Home » Reluctant Mother and the Case of the Dangling Placenta

Reluctant Mother and the Case of the Dangling Placenta

I hate that word.  Placenta.  I find it gross for some reason.  I’ll bet it looks vile in person  too.  G R O S S.

Lucky me, this pregnancy has been nothing but PLACENTA.  Placenta.  Placenta.

Months ago, one of the capable if not completely over-eager ultrasound technicians thought part of this disgusting organ might be hanging around in a bad spot, partially covering my cervix complicating the baby’s exit strategy.

At the time, she offered me an “internal ultrasound.”   I declined.  Because if there was a problem, I certainly didn’t want to worry about it for another 5 or 6 months.

But EVERY ultrasound after, was focused on the placenta.  Where it was?  What was it doing?  What was that spot in the images?

Everyone had an opinion.  And it changed weekly.  Yes it was placenta.  No it wasn’t.  It was a blood vessel.  It was a blood clot.  No.  No.  It was completely normal amniotic “stuff.”

And every week, I declined further probing because I firmly believed they were looking for problems and the more they literally probed, the more likely they were going to find them.  And the thing is, all things considered, I felt GOOD.  This pregnancy has been good.  I’m plenty active.  I’m not consumed by fear and worry like the first one.  My Physician this time around is pretty relaxed so I’m going to way fewer appointments and enduring much less testing.  I didn’t want to screw any of this up for something everyone kept assuring me was “nothing to worry about.”  Even though, they clearly had no idea what it was. . .

So for months, I dug in my heels and declined any further imaging of the vexing mystery stuff floating around in my pelvis.

But last Friday’s ultrasound marked 33 weeks and Husband and I agreed, perhaps it was time to face the music.  If there was something that could complicate our strategy to pop out a kid as fast as possible and get home to our toddler, we should probably start preparing for that scenario.

I traipsed to the ultrasound bright and early – nervous as hell, completely convinced they were going to take one look at that thing and have me booked for a battery of further tests, possible bed rest, and lawd only knows what other torture.

There was one other couple in the waiting room and one of my favorite sonographers called her name.  Ugh.  I was really hoping I’d get Kristen.  I was already starting to despair.  Now who would I see?  This is really shaping up to be a nightmare.

Just be cool.  Look at your phone.  No reason to get all bent yet.

The door to the waiting area opened again and who should I see but the ultrasound technician that initially found the problem!  The one I was kinda’ bitchy with months ago.


I frantically looked around the waiting area.  I was the only person there.  She was definitely coming for ME.  Shit.  

Be cool, Deni.  Be nice.  This ain’t no big thing.  She’s a very nice person.  Do NOT go all mental on her.  She’s just doing her job.  You’ve got this.

She called my name and I rose from my seat and gave her my biggest smile.  It felt completely fake.  Way to go flashing her that smile, you probably look positively terrifying smiling like some sort of lunatic.  

You are a lunatic!  A hypochondriac lunatic that is terrified of medical professionals, hates having other people touch you, and it’s CANCER.  You know it’s cancer.  

Knock it off with the cancer talk.  Have you EVER heard of placenta cancer?  You’re being insane.

And then I tapped the internet browser button on my phone with my thumb hoping to Google “placenta cancer” while we walked to one of the exam rooms.

I entered the room, plopped my bag on the floor and still clutching my phone, sat down on the table.  She turned to get me a sheet and I attempted to recline while pecking out P L A C on the phone.

But my attention was quickly redirected towards her.

“So you know we have some problems seeing what exactly is happening with the placenta near your cervix. . .”  She started.

You couldn’t even ask me about my plans for the weekend or something first?

“Oh I’m aware.” I snorted at her.

Don’t interrupt her.  Be NICE.  It’s not her fault your placenta is being a little bitch.

“Well,” she said, “If we used an internal ultrasound, we could probably get a very good look at it today.”

I took a deep breath.

“See, here’s the thing.  If you go looking for a problem, you’re bound to find one. . .”

She shook her head in agreement.

“And so far during this pregnancy, which has been great, I really didn’t want bothered with a bunch of worrying. . .”

She shook her had again.

“But my Husband and I decided at either this ultrasound or the next, we’d probably need to find out more. . .”

I could see her getting encouraged by the possibility of being the person chosen to solve the mystery of my dangling placenta.

This annoyed me.  Cool it lady.

“Well,” she was practically gushing, “Last week we probably had the clearest images yet and we still can’t tell what it is.  But if we do an internal exam today, the images will be MUCH clearer and then we’ll know what we’re dealing with and maybe we can stop checking it at every ultrasound.”

