Long and Overdue.

by Alexa on November 29, 2011

Do you ever do that thing, where you are just going to rest for a bit, maybe to help your preschooler fall asleep, and then you open your eyes and it is the next day?
Yeah. Sorry about that.

Anyhow, the appointment yesterday was fine. Weird, but fine. More on that in a few paragraphs.

I never got around to telling you about my FIRST ultrasound appointment, and I meant to, because it was An Experience. I was just over six weeks then, and walking into the perinatology clinic gave me a strange, uneasy feeling. I had been back twice since my last pregnancy, once to check on Ames’ autopsy while Simone was still in the NICU, and then later for testing and discussion of the autopsy results—a post-mortem post-mortem, you could say. Returning in the context of a new pregnancy was more difficult than I had expected. I felt jittery and sick. When I tried to check in, the receptionist told me that the ultrasound was still on, but my peri appointment had been canceled. A nurse came out to explain things to me, and I tried to explain to HER that I needed to start Lovenox, that I’d heard it should be started as close to conception as possible, and that was weeks ago, and to my absolute HORROR, I found myself crying. Which…I don’t even…I was as shocked as anyone, let me tell you. The nurse pulled up a chair (I was that patient) and reassured me that they could absolutely start my Lovenox without a full appointment, and that a doctor would see me for a minute after the ultrasound to get me set up with the prescription. I don’t know whether that nurse remembered me from my last pregnancy, but I’m sure she’ll remember me now, alas.

The heartbeat ultrasound itself went well, as you know, which was a massive relief—I didn’t realize until I saw the heartbeat how much I had been expecting NOT to see it. The tech was very sweet (perhaps she had been warned that I was unstable?) and afterward left to get the doctor. And guess who that doctor was?
HINT: you may remember him from such lines as “You can see here that Baby A is demised.”

It was…something. The adjective escapes me. Of all the ultrasound suites in all the perinatology clinics in the world, you know? I mean of course I knew it could be him, or I would have, had I thought about it. But I hadn’t, and it was a surprise.

He came in beaming and full of congratulations and I shook his hand feeling dazed. I don’t think I’d seen him since that awful day, though it’s not like that was the only time we’d met—he was also the doctor who told us we were having a boy and a girl, and I saw him in Labor & Delivery around 16 weeks. Needless to say, it is the 22 week visit that sticks in my mind.
He obviously remembered me, or at least had remembered upon reviewing my chart, and said he’d order the Lovenox and have a nurse meet me in an exam room to go over the details. I was shown to said exam room, and…it was the room in which the DEMISED ultrasound took place. They hadn’t even changed the artwork. That dreadful poster: faux-hand-colored, boy in Olde-Tymey hat and girl with a bow. The ultrasound machine and exam table, everything was in the spot it had been. I felt I might very well have been on a horribly morbid episode of Candid Camera.

The nurse didn’t come in right away, so I had some time to sit dumbly in the chair (the same chair I’d sat in to chat about the twins’ movements, and later to call Scott) and remember that day with a truly sickening level of clarity that was far less like remembering and far more like reliving than I would have wished. I decided, while I was waiting, that I would simply have to switch clinics, but exposing that decision to even the dimmest ray of logic forced the conclusion that switching clinics was a foolish and untenable idea.

So—that was the day of my heartbeat ultrasound.

Yesterday’s appointment was much better. It is already less unsettling to be back in the familiar office, and the nurses are truly lovely, as usual. It helped that I was in a different exam room this time (I have thought of requesting that I never be put in the other exam room again, but I am afraid that will make me seem even more unhinged that I doubtless do already). I won’t deny that the place still feels a bit grim and haunted, though. If you read Half Baked, you may remember the doctor I called McGleamy. I loved him so, and was sure he’d get a kick out of the book. Back when it came out I’d decided to send him a copy, and it was when I was looking for his address that I discovered he’d been killed by a car while crossing a street in front of the Los Angeles Airport, in 2009. There is a lovely plaque in the clinic, with his picture, and it makes me terribly sad. So yes. Grim, haunted. A little.

I did have the same doctor (I am trying very, very hard not to think of him as Doctor Demised, though this is a challenge). He told me that if ever I need reassurance, I can simply “drop by” and someone will give me a quick Live Baby Check. He was very kind, and in a way it isn’t such a bad thing that he was there for what happened before. Though, to be quite frank, he seems to regard it as largely irrelevant, and this is what made the appointment so odd. Quoth he: “this is a whole new pregnancy, and what happened last time…there is no reason to believe it will happen again.”
Which, okay, but is there a reason to believe it WON’T? I kept bringing it up, and he kept gently steering me away, reminding me that I am on both Lovenox and baby aspirin, and that we don’t know exactly why Ames died, and that there is no reason I shouldn’t just sashay on through this pregnancy like a Normal Lady. He’d say things like “You can stop the aspirin at 37 weeks,” and I’d laugh and mime writing it in my calendar, because COME ON, like “I’ll make a note of that, and also can you tell me about the clinic’s evacuation procedures in the event of a zombie apocalypse?” but he was serious. The nurse gave me a booklet with all three trimesters in it, and information about hospital preregistration and “birth” classes, and I accepted it all with a panicked smirk and some mumbled genuflections, and that was that.

