By Kathy Carr
Kathy is an after-infertility and loss Mommy to 6 children; three of her precious children await her in Heaven. In this article, Kathy candidly shares the heartache of losing a child to miscarriage.
I drive with the windows down because it's 75 degrees and the breeze is soaked with the sun's warmth. It's that delicious warmth that has a hint of a chill in it because it's October and it's supposed to be getting cold. I always think that nothing bad should happen on such a gorgeous day, but terrible things don't often pay attention to the weather. When I get to the doctor's office, I don't want to go in. The air in there is the opposite of fresh. And it smells like bad news. If I stay outside in this sweet, clear air, maybe what my gut is telling me won't be true. I go in, though, because if I don't, I'll get charged for the appointment plus a fee for not canceling within 48 hours.
As I sit on the cold, uninviting examination table, there's sweat in the fold of my stomach and my hands are trembling. After waiting in that stupid paper gown for four minutes and thirty-two seconds – listening to the muzak version of “Tears in Heaven” – the experienced obstetrician comes in. After a quick greeting, he gets out the doppler because he knows that's really all I'm here for. He tries to pretend he doesn't notice the puddle of sweat that has gathered in my belly button as he puts the doppler probe on my stomach. I want to throw up and my heart is pounding like the bass that rattled the car in front of me at a stop light on the way here. I'm certain that even if there was a heartbeat to hear, it would be drowned out by mine. The doctor is so naive; he's got that just-wait-until-you-hear-this-it'll-be-the-most-amazing-moment-of-your-life look on his face as he moves the probe around and listens for the sound of galloping horses. I listen, too – straining to hear even just a trot. I think I must be stupid because I knew before I even came here that she was gone. I guess a mother knows these things.
Slowly, his face gets that I'm-trying-to-look-confident-so-that-you-won't-know-I-think-something-is-wrong look. “Let's get you an ultrasound,” he finally says, “Sometimes those babies can hide and we have to find them with an ultrasound.” I look down at my thin frame and the tiny bulge in my stomach. Not a lot of room for a baby to hide. My legs are jelly as I follow the doctor down the hall. I know it's gonna be bad. I know it. So why the heck am I still hoping? He turns on the ancient gray television screen and angles it down so I can see when he triumphantly points to the screen and says, “There it is!” Only, when the grainy image comes up, he can't hide the concern on his face and I've had enough bad-news ultrasounds to tell that the gummy-bear-shaped blob on the screen is a baby with no heartbeat. The doctor jiggles the probe around on my belly, as if that will make the baby come to life. He measures the baby from head to rump. She measures 9.4 weeks. I'm almost 15 weeks. He is silent, not sure how to break the news, so I say it for him: “My baby's dead, isn't it?” My voices sounds thick and devoid of emotion. The obstetrician hesitates and then claims that since he's not a professional ultrasound tech, he can't make a positive diagnosis. And he points to the machine and says it's a really old machine. He leads me back to the exam room and tells me to get dressed. I had forgotten I was wearing only my underwear and a paper gown.
When I re-enter the sterile hall he gives me that gosh-I-don't-know-what-to-say-but-it-would-be-rude-to-just-say-nothing look. “I'll have the secretary schedule a D&C for tomorrow,” he says, his eyes fixed on a point on my neck or collarbone. He also has her schedule another ultrasound with a “real technician – just to confirm,” he says, with a look that says he knows his pants should be on fire. Then he scurries away, and I'm pretty sure I hear him let out a long breath of relief. I stand in the check-out area and gaze at the women with basketballs for bellies sitting in the waiting room. I feel like drop-kicking them into a large vat of ultrasound gel – because I don't actually want to hurt them; I just want to do something to ease my agony.
I wait while the secretary dials the number for the ultrasound appointment. I'm trying to look nonchalant so that no one will know that I'm a walking casket. She tries to be discreet and half-whispers “to confirm fetal demise” to the scheduler on the other end. A pause, then she repeats “fetal demise” a little louder. Pause. “Fetal demise” Pause. “Fet-al de-mise.” She looks at me apologetically and I feel like grabbing the phone and screaming to the person on the other end, “My baby is dead, you freaking moron!” But I don't. I just push my lips back into what I hope looks like a smile and swallow the boulder that is lodged in my throat. She finally hangs up the phone treating the receiver as though it were made of fine china. “Do you need someone to come and drive you home?” she asks. I do. I want Tom to come get me. But I can't stay in this office with its stale air and round bellies and pretend I'm okay until he comes. I shake my head and walk out the door into the sunshine-infused air. There isn't a cloud in the crystal blue sky. I get into the car and put down the windows. Because it's October and it's 75 degrees.
Please visit Kathy's website, Mommy in the Mirror.