“Expect a lot of blood” is essentially all I was told. “A lot” can mean a lot of things, especially to someone with a vast imagination. When I was giving birth and I was asked about my pain rating with 10 being the worst pain imaginable. I rated my pain as a 3 because according to my imagination, cutting my own arm off like that mountain climbing guy stuck in a crevice, that would be a 10. Or having my intestines removed like Braveheart, 10.
Back to “expect a lot of blood”. It was a lot of blood, sure. I didn’t think it was enough to warrant concern. Even after it was suggested that we call an ambulance, I didn’t think it was necessary. “They said to expect a lot of blood, this is a lot of blood!” Funny how my tendency is to not “bother people with my problems.” I mean, other people have bigger problems and this would be taking the place of someone with a bigger problem. I even apologized for the amount of blood. I could feel that with every movement there was a gush of blood. What an odd feeling. It wasn’t painful. Just the feeling of blood surging out, that I can only imagine was in time with my heart-beat. I apologized before they looked at me, as if this is something they haven’t seen before. As if I’m causing them a problem.
To say it started at the Rite-Aid wouldn’t be accurate but most of it happened there. It started on the way to Rite Aid. I asked my husband to pull over to the nearest gas station so that I could get supplies, even though I knew they wouldn’t have what I needed. “But they had to have something”, I thought, which of course, was not enough. Immediately after the gas station I started looking for somewhere else to pull over. When I saw the Rite Aid, it was like a beacon. They would have everything I needed, it would be clean, it would be a place my family could go while they waited on me. Perfect! Only, I couldn’t get out of the car. If I stood up, there would be a fresh gush. It would get all over the car. It would get all over my clothes. It was summertime and I was wearing shorts. It was going to run down my legs and everyone would see it for G-d’s sake!
I had no choice and entered Rite Aid with blood streaming down my legs. Not like I nicked myself shaving. No, this was “a lot of blood.” The more I moved, the faster I moved, the more blood rushed out. Poor shoppers of Rite Aid were just trying to purchase their pack of gum and some new nail polish and here I come, panicked look in my face, blood now squishing in my sandals and out onto the commercial grade carpet. I was semi-rushing but not rushing too much, to the restroom in the back of the store as if somehow by not moving so fast the whole scene would go away.
There’s where most of it happened. Lying on the bathroom floor of the Rite Aid on Pleasant Hill. A part of town I didn’t know well, yet we pass by it often going to where we need to get to. Surrounded by fast-food, chain stores, and lots and lots of cars. I was trying to “catch” the blood and at the same time clean it up. I fully recognized the futility but didn’t know what better to do. I’m not sure if it was the amount of blood I was losing or the “bending over and cleaning it up” or both, but I was passing out. That’s when it finally occurred to me that perhaps this is more blood than “a lot.” As I was lying there on the cold tile of a pharmacy bathroom floor, who know what else has been on this floor, when it was cleaned, how well it was cleaned, I succumbed to the feeling that this is out of my control.
So, this Rite Aid that sits on a corner in a part of town that I don’t know well, will always be a monument to me. A place that was so traumatic yet so much like a beacon. A place where I could feel comfortable for a traumatic event to happen. A place where the pharmacist I never saw, understood and handed me supplies off the shelves from the other side of the bathroom stall door. A place where I lost a baby and almost lost my life.