tube would continue to expand, tear and spill blood into other organs. It was toxic and he described it as critical. We both were silent. A little too silent for him. He said he realized we were in a state of surprise, however, we needed to move quickly. Evidently, this was a dangerous and threatening situation.
I immediately said to please do whatever was needed to be done. My wife, however, (and I gotta love her) was now a bit more lucid than she had been. She attempted to negotiate with the doctor in charge asking if the procedure could maybe be scheduled for next week. She emphasized that her son had just started high school this week there was a lot going on and that it would just be more convenient to do this later.
The doctor leaned in toward both of us and kindly but firmly replied to her that this needed to happen within the next hour regardless of any other things going on. "Your body is calling the shots right now," he said. I looked at my wife and said to her "Eve, you need this now, it’s pretty serious. Please just listen to him."
She is high energy and is an "accomplisher" of tasks. Being told to do something she does not want to do or that gets in the way of her well-oiled plans is not something that sits well. She leaned back into the pillow and said, "Sure whatever". From here things became a blur.
The staff moved at light speed. She received a shot in her side to numb her from the waist down. This needle was huge, I mean a gigantic sucker. They allowed us a couple of phone calls and some minimal chit chat before they began to do stuff such as take her wedding ring off and take her contact lenses out. They gave me a mask and gown to wear. I could remain for a bit but must not get in their way.
Pretty soon each of her limbs was secured onto the table and my wife was not capable of moving anything and was pretty juiced on stuff they shot into her IV drip and of course whatever had been in that huge needle. The final thing was the screen right in front of my wife’s face they rolled up. It separates a patient from the rest of themselves.
I have to say the nurses are very good at what they do. After holding up a breathing tube to my wife’s nose, she was told to breathe deeply and describe where she would like to be right now. I never heard the answer to this. At this point, the doctor administered the anesthesia a second time and I realized that my wife was crying, really losing it and said she wished her mother was here.
The nurse looked over at me and encouragingly said to my wife that she would ask me to call her mother. I looked back and shook my head. Her mom has been dead over 16 years. I saw a small tear slide down the nurse’s face into her mask. The nurse realized then what that situation was about, why my wife was upset and although affected by it she did not show it but still kept talking in that reassuring tone of voice as if she were talking to a 5-year-old child who was frightened.
Again let me reiterate that these people who do this for a living are good. To calmly connect with a person in this state of mind is truly a remarkable gift, one I don’t have, but greatly admire. Whatever these people are paid, they deserve more. At this point, my wife was having a meltdown. The last thing I was able to make out from her was that she never got to feel it kick. I choked up then.
I hated it, hated the situation, hated the fact that I couldn’t do anything and that I was the one who had done this to her. My wife does not cry often so I am not accustomed to it. She wouldn’t ever blame me of course, but I felt personally responsible for all of this. I hated the fact that her parents were both gone and that she was in this predicament.
But we were grown-ups and it was time for me to leave, she was under the anesthesia and the operation could proceed. I would wait outside and make phone calls to family and feel guilty and anxious, which I did.
During that terrible hour, I thought of our son who was born nearly four weeks early. We had not gone to classes or had much training. There had been a lot of blood then too. After nearly an entire day in labor, they had performed an episiotomy on her which seemed horrible the way it was described to me. Almost like being butchered. Then after an hour more of nothing and baby and mom both distressed, they had done a c-section. Finally, our son was born.
He is nearly 15 now and is great. Two years after our son, we were again pregnant, but after 7 months were devastated to learn the baby was stillborn. Our little daughter did not make it. My poor wife had to push knowing her child was dead. Lots of blood then too. We have no pictures.
She came out of surgery, took a while to recover. Like three hours. Following surgery, people get taken to a special room until they awaken. Although they let me in to be with her in I wished I had not asked. It is a terrible thing to see someone wake up after an emergency surgery and they aren’t quite aware of what went on, find themselves hooked up to all sorts of machines and have a catheter. Yup, you heard that one right. Not fun.
But again the staff who work at these places are gems. They talk to the people and fill them in on where they are.