“Right, unless you find something bad and then you will do NOTHING but check it.  RIGHT?”  I half laughed again.  Stop being a passive aggressive bitch, Deni!

“That’s always a possibility.” she said a little more quietly this time.

“Let’s just see what we can see during the first part of the imaging and then we can go from there, ” I said in a genuine tone.  It seemed like a rational course and I’m not sure why she didn’t suggest it first.

“Great.” She quipped in a perky tone and squeezed a massive amount of warm ooze all over my stomach.

I could vomit.

But I could tell the second the first image flashed on the monitor we had a problem:  The kid was lying with his head resting on the dangling placenta and he was out cold.  Of course, he was sound asleep because he was up half the night carrying on like some sort of raging frat boy.

So we looked.  We checked the heart.  We went through the entire routine of ridiculous postures and poses and poking one might use to disturb a perfectly peaceful fetus. . .all of it in vain.

“He’s just not moving” she said.

Brilliant deduction.

“We could still do the internal imaging.  Have you ever had that done before?”

“No. I’ve never had it done before,” I sighed.

“It’s not bad at all.  Not even as bad as a pap test.”

“Well, that’s reassuring.  Although, I’ve give birth once, I’m not really concerned with discomfort.  I’m more concerned about what you might find.”  I said.

“We won’t know unless we look.” She said.

Just when I was starting to feel some actual good will towards her, she has to say something stupid like that?  What’s wrong with her?!

But I had agreed with my Husband that I would face the music soon.  And I knew the next scheduled ultrasound I was going to be in a big hurry because we have plans to travel that weekend so. . .

“Let’s just get this over with.” I muttered.

“Great.  I’m sure it won’t be a problem.  It only looks like the placenta is covering a little of the cervix and some doctors will let you attempt a vaginal birth in these situations so it’s probably nothing to worry about anyway.”

WHAT?  What the hell did you just say?  Really?  For weeks I’ve been told it probably wasn’t even placenta dangling there and now you blurt this out?!  

Seething had officially set in.

“Does your bladder feel full?”

I’m nearly 8 months pregnant, wouldn’t it be a miracle if it didn’t feel full?

“Go use the restroom.  When you return, take off all your clothing from the waist down and cover with the sheet and I’ll be back.”

“Super.” I replied sarcastically.

She opened the exam room door so we could leave but just outside the door was a SOFA.  A huge sofa just sitting in the hallway in front of the door.

What the hell?  This place is  a damned disaster.

Even the technician seemed confused.  “I’m sorry.” She stuttered.  “We’re still doing construction.  Everything is out of place around here.”

We waited in the doorway until a few men pushed the sofa just out of the way enough for us to squeeze past.

Upon my return from the restroom, I was confronted by three furniture movers, a sofa, a credenza, some rolling file cabinets and one snack vendor with several plastic pallets on a dolly containing juice and Doritos.  They stock that kind of crap in hospital vending machines?!

Nothing to see here guys.  I’m just going to sneak past all this mess into this little dark room and take off my UNDERWEAR and lie on this table while you go about our business out here.  It’s cool.  

I attempted to ignore the noise outside the unlocked door, frantically stripped off my clothes before the technician came back and threw open the door exposing my bare backside to a hallway full of men, and threw myself on the table pulling the sheet up to my chin.

Then I resumed my Google search. . .P L A C E N T A C A N. . .

There was a knock on the door.  My heart skipped a few beats.  What if it was one of the workers?

“Yes?” I called hesitantly.

In marched the Technician and a “friend”  because apparently it’s not cool to internally probe someone without a chaperone.

“Ok.  All ready?” she asked.

“Sure.” I lied.

“Now, this probe is mostly handle.” she said.  “I don’t want you to be intimidated thinking all of it gets inserted.”

I’m already feeling violated.

“Trust me, I’m not intimidated.” I lied again clenching my knees together.

“This usually works best if you help me guide it in.” She said.

There are no fewer than six men just outside this door and I’m in a dark room with two other women, pantsless and a vaginal probe the size of a baseball bat. . .This has all the makings of a horrible porno.

You don’t get paid enough already?  Now I have to HELP?!

“Um.  Ok.” I agree reluctantly.

I’ve suffered through some serious indignities in my nearly 40 years, most of them occurring in the several years I’ve been a parent but I’m finding this particularly mortifying.

“Tell me,” I say as I wedge the monstrosity towards its target, “Did a man perhaps create this technology?”

They laughed.

And then there was dramatic silence as my cervix popped onto the screen.

I could barely breathe.

What’s taking so damned long?

Wiggle wiggle wiggle.  She was moving that wand thing around like it was some kind of damned fooseball handle.

“Do you see placenta?” She asked her buddy.


