Hand and Stone SpaHubby scheduled me a massage at Hand and Stone Spa. We are both members there and have really enjoyed the services they offer. It was Sunday, the Sunday after Mother’s Day and we were headed to his mother’s house to celebrate Mother’s Day. Last Sunday was ruined by snow so we were doing a “re-do.” Hubby had visited the spa that day to pick up a gift certificate for his mother. While there, he thought he would be nice and schedule a massage for me the next day.

I hadn’t been out other than doctor’s appointments since the loss and this would be a great way to get me out of the house. It would require some coordination, as I would have to drop Timmy off at day care but this would get me out and help me make “moving forward” steps. I was excited, yet scared. I mostly looked forward to the relaxation I would get.

Hubby asked if I wanted to schedule an appointment with my regular therapist. I told him I didn’t want to see her and to schedule me with someone new. I didn’t want to see her because we have quite a connection and I felt it would be too emotional for both of us. Really, I felt like we would both spend the hour crying and that I wouldn’t leave relaxed so he scheduled me with someone new. There were no issues with him scheduling the appointment.

The next morning, I got Timmy ready for day care. He HATES day care and usually cries when I drop him off. This is just a drop-in center and he has never been there longer than three hours but he has an attachment to his family and this is very hard for him. I struggled with the fact that I was torturing him that day just for me to be spoiled but I pushed through. I needed this and I would be better for it.

As we drove to daycare, I chatted with him as he sat in the back seat. I explained he wouldn’t be there long and that we would spend plenty of time together at home afterwards. As I pulled into the parking lot, my phone rang. I couldn’t answer it, I had to let it go to voicemail. My massage was at 10:00am and it was 9:50am. I was just down the street from the spa but I was still in a rush. I had never seen this massage therapist before and I didn’t know if she would need me to fill out a form for her.

I dropped Timmy off at the center. Surprisingly, he wasn’t crying when I handed him off to the staff. I rushed out quickly. I was glad but I didn’t want to get too emotional. If anyone looked at me funny for any length of time, I would break down and cry. I felt so fragile in these days. Hubby had returned to work and I didn’t want him there. I wanted him home with me and that was traumatizing to me.

When I returned to the car, I listened to the voicemail that was left for me.

“Hi Elizabeth, this is Allison at Hand and Stone. I see you are on the schedule but your record shows you are pregnant. We cannot massage you until you are at least 12 weeks pregnant. You will not be receiving a massage today.”

That was it. I tried not to cry. I was angry. The message was so cold. Didn’t this person understand that I wouldn’t be trying to sneak in a massage? Why was her message so cold?

I called back. I spoke to the receptionist, “Hi, I have a massage with Allison in a few minutes. She just called to tell me that she wouldn’t massage me. While I understand why I can’t be massaged until I am 12 weeks, I am no longer pregnant. I had my baby last week.”

The receptionist didn’t say much. She just told me that I could still get a massage. I made the assumption that in the five minutes it takes me to get there, that she would have talked with Allison, the massage therapist, and I would go straight to a room.

When I get there, I am not checked in. The receptionist is busy so I take a seat in the waiting area. I am trying hard not to break down. A massage therapist comes out with her client. She is at least seven months pregnant. I would describe her as “very” pregnant although there is no degree of pregnancy. I kept saying to myself, “Please don’t let that be Allison, please don’t let that be Allison, please don’t let that be Allison.”

I heard them talking and learned her name was Monica. “Whew, that’s the other person I could have had a massage with. I am so happy I won’t have her today,” I thought to myself.

Ten minutes later, I am still sitting in the waiting area. No therapist has come out to see me. I watched as the receptionist ran to the back. A few minutes later, she returned. The pregnant woman followed her and started walking towards me. My heart began to beat fast. I could feel it in my chest.

I felt my hands get sweaty as Monica reached her hand out and said, “Elizabeth?” I reached out and shook her hand out of habit.

“I will be your massage therapist today,” she said.

I immediately looked towards the receptionist and said loudly, “What happened to my scheduled therapist.”

The receptionist (who I later learned was a manager), had that look on her face. You know, the “deer in the headlight look.” She just stood there. She said nothing.

Monica told me that Allison wasn’t available and she would like to talk with me privately. I followed her into a room. She took me into the first room behind the waiting room and shut the door. She said, “Allison doesn’t feel comfortable massaging you.”

My heart sank again. “What? Why?” I thought. “What is so wrong with me that she wouldn’t massage me?

Monica continued with, “We talked with your regular therapist Erika and she said that you were eight weeks pregnant last time you saw her, is that right?”

I couldn’t believe what was happening. I felt like I was on trial or something. The reason I felt like this was because I saw Erika the day I peed on the stick. I knew she wouldn’t massage me if I was pregnant but I was really hurting and needed the body work. Nothing was confirmed by a doctor and the line on the pregnancy test was very light. After the massage, I told her I thought I was pregnant. I know she was scared but I told her it was all okay and it would be fine.

I felt mistrust. I felt like these therapists had been talking behind my back about my care. What else had they been talking about? Was my medical information private?

