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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Who knew?

Her wet hair glistened in the light and the smell of chlorine wafted through the air. Her eyes were screwed up in pain and she clutched at her belly, drawing her knees into her stomach.

The nurses struggled with their scissors, trying to cut off her neon pink and orange swimsuit. They muttered under their breath and cursed the inventor of spandex. The paramedics were talking to the head nurse in the corner, and I managed to catch the words "swimming instructor" and "collapse" as I walked in through the doors.

"The pain goes on and off and started quite suddenly this afternoon. Pain seems to be easing off now."

Miss Neon sat up feebly and we managed to have a short conversation before she was hit by another wave of pain. No, no bleeding. She'd opened her bowels this morning. No burning on urination. Period? Two weeks ago, regular as clockwork. She had noticed some watery discharge from 'down below' this morning, just before the pain got bad...but she ignored it and went off to the pool. Oh yes, and she'd put on a little bit of weight recently and had been feeling quite washed out - but then again, she'd only just broken up with her boyfriend.

"It's not anything serious like appendicitis, is it, doctor? Because I'm flying to Canada tomorrow - been planning it for months. I've got a house out there now and it's gorgeous, and I can't wait to move there and get off this dreary island. Oooh, the pain is coming back again."

I looked at my watch. Odd how the pain seems to come and go every couple of minutes.

"Do you mind if I have a quick look 'down below'? I know you're in alot of pain but it will only take a second."

I looked under the sheet.

Then I turned to the nurse and said, "Get help. Now."

Then I looked at Miss Neon and said, "Ma'am, I have some news that will probably shock you. You are not having appendicitis. You are having a baby and you are having it right now."

Miss Neon screamed.

"Did you know you were pregnant?"

Miss Neon screamed and carried on screaming.

She was still screaming when her baby, a healthy and bonny little boy, took his first breath.

She was still screaming when we placed her child in her arms.

And then she cried.

Later on, I went to the lunchroom to sit down and gather my nerves.

The nurses watched at me as I walked in, sat down and put my feet up on a stool.

One of them said to me, "So she was nine months along and still wearing the same swimming costume?"

I nodded.

She looked down at her swollen pregnant belly (on which was balanced a tupperware laden with pasta) and sighed, "Nothing in my life is fair."


Anonymous skates said...

I am very curious (and any links would help). How did she ended up being pregnant yet continue to get her periods? Also, I know the size of 'the bloat' is different for different women but surely she would have put on [relatively speaking] quite a bit of weight, right? Just very curious.

3:57 pm  
Blogger tscd said...

skates: Your guess is as good as mine.

I have come across one or two other women who claim to have had periods throughout their pregnancy, but I'm not entirely sure if they meant episodes of 'spotting' or bleeding (which some women do have because of the particular way the placenta happens to be sitting in the uterus), or if they actually meant a proper menstruation. Because these women are usually not pregnant when I see them, it's hard to get any real evidence.

This lady I wrote about wasn't by any means a waifish child, but (as you can imagine) as a swimming instructor she wasn't enormously huge. I wouldn't have offered her my seat on the bus, if you know what I mean. But then again, I don't know what she looked like before she was pregnant so it is hard to say.

I personally think that she was in some sort of denial.

6:07 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once was chatting to a paramedic here in Singapore who told me she's had a couple of cases where women called for an ambulance & turned out to be pregnant without realising it. Moreover some of them had been pregnant before. I've also read online somewhere that some women do have their periods (or some form of bleeding) while pregnant.

6:33 pm  
Blogger Tym said...

This has all the hallmarks of those "believe it or not" stories! Doctor, doctor, faster find out how come this kind of thing can happen!

(Sorry, that was just to give you your dose of Singlish for the week ...)

1:31 am  
Blogger tscd said...

There's a difference between bleeding in pregnancy and having a period.

Mestruation implies that the uterine lining has sloughed itself - this should not happen in pregnancy as the uterine lining is required to maintain the placenta.

There are women who have occasional episodes of bleeding during pregnancy. Like I said before, it is to do with the position of the placenta within the uterus. If the placenta is near or over the opening of the uterus, it will mean that the blood vessels of the placenta are exposed and may occasionally bleed.

So far, all the women I have spoken to regarding 'periods' during pregnancy are the type of women who normally have very irregular periods. So they well may have mistaken the bleeding for a real menses. Who knows?

9:00 am  
Blogger That Girl said...

I "menstruated" throughout my pregnancy at the same time I would have had my normal period if I hadnt been pregnant. Right on time.
Im probably the only woman on Earth who regularily takes a pregnancy test. (Better neurotic than sorry).
Through talking with other women what I have deduced is that my regular menses is so light that whatever bleeding Im doing during pregnancy seems exactly the same (although i know it physically cant be).

8:29 pm  
Anonymous Alexandra Lynch said...

During my fertile period, I got to five months along with my second child without knowing I was pregnant. Previous "home pregnancy signs" (sudden and overwhelming nausea at the smell of cooking meat or cigarettes) didn't kick in, and while I was tired and urinating more, I'd been treated for a kidney infection not long before and was diligently following the "drink lots of water" preventative maintenance schedule. college, all but single parenting a three year old who had just got done having a bout of flu that he gave to me too? Of course I was. And under stress I always missed periods and had light, spotty ones when they did come.

However, having once felt fetal movement, I could mistake it for nothing else.

I now have regular periods, thanks to the wonders of oral contraceptives, though I got my tubes tied first.

10:29 pm  

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