“Me either.”

“Well.  What is it then?” I demanded.

“We’re going to look for just a little longer.” she said cocking her had sideways at the monitor.

Oh. Mah. Gawd.  CANCER!!!!  I knew it!  I have placenta cancer!  

Wiggle.  Wiggle. Wiggle.

More scowling at the screen.

Do not pass out.  Keep it together, Deni.  You have to breathe damnit!

“Ok.  I’m just going to remove this, if you’re ready.” she said.

Ready?  Does it look like I’m NOT ready for you to remove that gigantic dipstick from my lady bits?!  No please, can’t you just take a few more pictures?  I’m dying to have a really good image for the kid’s scrap book. . .

“Well?!” I demanded again struggling to sit up.

“Well,” she said thoughtfully, “There’s NOTHING there.  Nothing.  Not placenta.  Not a blood vessel.  Nothing.  It’s completely clear.”


“How is that possible, ” I gasped exasperated.

“Sometimes there’s a shadow or a refraction or something with the angle of the images that make it look as if there’s something there when it’s nothing.”

She started to explain in greater detail but I wasn’t listening. . .


“That’s great news.  Thank you.” I said mustering all my composure.  “Have a good weekend.”

And just like that I was alone, frantically trying to locate my misplaced underwear in the dark room. . .











2 Responses to “Reluctant Mother and the Case of the Dangling Placenta”

  1. Loriann says:

    Wow. Thankfully after all the drama it was nothing….but what the hell? Why do they freak you out so bad!

    I’ll share what may be a normal story, but to me it was a bit weird:

    I’m pregnant with my first and at my 20 wk ultrasound I was worried that the baby was “normal” sized because I was still so damn little, and at 23 weeks, still am. But I guess it’s not a bad thing! Everything was fine, then the tech said she was keeping the gel on my belly and going to show the doctor because “sometimes he likes to look himself.” I had just found out that what I thought was a girl, was actually a boy, so I didn’t really think too much about it.

    The doctor came in, started measuring around repeatedly answered my “is everything ok?” question with YES.

    Umm…ok, so what’s up? It started to seem weird. Then he decided he wanted to move the baby. My little man had been very active at first, but now he was tired and was not moving even with the dr pressing him.

    I said, “Well, he’s being stubborn” and the dr said “we’ll show him who’s boss” then he pushed on my belly so hard I though his hand would pop out of my back!! Once he did this, the little man moved. (Which by the way, as a first timer shocked me…where the hell did he go?!)

    Anyway, the doctor looks at me and says “It’s all fine. We were worried about your placenta placement and I knew if we just moved the baby we’d be able to see if there was a problem or not. And there is not.”

    Umm. Ok. Thanks for sharing?!

    At first I was like “What the hell, why didn’t they tell me?” But then I thought about it and realized it was much better that they didn’t because it’d have freaked me out. LIke you said, it’d have been something else to worry about and I don’t need that! If they hadn’t moved him and just told me there may have been an issue I’d probably have worried myself sick and made everything worse. So I guess it all worked out?!
    Loriann recently posted…I’ve Been Busy Making a Baby!My Profile

    • admin says:

      I’m so glad everything is okay with you and your son!

      I’m not sure why Doctors do this to us?

      I waffle.

      Sometimes I think I’d be more patient with them if they were more forthcoming regarding what they were doing and why. Other times, I think I really don’t want to know. . .

      The part that makes me most crazy is the feeling I have that they go OUT OF THEIR WAY to look for problems – especially with regard to obstetrics.

      While I appreciate medical advances and the related increases in mothers and children surviving birth, sometimes I get the sense that medical professionals are alarmist more in response to potential litigation and less out of actual care, concern, or necessity for the patient.

      Furthermore, I frequently feel when I voice my own wishes or thoughts, the situation becomes a little adversarial. I’m the pregnant patient. I know how I feel. I’m not completely unreasonable. I TRUST myself to make good decisions about my health and the health of my child. And yet, sometimes I feel as if my providers perhaps don’t trust me, discount my opinions, or even treat me as if they think I’m a bit ignorant or stupid.

      It seems there should be more of a happy medium somehow?

      Last pregnancy I was so alarmed and uptight about every test and every procedure – many of which ended up being completely unnecessary I vowed if I were ever pregnant again, I’d do better advocating for us. And this time has been much better – less stressful and more enjoyable. . .Even though sometimes I still feel like I struggle to “be heard.”

      My message to the overwhelming majority of pregnant women and new parents in general is basically “Trust yourself.” You KNOW. Society and “experts” will plant all sorts of seeds of doubt. . .Disregard! Trust yourself. It’s going to be just fine! 🙂