It felt all too familiar.  I was laying on an ultrasound table at our doctor’s office, waiting for the bad news to be delivered.

The doctor had told me to come in immediately for an ultrasound of my uterus upon hearing my symptoms; waking up with chills, bad cramps, heavy bleeding, huge clots, and a general sense of tiredness and exhaustion beyond what felt normal for the mother of a newborn.  R met me at the office early the next day to watch the children as the tech examined my womb with the ultrasound machine.

“Just as I thought.  You have a piece of placenta still embedded in your uterus; it wasn’t expelled properly after the birth.”

How odd, I thought.  I’d never heard of such a thing.   But I knew it was possible, and in the crazy rush after Michael’s birth, what with all of the cord being cut off of him at the end, I supposed anything was possible.

“What does that mean?” I asked the tech.

“Well, that coupled with your fever, means you likely have a uterine infection.”

“I have a fever?” I asked, dumbfounded.  “How high?”  But even as I posed the question, it all fell into place.  The nights of waking up bone chilled cold, only to wake up a few hours later sweating and shedding the layers of blankets I’d piled on.  I was taking ibuprofen for the pain during the day, which would reduce my body temperature as well.  But at night when the drugs had worn off, the effects of the fever would be obvious; had it not been January, I would have noticed the symptoms much sooner.

“You’re at 102 this morning,” the tech responded.  “You’re going to have to go to the hospital right away.”

R looked at me, panicked.  Work was still too busy for him to take another day off, I was sure.  It had been hard enough for him to clear several hours to meet me for this ultrasound.  “Why exactly does she have to go to the hospital?” he asked.

The doctor came in then, and took over explanations.  “Your wife needs IV antibiotics to get rid of this infection.  Over the counter drugs won’t be able to kick this one; it’s already in the lining of the uterus and we don’t want it to spread.   We have to hit this hard over several days with very strong antibiotics to eliminate the infection, and we’ll also have to perform a D and C to empty the uterus of the unexpelled products of pregnancy.  I’ll call down there now and have them get everything ready.”

I could see that R was flummoxed, as to how to handle this unexpected curveball.  I was beginning to sweat, the fever swinging me towards the flush side of things.

The doctor could sense the hesitation on both of our parts.  “There’s no time to think about this.  If you wait another day or two, the infection will be much harder to get under control.  She has to be admitted today.”

R and I looked at each other.  “You can’t take any time off of work?”  I asked, worried more than anything about the inconvenience I was about to be causing everyone in my life.   How would I get all of my work done?  Would R resent me for keeping him from the important work he was supposed to be doing too?

“I’ll be fine.  Let’s get you down to the hospital and we’ll work out the details later.”  He took my hand and tried out his most reassuring smile on me.

I squeezed back, even though the last thing on Earth I felt was reassured.


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