Alternate Title: Lose Your Shit and Scream Hysterically at Doctor
First let me say, we had our 20 week ultrasound this morning (actually 19 weeks and 5 days, but who's counting? Oh, that's right I am. And let's just say I know FOR SURE it's actually 19 weeks and 4 days but whatever.) And everything looks fine. We were told that the baby looks fine and everything looks good.
In fact, that's ALL we were told, which is why I couldn't hide my crazy, I did NOT act like a lady, and in fact I lost my shit and screamed hysterically at the doctor. But let me start at the beginning...
For this ultrasound, my doctors sent me to the perinatal clinic in the hospital. It's the high-tech ultrasound lab at the hospital, so the pictures are super clear and pretty amazing. The way it works is that a tech does the ultrasound, then puts the pictures in the computer, then a doctor looks at the pictures, then the doctor usually comes in to chat with the patient.
This time, I told the tech right away that I'd lost my first baby and I was pretty anxious about this pregnancy, so if she could just talk us through each step, that would be great. She said that she always explains what she's measuring, but she can't tell me if it's "normal" because she's not a doctor. Yeah, yeah. Whatever.
So she lubes up my belly and gets started. We saw the baby wiggling around right away (the Deuce looks adorable, BTW, sweet little profile, great bone structure--that's my unprofessional opinion). I was sort of hoping she'd announce, "Your baby is alive!" but I guess she took that for granted. I, however, did not.
She went through all the measurements. We saw all four chambers of the heart, the spine, the profile, all the organs, the brain (looked like a genius-brain to me), and whatever else they measure. She measured the nuchal fold and I really wanted to know if that was normal, since we passed on having that scan in the first trimester. However, I knew the tech couldn't answer questions like that, so I decided to save my inquiry for the doctor.
At the end of the ultrasound, she told me my fluid levels looked good (which was a relief, it had been a nagging worry because I know that can be an indication of a problem, can cause pre-term labor, etc.). She also said the baby weighs 11 ounces. Then she placed a towel over my belly and told me she'd go put my pictures in the computer. I started to wipe off the goop and she told me not to--she said that sometimes the doctors want to take a look themselves and she never knows when they will want to, so to just wait.
Well, that scared me. Also it was really uncomfortable. And I remembered that Eliza weighed 13 ounces at this ultrasound (although maybe I had hers done at closer to 21 weeks, but still). So I'm lying in the dim, slightly chilly room, with my stomach covered in a now-chilly goop, that's drying out and feeling disgusting. And I'm worrying.
Several minutes went by, and I realized that I was also feeling really annoyed. There was no reason for me to lie there for twenty minutes with cold, sticky goop on my stomach. They could just re-goop me up when the doctor came in if they needed to. Plus, I had to pee. This was ridiculous.
So after fifteen minutes, I'd finally had enough. I wiped up the goop with a towel, went to the bathroom, and came back out. (This was kind of a huge deal because I usually don't defy medical authority--I want to follow all the rules so that this baby is okay!)
When I came out, the doctor was there. He was an older gentleman, and I will confess that I already knew him by reputation, and his reputation was not especially good. Specifically, I'd heard he had a terrible bedside manner. However, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially when he said, "The baby looks good! Everything is fine. Do you have any questions?"
I said, "Well, yes, actually. I have LOTS of questions."
I started with my fluid level. He said, "It looks good. Everything looks fine."
OK. Great. But NOT the answer I'm looking for. I ALREADY HEARD YOU SAY THAT. Now I want a specific report. I want a number I can hold on to. I want to know everything that you know. That's why I'm ASKING QUESTIONS.
However, I recognize that he is the expert here, so I take another approach. I asked how the baby was measuring, whether the growth was right on target.
The doctor--I shit you not--ROLLED HIS EYES and said, in quite possibly the most condescending tone possible, as though I were just really dense, "Let me try this again. The baby looks good! Everything is fine."
And that's when I lost my shit.
First of all, I hate nothing more than being patronized. I would rather a doctor talk over my head with medical jargon and allow me to ask, "What does that mean? How do you spell that? Can you explain this?" than to condescend to me like I am too stupid to understand what he understands. I could have gone to med school (if the sight of needles didn't make me faint). Just because my doctorate is not in MEDICINE does NOT mean that I am an idiot and I do NOT want to be talked to like I am one.
Second, I've been worked up about this ultrasound for weeks. I was already wound up pretty tight before this guy walked in the room. I was scared. I was cold. I was left alone (with David) for twenty minutes with goop on my stomach. I was TERRIFIED that something could be wrong. I know that the twenty week ultrasound can be an indicator for problems with growth, for genetic abnormalities, for cysts or masses on the baby, and for issues with my uterus/cervix/placenta, for problems that have no indication until that twenty week ultrasound. So I wanted detailed information. I wanted him to go through the results with me step by step. I wanted to feel fully informed about everything (except the gender). I did not want a snarky, vague reply.
Third, he had JUST ASKED ME if I had any questions. Now it felt like he was evading my questions and being a smug asshole about it.
So I was anxious. I was upset. I was scared. I was pissed off. And so I said, as calmly as possible, "I would like to talk to someone else."
Except I didn't say it very calmly. I was shaking and I'd started to cry and my voice was all trembly.
The doctor seemed confused (like he really thought his smart-ass answers were sufficient?) and he said AGAIN that everything was fine.
So then I said (and by said, I kind of mean screamed), "I understand that! But my first baby DIED and you are not answering my questions! I want to talk to the other doctor!"
He told me he was the only doctor there, which I knew was a TOTAL LIE because I'd already asked the tech which doctors were on duty and she'd told me both their names. I couldn't BELIEVE he was lying to me and suddenly I was off the deep end. We were all SWIMMING in my crazy.
