Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. –
Psalm 30:5b NKJV
That afternoon, saturated to the point of bursting with the required amounts of water for a uterine ultrasound, I sat squirming in a chair in my new doctor’s waiting room. Pregnant women filed in and out of the office – happy, expectant women with whom I was reluctant to make eye contact. I wasn’t sure if I should be sad or elated and wanted to avoid any reminders that the outlook for my baby wasn’t good.
Finally, they called my name, and I walked diffidently into the examining room. The medical assistant asked me the standard, perfunctory questions then slapped a blood pressure cuff around my arm. “Good blood pressure. Any problems with the pregnancy?” she wanted to know. Without waiting for my answer, she continued, “How far along are you?”
“Yes, if you check the chart you’ll find the problems; and, no, I don’t know how far along I am. That’s one of the reasons I’m here.”
“We don’t have your chart,” she snipped. “It’s at the other office.”
My eyebrows shot up. So much for medical efficiency, I thought. More disturbing patterns of disorganization and unprofessional conduct.
A small, Asian man in a lab coat – who I surmised was my doctor – suddenly burst into the room pushing an ultrasound machine. Without introduction he initiated his preparations for the test then visually assessed my swollen abdomen. With a smile that squashed his cheeks up so high his eyes squinted, he pronounced, as though he’d made an impressive discovery, “There’s baby in there!”
“That’s my bladder,” I quipped cynically as he continued to slide the ultrasound head across my abdomen before switching on the picture screen.
All six eyes were glued to the screen. To my shock, then utter glee, the doctor was right. The three of us watched – mesmerized – as a beautiful fetus with a strong heartbeat wiggled around amidst the ultrasound vibrations. The rough calculations told us I was probably eight weeks along, and that everything looked fine. My cervix, however, was still open, so he insisted that I take it easy. I pressed him about continuing work, and he relented to that, as long as I could sit down while teaching. No problem. Since we weren’t presently performing any lab work, there wouldn’t be anything to carry around the room and assemble. He wanted to draw blood, but due to my severe dehydration resulting from my constant nausea, the nurse found it impossible to keep a needle in my vein. That specimen gathering would be left for another visit.
My fear and sadness evaporated, and I exited the office elated and light-headed. My first stop was a pay phone in the lobby; I couldn’t wait another minute to call Chris. I wanted to wrap my arms around him and erupt with the good news. The previous evening we had mourned our abrupt loss. Now I was telling him to prepare a nursery! I couldn’t discern whether he was happy, shocked, bewildered – or all three – but I couldn’t contain my euphoria. The phone call was too brief since I was running late for work. Oh, why do I have to work on a night like this?
With tears streaming and praises of thanks on my lips, I treaded into a rain-soaked parking lot. The deluge was both physical and spiritual refreshment, and I was happily drenched when I slid into my car.
God had answered my desperate and defective prayers. He had “come through” for me. We were really going to have another baby after all!
~ ~ ~
Within days my joy would be overshadowed. Life was going to get rough. Really rough.
Below is an email I received from a friend and writing mentor of mine: writer, editor and speaker Donna Clark Goodrich, about the event her daughter experienced during her second pregnancy. She has graciously allowed me to share it with you.
Andrea, I can so identify with your blogs as my daughter had two miscarriages. The sad thing about the second one is that the doctor didn't tell her the day of the ultrasound when she went in for some spotting, only ordered some blood tests. I was with her and when we left the doctor's office, Janet said, "Those were the same blood tests they ordered when I lost the last baby." I told her to go back and ask her, but she didn't want to.
A couple weeks later when she went back for her regular appt., she met not with her doctor or her doctor's nurse, not even the other doctor, but the other doctor's nurse who opened the folder and said, "Are you Mrs. ____?" My daughter said yes, and the nurse said, "According to this, your baby's dead." That was it!
My daughter, knowing she wouldn't go back to that doctor, asked for her records, and when she checked back on the day of the ultrasound, the doctor had written "spontaneous abortion; patient notified," which, of course, was a lie.
The worse part was, that the doctor had sold her name and due date to manufacturers, and the next May when the baby was due, Janet got all kind of congratulatory letters, coupons, and samples. It was living it all over again!
This horrific, inexcusable event happened some years ago. I would like to think – hope – that doctors, nurses and medical staff have become more competent and compassionate since then. A baby is a living human being from the moment of conception, and the loss of one is traumatic no matter what week, month or trimester you’re in.
Does anyone else have any more stories to share, good or bad? Good ones will certainly raise our hopes and confidences!