***Trigger warning: pregnancy loss, depression***
I remember this appointment vividly. It was my annual with my obgyn. What I hadn’t shared in this Facebook post was that this was just a few months after we had miscarried our first pregnancy. In December of 2016, I was at an ultrasound where I had expected to confirm I was nearly 12 weeks pregnant. Instead my husband held my hand as we stared at an empty screen. The doctor took two hours to enter the room, and when she did her first words were, “Looks like you failed to miscarry. These things happen. But you know, it probably never even had a heartbeat.”
We were devastated. I knew miscarriages happened, but I hadn’t anticipated it to happen to me…like this…
And what comfort was it to know my baby hadn’t had a heartbeat? It didn’t make the loss any less poignant. It didn’t make my attachment to it any less real.
I felt confused. Betrayed. Angry and bitter. Worst of all, I felt alone. My doctor seemed distant and removed. She had no affect or emotion about what I was going through, which made it all the more difficult for me to ask for help when I realized I was drowning in depression and couldn’t get out. At my annual appointment in April, I finally worked up the courage to say, “I feel like I am not myself. I can’t stop crying, and things feel so heavy all the time. Could this still be from the hormones from the loss?” She dismissed me and said that anything I was experiencing wasn’t from the pregnancy. My hormones were fine just like my body. If I was having problems it must be from my mind. She could give me a sample of Zoloft if that’s what I needed.
I silently cried on the patient table while she examined me. She told me, “Must be nice to be a teacher. I keep telling my husband he should become a teacher because at least he would get summers off.”
I want to stress that this doctor is still highly praised in the Nashville area. I see her name pop up on mom groups and women strongly recommend her practice. I don’t know what happened to lead her and me to that spot in April 2017, but I do know it was exactly the opposite of what I needed. I refused to pick up the sample of Zoloft she left for me (though goodness knows I needed it). I tore my patient post-card reminder in half and threw it away. I promised myself I would never ask for help again. I put myself through months of needless hardship because I didn’t feel I deserved help.
When I became pregnant with Connor, I looked for another obgyn. I actually Googled “obgyn who is good with miscarriage,” and this new doctor was the first name that popped up. She has lived up to that reputation. She comforted and reassured me throughout my entire pregnancy. One day I asked her, “When will I stop worrying about this baby? When will I stop being so panicked all the time?” She hugged me and said, “My son is 22. It hasn’t happened for me yet.” Her authenticity and empathy carried me during those anxious times. She helped me feel less alone.
This past May, I experienced another loss. I had found out I was pregnant on Mother’s Day, and it just felt meant to be. I was over-the-moon elated. A week later, I woke up with intense bleeding and cramping. When the Nurse Practitioner walked into the office, I burst into tears. She immediately scooped me into her arms and held me tight. She promised me the whole office supported me and whatever they needed to do to help me would be done. She said if I needed to talk or to have someone hold me while I cried, to just call and they would put me on the schedule. What a difference in care.
The facebook memory from April 2017 popped up on my feed yesterday, and I had to stop and appreciate how far I’ve come in five years. I am nearly twenty weeks pregnant, and I am worlds better at being kind to myself. A few weeks ago I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. I messaged my doctor and asked if I could come in to hear the heartbeat. She immediately agreed and we spent a good five minutes just listening to the little guy as he raced around my womb.
I’m not sure why it felt so important to share this story. I think I just wanted to encourage you that in five year’s time, so much can change. When you feel like you’re not yourself and a heavy cloud is following you around, don’t be afraid to ask for help. And if you aren’t given the help you need (or you are belittled for asking for it) keep fighting. You deserve kindness. You don’t deserve to feel alone.
And also….teachers don’t get the summer off you stupid head.