I started yelling, and I mean YELLING, "You are making me uncomfortable! I want to talk to Dr. Martin! I want my questions answered!" And I was sobbing. I kept yelling, I'm not even sure what I was saying, I just kept insisting that he get Dr. Martin, whom my tech had said was there (I had no idea who Dr. Martin was, but I figured he or she was better than this guy). I was yelling loud enough that it hurt my throat. I was so loud that I'm sure the people in the rooms on either side of me could hear everything. Probably the people waiting in the lobby, too. Quite possibly the people in the parking garage.
Once I requested the other doctor by name (calling him out in his big fat lie), he started backpedaling. As in, he literally started backing away from me with his arms up in front of him, like I might physically attack him if David weren't holding me back (David was rubbing my back nervously and possibly considering putting me in one of the restraints he sometimes has to use on students who totally flip out). So then this doctor, as he backed toward the door, admitted that Dr. Martin was with another patient but he'd have her come see me when she was finished. And I think he said he was sorry for whatever he said to upset me, although maybe I'm being generous. And he continued to back out the door.
When he was gone, I completely burst into tears and sobbed all over David's sweater. Then the tech came rushing back in (I didn't even hear her enter the room because I was crying so loudly) and she also started rubbing my back and asking me what was wrong when everything looked fine on my ultrasound. She wanted to know if she'd said anything to upset me. I was crying so hard I could barely talk to her, and I wanted to tell her she shouldn't have freaking left me with cold ultrasound goop drying on my belly, but I was trying to focus on taking deep breaths and pulling myself together.
(I just want to emphasize that although I readily admit that I can be emotional and somewhat high strung, I have NEVER flipped out like that in public before. I almost always can hold it together until I have some privacy. I do not like to cry in front of strangers. Especially a flip-out ugly cry where the veins stand out on my neck as I scream. Even in the hospital when Eliza died, I never had like a screaming meltdown--of course, at that time, no one talked me like a self-important, condescending asshole).
Right at this moment, Dr. Martin arrived (thrilled to be personally requested by a hysterical patient, I'm sure). She seemed a little confused by why I was so upset (weren't we all?) and she repeated that everything looked fine. OMG I KNOW. TELL ME MORE. So then she told me specifically that growth was exactly on target and that she saw no indicators of any genetic abnormalities. I asked about the nuchal fold and she repeated that from what they could tell from this ultrasound, there were no indications of an abnormality. (But at least I knew we were talking specifically about the nuchal measurement, you know?)
I was also anxious about some numbers that I'd caught a glimpse of on the screen (that no one had discussed or explained to me, because why should I be INFORMED about my own pregnancy?) so then she pulled up that screen and talked me through each of the specific measurements and explained how they calculate the average gestational age. I was scared because the print-out said that the baby measured at 19weeks 2 days, but I'm supposed to be 19 weeks 5 days, and I know that measuring behind can be an indication of a growth restriction. Dr. Martin assured me that the growth was not a concern at all, and explained how they calculate that average based on several measurements (some of which were slightly ahead, some of which were slightly behind), and said that this average was perfectly on target. By the time she was finished, I felt much better, although I was still shaky and kind of teary.
David kept rubbing my back (I think he was as shocked as they were that I had completely freaked out) and he said to the doctor, "She's just scared. She just wants the baby to be okay."
Dr. Martin nodded and told me to focus on the fact that everything looks good so far, and they would see me in another four weeks. I managed to say, "Lucky you!" which made her laugh.
Then she left and the tech said quietly that she'd write on my chart that I wasn't to see the other doctor anymore.
When she left the room, David whispered to me, "I bet that's not the only thing they're writing on your chart!"
Yeah. Well. There was no hiding my crazy today. It exploded all over that doctor, all over the ultrasound room, all over David's sweater, and all over my eye make-up. The irony is that if something were wrong, I don't think I would have flipped out like that at all. Because they probably would have given me much more specific information! I just could not handle the frustration of getting such vague replies in answer to my questions, like because they thought it all looked fine, my inquiries were superficial or unimportant or a waste of time. It was absolutely infuriating. I mean, I KNOW that they are busy and that they see a lot of patients. But still! It is their JOB not just to look at my information, but to discuss it with me. And after what we've been through, I feel justified in demanding a little extra time, a little special treatment.
But I'm still a little astonished that I literally threw a freaking crying screaming tantrum because I just DON'T DO stuff like that. I either try to assert myself politely (using my best professorial tone) or I seethe quietly and bitch (and blog) about it later. I just wanted specific answers and right now nothing--not my dignity, not my pride, not what anyone thinks of me--matters more than knowing exactly what is going on with this baby.
So really, I only regret my meltdown because I'm not sure that I clearly communicated to the doctor what he had done to make me so upset (perhaps I should send a follow-up note?).
At any rate, after my screaming fit, I scheduled another appointment (the receptionist asked me if I had a cold because I was slightly hoarse from screaming), I sat for a few minutes in lobby with David while I calmed down, then I mopped up my eye make-up, drove to campus, gave two lectures on Oedipus the King, and now I am totally exhausted.
And to think I believed that not finding out the gender would make the twenty week ultrasound LESS exciting.
But the IMPORTANT thing is that the Deuce appears to be doing well! And my placenta, which I'd been told was up top and slightly anterior, has evidently shifted to the back as my uterus has grown. So I'm starting to feel little flutter kicks, which is pretty much the best feeling ever.
Come on, Deuce. I just need you to get here, alive and healthy. Before Mama has to go batshit crazy on too many more healthcare professionals.