I couldn’t bear to be in the room any longer. I don’t remember what Monica said after that, I just ran out of the room. I moved as quickly as I could. I heard her talking behind me. I heard her say, “I would like to talk with you.” She sounded genuine but all I could feel was mistrust, anger, disappointment, and extreme sadness that I lost my baby and couldn’t even get a massage.

I yelled, “No!” And continued to run out of the building. I got in my car and just started bawling. I don’t even think I had been breathing. I felt so out of breath and just let everything out. I immediately called Hubby. He didn’t answer but I left him a message. I am not sure if he understood any of it because I was crying so hard.

I pulled into a parking lot across from the daycare and just cried as hard as I could. I couldn’t believe this. I took Timmy to daycare and ventured out to get a relaxing massage and this happened. I was on trial. I couldn’t get a massage and I lost my baby.

After I calmed down, I went to pick up Timmy. Later that day, I was able to talk with Hubby and I explained I needed him to call Hand and Stone and ask what happened. There is no way I can talk to them right now and I am not sure I want to go there again. I told him I wanted to file a complaint with the state about their treatment. I felt discriminated against because of my medical condition (pregnancy loss). I have no idea why Allison didn’t want to touch me. I felt like I had boils all over my body!

Hubby was great and told me he would call them right away and call me back. When he called me back, he told me that the manager, Amanda, was lost for words. He told me that she was very sorry for what happened and wanted to make things right. He said that she wanted to talk with me but wanted to give me time to recover. He gave me her number and told me that I could talk with her or we could go in and talk with her together. Hubby even offered to call her again later on my behalf.

I needed time. It would be hours before I called her back. When I did, she didn’t answer her phone. I waited an hour and called the actual Spa. I was transferred to her. I spoke with her for about an hour. She was definitely at a loss for words. She sounded very sincere and upset about what happened.

She relayed that the therapist should have never contacted me in the first place. She said that Allison is “set in her ways” and can be difficult. She said that they should have talked with their manager and the manager should have called me to ask questions. She also told me that the therapists shouldn’t have talked about my care but that Erika and Monica were friends so that’s why there was conversation.

I told her about my distrust and how upsetting it was that a pregnant woman was sent out to talk with me. I talked with her about what they needed to do for women experiencing pregnancy loss. I gave her the exact words that should be said when someone schedules a massage before 12 weeks and their chart shows they are pregnant. I talked with her about how no studies show a correlation with massage causing pregnancy loss in the first trimester. I even talked with her about training for the staff.

She offered an 80-minute massage to me. She really wanted to keep me and my family as members. I told her that we felt like leaving and never coming back. I talked with her about how I wanted to file a complaint with the state as well. I felt like she was being genuine though and accepted her offer with a few conditions.

I explained that I needed a therapist that wouldn’t stop if I started crying during the session. She gave me a recommendation of a therapist and stated this person was great. I told her that I needed this therapist to know that I had a pregnancy loss and not to ask me questions about it or talk with me about it. She stated she would talk with the therapist before I came in.

I also asked her to talk with Erika as I felt that Erika was probably hurt that I didn’t schedule with her. I explained to her why I didn’t schedule with Erika and asked her to talk with her. She told me that Erika felt responsible as if her massage caused the miscarriage. I explained that I hadn’t seen Erika in two months and there was no way her massage could have caused this miscarriage.

Amanda gave me her personal cell phone number again and told me to text or call it to schedule the massage. I felt confident she would take care of these issues for me. This was a Tuesday. I scheduled a massage for Saturday.

I was very disappointed when nothing had been passed on to my massage therapist and Erika. When I went in for the massage, my therapist asked me how I was doing. I assumed she knew what happened so I responded with, “I am doing as well as expected.” When she placed her hand on me and asked me what was going on, I immediately changed my tune and told her all was well. It was apparent she had no idea.

When I checked out after the massage, Amanda was there. I asked her if she had talked with Erika. She said she had not. She apologized and said she would take care of it right away. I felt more distrust. It was very important to me that she talked with Erika right away. She even said she would do it on Tuesday. Erika had been worrying for days about what happened when she didn’t have to be. I was upset and disappointed.

The massage was great and I was very happy to be accommodated but there were certain needs that weren’t met. I think Hand and Stone Spa failed miserably with my personal situation as well as my pregnancy loss. I really hope that Allison was reprimanded for the treatment (or lack thereof) that I received as well as for not following policy. I fear that wasn’t addressed either considering none of the other issues were addressed.

Amanda had said that she talked with her district manager and corporate about what happened. Did she? I think that may be my next step. Honestly, I hope Hand and Stone Spa sees this blog. They could use some training on pregnancy loss and how to help women through this. There is a market for massage following pregnant loss. Massage is very important to the healing process but there is no healing when a woman is treated as I was. There is more trauma. If there is a next time, I will use the massage therapists on the provider list at Dragonflies For Ruby.

If you have experienced pregnancy loss, massage can be an integral part of your healing. It is important to find a caring and compassionate therapist. If you are in the Denver Metro area, I have recommendations. If not, ask some of your pregnancy loss friends and family member who they might recommend.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage