Friday, February 10, 2012

What to do with this empty womb?

Part of my job is to set up and take down concerts and recitals. I'm usually the first one in and the last one out. What I notice at the end of a really successful recital after everyone has left, that there is an eerie feeling that their energy is still there in the auditorium.  I can usually hear the performers greeting people in the hall and their voices trail off, but the excitement on the stage is still there, its warm and palpable.  I can't explain it, but when I turn off the lights it almost feels like I'm leaving someone in the dark and I always double check but nobody is there.
I recently went for my annual gyno check up. Something I think every women dreads. I used to love to see my doctor when I was pregnant, but by the last appointment I was ready to take a long vacation from him and that office.  Waiting, waiting some more, small talk, exam. This appointment I noticed he spent a little more time then usual on the exam. I have known this man for over 10 years and he has delivered 2 of my sons. I have been able to detect a problem by the expression on his face. What doctors don't realize is that we watch their every nuance.  He said he believed that I had fibroids and that he needed me to get an ultra sound. Ugh. Another appointment. He gave me the best and worst case scenario. Worst being a hysterectomy. Wait. What? Isn't that something that women get when they are really really old? He explained that I was late in my child bearing years. Again, what? I'm 34!  So we said our goodbyes and I set the appointment. I can't explain it exactly but I have a deep love for this man.  How can I not? He was like the UPS man delivering my most prized possessions and he didn't damage the goods.  I will always have respect for him.
The next day I went in to the ultra sound. The tech was the same, the room had changed, but it had all the same things in it, a march of dimes calendar on the wall. Photos of the tech's daughters. I feel like I have watched them grow, just by their photos.  I was nervous.  I saw the daddy chair there, where Don used to sit and pretend to know what we were looking at.  He once mistakenly said he saw the babies cute face when it was, in all actuality, his butt.  The doctor and tech got quite a chuckle from that and Don never commented publicly about an ultra sound ever again.
When the images of my insides were on the screen I couldn't help but feel a bit sad.  It was so dark, so vast and so empty.  A womb with out a tenant.  She scanned over the right ovary and explained that the dark spots were eggs.  I thought about how they were eggs that would never get the chance to be little babies.  I know I sound very doom and gloom and perhaps a bit lofty and dramatic but I am just being honest.   She did indeed find fibroids, but by this time, I had gone to a painful place in my mind that I was trying to get out of.
I was 14 weeks pregnant. I had been in 2 weeks prior for an appointment and heard the baby's heartbeat.   Don never came with me to the early appointments, especially being that this was going to be our fourth baby.  As the doctor tried to get a heart beat he couldn't hear it. He explained that it was early and that he was going to do an ultra sound just to check things out. I wanted to remind him that we had already heard the heartbeat, but I always loved getting sonograms so I didn't speak up.  I went into the familiar room, with the same tech and watched the monitor as she found the sac, the uterus and the baby.  Having 3 boys prior to this I couldn't seem to see the little flicker of light which was the heart beat. I immediately looked at her. Was something wrong with the machine?  I could tell she was avoiding eye contact with me. She left the room. I sat there looking at this little peanut image without a heartbeat.  The doctor came in and told me that the fetus had died and that I had a spontaneous abortion.  It wasn't my normal doctor and I felt like he was being cold.  First of all, my definition of abortion and his were completely different. And secondly what did he mean? The baby (not fetus) is right there. I wanted to grab the ultra sound machine, press it on my belly and try and save it, or anything but just sitting there!  I asked if there was anything we could do. He said, he was sorry and told me what to expect in the next couple of days, bleeding, cramping... I had already tuned him out.
I went home and collapsed. The only people that even knew I was pregnant were Don and my mom.  I called Don and told him the news, but he couldn't come home so I had to wait. I sat there and thought, there is a baby in here, maybe they are wrong?  A few days went by, I still hadn't bled, at least not on the outside. On the inside I was devastated.  We told the boys that I was sick and that I had to stay in bed. The only truth to that was that I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed. Miscarriages are the loss of the future you had for a child.  I wanted to be alone with the baby inside of me.  Finally I had to have a D&C, I couldn't stand waiting for it to happen naturally and I was afraid of what I might see.  I woke up from the surgery feeling vacated.   Thankfully,  at this point I thought it was a fluke and I didn't know I would go through this again six month later. After that I didn't have the hope that eventually a baby would be able to grow healthy in there again.
All of this consumed my mind as I sat looking at this place that all four of my boys, plus 2 others had occupied. As I looked at my insides I felt nostalgic, like a place that you visit and it just makes you happy for the memories.
I'm sure the tech didn't realize that she was the same one who did that awful ultra sound or that I had gone to that dark place just then.  Memories are weird.  I used to love them in acting class when I could access all the pain and use it for a scene. Although the "pain" I would revisit back then didn't hold a candle to pain like this.
As I left I tried to pull myself together. I thought about the auditorium that I work in,  that every time I leave the empty place, it still has an alive energy. I would like to think that maybe that is the case in my womb too. Although it may be empty, it has the energy of 6 little souls, energy that I have the privilege to carry around with me every day knowing it will not be going anywhere. 

1 comment:

  1. Again you have expressed what most women feel. Thank you for writing it down and knowing that we women are not alone with some of our thoughts even though we don't talk about them.