Three weeks after I watched a plus sign appear on a pregnancy test, I started bleeding. I remember staring down at the crimson blossom on the toilet paper. I couldn’t breathe. Riddled with sheer terror while my body jolted and shook, I stared at the manifestation of a nightmare unfolding.
I called my doctor and got an appointment for the next day. But that left 17 hours and 52 minutes of not knowing. So, as soon as I hung up the phone, I opened the laptop and hit the Internet hard. I skimmed through the scholarly articles my heart beating like a tom tom as worst case scenarios flickered on the screen: surgeries to take it damaged lives. Unformed embryos floating in toilets. I felt sick to my stomach.
Still, The statistics weren’t all that grim:
1 in every 3 women will experience first trimester bleeding.
50% of these women will continue in to have healthy pregnancies.
But… 1 in 5 confirmed pregnancies will end in miscarriage.
Since I’m Woody Allen with girly parts, I always think in terms of what COULD go wrong.
There was a surplus of information on the internet about bleeding during early pregnancy, but I quickly realized that I didn’t want the medical articles. I wanted to connect with other women who were experiencing the same shockwaves… Other women who might be willing to share their experiences, and possibly offer reassurance that I wasn’t alone and that everything would be OK.
So, I clicked over to a well-known parenting website and found a forum. ”First Trimester Bleeding.” And suddenly, I wasn’t just a statistic.
The beauty of the forums is I could follow the real-life stories of women like me. From the first post with the initial facts (5w6d pg, started spotting) to the responses and then the original posters response to the responses (HCG levels rising. Dr says this is a good sign.) the stories unfolded. And while there were some threads that did not have a happy ending, many of the threads did.
(So maybe my story would have a happy ending too.)
After reading the forums for a few hours and empathizing with the women who were so open about their struggles, I decided I was ready to share. Tentatively, my fingers shaking, I typed my first post:
I’m 7w 2d pg”. I Just started spotting, and I’m scared.
The responses were almost immediate. While many women posted that they were in a similar situation, others wrote that they had gone through something like this and everything had turned out fine. I clung to these responses like life rafts in a roiling sea of uncertainty. Instead of reading the very scary articles on the Internet, I stuck to the forums where I could share with others in a similar situation — it was like we were a close group of girlfriends tethered by a very palpable and poignant reason: We wanted reassurance.
I am so grateful to the forums for offering me guidance and support during those nebulous first hours when I was scared out of my mind. I am grateful to all of those who so openly shared, and to those who returned to offer the support and reassurance we all so desperately sought.
And in the days and weeks that followed… Even after seeing a twinkling star of a heartbeat on an ultrasound monitor, even after feeling my baby to be kick for the first time, even after passing the point of fetal viability at 24 weeks and waddling my way into the third trimester — I stayed on the forums, offering insight and reassurance to the newly pregnant women who were brave enough to post their stories.
After all, they had been there for me as well.