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More Troubles

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In my last post, I talked about the troubling uncertainty we had leading up to Michael's birth.  We had a lot of false alarms.  "Hmm, looks like something might be wrong."  (Time passes.)  "Well, I guess it was a false alarm."  Even toward the end, we had one or two more signs of potential Down's, but the doctors told us that the "markers" that showed up were not relevant anymore because we had had a complete count of Michael's chromosomes during the CVS test, and the results were normal.  The markers were simply indicators.  The chromosome count was definitive.

So, all signs were that Michael was going to be perfectly healthy, and yet it seemed we always were sitting down talking to doctors that had grave faces and the word, "But" on their lips.  I even asked my OB when we could "stop worrying."  Now, it was obvious to everyone in the room that I meant when could we stop worrying about all these uncomfortable early test results, but she deliberately misunderstood me.  She said, "As a parent, you never stop worrying.  My kids are over 18, and I still worry about them every day."

Gee, thanks.  I needed that.

Unfortunately, she didn't end the discussion there.  She went on to tell me that just that morning she had delivered a baby to a couple in our local hospital.  They had had all the standard pre-natal tests done and, unlike me, all the tests had come back normal.  So, they went into the delivery room, and the baby was born with Down's.  Then she went on to say this, "Sometimes, you do all you can, and the unexpected happens.  Bad things sometimes happen.  I told that mom that she was just as much a mom as anyone else, and it didn't matter that her baby had some problems."

Well, I'll give the doctor some credit.  She was absolutely right that bad things sometimes happen no matter what, and the baby was a baby and the mom was a mom, and nothing was going to change that.  But, really?  Is that the kind of story to share with a scared pregnant woman who thinks she might be walking into something so much bigger than she can handle?  I don't really think that was the time and place for the story, I really don't.  I was looking for reassurance, or at least a candid explanation of why everyone was continuing to look for problems despite the negative tests.  I needed a verbal hug, not a bolstering pep talk.  I left that office in tears, trying to figure out when, if ever, I might find peace again instead of this lingering anxiety and fear. 

I was bitter and angry at this doctor in our group (let's call her Doctor 'M') for a long time, as was my husband.  As time passed, I eventually saw a method to her seemingly cold and thoughtless words.  First, I think she was afraid I was considering abortion and she was trying to put an end to those thoughts by "reminding me" of my responsibility to the heart beating inside my belly.  Believe me, I never lost sight of that responsibility for one moment.  I think any conclusion on her part that I was considering abortion was a gross overreaction to my distress, and if she really thought that, she needed to have an open and candid conversation with me about her viewpoints rather than this obscurity.  When the early tests had come back, and it looked like one of the possible results would be that Michael had a fatal condition, another doctor (Dr. 'Z') in the group had discussed my options with me, "just in case I was thinking about it."  She had made it very clear, firmly, politely, and openly, that if I decided I did not want to continue a pregnancy that could only lead to heartbreak, they would help me find a doctor to assist me, but that no one in their practice would perform an abortion.  At the end of this conversation, I was neither hurt, angry, or dismayed by the candor, nor did I feel as if I had been accused of being or doing something I was not.

On the other hand, I also think that perhaps Dr. 'M' was still absorbing what had happened to that other family earlier that day, and she was sharing their grief and disappointment in her own way and hadn't yet put the unfortunate situation behind her.  In other words, maybe I just ran into her on the rotation at just the wrong time and she was not able to switch gears from dealing with a grief-stricken new mom to dealing with an anxious and fearful pregnant woman.

I don't know what the issue was, but I was wounded again in a time when everything seemed to be going very wrong.

Unfortunately, again, I had not yet seen the end to my pregnancy complications.  About six weeks before Michael was due, I was in the OB's office again for a routine checkup on a Thursday or Friday only to return home that day with orders for immediate bedrest until the following Monday.  My blood pressure was too high, suddenly, and I was not even allowed to go out to dinner that night.  Of course, the following Monday, nothing had changed, and I was ordered home and in bed for the rest of my pregnancy.

Great.  Just great.  Now, not only was I anxious and scared, but now I was anxious, scared, and left with only daytime TV and books as my companion.  I no longer even had the distraction of going to work every day.

No matter what happened, though, I had one thing to keep me hoping, other than the strong and persistant kicks in my abdomen from a child who was very much alive and active.  I had this:

1st pic

There he was, weak chin and all, looking an awful lot like my own father, even in utero.  Whenever I would look at this, I would feel a little calmer, a little stronger.  This could not be the face of disaster. 



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