This post talks about miscarriage, problems conceiving, and pregnancy difficulties. If that’s not your cup of tea, you should skip this one.
My beautiful boy, your beginning begins with an end.
In early March, 2015, I miscarried when I was eleven weeks pregnant. The very first thing I thought was, “it’s ok. You’ll be ok. You’ll survive this and somehow be better for it. You’ll start exercising, lose weight, start writing again. You’ll be better.” And my second thought was, “what kind of horrible person thinks about exercising at a time like this? It’s no fucking wonder this is happening to you. You don’t deserve another baby. You are worthless. You are nothing.”
And I was broken. For a really long time. I took a few days off work, because I could, I binge watched happy shows about strong women, I mourned. And then I moved on. But I was still broken, still stuck with this empty feeling. My belly should be growing, little feet kicking. But I’m empty. I focused on things I couldn’t do if I was pregnant. I dyed my hair pink. I drank. A lot. I ate rare steaks and drank unpasteurized juice. I got hermit crabs because I really wanted them when I was eight years old so goddamn it I was going to have hermit crabs. It was a strange time.
And after some time passed, we started trying to get pregnant again. And after six months of trying, I was convinced that something was wrong. A woman can only pee on so many sticks. So I called my doctor for a referral.
In January I went to see the woman my doctor had referred me too. I felt good. Proactive. This doctor would tell me what was wrong and help me fix it. I show up early and get signed in. I fill out the paperwork, there’s a problem with my insurance. The doctor I have the appointment with doesn’t take my insurance. In fact, there was only one doctor in the building who took my insurance, a man, would that be alright? Well, it’s not my first choice, but I’m a big girl, I can deal. I just want to get pregnant. The receptionist leaves to see if the doctor can see me at the time of my original appointment.
While she’s gone a pregnant woman comes in and sits opposite me. Tears start to fall, I can’t stop them. When the receptionist comes back, I’m sobbing uncontrollably. I can see in her face that she thinks it’s because of the mix up with doctors. I tell her about my miscarriage, about having trouble getting pregnant. She hands me tissue. Tells me her sister miscarried last year. She’s still not over it.
And then she tells me the doctor can’t see me then, but he could see me later. Could I come back in five hours? Sure, whatever, I just want to get pregnant. She tells me what a good doctor he is, how everyone loves him. She tells me his name. It sounds German. My maiden name is also German. In fact, his name, and my maiden name are only two letters away from being the same name. And, his first name is my dad’s name. Which means that five hours later than my original appointment with the female doctor I would be seeing a male doctor whose name was only two letters different than my estranged father’s. At this point I’m convinced that not only is there something wrong with me, but also that the cosmos are fucking with me.
I wanted a doctor to tell me what was wrong, and boy, is that what I got with Dr Almost-Dad. He told me it was probably because they didn’t do a D and C after my miscarriage (darn those midwives), he’d schedule an ultrasound. I mentioned having trouble nailing down when I was ovulating, he told me I probably wasn’t ovulating, as soon as I was done with him I needed to have blood drawn to be sure. And, while they’re drawing blood, they’ll take a look at my testosterone. Because I have hair above my lip…….. Dude. Cheap shot Dr Almost-Dad. And for the record, I’ve never needed to wax or bleach my upper lip like millions of women, so it really felt like he was grasping at straws, and furthermore, he’s a big stupid butthead and I don’t like him. He did a Pap smear, ordered the blood work and ultrasound and sent me on my way. Now feeling broken AND self conscious.
The blood work came back first. Dr Almost-Dad, who I shall now call Dr Downer, called with the results. One of my hormone levels was lower than it should be, it would appear that I wasn’t ovulating. (My testosterone level was fine, by the way.) Than my Pap smear results came back. Dr Downer called again. I have decided that Pap smears are the medical equivalent of a Magic 8 Ball. Dr Downer let me know that my Pap was abnormal. But he couldn’t say if there was anything to worry about. I’d have to have another test done to be sure. It was the medical equivalent of “Ask Again Later”.
In the midst of all of this, all this bad news, it happened. You happened. I came home after a brutal day at work (and more bad test results from Dr Downer) and all I wanted to do was take a scalding hot bath and drink a bottle of wine. Two things that are definitely not recommended while pregnant. My period was supposed to start that day, and I had one extra pregnancy test, so I figured what the hell. I’ll pee on this stick while I draw the bath. And I was pregnant. While I felt so lost, so completely unsure of myself, you came to be. I called for your dad. I looked at that stick, and I laughed. And I cried. And I released a breath I had been holding in for almost a year.
