the end of the world
I guess it was sort of a let-down for a lot of people, December 21st, 2012. But as far as horrible days go, I made out like a queen. First of all, it was the first day I was forced to get off the couch and go somewhere, that somewhere being the MFM high-risk physician who saw me a few times in the hospital during it all, and promised to see me again and take care of me. He was really wonderful, I wanted to see him again, I wanted him to comfort me with doctorly words. Of course, what I got was the resident (probably intern). Which is fine to start, I know they have to learn. But I was worked up, and wanted to know “what had happened” for sure, which she had no idea. She really had no idea what had happened to me at all, I think someone had just sent her in to do yet another routine post-partum cervix check. Which she did, very painfully, I might add. I’ve had about 10 speculum exams in the last 10 days, none of them were uncomfortable, but hers was very painful, and pinching.
Still, I was fine, because I know she’s just a newbie intern. She couldn’t really answer my questions about anything. She had nothing whatsoever to say, reassuring or not. I asked for the attending, Dr. V, and she said he was in meetings. This was SO obviously not good enough, he had promised to see me. She went off muttering something about trying to find him. Then she came back and said he was in a meeting. So that was supposed to be that, come back in 5 weeks. What for? To check your cervix. Ridiculous waste of time, when I had wanted a professional, supportive team huddle, post-loss, type of thing.
Then I got a good surprise… she found Dr. V. and he came in, gave me a big hug, and sat down and talked to me for a long time. He told me after 2 normal cycles we would do a scope to see if I have a septum in my uterus that caused the abruption. My placenta was just full of clots, indicating an abruption. It was falling apart. Maybe because my uterus is shaped like a V, which is the worst case scenario. Maybe because it has a septum, which can be removed. Or maybe, in the best-case scenario, it was just a freak accident and nothing is wrong at all with my uterus. Oh, except that it killed my baby by not attaching correctly with the placenta.
Then he sent a social worker in to talk to me. She was wonderful. She’d had a loss at 19 weeks, as well. They both made me feel normal, that my grief was validated, that if I needed more time off from work I should have it. My mother got to ask questions, too. She felt better after talking to them which made me feel better. My poor mom has had to watch me suffer through this, while losing her granddaughter, while holding together two households and my grandparents and constantly worrying that I’m home slitting my wrists. She sleeps next to me every night. She offers to make me food. She never complains. Without her, I honestly can’t imagine getting through this, not at all.
And then comes the most nightmarish, surreal moment of my life, ok second after pushing out my still alive baby to her death, and holding her. Today I went into a shabby little office, and they asked how can I help you? And I said, I”m here to pick up my daughter’s remains, my voice quavering like a little girl’s. Was I really saying that? Did a busy balding man in a tie just pick up a white paper bag containing a black box, inscribed “The Remains of Baby G—–“, and hand it to me as though I were picking up take-out? Of course, it’s their job, they’re used to the faces of the bereaved appearing to pick up their little baggies, with puffy red eyes, snotty noses, horrified stares at all that remains of their loves, their plans, their lives, their children.
Then at my grandmother’s, my mother thought I should take the box in to show her. “She’d want to see it,” she said. Why not? Here grandma, here is the the daughter of your daughter’s daughter, your first great-grandchild, the next in our matriarchal line. I wanted so badly to take photos of you holding her in a hospital blanket, pink and wiggly and alive, but here is this black plastic box instead. Do you want to hold it?
Too much for me. Then I saw the photos that had come in, the family portraits my grandma takes every year for her church directory. That was the day before The Bleed. I had come back from a normal 18 week check-up, nothing to report, everything wonderful. I had good-naturedly moaned and groaned about my belly in the photos. I had been gleeful at the thought that NEXT year there would be a little one in the picture.
So. That photo did me in. I burst into sobs. I ran from the room. My elderly grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s, muttered “what’s the matter?” Then I had to sit, with the ashes of Avalon on the table, and listen to my grandmother talk gossip and small talk about my cousins. Who cares about any of that? My baby is DEAD, the next generation of our line of women, here as nothing but dust in plastic box, who cares about anything else???
And why, in every book I’m reading, or blog, does the woman who lost her first baby ALWAYS have a second, healthy one? Never fails. If I thought everyone I knew had a healthy first baby and I would, too, why should I now think every mother who lost her first baby had a second healthy one, and I will too? The odds are not in my favor. I lost the betting game. I was the 1%, the 0.5%. That small little statistic that’s supposed to make pregnant women feel better. I’m the horror story and worst case scenario now. I have only the 0.5% faith that it could get better for me next time, just because it did for everyone else.
Categories: baby loss