Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Modern Medicine

About a year ago (I am still too traumatized to look at dates or otherwise dive too deeply into the day), I was rushed to the hospital where they had to do a second D&C to remove the remaining pieces of my poor, broken baby.

My broken heart is another matter. Those pieces are still coming back together.

I want to mark this unfortunate anniversary with a comment on our health care system with regard to OB/GYN care. Miscarriage -- and other unfortunate complications of pregnancies -- is incredibly common, yet there remains a huge disconnect in the way providers address women who present with it. Warning signs are dismissed. News delivered insensitively, even harshly. Hurtful offhanded comments made. The entire (hugely relevant) emotional experience of miscarriage remains largely -- notwithstanding the rare, evolved obstetrician -- ignored.

I have been handed ER discharge forms referencing "fetal parts." Been told it's probably nothing. Given advice about it being meant to be, and told to "just try again." Last year, I called the doctor with a huge warning sign the day before I hemorrhaged at home and bought myself an ambulance ride, and was told to "monitor it" and call on Monday for an ultrasound. I still think about how nice it would have been to avoid one of the most significant traumas of my life by being brought in, calmly told there was remaining tissue and brought to the OR without drama.

And then, perhaps the most significant indignity of all, the one I shake my head at every time it pops in. After the second D&C, they brought my loopy, exhausted, shattered self upstairs to the maternity floor to recover. They put an ice pack in a newborn diaper for me to use. I heard cries through the walls. I had to see that fucking hospital channel that tells you how to take care of the baby you just had, if you were lucky enough to bring it out alive.

Get it together, doctors.

To every girl who has been there, may your own moments have made you a little tougher, a little wiser, a little kinder, a little better. "In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer." -Albert Camus.


Turia said...

And then sometimes we get a good one and we realize how much easier it can be. I don't get it. They've chosen this specialty. Loss is part of the job description. Can't they figure out a better way to manage themselves?

Re: your comment on my book post. I can't imagine women who don't read. I would go insane. Quite seriously. I read the fifth book of A Song of Ice and Fire and the latest from Guy Gavriel Kay in the first months after E. was born, while pacing around my living room with him in a carrier because that was how he would sleep. I don't think I will ever forget how those books kept me off the ledge.

Thinking of you.

Holly said...

Makes me shudder. When my water broke on twin B at 17 weeks I was shocked and confused as to why I was in the maternity ward. When I laid in the hospital bed for 10 days on antibiotics trying to fight off infections to save Jude, every day I could hear the room's next to me check their baby's heartbeat. When my parents walked out of the room from meeting my stillborn son, the secretary told them "congratulations." He was 3 weeks away from being "viable" and was written as fetal demise. It's cruel. This post reminded me of all that crap. so mean. I'm so sorry you know this dark side of "giving birth." :(

Mo said...

I am so so sorry. For all of it. our hospital thankfully has a unit for peripartum stuff and that's where I think (god, i hope) they would put someone after the horror you went through. unbearable to have to listen to other people's crying babies in a situation like that.

Conceptionally Challenged said...

The cries of other babies, when mine couldn't. Having to explain to far too many nurses "how my twins are doing". I was fortunate in that all attendings I dealt with were kind and considerate and had clearly learned to deal with such situations - junior staff, not so much.
Ironically, after SB was born they put us on a different floor, as they were overbooked. With the twins we got to stay on the maternity ward. I should send that in as a suggestion, though really, that should be obvious.
Much love to you. Anniversaries are so hard.

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