Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Four years ago. Today.

Walk with me on this road that leads to my past.

I will need you to hold my hand as I once again navigate that road.

I will need you to offer up your most earnest prayers on my behalf as these words unfold from my heart.

Bear with me as I try to convey to those of you who may not understand, and have mercy on me as I try to help those of you who have never experienced the magnitude of loss, grief, and anguish to comprehend my story.

The significance of this day stares me in the face.

On this very day, four years ago, my life shattered. Life as I knew it was gone.

Normal means something entirely different now than it used to, prior to that day.

Walk with me.......

My second level ultrasound was scheduled, and April 23rd was the day. I was unruffled. Not worried in the least.

My mom went with me, along with my two smallest daughters, who were 1 and 3 at the time.

I had never been to this office before, didn't know the doctors or staff from Adam, and it was a strange experience to be in a place where nobody knew me and nobody knew the baby in my womb.

I didn't have to wait long. They called my name and I went in. Alone. Mom had stayed out in the waiting room with my two toddlers. I was still totally calm and collected, actually excited to get to see my baby in sharper focus.

Again, the requisite pulling down of the pants and the warm, slick gel on the belly. Familiar feelings.

The ultrasound was going to be very involved, much longer than the normal 45 minutes normally called for.

The tech was a man. I remember thinking that this was the first time I had had a man technician do an ultrasound on me. I was a little shy and embarrassed. I'm still modest after all this time!

The scanning got underway quickly, and he lingered over an area for quite some time. I remember, in sharp focus, how we laughed at how big my bladder was! He chuckled, because I had taken the order to drink 32 oz of water very seriously. I'm good like that! I take doctors' orders seriously....

I noticed he had a puzzled look on his face, and he finally said, yes, her heart was tipped, but usually the ultrasound shows some sort of mass that is pushing on the heart, thus the tipping, but he wasn't seeing anything like that, really no reason for the tipping. He chose to call the doctor in, and, just as he walked out to summon the doctor, he uttered the words, "I'm seeing some other things that concern me too".

I started sweating.

This was not what I was expecting. Not in a million years does a mom dream about hearing those words spoken to her during an ultrasound of her cherished, loved unborn baby.

Remember, I was alone in the room. Solitary. By myself.

The doctor came in. I still remember his name. I'm not likely to forget it in this life. Dr Abell. He was medium height, dark haired, glasses, doctor-looking.

He came in. And this is where my world tipped upside down on its axis.

This man proceeded, without even glancing at the ultrasound, to tell me that my baby would die. That "the fetus" had a lethal chromosomal abnormality that would kill "it". If "the fetus" didn't die at birth, "the fetus" would certainly die shortly thereafter.

He then recommended immediate termination.

To which the tech said, "She's already past 23 weeks."

The doctor said, "Shoot".

My hands, even now, four years later, tremble with remembrance.

Doctor Abell told me that I had a one artery umbilical cord. He said that "the fetus's" ventricles in the brain were "slightly" enlarged, and that the heart was tipped.

I'm sure, if I had not been lying down on that table at that very moment, I'm quite certain I would have fainted. Dead away.

I suddenly had tunnel vision, and things around me became dark, like I was going to pass out.

He asked me where my husband was. Russell and Dave were in Seattle, celebrating Russell's 9th birthday as father and son. Blissfully, joyfully unaware of the rending that was happening in a city 3 hours south of them.

He told me to call my husband to come right away, right away.

At this point, I was in total shock. Literally. I heard what he was saying, but it was like listening to someone shouting underwater. I felt like I was drowning in that water.

I told him that my mom was out in the waiting room, and not once, not once, did he suggest going to get her to come in. Not one time.

I was alone.

I heard something that sounded like my voice say, "Are we talking Down's Syndrome here?" And he said, "Most definitely NOT."

I began to breathe very fast and hard. I kept saying, over and over.....

I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home.

He became very concerned and called a nurse into the room, who repeatedly asked me if I was okay.

I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home.

It was all I could think of to say.

I somehow managed to pull up my pants and get off that table. I somehow managed to walk out into the waiting room when it was all over. I must have looked like I had had the fright of my life, for my mom took my arm and asked me what in the world was wrong.....

I want to go home, I want to go home, I want to go home.

She was very frightened when I couldn't speak and could scarcely walk out of that place. She remembered that I hadn't eaten in over 6 hours and frantically yelled for some crackers or water or something. A nurse materialized and gave both.

We made it out of there, with two toddlers, the very epitome of innocence and life, following.

Blissfully unaware.

We drove through a McDonald's close by and stopped to eat in the parking lot, where I poured out the whole story to her in broken, dissonant chords that were a rude imitation of my voice. I heard myself from far away, and it was me. Only it wasn't really me.

I remember things now that I forgot then.

I remember that Dr Abell never told me which chromosomal abnormalities he was suspecting. I recall that he never once looked at my baby or referred to her as a she or as a baby, not once. I remember how brisk and business like he was that day.

I remember that his white coat was stiffly starched and ironed to perfection.

I hated him.

God forgive me, but I hated him and wanted to do him harm.

He didn't tell me that my baby may die inside of me. He didn't tell me that she would be dead not even a month later. He didn't suggest that I see a perinatologist, nor did he refer me to one. He didn't suggest that, as a specialist, he could follow this pregnancy through with me. He didn't tell me that I had just been given what is called a "terminal pregnancy diagnosis" from him. He didn't say that I should be classified as high risk now.

He didn't.

I was ignorant of the prognosis. I was totally unaware of what could happen.

We just didn't know. We just had no idea.

And that day was the beginning of the end.


Michelle said...

Oh Leanne! Thank you for sharing. That must have been so hard. How hard it must be to forgive that man, how very hard. Michelle

EEEEMommy said...

You were never alone.

I'm praying for you!

Mountainsong said...

Hi Leanne - I had a similar situation - experiencing the cold-heartedness of a doctor while lying on a table during an ultra sound. I was told that my baby would probably not live past the date of my next ultra sound - two weeks. A rush amneo was done - to cover their own behinds - if I had had two seconds to think about it - I would have said NO. I understand much of what you were feeling - lying there alone - in a fog- not believeing what was happening to me. I've often wondered how a doctor can be so disconnected - but I know now. God is absent from their education - we have a generation of doctors that has never been exposed to Him in ANY way. We should not be surprised - and still it hurts. I'm so sorry you had such a horrible experience and with such a tragic outcome. I keep thinking that God will use this in some amazing way. Wouldn't it be wonderful if one of your six children became a Doctor - a God-fearing and baby loving medical professional?!? It would be just like God to right a wrong in this way. I'm praying for you - and again - so sorry you are going through this. Love,Heidi

Gayle said...

I remember too.

I remember the shock of you telling me what had happend.

I remember how gracefully you went through the process of saying goodbye.

I remember the beautifull rose bush you planted in her honor.

I remember your newborn desire to minister to others who had lost their sweet baby.

Jennifer Bogart said...

Leanne, I wish I could hug you. I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your little one, I am crying with you sister.


Jenni said...

Oh Leanne, I am so sorry to hear your story, of your sweet little daughter. It is so amazing how cold some doctors can be, and yet others will be so warm and loving. We've had two miscarriages but have never lost a baby so late in the pregnancy. That must have been so hard. I will pray for you during this time of remembering your sweet little one, bless you as God continues to heal your heart. Thank you for sharing!