The next day I called Dr. Downer, naturally he had more bad news. With where my hormone levels were he didn’t think I would keep the pregnancy. I needed to see a doctor yesterday he said. He was writing me a prescription for progesterone to hopefully get my hormones where they should be, and I needed to find another doctor because Dr. Downer didn’t handle pregnancies anymore. So, some good news, I’d never have to talk to Dr. Downer again. I left work early and started making some calls. I found a doctor who could see me the next day.
Now, granted it has been awhile since all of this happened, my memory probably isn’t 100% accurate, but the new doctor looked exactly like Putin. He had a firm handshake, a tacky gold watch, and while performing my pelvic exam, he told me my cervix was funny. I should keep taking the progesterone, set up an ultrasound for when I was at seven weeks to see if there’s a heartbeat (and my heart stopped, IF there’s a heartbeat?), and leave the paperwork I needed signed for work with his nurse.
The next few days I called his nurse’s line probably about ten times. First I called because the progesterone (or one of the other two medications he prescribed me) had made me break out in a hideous and very itchy rash. The first nurse I talked to told me to cut back to only one dose a day. The rash went away. A different nurse called back and told me to go back to two doses a day. I explained that it gave me a rash. She said it shouldn’t, I said, but it did. There was a lot of back and forth, never once did Dr. Putin call me himself. I also called several times to see when I could get my paperwork for my work signed. It basically said that I was pregnant, and might need to miss work occasionally for pregnancy related issues. Pretty straight forward. After a week of run around your dad went down to his office and was told by Dr. Putin that he doesn’t sign paperwork like that.
So I once again started looking for another doctor. This time I knew just where to go. I asked an old coworker of mine who her doctor was. That way I knew he’d take my insurance and sign my forms and at this point that was all I cared about. The very first thing he did was sign my forms. Then he told me that I seemed very healthy and he was sure it would be a fine, healthy pregnancy which after Dr. Downer and rashes and medications, I really, really needed to hear. He made terrible dad jokes, and while I was googling him I found out that he had “left” his previous job after finding a gun and throwing it in a trashcan instead of telling the police, but at that point I was like, good enough. Nobody is perfect.
And I was pregnant. And I was happy. And throwing up all the time. And scared. My “Ask Again Later” pap smear results came back with bad news. There were abnormal cells present. Dr. Dad Jokes referred me to a specialist. I didn’t realize it was a cancer specialist until I was filling out the forms. So that was scary. But everyone seemed to agree that there was nothing to suggest that I couldn’t wait to treat it until after having you, so that’s what I did. Your test results were also problematic. Everything was always “on the cusp of normal”. My hormones remained “on the cusp”, your development was always “on the cusp”. So there were extra visits with Dr. Dad Jokes and extra tests. But there were also extra ultrasounds so that was nice. We got to see you almost once a week. That was one thing where you weren’t “on the cusp”, you were growing so big. 99th percentile big. You just kept getting bigger and bigger.
You were due October 3rd, a year and ten days later than my previous pregnancy’s due date of September 23rd. At my last visit with Dr. Dad Jokes, in the middle of September, he didn’t bother having me make another appointment, he knew you were coming soon.
On September 22nd there was a thunderstorm. I was in bed reading and listening to the rain. Your dad came to bed late, around 11:45. I said I had to pee one more time and then we could turn out the light. I went to the bathroom and my water broke.
We woke up your sister, dropped her off with your grandparents, and headed to the hospital. The nurse on duty asked if there was a storm. Apparently the change in barometric pressure that accompanies a thunderstorm can cause labor and I was the seventh woman who had come in that night. They were a little short staffed that night.
Dr. Dad Jokes popped in around 4am, ordered pitocin, and said he wouldn’t be delivering, as he had just finished a twelve hour shift. The doctor who delivered you was a woman, sweet and supportive. I was glad to see her. I was done with male doctors. Also wonderful was our nurse, who not only helped me through labor, but also chased off visitors, mainly your grandparents. With your sister I had let people in the delivery room and it had been very stressful, so with you, I wanted it to be just me and your dad. And the doctor and nurse of course.
And then, at one in the afternoon, on September the 23rd, thirteen hours after my water broke, you were here. Big, beautiful, and healthy.
You’re two years old now. You love those around you so easily. You give the sweetest hugs. It’s funny to look back on it now. To remember just how hard, and scary the whole thing was. To think about all of those “almost bad” test results and scares. To remember just how desperately we wanted you and how hard we fought for you. I love you with my whole heart, my little bird.