Having a baby is something most women spend their lives preparing for. From the time I was little, I dreamed about the day when I would hold my own baby….
In my 20s, the sight or touch of a baby made me delirious with joy but made me cry with longing for my own.
Finally, at the age of 38, after marrying and after two years of trying, I was overjoyed to find out that I was expecting.
After biding our time and waiting until after the “magical” end of the first trimester and my doctor said we could finally start breaking the good news to family and friends. Knowing what I know now, in hindsight, I realize that my family doctor should have sent me for ultrasounds, at least one, or the first Doppler before letting the cat out of the bag. However, this being our first go-round, we took her at her word.
Shortly after letting our families and friends know, we headed off to the UK for a 10 day visit to London to sight-see and visit friends.
I was still feeling a little morning sickness, but I had never been really sick at all during the pregnancy. I had lots of energy but since I have back problems, that hadn’t gotten any better. Towards the end of the trip, however, I was starting to feel twinges. I wasn’t sure what to attribute that to, except perhaps a bit too much walking. On the plane home, though, it became obvious something wasn’t right.
I went straight from the plane to the hospital.
Since I wasn’t actually bleeding, I really didn’t think anything was “wrong” I just figured it would be a good idea to get checked out.
The doctor in Emergency was very nice and efficient and said that the cramping “twinges” I was having might be nothing. She spent some time trying to get a heartbeat but even not being able to find one wasn’t necessarily a “worry” because I was overweight. At least that was what she said. I think she was pretty sure that there wasn’t one to find.
However, she set me up to have an ultrasound the next day, just to make sure “everything was okay”.
The next day (February 9th) I arrived back at the hospital to have the ultrasound. I was really quite excited because it was the first time I was going to get to see the baby! The technician started by saying “I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything. That will be up to the doctor. You can discuss any findings with her.” Then she started the scans.
I was peering at the screen trying to figure out what was what. I couldn’t figure out at all what anything was, so when I saw what I thought was the head, I asked “Is that the baby’s head?”
I was SHOCKED when the technician glared at me, said “I TOLD you I can’t discuss the scan”, and abruptly turned the screen away from me. I was stunned and spent the next 15 minutes crying, none too discretely, and when the technician was done, put on my clothes and was led out back to Emergency. I was so angry to be treated like that. Shocked and angry.
I barely noticed when, on the way along the hall, the technician pointed out a small room and said “If you need someplace quiet to call your husband or family, you can go in there.”
I was still seething and crying when the Emergency doctor from the night before came in to talk to me. She said “I guess you have figured out that things aren’t as they should be…”
I was so angry at the technician that it didn’t dawn on me what she was saying and I blurted out something about how nasty I thought the technician was.
Finally, I guess it dawned on me that this was not what the doctor was getting at.
It turned out that at some point, around the tenth week in pregnancy, the foetus had stopped developing and died. I was experiencing what is called (none too considerately, I think) a “missed abortion”. Basically, a miscarriage that didn’t.
Shocking enough to be told that you have been merrily telling everyone you are expecting when, for the last 4 weeks, you haven’t been. Had my doctor sent me for an ultrasound when she should have, before the “magic” beginning of the second trimester, I might have been more prepared for the possibility of a miscarriage. Instead, I had breathed that sigh of relief and been preparing myself, my husband, family, and friends for what I had been waiting for all my life.
Now, not only did I have to face the fact that I was no longer “expecting” but I also had to face a “termination” of a no longer living foetus.
To make everything…. the news, the anger and heartbreak caused by the technician’s abruptness, and the loss just that much more “special”, I was told that, since the “termination” wasn’t technically an “emergency”, I might have to wait weeks and weeks for a space in the overcrowded schedule for “elective” surgery. My one option was to show up in Emergency on February 14th which was, by the rules of the then Rae government (The provincial government headed by Premier Bob Rae), lovingly called a “Rae Day” where no surgical procedures were scheduled by government directive, and complain about bleeding and cramping.
I would be “squeezed in” as an “emergency” surgery and thus bypass “the system’. Nice….
The end result was that I would forever remember February 14th, not for cards and flowers from my husband, but the day I had my pregnancy terminated.
To top all of this off, I asked the doctor if it was possible to have a copy of the ultrasound, since it was the only souvenir I would have of the fact that I had been pregnant. Of course, the “nice” technician hadn’t offered me a copy. I was told there would be no problem that I could get a copy from the records department.
I went off down to the Records Department and explained that I wanted a copy of the ultrasound because I was miscarrying. The clerk behind the desk yelled at me…. YELLED at me. “You’d have to PAY for that, you know!”
For a number of years, I carried the ultrasounds (7 images, each 2”x 2.5”) around in my wallet. More recently, they have been in my top desk drawer.
I had two more miscarriages after that, both at about 8 weeks. I was more prepared for those. I have no children and my husband went on to marry someone else and now has a daughter.
I love my many nieces and nephews and my grand nieces and nephews like my own, especially my niece, Gabrielle. She once said to me “Don’t worry, Auntie. If you don’t have any babies, I’ll be your baby.” And she is….
Tags: anger, loss, miscarriage, pregnancy, ultrasound
Other People's Thoughts
This is now my saddest story with a different date. It is 1.14.2010 and I am reading this while carrying amissed abortion. I have to wait until Monday. I too, had a tech who wouldn’t tell me anything nor see the screen. It was closing time for my doctors office so I didn’t get a call until the next morning. I guess I was in denial because I was not expecting them to ssy I needed to come in. But there was still no doubt at that point what had happened. This is the hardest thing I have ever been through in my life, an Army vet who spent a year in Iraq. I do have two children though, and they have been blessings to have right now. I don’t know what my mental state would be without the two of them to be strong for. I have so many questions that I don’t want the answers for but won’t leave my mind.
— Carla Wednesday January 13, 2010 #
I’m so sorry.
— robb257731 Saturday March 13, 2010 #
The Saddest Thing I Own is a 2005 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It is supported by the Jerome Foundation in celebration of the Jerome Hill Centennial and in recognition of the valuable contributions of artists to society.