This hasn’t been an easy pregnancy to begin with.
I’ve dealt with infertility, nausea and vomiting that lasted for six months, acid reflux, sleepless nights, anxiety and leg cramps that would wake me up in the middle of the night.
My activities were already restricted; no hiking, surfing, traveling.
And then, on Tuesday, I get attacked by a neighbor’s dog.
I posted my injuries on social media right after the incident and was immediately inundated with well wishes, advice and offers to, ahem, talk with my neighbors.
But the experience was far worse than the two puncture wounds I suffered on my upper left arm.
So here’s what happened: I took my three dogs — Opae, Sunny and Indy — on our morning walk, alone, something I’ve done for years and throughout this pregnancy. There are a few routes we walk in our neighborhood, and this one happens to pass a house with an aggressive dog. I say that because twice before, this dog, who is let out of the house without a leash to pee and poop in the front yard on the main road, and had attacked my dogs. Once, she ran across the street after us. This dog should never be allowed off-leash.
This morning, however, I was walking toward this house and saw the dog peer out of the garage. I stopped and held my dogs — who are always leashed, by the way — back. I called out to the owner, who was in the garage, too, and said, “Hey, your dog is loose! Grab your dog!”
The dog came charging and I, despite being well into my third trimester, went into protective dog-owner mode. It was a blur, me trying to keep my dogs away while fending off this dog, who’s more than twice the size of mine. In the scuffle, I got bit and fell. At one point, I lost hold of Opae’s leash and, to my horror, she ran into the street. I managed to pull my dogs away, get up from the ground, grab Opae and scramble across the street to relative safety.
The owner stood in the garage and did nothing. She apologized, said the dog just ran out of the house, and hurried inside. That’s it.
I’m clearly pregnant. I have clearly sustained injuries. And not a single person — not the owner, no neighbors, not even the construction workers who had been working on houses along the road — despite my cries for help, came to my aid or to even check if I was OK.
That was utterly disappointing.
I walked home, cleaned my wound, and made sure the dogs were OK. (Indy had cuts on his neck and back leg, but the other two seemed OK.) And then I called the police.
My intention wasn’t to press charges; it was to let my neighbors know the severity of what happened. This dog could have seriously hurt me, or a child, or another dog. This isn’t something to shrug off.
I filed a police report and asked the officers to go over and talk with them. But my neighbors wouldn’t answer the door. Maybe they were too embarrassed. Still, that’s no excuse.
It didn’t take long for me to start to feeling the physical affects of the attack. My pubic bone started aching first. And since I fell, I knew I had to call my doctor. (Let’s just say falling isn’t recommended during pregnancy.) She told me to go directly to the hospital to get checked out.
Turns out, falling is one of the ways you can suffer a placental abruption, an uncommon yet very serious complication where the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery. This deprives the baby from oxygen and nutrients and can, if left untreated, lead to death.
It’s rare, but a fall will do it.
By the afternoon, I started having major contractions and that concerned the doctor, who ordered antenatal steroid treatment — two injections right in my ass — to speed up the development of the baby’s lungs in case I was going to give birth prior to reaching full term.
I was on 24-hour fetal monitoring — which meant I couldn’t leave my bed unless I had to pee — and was constantly supervised. The doctors and nurses in the labor and delivery ward were incredible, too, keeping me informed and, maybe more importantly, keeping my spirits up.
I was in the hospital for four days, always worrying about the health of this baby that has really been a miracle for us. But apparently, he’s a tough little guy. His heart rate is strong, he moves around a lot, and he didn’t seem to be affected at all by the dog attack.
Instead, I was the one the medical team was worried about. And I was the one dealing with the emotional scars.
I spent a lot of time in the hospital — well, besides watching the Food Network — thinking about what happened. Why didn’t anyone help? Why do my neighbors insist on letting their dog off-leash when she’s attacked before? What do I do now?
I just hope there’s a lesson to be learned here. Aside from the fact that I’m now not allowed to walk the dogs alone — or near that house — I hope people remember that we should be good human beings first. I wouldn’t have been so upset had the owner come to my aid, asked how I was, just helped me up from the sidewalk. But to run away? That just seemed so wrong and cowardly and, frankly, unneighborly.
So thanks to everyone who’s texted, emailed, sent messages on social media, posted comments, shared personal stories and ranted on my behalf. It’s nice to know I’m still surrounded by people who care.