I received a bit of news that shows there is a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. I had almost given up hope of getting pregnant. I had been to doctors that either refused to help me at all, or tried to tell me I “just wasn’t ready”. I made an appointment with another doctor and from the moment I explained why I was there, he smiled and said to me, “I’m going to help you.” I’ve never been quite so happy to hear those 5 words. Let me give you a little back story first.
In November of 2008, our daughter was born. Delivered via emergency C-Section, she was born a happy, and healthy 7 lbs 5 oz, 21 1/2 inch long bundle of precious joy. We hadn’t planned on becoming pregnant when we did, but when we got the “positive” on the test, it was a simple decision, we were keeping her. And the moment she was laid in our arms, we knew we had made the right decision. She was all we had ever dreamed of. I don’t think I knew before what a true, and pure love you can have for a child until her so when she was almost 2, we decided that we were going to try for another.
We had calculated it out that if we got pregnant right away, by the time the baby was born, I would have a full year with both of my children before my eldest daughter would have to go to kindergarten and I would have to go back to work. This way, we would only have 1 child in diapers and daycare at once. Seemed like the perfect age difference between them both. My sister and I were 2 years apart and I remember always having someone to play with, share clothes with, and argue with. I loved having siblings and I wanted the same for my daughter. After coming off the pill, my cycles were wonky to say the very least, but I figured it would take some time. I thought, 2 to 3 months max. By Christmas and still no pregnancy, I booked an appointment with my gyno to see if there was anything wrong. She sent me to have an ultrasound to see if I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which I didn’t. I had asked her for any advice to help speed up the process to which she replied, “just keep having sex.” If just having sex created babies, then the world would be full of them. She explained nothing about cervical mucus, ovulation, positions or anything, just have sex. I had no thought to argue, after all she was a doctor, a gynecologist and obstetrician to boot, so if she had any tips, she surely would tell me.
After 6 months of trying, we finally got a positive test result. I was beyond ecstatic. My husband and I were going to be parents again. We hugged and kissed and began to think of what the next 9 months would hold. It wasn’t long before I was showing (I had a full belly by 3 months with my first daughter) and the search for maternity clothes began. I remember thinking to myself how great I felt considering with my daughter, I had morning sickness for 7 months, raging heartburn, swollen feet, headaches and extreme fatigue. I was a little bit tired, but I had no morning sickness, none of my previous symptoms. I thought how great this was, but there was this nagging thought in the back of my mind that something wasn’t “right”. I had read that each pregnancy was different and how some women never had any of the “typical” pregnancy symptoms, so I kept telling myself everything was fine. But the thought still remained and I was going to tell my doctor that I was experiencing no symptoms. My first doctor’s appointment was at 13 weeks, and I was 12 weeks when everything changed. The night prior, I had the most vivid dream I have ever had. I had dreamt that I was taken into the hospital and gave birth and my baby was taken from me before I got to see or hold it. I remember waking up crying and what an awful feeling that was. I shook it off as those crazy dreams women get while pregnant, and went to work like it was any other day.
At lunch time, I noticed there was a bit of blood. I began to panic. I’m not generally a person who keeps my cool under extreme situations so I told my manager immediately that I needed to go to the doctors. I had to call my doctor 3 times before they would let me come. And they didn’t really let me come, I called and said “I’m pregnant and bleeding and I’m coming right now.” My doctor saw me and did an exam. My cervix was still closed, which was good, but there was a lot of dried blood. She was sending me to have an ultrasound the next morning and that I was to go home and relax. I went home and rubbed my belly and told myself that everything was fine and that I was merely overreacting. I have somewhat of a “worst case scenario” mentality and had told myself that this was just another case that I was over analyzing and everything would be fine in the morning. I would go for the test and see my baby and everything would be fine. Fine, fine, fine.
I went to the clinic and had the ultrasound. I saw my baby up on the screen, it was small but I was elated none the less. I’m no technician so it looked exactly how it should. The tech came back with a stapled shut envelope and handed it to me.
“Please take this to your doctor right now,” she said quietly.
“I have an appointment with her on Friday, can I give it to her then?” I asked.
“No, you have to go now.” Not good. A sinking feeling began to swim in my stomach.
“Ok.” My doctor’s office was only a few steps away from the ultrasound clinic and I fought the entire way not to open the envelope. Why had she stapled it shut? Why did I need to go now? I got to the office and went to the front desk. I explained what the tech had said and the receptionist said that my doctor wasn’t in today but she would call a nurse. The nurse opened the envelope and told me to follow her. I wasn’t even through the door, which was still open when I heard these words;
“It’s bad news,” she said so matter-of-factly. I began to cry and grasp for the closest chair. The door wasn’t even shut and people walking by, visibly pregnant were looking at me on their way by. She handed me the letter which read in big letters, “Fetal Demise, no heartbeat detected, fetus appears calcified, only measuring 7 weeks, 6 days. I was supposed to be 12 weeks pregnant. I had been a human graveyard for 4 weeks. I was devastated. No, I don’t think devastated quite describes how I felt. There are no words to describe it. The nurse had called my doctor and had her speak to me on the phone. She apologized for my loss and that if I came in on Friday, they would perform a DNC. A surgical procedure, but I wanted to be done with this. I didn’t want to pass it at home, I just wanted it to be over. They asked if I needed them to call anyone, but I said no and that I needed to go home. I called my work in the lobby and told them I would not be in for a few days and then I called my husband.
“Hey baby, how’d the test go?” he asked, trying to sound upbeat.
“The baby is dead,” I cried, holding onto the wall for support, hiding my face from the people in the lobby. There was a silence on the phone for quite some time.
“I’m coming home, where are you?” I told him that I was catching a cab from the office. He told me he loved me and we would talk as soon as he got home.
I got home and collapsed in my room. It still hadn’t sunken in that I had been carrying a dead baby for 4 weeks and was still showing. I was visibly pregnant, but yet my belly kept growing. It was a cruel joke, I thought to myself, how could this happen to me? My husband came home and all I could do was yell and cry, rant and scream, weep and be silent. He is the strong silent type and just listened to me. I am glad for it, because had he said something along the lines of “Don’t worry, we’ll try again” or “It just wasn’t meant to be” I may have lost my mind altogether.
He came with me that Friday where we learned that they would not give me a DNC like they had said they would as they “didn’t have room” for me in the OR, so they wanted me to try a pill that would empty the contents of my uterus. That night, lying in my underwear, was my 7 week, 6 day old baby, attached to the amniotic sac, calcified like the tech said it was, looking up at me. It was the single most scarring moment of my life. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. No woman deserves to see the child they so desperately wanted, lying dead in front of them. My husband heard my screams and came in. He had kept it together until then. He wrapped it up in some tissue paper and went into our bedroom. I found him sitting on the bed crying.
“Why that? Out of all of this, why did that have to happen?” We had lost our baby, wasn’t that painful enough, but to have that happen. It just wasn’t fair.
Needless to say, it took a very long time to recover from that. We went to other doctors to try to get some help, at least figure out what went wrong. My OBGYN had refused to help us get pregnant.
“I can help you, I just don’t want to. Why do you want to have babies so close together? I’ll never figure out you young people. You’re not even married.” On top of grieving, I was now being spoken down to by my very own doctor. Another doctor told me “It wasn’t even a baby.” Where was I being treated? Was I back in the 1800’s? I could not believe that this was how I was being spoken to. I argued that if women wanted to have their breasts reduced or enlarged, doctors would help them. If a man wished to have a vasectomy, they would help him too. Even if someone wants to change their sex, doctors would help. They would not belittle them because they were 25 and unmarried. My husband and I are technically common law, however, we do not need to have the same last name, matching rings and a piece of paper to say that our love and committment to one another is any less genuine and sincere. We both love each other deeply, and plan to be with each other for the rest of our lives, we just don’t need that ceremony to make it concrete. We love our life together, how we choose to be together and it works for us. We don’t press our values and ideals on others, so all we ask is not to have them pressed upon us. We have been together for 6 years. We both work full-time jobs, pay our bills, feed our daughter home cooked meals, our house is clean, and we provide a loving environment for our daughter. So why shouldn’t we be able to have another?
But today I received wonderful news. I went to a doctor and by the end of the visit, I had already had a heart scan, blood taken, an ultrasound scheduled, and an appointment for my husband to be checked. All without being judged. This doctor was going to help. He wanted to do a series of tests so that if there was something he could fix, ie thyroid or hormonal issues, and if he couldn’t find anything, he had a list of fertility specialists waiting to help, and he would already have all the blood tests and ultrasounds for them already. After 2 years of countless doctors turning us away, we were finally getting help. And even though I don’t know the results, I’m just happy to finally know that answers are coming.