Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Doctor

Today, I take Beatrice to the pediatrician for her two year check up. She hates the doctor, so I've been talking about it incessantly. What the doctor is going to do. ("She'll look in your ears, and your mouth and make you say 'AH', and feel your belly, and it might tickle.") What to expect at the doctor.("You have to take all your clothes off, and then the doctor will watch you walk.") How she helps us not to get sick. (read: there might be a shot.) Even though some of the things she does might be uncomfortable, it is to make sure we are healthy. "You can always say stop, and ask the doctor to look at the instrument she is using, Beatrice." But then, deep down, I think, should I be instilling this much faith in a system that can't even figure out why my healthy baby died? I am not blaming any doctors or midwives, but I am just saying it is a fallible system, and not perfect. Why could no one save my daughter? It's not exactly a conversation I can have with a toddler. Mostly, my rants are met with "Mami! Look!" followed by an extended tongue. The girl always has an opinion.

I admit, though, that this time I am the one who is afraid to go to the pediatrician. I mean, yeah, Beatrice hates it there. She has screamed bloody murder the last, uh, four appointments. It is the reason for the pre-appointment conversations. She is shy, but she is also in a normal stage of hating the doctor. She remembers shots now. I'm not afraid of a screaming toddler. Hell, they have seen it all there. But I am afraid for a different reason. I am going as a non-pregnant mama without a newborn. Last few times I went for Bea appointments, I talked to them about Lucy being a new patient. I asked them about possibly having a homebirth with Lucy--would they see her within 24 hours of her birth? How does the care differ following a homebirth? How do toddlers regress with a new sibling? If I return home from the birthing center within 24 hours of birth, can they certainly squeeze Lucy in? See, after we realized we really couldn't have a homebirth, I was planning on having an easy peasy natural birth, coming home after the requisite 12 hour stay, and then continuing my life. Yeah. It didn't exactly work out like that.

I debated, as per the suggestion of my grief therapist, about sending a little note to the pediatrician's office, telling them about Lucy and our experience, just so they don't ask me how the baby is. But then I thought, well, if the baby isn't going to them, they will know she is dead, right? I mean, when they see me, realize I am not pregnant, have no baby with me, they will know she died.

Still, I am steeling myself, mentally preparing, just like I am doing for Beatrice. At the doctor, Angie, she might ask you questions. "Weren't you pregnant? Did you have the baby?" and then you can answer the doctor, "Yes, thank you for asking. I was pregnant, but our baby was stillborn at 38 weeks." If you say it enough, Angie, maybe you won't cry. If you practice it enough, Angie, maybe you won't fall into a puddle on the floor. Maybe these doctors are experienced enough in this realm to not ask questions. Things change. Babies die. Mamas have to still take care of their other babies. Maybe they, of all people, will just forget another baby was supposed to be in their waiting room but isn't.

Everything is so fucking complicated now.


  1. I hope it goes ok at the dr today, Angie. I keep expecting people to remember and say "hey, weren't you pregnant? where's the baby?" but so far it hasn't happened, not in person at least. But then I have been avoiding my GP dr because the last time I was there I was pregnant and I dread saying the words that Colden is gone. So I just don't go. You can't exactly do that with Bea's two year checkup.

  2. The question of 'how's the baby' floors me, more so in the first several months than it does now, but still. I have avoided returning to places where I know I will be asked, and had a panic attack on my way to the dry cleaner, where I knew I'd be ask, and was. With my hairdresser, I did call in advance, and left a phone message for the hairdresser about what had happened (this after long consideration of never returning to her again). The question does get a little easier to answer, but its still such a hard one.
    As for the more existential question about instilling faith in doctors...there are no easy answers...
    good luck today

  3. good luck today angie. i too have had so many similar situations...yesterday i snuck in and out of the farmer's market, which used to be my favorite place and i've now been avoiding since lev died. i ran in, got some veggies and was afraid to walk by this thai food stall for fear that they'd ask about the baby, we saw each other but no mention of baby and then i thought, i guess they forgot, it's been 7 months and they know a lot of people. the dr. is a different story...i hope that they are sensitive and compassionate even if you fall into a puddle on the floor - which is ok, because our life is fucking complicated now that we have lost a child.

  4. Bella ran a fever, a really high one, about three days after Maddy died. I called, we ALL went in. We must have looked like a truck hit us, and I think I finally let it tumble out in a weepy heap. They were gracious, sympathetic, put it in the record. Waited until the *next* time to ask questions, and ask for a primer from chop on what happened. Bella's a lot more breezy about the doctor and dentist than I am. It took for fucking ever for me to have the stones to even set up appointments for myself.

  5. this is why i have avoided my hairdresser, green grocer, accountant and dentist since hope died. i just don't want to answer this question. i've only had to do it once, with an old friend i was only in contact with on facebook and since i took myself off stupid facebook the day she died, she had no idea where i went. but she sure was worried, and even more worried when she walked towards me and saw i had no pram or no baby in a sling. lots of tears that day. made even worse by the fact she told me she was pregnant in the same conversation....
    let us know how you go. thinking of you xo

  6. Oh, jeez. I'm wondering how it went at the doctor. That is one of the most painful scenarios. Yet, it can sometimes be a safe zone because hopefully even if you cry, you will be treated with compassion.
    This scenario ranks right up there with "How many children do you have?"
    I hope the appointment wasn't too painful for either you or Beatrice.

  7. Oh, you guys know...when you steel yourself, prepare for the worst, most uncomfortable scenario, you end up having a totally uneventful, downright pleasant time. The doctor was great. No one seemed to remember, or if they did, they let the story be untold. It was all about Beatrice being two. And well, she didn't do as well as we did. She cried pretty much non-stop. It was actually pretty cute, because at the end, I said, "Thank you." and Beatrice was crying and blubbering, and saying, "Tank oo, Doctor, tank oo. Bye bye. tank oo."

  8. I hate these meetings when you see someone for the first time. It's so hard, even now, I still choke up if it's the first time I am seeing someone.
    I am glad they didn't bring it up, although sometimes I get frustrated with people like that. I mean how can they forget? But anyway, glad you are still in one piece.


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