Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mean Old Man

Today was find-dead-fetus-on-ultrasound day. What to wear, what to wear when going for dead fetus ultrasound...I settled on J. Crew corduroys in charcoal, a Splendid ruffled knit cardigan, teal beaded necklace and fuschia smoking-slipper loafers. I put on cover-up, lip gloss and mascara. Because grief doesn't have to be ugly, people.

Do I need to state that walking into the hospital, I felt bitter and angry? Like a teenager forced into some outing with her mother, I really wanted to turn around and run. Where would I have gone? Probably shopping, though there was a not insignificant piece of me that wanted to go put on heavy eyeliner and smoke cloves where I might get caught.

But I pressed on. And even though I felt angry enough to keep tears at bay, turns out they were right on the surface. A group of developmentally challenged people were walking, accompanied, into the hospital in front of us, and seeing them just nudged those tears right out. I just thought, Life is hard. And sometimes so sad. And so, so unfair.

I made it to the women's imaging center, and that's when I felt angry again and became that old guy. You know that old hospital patient who won't cooperate, who barks orders at everyone, who refuses to put in his dentures or tie up his johnny? I was that guy today. I told the front desk staff I wasn't going to be participating in their go-change-unnecessarily-into-a-johnny-and-wait-by-yourself-with-roundly-pregnant-women charade -- I would be staying in the waiting room with my husband, thank you. I also informed them that their clever system of making you check boxes on a form as to whether you were going to somehow fall in the process of getting an ultrasound, along with a bright yellow slip of paper reading "FETAL" was an abject failure, since in reality no one ever collects those pieces of paper and you end up finding them in the bottom of your bag every time you get home. I just dared anyone to push back, lest I tell them all about my being there to find a dead fetus.

Then, when the ultrasound lady asked me if I would mind if a student came in the room, I told her yes, in fact I would mind, I was there to confirm a miscarriage and I wasn't in the mood. I then refused to let her do an abdominal ultrasound, telling her that I pay a steep co-pay for everything they do, and since they weren't going to confirm anything abdominally anyway, I would not be having that one, thank you for offering, since I would rather spend that money toward the designer handbag I so deserve to buy myself right this very minute. Incredibly, she asked the radiologist and they agreed. I think by the time the radiologist entered the room, he was slightly afraid of me.

They did the scan and the radiologist came over to me, and I think he thought he was breaking news to me, because he said in a very measured voice that he was very sorry but what they thought was happening happened, that the heart stopped beating and in fact the fetus had already started breaking down and was not terribly measurable. He went on to describe that a fetus that has died sort of becomes more like a cyst in your body with some sort of fluid process, all of which I could have done without knowing. But then he said they would go as fast as possible for the rest of the ultrasound and take limited pictures so I could get out of there ASAP. Spoken like someone who's maybe had a loved one on the wrong end of an ultrasound.

I went up to see my doctor. She asked me if I'd given more thought to resolution, again pushing me more toward trying to wait it out rather than risk the implications of more uterine scarring. She then handed me one of those "hats" they have in the hospital, the plastic things they put on the toilet to catch and measure pee. I'd asked for it, but the fact that it was on her table in something that could have been a gift bag struck me as both hilarious and grotesque. Anyway, if I'm going to have to catch this thing at home for testing, I'm going to need a bigger container than they originally gave me, because I'm definitely not fishing around in the toilet for it.

So I agreed to wait, but I told her I didn't think I had more than another week in me. She encouraged me to try to forget about it now, now that we know for sure it's really gone. To just let go, have some wine, go out and do something fun. I think I may have given her a bit of a hard time today too. I was sort of not at the stage where I could be totally pleasant to make everyone else feel better. Because something really unpleasant is happening to me right now, and drinking wine and going out for dinner won't make that go away. Maybe I was a bit immature today. But pushing back a little made me feel more like a force of nature than something nature is having her own miserable way with.


A. said...

I am sorry you are going through this. I had two losses before the birth of my son and now I have so much fear of ever going through that again that I can't imagine ever trying again. Your depiction of your experience is blunt and honest and so painfully familiar, but your strength and determination shows through, and gives me courage. So thank you.

Justine L said...

Saw the news on LFCA and wanted to stop by and send you love ... I'm so sorry that you're going through this, and I'm glad that you took what power you had over this and exercised it. As someone who has been on the wrong end of too many bad ultrasounds, I don't think you need to be pleasant to anyone else ... please be kind to yourself. And I don't just mean wine and dinner.


Anonymous said...

I am glad that you refused their stupid system and refused the student and the abdominal ultrasound. Sometimes you just have to do whatever gets you through. Good for you for not taking any shit from anyone. I understand the fear of scarring, but damn, waiting has to be so awful. I am so sorry.

Elizabeth :: Bébé Suisse said...

What to wear indeed. I went with dirty sweats and greasy hair to my own DFUs, but I admire your approach (although hope I never have the chance to emulate it, nor you to repeat it). I'm so sorry about this loss and the ones before it. If anyone deserved to be the uncooperative old guy, it's you.

Unknown said...

I've been through 2 m/c myself, yet I still don't know what to say. So, I'll just pass along the best piece of advice I got while I was grieving. It was to be extra kind to yourself if you can. Whatever that means for you. :)

Sending you a big hug too.

KelBel said...

Here from LFCA - I am so sorry for your loss. I wish there were words that would help, but there are not...thinking of you.

A.Dean said...

I am sorry for your loss and know that you aren't alone. I just experienced my second miscarriage this week. This pregnancy progressed to 6 weeks and 5 days and we'd seen a heartbeat at the second ultrasound. Third ultrasound, though, had no heartbeat and our peanut was hard to find. Reading what you've shared, I can relate completely, old guy and all. Here is my post on my loss:

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