Thursday, February 4, 2010

Struck By Lightning

I always knew bad things happen, but now it feels different.
Bad things can happen.
Bad things might happen.
A really really bad thing happened and it could happen again.

I saw the perinatologist last week. I had to check in at L&D to see him. As I was walking up to the doors, as if on cue, a new mom was being wheeled out with her newborn wrapped up, dad pulling the car up to meet her. The wave of emotion caught me off guard. Thankfully I had tissues in my purse. I met with the insurance woman, then she sent me upstairs. I was spared the sight of more pregnant women, as I was the only patient in the waiting room.

The doctor met me in an empty office and I sat across the desk from him. I wondered why we didn't sit in his own office, just one door over. He had my medical chart, but he didn't have any of Addison's medical information. "Did they do a brain scan?" he asked. I whipped out a copy of her chart and he read the reports. I also took out a photo of her--the one taken by the staff in NICU that was given to me an hour or so after she was born--before I had any idea what a nightmare my world was going to soon become. As I passed the photo across the desk to him, the wave of emotion hit me again and tears flowed. I apologized and mumbled something about him probably having a lot of experience with emotional women, being a perinatologist and all. He told me, "You have every right to be emotional." Then he paused and said, "You know, if you plan to add more children to your family, you need to wait until you can go to L&D and see other moms with their babies before you get pregnant. You need to be able to talk about this and not get emotional." I told him that would probably not be for a long time, and besides, I'm going to be 36 years old in a few months. After lecturing me briefly on The Risk For Genetic Fuck-Ups Don't Really Increase Considerably Until After Age 40, he said, "I have a patient who lost her full-term baby and got pregnant sometime within the first year. She is 18 weeks along and has 18 to go, and she's hardly functioning. If you are going to have another baby, in the next 3-4 years is when you'll want to do it."

I just nodded. Silently.

But my brain screamed: Seriously? Fuck you, dude. THREE TO FOUR YEARS? You don't know ME or what's best for ME. You just don't want to have to deal with another weepy patient. Did you know I go home and care for my 3-year-old and manage to act like a normal person? I'm functioning just fine, considering the shitty circumstances of having a dead freakin' baby. Yes, I'm sure I'll be WAY anxious when I do get pregnant, but I will get pregnant when my husband and I decide we are ready to try--not in 3 or 4 years from now. But thank you for your professional opinion on the matter.

In all honesty, I get what he's saying. I do. But he really doesn't know me or how well I'm doing outside of a 30-minute conversation with me regarding why my baby died. I just met this guy. He's not my therapist. You know?

So, back to the peri, he studied Addison's face, and noted that she didn't appear to have any observable genetic weirdness going on (duh!). Apparently the placenta HAD gone to pathology, and he shared the report with me. It was totally normal. No sign of infection. No meconium staining. Cord gasses normal. NOTHING was wrong. Somehow, someway, her blood pressure dropped during that last week. And it was severe enough to cause major changes in her brain. And we'll never know why. He said he would run all the tests to see if there were clotting issues or anything else that could have been contributing factors, but he didn't think we would find anything. I asked what his gut feeling was, and he said: "My gut is, you were struck by lightning."

We discussed The Next Pregnancy (you know--the one that should happen in 3-4 years) and how I would be closely monitored, have semi-weekly visits at the end, and how they would go ahead and do a c-section between 36-37 weeks. Then the nurse took about 20 vials of blood to be sent to the lab and they sent me on my way.

The thing is that I know everything is going to come back as NORMAL. We will never know why Addison's blood pressure dropped 10 days before she was to be born. And that sucks. But I can deal with it. As long as we rule out whatever can be ruled out, I can live with a lightning strike. But I also know losing Addison does not make me immune from future losses. Perhaps next time it will be a miscarriage at 10 weeks, like the one I had before I conceived Addison. Or perhaps it will be a miscarriage later in the game, or even a stillbirth. Or perhaps, since I'm getting older, it will be some genetic fuck-up that will force me to have to make decisions way more important than which hospice to take my brain-dead baby to. Or perhaps it will be an uneventful pregnancy with an early delivery, necessitating a NICU stay due to immature lungs. Or maybe--just maybe--an uneventful pregnancy ending in a completely healthy baby. Although the odds are with me on that one, I don't DO odds anymore.

I'm trying to come to peace with the fact that bad things do happen, can happen and just might happen. Not just to any future babies, but to me, my son, my husband, my sister, my mom, to whoever. I guess I'm finally growing up.


  1. I posted today about how my ob thinks I'm still reacting too much to her office (I cry every time I go there) and has given me a referral for a psychiatrist. I don't feel like she's telling me to get over it - it feels like genuine concern. But not once has she suggested we shouldn't try to get pregnant again now.

    I don't do odds anymore either. I was told there was a 75% chance Matilda had Downs Syndrome She doesn't. Instead she had a syndrome with a recurrence rate of 1 in 14000. So rare my ob had never heard of it and doubts she'll see another case in her career.

    Thinking of you.

    Maddie x

  2. Rebecca that guy sounds nuts. You will be anxious and fearful no matter how much time goes by before getting pregnant again. Having had a child die does that to you. Are they testing you for autoimmune factors? I think that as long as you are healthy and that they've ruled out everything that could possibly cause something to go wrong that when you have a baby next is up to you. And as for him telling you that genetic things don't happen until after forty, bullshit. My last two pregnancies had problems which I fully believe were due to my age. Please take this guy's advice with a grain of salt and seek another opinion. Hugs

  3. Rebecca, I just read my husband the details of your sweet Addison's life and we were both amazed at the similarities between our experiences. I have been thinking a lot about how out of control we are in life. Our life changed forever in a split second when whatever happened to Andrew's cord happened. I don't fully know, nor do I think I ever will, what happened to my sweet boy. Thank you for contacting me and I hope that we can help each other through this. Sending you love and comfort.

  4. That's a load of crap, that 3-4 years thing.

    I saw my midwife the other day and she did ask whether I thought it was too early to be trying again. But when I said that I needed to, she said fair enough. And I get the age thing too. Doesn't he remember that risk of miscarriage DOES go up significantly in your 30s? (Just another thing that pisses me off about having lost all this time, as well as this baby.)

    Can you see someone else in the future instead of him??? Please, please do if you can.