I’m nine weeks tomorrow. It’s still early, blah blah blah, but early, late—will there be a time when I feel reasonably convinced that this is going to end in a baby? Honestly, why would there be? I suppose it’s as good a time as any to be hopeful, then. Right?

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

tash December 1, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Jeez, the McGleamy thing reminded me of my RE — who dropped dead of a heart attack while on vacation two weeks after saying “see ya!” to me and my last (successful) heartbeat. Frightful.

Anyway, I have a, um, (counts fingers) nineteen-month old this Saturday and damn if I’m still exhaling. I still can’t believe it all ended in a live baby and continues on that trajectory. I’ll let you know when I drop him off for Kindergarten if the feeling is there.

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decemberbaby December 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm

That time when you feel convinced that this is going to end in a living, squirming pooping baby? In my experience it happens about five minutes after the kid is born.

Congrats again on your pregnancy.

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Paula / Hamburg December 2, 2011 at 10:21 pm

There are many reasons to become pregnant, mostly because that’s what evolution is all about. Even, or probably just because your first pregnancy was not easy. Trust your body and distract your mind, everything will be ok. Good luck!

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Becca December 2, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Do you frequent the HG forums at http://forums.helpher.org? If your Unisom/B6/Zofran regimen is working for you, it may just be a place to vent among women who understand that you want *vitamins* in that lactated ringer, thankyousomuch, and who know more about PICC placement than many nurses.

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Heather December 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I didn’t go in until 10 weeks w/my 2nd pregnancy. We did the doppler thing to hear the baby’s heartbeat (yay!) and left with a diaper bag full of baby goodies. Even w/an uneventful pregnancy following another uneventful pregnancy it was… surreal.

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Sarah December 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Just wanted to chime in and say that I SO hear you….I am a slightly neurotic person to begin with, and probably should be on some sort of anti-anxiety meds but I’m not and so it goes. I have never had a miscarriage, had one full term (actually, 41 weeks!) pregnancy that went absolutely perfectly and am currently 6 months pregnant with number 2 and am just…well, there are probably no words. I am a nervous wreck every time I go in for an ultrasound, I find myself thinking ridiculous thoughts like “well, if I make it to 30 weeks no problem then MAYBE I’ll buy that new stroller” and I’VE NEVER HAD A PROBLEM! I don’t know why I keep thinking like that!! I had to go for my 20 week anatomy ultrasound and they offered me a slot on my son’s second birthday and I wouldn’t take it “in case something was wrong I didn’t want to ruin my son’s day”. And may I repeat- I HAVE NEVER HAD A PROBLEM!! In my last pregnancy OR this current one!!

So I agree with commenters, I think a lot of what you’re going through is a bit PTSD related. But I also think for a lot of mommy’s we just so badly want to have a baby that we drive ourselves crazy with the “what ifs”.

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Homeward Bound December 6, 2011 at 9:58 am

Now is a very good time to be hopeful because hope is something that will help keep you sane through this pregnancy. Have you thought about renting (or buy on ebay) a fetal doppler so you can check the heartbeat at home. That helped me keep semi-sane and probably kept my doctors visits down significantly (I would have rented a room there if I could have).

I know how the exam room thing feels too. AWFUL. When it was discovered my baby had no kidneys (the second time), I was induced/delivered at 19 weeks so a fetal autopsy could be performed. Pretty traumatic, as you can probably guess. Two years later when I went to deliver my daughter, I was taken to the very same delivery room ….

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Mama Fuss December 6, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I had a loss early on in a pregnancy (after one, very routine pregnancy) and there was always a cloud hanging over my 3rd pregnancy of “what if?” I remember feeling like I was holding my breath until around 37 weeks when I knew the pregnancy was highly viable, if you will. Maybe it never goes away, once you know that something tragic can happen. There’s always that worry hanging there. But then, that’s motherhood. Because even once the baby is in your arms, smiling at you, cooing so sweetly, then you have all the other things in the world to worry about for them.

I am so happy for you, Alexa. I am hopeful and prayerful that the Dr is right and that you will have an uneventful pregnancy this time around.

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