I was almost afraid to go to sleep last night. Afraid of dreaming (which isn't that common for me), but I was actually more afraid of history repeating itself on the same day. As everyone with rational thoughts would expect, it has not repeated itself at this point. Today will always have more significance to me than tomorrow, but it seems that tomorrow will forever be the date that the rest of the world is interested in.
One year ago today I woke up to the immediate realization that I had slept all night long...something that I had not done in a few months. All night long...with the exception of the gall bladder pain that sat me straight up from a sound sleep for just a minute or two around 1:30. As the 2 hours ticked by, I became increasingly aware of the lack of movement in my belly, and within 3 hours of getting up I had determined that there was no heartbeat to be found in my belly other than mine.
One year ago today it rained all day. I will remember that forever. I was scheduled for a BPP ultrasound at 12:15, followed by a NST and midwife appointment. Instead of using my morning in the office for paperwork, I found myself making a horrid call to my OB practice. Because there is really no other option in the automated telephone system that answers your call, I opted to speak with a nurse that morning. It is a call that I will remember forever. It went something like this...
"Hi. My name is Susan. I am a patient there, and I am currently 36 weeks. I have an appointment with Mark at 12:15, and then a NST and a midwife check; but I am pretty sure that there is something very wrong with my baby at this point. I haven't had any movement since 11:30 last night, which is very unusual. I also can't find her with my stethoscope, which is something that I haven't had any trouble doing over the last few weeks. I'm assuming that I should come now instead of later when we are scheduled; I just need to know if I should go to the office or directly to L&D."
"What do you mean you can't find her?"
"We have been listening and monitoring her heart rate several times a day with the stethoscope. I have never had any problems finding it, but I haven't been able to locate it for about 30 minutes now."
"What is the point of listening with a stethoscope?"
"It's an arrangement that we have at this stage of the game, but that's not really the point. The point is that I have not had any movement since about 11:30 last night and I cannot find her heartbeat."
"Well, you need to remember that as you get closer to your due date, the baby stops moving. It's not going to be like it was over the last couple of months. Have you tried laying on your left side?"
"I have laid on my left side, my back and my right side. I have played music, which always gets her to move. Nothing. I understand that movement diminishes and changes as you get closer, but it doesn't stop completely literally overnight. And it doesn't make their heartbeat disappear. That's what I'm worried about."
"Have you had anything to eat or drink? Did you have breakfast? Maybe you should try some ice water."
"I had breakfast and I've done very cold juice, also with nothing."
"Well, Mark doesn't get here until 12:00, and we don't really have any midwife slots open until the time that you're scheduled, so it's not really going to do any good for you to come early. We can't really see you until then. It's only a little more than an hour and a half until your appointment at this point, anyway. Try laying back down on your left side for a while and eat something else. See if that helps."
"So I'm telling you that there is something very wrong going on in my belly and you're telling me to lay back down?"
"Well, again, we can't really see you before your scheduled time, so just lay down and rest, and we'll see you around 12:15."
So, I sat in the recliner for about 20 minutes, pretty sure that there was a dead baby in my belly. After 20 minutes I could not wait any more. We took my hospital bag and headed to the office. We were early for our scheduled appointment; I told the girl at the window I was early, and told her why. She didn't seem to be phased a whole lot by what I said, but I also didn't use the word 'dead.' She said that Mark had gotten there a little early, so perhaps he would get us in a little early. We parked in the waiting room, and got in about 15 minutes early for the ultrasound. The rest is history.
The issue of the phone call was addressed with my midwife shortly after they started my Pitocin that afternoon. She assured me several times in the weeks that followed that it was dealt with immediately, which I was grateful for. I know that it didn't make a difference in the overall outcome, because Gracie was already gone when I called, but being blown off by that nurse just really pissed me off...and today I can't get it out of my head. Perhaps it's part of the reason I feel so strongly now about so many care providers (across all disciplines) assuming that they always know best and/or know the answers before their patients even speak...and consequently pay no attention when their patients do speak or dismiss everything that is said as being uneducated or off-base...
I have a few more questions to answer, which will come in the next few days...perhaps later today if I cannot manage to stay on track with the busy work that I have planned for myself. Tomorrow we will have a casual picnic dinner with our immediate family and release some balloons for Gracie. (It's kind of ironic the number of balloons I have been responsible for releasing over the last year, because it is something that I have, for a long time, been opposed to for environmental reasons... Funny how one life event can change perspective.) Wishing you all a peaceful weekend (and hoping that I can stay busy through mine!)....