Monday, March 19, 2012

The Worst Day of My Life

Exactly 3 years ago today, I had the very worst day of my entire life. Tomorrow it will be 3 years since we said goodbye to Nicholas.

You would think tomorrow would have been the worst day, but it wasn't. 3 years ago tomorrow, I woke up in far too much pain from being in labor all night to really think about what was happening. And yes, having my son fall out of my body onto the floor was undoubtedly the worst moment of my life. But as much as it hurt, as hard as it was to say goodbye to him, I can't say it was the worst day. Because I got to hold him and kiss him and say goodbye. I got to see his face for the one and only time. And I'll never get the chance to do any of those things again.

So tomorrow will suck. It will be sad and quiet and I won't quite know what to do to feel like I've acknowledged it in the right way. But I'll remember his face too, and that makes it a little bit easier. Tomorrow is a mix of emotions. I never know what to call it. His birthday? That seems to imply cake and balloons and presents. Anniversary isn't right either. It still has a connotation of celebration to it, and that is not what I plan to do. I do not celebrate that day. And then there is the way I've seen a lot of people refer to it- angelversary. God, I fucking hate that so much too. So I don't know. I don't know what to call it or how to deal with it. I just know it makes me sad.

Today though. Three years ago today, I had an early appointment for my 24 week check-up. Rodolfo had worked late the night before and wasn't even going to come with me, but right at the last minute he threw on some clothes and decided to join me. I can't even imagine how I would have survived that appointment if he had just stayed home.

I remember being annoyed about my 20 week ultrasound. The tech was kind of a bitch and just as she started my much-anticipated ultrasound, she told me to be quiet and not ask any questions because she was very busy performing the detailed exam. She printed me some great pictures, but I never got to see the screen. I never got to see my little boy squirming around. So when I walked into my appointment that day 3 years ago, I remember hoping that Nicholas would be in an awkward position where they wouldn't be able to find his heartbeat with the doppler, so I could get another ultrasound. When his heartbeat wasn't found right away, I smiled a little to myself. Listening to his mother already.

My OB assured me that this wasn't anything to worry about. "I think I picked it up for a second, but let's do an ultrasound just to be sure everything is okay". She sent me back to the bitchy ultrasound tech and I waited in the room with the butterflies on the ceiling to see my baby boy again. I expected to immediately recognize the sound of my son's heartbeat, but it wasn't there. I held it together for a few minutes while the tech silently checked without so much as a word to us about what was happening. Finally, I asked what was going on. She said she needed to get the doctor.

This is when I started to panic. I started to cry and asked Rodolfo if he heard the implication in her tone. "Why didn't she say he was okay? I have to go get the doctor? She might as well have said "your baby is dead"." Rodolfo assured me that everything would be fine, but the tears would not stop rolling down my face. I had to be overreacting. It was something else, something they missed at my 20 week ultrasound. Maybe he had a birth defect. That would suck, but we would figure it out. We would love him no matter what. Then the doctor stepped in and the life I knew, the life I anticipated, the life I carried inside of me, it was all gone in a moment.

After giving us 10 or so minutes of privacy to sob and hyperventilate and call our families, my doctor came back in and told me I needed to calm down so she could explain what came next. Calm down? Really? My baby was dead. How the fuck was I supposed to calm down? Somehow, I managed to stifle my sobs for the next few minutes.

My first option was to have labor induced. No. That was my immediate reaction. I couldn't bear it. I was already terrified of labor, and without the prize at the end of it, I just didn't think I was strong enough to do it.

Option number two was a D&E. What the fuck a D&E even was, I had no idea. I just knew I would go to sleep and have surgery and no longer be pregnant when I woke up. It was not explained to me until after we had made that choice, after I was given medication to dilate my cervix, that a D&E meant I would never see my son. In fact, I don't know that it would have even come up at all, if it weren't for the fact that I was asking why this happened. "Well", my doctor explained "We can run some tests, but with the D&E there is only tissue to test, so we may not get a clear answer". Oh. So she was going to rip my baby out of me in pieces. Thanks for the heads-up, cunt.

Oh, and did I mention she called me fat during all of this? Yes, when I told her that I could not bear to labor with my stillborn son, she told me it might be my only option. She told me that because of my weight, there might not be enough... room?... in my cervix to do a D&E. Then she actually bothered to look at my cervix and remarked "oh, well that's not bad". Again, thanks, cunt.

At that point, layers of my cervix were stripped and medicated sponges were placed next to it. Then I left. I left the doctor's office and went home and sat on my couch and stared into space for several hours. I didn't cry. My mom showed up, visibly upset, offering hugs and comforting words but I barely registered them. I was numb. I was in denial. I was a few steps away from being catatonic.

Soon it was time to go to the hospital for pre-admission testing. This is when all the horror of the day shook loose again. I remember sobbing in the waiting room and while they drew my blood. I was suffocated by the realization that my baby was gone. Devastated.

I went back home and started to freak out. I had made the wrong choice. I realized it then. It pisses me off, looking back, to know how little information I was given. Because I spent hours researching cribs and swings and strollers, but did not give a moment's thought to what I wanted to do if my baby didn't make it. And I don't think anyone does.

Why didn't anyone give me more than just the most basic medical information? If I'd have known what a D&E actually was, I never would have chosen to have one. If I'd heard of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, I would have asked them to come take pictures of my son. If I'd have known that you can find funeral homes that will do cremations for free, maybe I wouldn't have spent months after Nicholas' death imagining his remains ending up in a dumpster full of medical waste. I can't tell you how many nights I was kept up by that thought. And you know what else? Maybe have a fucking pamphlet for a grief counselor or something on hand.

Anyway. So I was freaking out. I had realized I didn't want a D&E but for some reason I didn't think I was allowed to change my mind. So I decided that I would need to put myself into labor and maybe I'd have Nicholas before the next day. So Rodolfo and I walked a mile away to an ice cream store near our house, had an ice cream cone and walked home. We were 3/4 of the way back when the contractions started to become really obvious.

I spent the rest of the night in pain. When I finally tried to go to bed I was woken up every 3 minutes or so with another contraction. All I wanted was to be unconscious, to avoid the mental and physical pain, but I was not that lucky, because the worst day of your life takes forever to end. It gives you no break. And you replay it over and over again every year for the rest of your life.

3 comments:

Gia said...

Ohhh, I'm so sorry. This was so upsetting, I could barely read through it. :(

Jana said...

I am so sorry for your tragic loss, and I am even sorrier for the fucking horrible treatment that you received from your medical care providers. It's at these times that we expect those with more knowledge to help us out and they fell incredibly short in helping you grieve properly for your loss.
I would like to believe that tomorrow, and really every day, he spends the days watching you and feeling the love you have for him.

AKD said...

I am crying for you, for Nicholas, for Maddie. Why, why this has to happen. How they can be so cold, so unsympathetic.

I was "lucky" - my OB was amazing, as was the hospital staff.

They had a packet and a memory box they gave us with a blanket, some info and a book, and her foot and handprints. I have always wanted to make up info about NILMDTS, about some online resources. But then I realize that I didn't care about all of that to take home at the time, we didn't get to take home our babies. I am so very sorry, so unspeakably sorry you can't have Nicholas with you.

You are such a good mother to both of your children. You honor Nicholas by remembering him, and by carrying on.