Friday, March 30, 2012

Oh the nosebleeds!

As I sit here with a tissue hanging out my nostril for what feels like the millionth time, I figured I'd write about the always untimely experiences of pregnancy nosebleeds.

First I should mention that nosebleeds during pregnancy are quite common, and as long as they are minor are usually considered "normal".  Why?  Basically the blood vessels throughout your body expand due to increased blood volume in pregnancy.  This increase in blood supply mixed with all of those fun pregnancy hormones causes those delicate little capillaries in your nose to rupture more easily.  {Read more here} No biggie right?

Except when you're me, and you already have a history of nosebleeds, and you're at a birth about to bleed all over a laboring mama!!!

You see it all began about 10 years ago, in my early twenties, as I stood on my parents' back porch one fine spring day.  I had just gotten over a cold (or maybe I still had it...hard to recall) and I wanted a bit of fresh air. I tried to take in a nice whiff (apparently with all my might), sniffing heartily, and boom went the dynamite.  My first nosebleed ever.  I was shocked as I ran in the house trying to get to the nearest tissue.  Little did I know this one lone broken capillary in my right nostril would become my nemesis for many years to come.

After that day I seemed to get repeated nosebleeds.  Always the same nostril, always the same little capillary.  I was still performing professionally at the time (for those that don't know, I have a background in music, dance, and theatre...)  and I remember often feeling the bubble of panic arise on stage as I wondered if I was about to have to incorporate a bloody nose into the story of such refined characters as Guenevere in Camelot!  Needless to say I developed a slight sense of paranoia around the whole bloody-nose-at-inopportune-times-thing.

I finally went to an ENT and had the little booger (no pun int) cauterized.  This helped for a few years but even the ENT said it may require repeat cauterizations.  Once the bloody noses returned they were truly few and far between, so I didn't worry with a second procedure.

But now here I am... pregnant and the flood gates just keep opening!  A few weeks ago I was at a birth and I had 3, count them T-H-R-E-E, nosebleeds at the most inopportune times!  The first time I was leaning over the mom applying pressure to her aching back and suddenly I felt the fast drip in the all too familiar nostril.  I quickly cupped my hand under my nose, unsure of a real nosebleed or just paranoia, and was able to catch 'er in time confirming my suspicions as blood started to fill my hand.  "Ugh", I thought... "seriously?!  Right NOW??"... I ran to the restroom and plopped in the floor stuffing tissue up my nose, thankful for a relatively quick mend.

A few hours later, the mom was laboring in a huge bathtub and I was leaning way in to reach her.  (Starting to realize my pattern of leaning over, aka more pressure to my head, aka you get the idea...)  Next thing I knew that familiar fast drip appeared again, and thankfully I was able to cup my hand and catch the stream JUST before my blood dripped into her water!  (I don't even want to think about having to get her out, drain the tub, and refill it had that blood made contact!)  Again, I was grateful to be aware enough of that all too familiar feeling so that I could quickly get out of harms way.

And finally, on the drive to the hospital later that day, I felt it yet AGAIN.  "ARE YOU KIDDING ME???," I'm pretty sure I hollered aloud.  While driving a stick-shift in busy northern VA traffic, I quickly scrounged for a tissue, or a sock, or...shoot I'd take anything absorbent!  I was able to find 3 Starbucks napkins in my glove compartment... so crusty and painful, I stuffed one into my nose pressing as hard as I could, but unfortunately this one wasn't stopping!  We arrived at the hospital and I had to send the parents ahead of me... I sat for 20 minutes, soaking every bit of all 3 napkins with my loveliness.

Once I joined the couple inside the hospital, their midwife immediately stuck out her hand to introduce herself... I felt so rude as I explained I needed to wash my hands first... that I'd just had a nosebleed in the car... and wanting to make sure she didn't think I'm some sort of coke addict or something I added, "because I'm pregnant".  She quickly gave me 'that look' of understanding saying, "oh yes... those nosebleeds during pregnancy are the worst, huh?"  Feeling the slightest bit validated I continued on with my work, thankfully blood free for the rest of the evening, though tasting a throat-full of bloody metallic yumminess.  As annoying as it was, to say the least, I'm happy to say I was able to walk away that night without truly interfering with the birth!

I'm not so excited to admit that I've had a nosebleed at every single birth since then except for one!  Somehow my nose just knows! Though thankfully, thus far, I'm always able to feel that crazy fast drip just in the nick of time so that I can sink back, fix the problem, and go on relatively unnoticed.  Last night at a birth dad came in the room to see tissues hanging out of my nose (a look that's starting to feel like part of my regular attire) and he asked if mama had punched me in the face!

While I sit here now... nose stuffed with tissue and that bloody-throaty-taste yet again... I think to myself that I'll be calling an ENT asap to get this sucker cauterized!  All joking aside, I actually think to myself that I'll gladly endure another, and another, and well... as many as necessary as it reminds me each and every time of the beautiful miracle of life that I get to be a part of and all the sacrifices mothers make for their children every day.  For that, words can not express how strangely honored and proud I actually feel... dangling tissue and all!

1 comment:

  1. Insanity, I never get nosebleeds and I've had three today. It's a cold. Just a cold.