what happened to the baby?

when kids who aren’t really kids anymore ask serious questions previously limited to rated g answers, you gotta ask yourself if they can handle the r rated version. there are some things you don’t share cause they hurt to talk about. other things you don’t share cause you know it will probably be received as something made up.

this morning a boy asked me about nathan so they all gathered around the table to listen. i was surprised by the curiosity and felt pressured to tell the raw truth. they know i was pregnant and that nathan died but that’s really about all. at the time there was very little support for the grieving side of miscarriages. i don’t know if that’s changed in the last twenty plus years. loving and letting go of nathan was a solitary experience because to the world he was never seen so never alive.

a week before the first signs of trouble I’d had a perfect appointment. he looked great on the monitor. all his limbs were in order, his size was as expected, and his heart was strong. a few days after that appointment i started bleeding. less than a teaspoon of blood, but blood nonetheless. i made an appointment and saw the doctor the following day. this ultrasound sounded grim. he said the baby’s heartbeat was slower than it should be, that there was nothing he could do or prescribe except bedrest. he didn’t sound hopeful but i ignored his obvious lack of faith and did as he directed.

the next day the bleeding increased to a near hemorrhaging level and i was experiencing pain never expected or prepared for. i went to the hospital where he performed yet another ultrasound. nathan’s heart had stopped. i was in shock. here’s the unbelievable part:

he took me into a room and told me to lay down and spread my legs as i would for an annual vaginal exam. he wheeled over a tray that scared the shit out of me and pulled out the largest pair of silver salad tongs i’d ever seen. no one else was in that room. not a nurse. not another doctor. not my ex husband. no one.

he’d given me nothing for the physical pain and had no words of encouragement to offer for what i might have been going through emotionally. i was still in shock and frozen, not asking questions – just doing as told. he put those salad tongs inside of me and i started crying at the level of pain i felt though did not ask him to stop. instead i grabbed the sides of the bed i was on and squeezed as hard as i could hoping i wouldn’t die with whatever he was doing to me and the crying only got louder.

loud enough that he stopped, took the tongs out, slammed them on the tray and asked me angrily why i was crying. i told him it hurt. he looked at me like i was an idiot, turned and walked out the door slamming it. i didn’t move and continued to cry, not sure what i’d done wrong, not sure why he was angry at me, not sure why my baby died, not sure why i was alone.

if i didn’t experience this myself i wouldn’t believe it so why on earth would i share it with anyone?

he came back a few minutes later, gave me a gown and said he was taking me to surgery. i did as told still not asking questions. had no fucking idea where my ex was. a nurse wheeled me through a room where i think there was an overflow of mothers with new babies, their beds separated only by curtains. all i could hear was the cry of newborns which intensified the pain being experienced. they helped me onto the bed in the surgery room and i started crying again, panicking at the ten or so people in the room witness to my nakedness and having flashbacks of being raped, fearing that on top of losing nathan i was going to be double-dutch fucked while under anesthesia. it was that thought that led me to almost falling off the bed in a feeble attempt to get up and run away. several of them ran over and held me down as a man with a soft and gentle voice put a mask over my face and asked me to count to ten. i didn’t count. i just wailed in anger that i was alone and was going to be fucked again.

no matter. the anesthesia worked. i don’t know what happened in that room. i woke up in the same room with women who’d just given birth. the babies were still crying. i felt nothing and my ex was standing next to my bed with the doctor. he spoke soft and gentle to me, pulling a complete jekylI and hyde. he said the surgery went well and that i could go home the next day. i wasn’t totally in my right mind but do remember asking him in that moment if i could have the ultrasound photos because i had nothing else to hold onto, nothing else to prove i’d had a living being inside of me. he said i didn’t want ‘that’ because it would only cause me ‘sadness’. i didn’t respond as he walked away, just cried and fell back to sleep.

so it wasn’t just that i lost nathan, it was also that i was traumatized by the care received in that loss. the kids said i should have sued and i said why, it wouldn’t bring him back.

it took a long time to figure out how to grieve all of it but i did. eventually took all the steps sometimes called stages. life sometimes seems to be about repeatedly walking those same series of steps and building the muscles needed to keep walking on flat terrain.

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