After four days she came home to us. She however still doesn’t look herself and is noticeably pale and blue. She is moving slowly and in some obvious pain. Not used to slowing down or not having energy, she is fighting this. Several times that first week I grabbed a heavy laundry basket away from her which resulted in a minor argument.
Another time she was on a step stool reaching for a roll of paper towels on a top shelf in a high closet. I chastised her here too. I read her the riot act about taking it easy and not putting herself at risk. She then pointed out the obvious that she is in fact 5' 3" and I am 6' 1". She needed the step stool to get the paper towels. I got it but didn’t like it.
I reorganized the entire top level of the kitchen and consolidated things to her level. We couldn’t keep on arguing about matters such as these and I had to let her live like a normal human being. She came back at me that she can’t hide under a rock and drop out of life entirely.
She was noticeably weakened, moved mechanically and was not as perky. At work, she was not letting anyone in on this secret for whatever reason. For women with this type of thing, I read that the body still has pregnancy hormones far after the fetus is expelled. So the women get the tired feelings, the morning sickness, everything that comes with pregnancy, without the actual pregnancy. This crap goes on for up to a month afterward. I wish I could have made it all go away for her.
So I sort of got that she just wanted to move on, however, you can’t move on when you are tossing your cookies from morning sickness daily. But we were out of the woods. Then one night, just two weeks after this nightmare began she reached down. The bottom of her shirt was wet.
After another trip to the ER, it was confirmed that she had blown out four of the staples on her incision. So again I waited while she was stitched up and re-stapled. We were told we could go home after she regained feeling. This would be in about an hour and a half. Do you think things could go right?
No, they went wrong again. After an hour and a half, her temperature had gone up to 106.3. She was rejecting the alloy staples with a fever and chills. I was scared again. The staff threw around terms such as blood coolant transfer and medically induced coma to lower the temperature.
So again I sat by her and was scared for her but tried not to show it. My wife at this point had just about had it. She tried to sit up and told everyone in the room off, said she was not going to stay there. Instead, they were amused. It is sort of funny when my wife attempts to be fierce. It is not her nature to be belligerent as she is a very gentle, honest person at heart.
She wasn’t capable of getting up and walking, being numb from the waist down so the threat was idle.
After a night spent in a very cold room, the temperature went down to 101 and she was released with surgical staples of pure titanium. Figures, she does like nice things. Again, she’d laugh if she knew I said it. We laughed about that in the car.
She spent the day home. Then proclaimed herself fine to head to work the next day. I told her I wanted her home for the day, even pleaded and begged like a grown man should not beg.
She missed the bottom step heading down to the garage and crashed into a storage cabinet. She joked about being clumsy. She actually is a clumsy person and doesn’t have an ounce of feminine grace. I’m not bad mouthing her either. If she read this she would chuckle, she is very aware of her flaws, another of the many things I adore about her. Enough of that talk though.
She went but came home halfway through the day. I covered her up with her favorite wool blanket and set her in front of the TV. I started stroking her hair but this time got these words, "Please stop touching me." It sort of stunk, but I understood it. I probably wouldn’t want to be touched by me either.
So this was the cycle for some time. An alternate period of healing and sadness which we got through eventually. It’s hard but manageable. The doctor called and wants her to go to see some specialist at Yale as there is some problem with her blood. She bleeds heavily and now is faced with anemia. We’ll face this together too in the coming month.
It sucks watching my wife who normally is bubbly with a great personality move in slow motion. It’s a different sort of connection and love we are now exploring. It is getting through the sickness and health part of the wedding vows that we never thought we’d have to confront.
We have moments where we’ve sat on the sofa together and occasionally one of us comes out with stuff like, "I wonder if it would have been a boy or girl?" or "Would this little one have had red hair or brown hair?" (her family has a lot of red hair).
So now there are good days and bad days, periods of sorrow and spurts of happiness. It’s where life has led us and we had no say about it. Guys, you just keep doing your thing, be there for her is all you can do and know that your wonderful wife or girlfriend is in there somewhere. Eventually, it will all be right in the end.