I made breakfast, noting that I didn’t feel like continuing with my morning ritual of two glasses of water. Why would I drink two glasses straight away this morning? There is no one inside me who will benefit from this sustenance. I notice that my upper back hurts.
“It’s probably my kidneys,” I think to myself. “My body needs the water.”
That thought quickly leaves only to be replaced with this:
“Who gives a fuck if my kidneys fail right now! Screw it! I am not going to drink anymore water.”
I open my laptop and sit at my kitchen table while trying to stuff waffles in my mouth.
I notice I can’t swallow.
I chew longer.
I still can’t swallow. There is a massive lump in my throat preventing me from swallowing anything.
I add my chocolate almond milk to the mix hoping that the waffles will go down a bit easier. I try hard to swallow and muster up the ability but I feel every bit of the waffles travel down my esophagus and into my stomach.
“Maybe I will choke to death?” I think. “Keep eating.”
I am catching up on messages from friends. Nothing is helping. The tears well-up and I just want to wail. My kidneys hurt. I have only talked with my Stillbirthday family about all I am enduring but nothing they say is really helping. In fact, it almost seems condescending. I am not sure why. I had been struggling this week about my Stillbirthday family and contemplated shutting myself out. Then this happens. It was so weird. I think it’s because I had been feeling so alone and distant from them that now, all of a sudden, they were all there. I hated what I was feeling and just wanted to feel better.
As I perused my newsfeed, I had a strong feeling that I needed to document todays appointment. I felt I needed to have a photographer there to capture my grief. I was scared to even mention it to my husband. I quickly asked my miscarriage and stillbirth network if there were any photographers available for a different kind of session. One person, who already knew about my loss, responded with a possible photographer but everyone else kind of remained silent.
After 45 minutes or so, I couldn’t wait much longer, I needed an answer as we would all be leaving for the appointment soon. I posted, “Would it change anyone’s mind if they knew this request was for me?” It wasn’t very long before I received a few private messages and someone who knew someone that could be there.
I had never heard of this person and wasn’t sure I could even let them into such a private and vulnerable space but I needed to because for some reason, I needed this documented. I told my friend to coordinate it for me and gave her all our info. The next step was asking my husband if he was okay with this.
As soon as he finished his shower, just 45 minutes before our appointment time, I asked him. His response, “If this is something you need, I am okay with it.” It was a loving response. I loved him so much right now. We were both hurting so much. I had just heard him crying hard while he was in the shower and it killed me.
I decide to take a quick shower and blow dry my hair. I pick an outfit for the day. My maternity jeans and a pink shirt. I had just started wearing maternity jeans and even though I know my baby died, I was still pregnant. This baby was still within my womb.
A friend came over to watch Timmy while hubby and I went to this appointment. I didn’t want to have to worry about entertaining Timmy while I had a bunch of questions. I knew my husband would end up stepping into the hall when Timmy began to get restless. It would be nice to just be alone together to grieve.
I was nervous for the appointment and having the photographer there. As much as I wanted the photos, I had no idea what she would take pictures of. I almost wished she didn’t show up.
When we got to the clinic, we were greeted by the ladies that help you get checked in using the self-service kiosks. I blew past one of them to the first empty kiosk. The lady kept trying to get my attention to ask if I need help. I didn’t say anything to her and just ignored her as best I could. She finally left me alone with “let me know if you need any assistance.”
“JUST SHUT UP! PLEASE!” was going through my head.
The woman next to me was in distress. She was an elderly woman, probably in her late 70’s and she was struggling with the digital technology. She had one of the greeters attempting to help her and all she kept repeating was, “Why do we have to check ourselves in? What happened to talking with a real person to get checked in?” I was glad for the kiosk but I completely understood this woman’s frustration. There is no personalization anymore. It’s all digital.
I notice something this time though, as I am checking in. I have a co-pay. Ugh! I am no longer an OB patient so I have to pay the specialist fee. Just yesterday, I didn’t have to pay. This was adding insult to injury. It was my first sign that I was no longer “pregnant.”
We finish checking in and we wait for the photographer. I sat while hubby stood by me. We were so solemn and had distant looks on our faces. I wondered what people thought of us. We decided to head to OBGYN and I would text my friend who set all this up.
I soon got a text from the photographer that she was here and ran into her in front of the laboratory. It was an awkward introduction. She sat in front of me as we waited for our appointment. I tried to make small talk. I needed something to break the silence. It was deafening. Little did we know that one of hubby’s work buddies was sitting two chairs down. He was very glad there was no interaction. His eyes were red and filled with tears.
The nurse called me back to the room and we all went together. No photos were taken until we made it to the room. The ultrasound machine was brought in. We were all squeezed in there. Hubby held me as I sat at the end of the exam table. I just started bawling. He started bawling and I heard the snap of the camera.
I looked up at hubby and I told him I was sorry. Somehow, I felt like this was my fault. He comforted me. I got undressed and sat waiting for our midwife. I explained who the photographer was and asked for permission. She granted it. She was very accommodating to the situation.
As I was violated once again with the ultrasound transducer wand, we stared at the screen and hoped yesterday’s ultrasound was wrong. The baby was found easily today and our midwife took a measurement. I forgot to ask her what the measurement was. I asked for a picture but I think she thought I was talking to the photographer because I never got one.
Our midwife used all the same tools as the previous day. As she explained everything, I could hear my husband crying. This made me cry. I tried not to lose it because then we wouldn’t see the baby at all. Our midwife said, “I’m sorry Elizabeth, but this is the same outcome as yesterday.” She turned off the machine and our baby was gone. We would never see our baby again.
I got dressed and composed myself. We had lots of questions about the procedure and all we wanted to accomplish. I explained that I was very worried about delivering at home and having the tools available to catch and preserve the baby. Our midwife was so accommodating. She provided me with everything and more. Sterile cups and gloves, saline, and a hat for the toilet so our baby wouldn’t have to fall in the toilet.
I was so grateful for her and the understanding she had for this baby. She was trying to preserve this baby’s dignity as well. She was treating this baby as she would her own child. This made the situation so much more comforting. She was a true blessing during this difficult time. I believe God put her in our lives for this reason. She is only two weeks from retirement. I couldn’t have imagined going through this without her.