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Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 5: D&Cs Suck

On September 17, 2014, I went for a routine 8-week prenatal check-up. It was the only routine thing I would do for more than two months.

During this time, I e-mailed a small group of people. Some were aware of the pregnancy, some had plans with me that would need to be broken, and still others simply asked after my health on the wrong day. This is the fifth of 11 such messages. They have been edited to remove identifying information and inside references, but otherwise remain largely unchanged.

October 11, 2014
Dear Friends,

Yesterday I had surgery to end my pregnancy. It involved a lot of nurses, all of whom were very kind and sympathetic; two anesthesiologists, who asked me almost identical sets of questions; and one obstetrician. By luck of the draw, the obstetrician was someone with whom I had consulted early in my first pregnancy. He encouraged me to meet with the practice's midwives, which lead to a very positive birth experience. I remembered him being very respectful and straight-forward, an impression that was reinforced yesterday.

In preparation for surgery, I was told to fast completely for eight hours. That meant no food or drink, not even water. I hadn't realized before yesterday how much water I'm accustomed to drinking in the course of a day. By the time I checked in at the hospital I was extremely thirsty and calculating how much longer I'd have to wait for a sip of water, and how much of that time I would spend unconscious. The receptionist asked me when I had last had food or drink. The first nurse asked me when I had last had food or drink. The second nurse asked me when I had last had food or drink. Both anesthesiologists asked me when I had last had food or drink. Apparently it's important not to eat or drink.

The second nurse set up my IV on my right side because I am left-handed. So was the nurse. We also discovered, through the kind of enthusiastic chit-chat that arises in excruciatingly uncomfortable situations, that her younger son was born the day before my daughter. She asked if the same obstetrician had delivered my daughter. I explained that one of the midwives had. She seemed unaware that the practice had midwives. Why would she be aware of that? She's a surgical nurse and the midwives don't attend surgeries. She also asked if the IV had been placed in my hand "the last time you were here," meaning my first delivery. I explained that I didn't have an IV. At that point it began to occur to me - to both of us, I think - how alien this environment was, like I'd slipped into a parallel universe with a lot of drugs in it.

The nurse assured me the IV would help my thirst. It didn't.

The first anesthesiologist came in and introduced himself. His last name was very similar to a high-end Italian sports car, but I found later that night that I couldn't remember if it was Maserati or Lamborghini. He seemed tired.

The obstetrician came in and said hello. I said it was nice to see him again. Then I said it wasn't. Then he said, "I'm very sorry to see you here." It was a small thing, but he seemed to be acknowledging more than just the unfortunate situation. He seemed to be saying the he knew this wasn't my preferred resolution. He knew in my universe things don't end up with IV sedation. But I can't be sure. I was still pretty thirsty.

After the tired Lamborghini had me look up and open my mouth wide, his attending anesthesiologist came in. The attending anesthesiologist was slightly harried, like he was anxious to feed his parking meter. He also had me look up and open my mouth wide. The entire interaction took less than a minute. He will probably bill my insurance enough to cover the cost of his parking ticket.

The sleepy Maserati injected something into my IV bag and told me it would feel like "a couple of drinks." I think he meant "a couple of roofies," but probably understood this would be impolitic given the circumstances. I was wheeled out of the pre-op room at 3:50. There were a lot of people - nurses and orderlies - standing in the hallways. I don't think they were there to see me off, but each took the time to meet my eyes and wordlessly express, in the most sensitive possible terms, how very much my life sucked at that moment. My right hand began to feel very cold. I mentioned this to the sleepy Maserati, who gently assured me that was OK. He said, "thank you for telling me. That's how it should feel." Even sluggish Italian sports cars can be kind.

I remember a few more nurses helping me position myself on the bed. Then I woke up in a recovery room. There was a hot pack on my abdomen and someone was asking me the phone number of my preferred pharmacy. Is this something I should know off the top of my head? The television displayed a slowly rotating series of soothing images. At first it was a river with lovely white and purple flowers in front of it. Then a broad leaf with rain dripping off the end. I remember thinking it was absolutely the right thing to have on a TV screen at that moment. Then the image changed to a rather dry-looking meadow with a rock in the middle. Something on the rock started moving, possibly a vole. Are voles known to be soothing? This seemed incorrect. Then it changed to an even drier rocky hillside. Why was everything so dry all of a sudden? And why did the screen have the acronym "C. A. P. E." in the corner? Shouldn't it be "C. A. R. E."? Maybe it was care. If only I'd had my glasses I could've known for sure. I looked around for my personal items and saw them sitting on the chairs underneath the television. That seemed too far to reach. I remembered I was thirsty and looked to my right. Someone had placed a cup of water and a few packets of saltines on the tray next to my bed. That seemed too far to reach, but I did it anyway. I glanced at the clock. It was 4:20.

As I drank my water I became aware of a persistent ache in my abdomen. It wasn't soft and squishy, the way a menstrual cramp is. It was sharper and stiffer, like the difference between a marshmallow and a stick. The third nurse told me the ibuprofen in my IV would help. It didn't. She gave me a second hot pack. It felt like a very warm stick in my abdomen. I was shaking because it felt very cold in the room. The nurse brought two heated blankets, which helped. There were compression tubes on both of my calves that inflated one after the other. It was not unpleasant. The images on the TV continued to be overly dry and mesmerizing. At one point the second compression tube kicked in a little too late. I felt slighted. How dare it not squish my calf at the expected time? I ate the saltines slowly. They were not good, but not objectionable. I asked for more water. The nurse offered me too many choices - coffee, juice, soda - and spilled the ice from my cup on my bed. There were so many blankets I didn't even notice.

A blood pressure cuff around my arm inflated periodically and machines beeped, seemingly in correspondence. The nurse told me in 13 minutes the cuff would inflate again and then I could try to stand up. She reviewed my discharge notes; I nodded intently. The nurse seemed very young and possibly a little frightened. It must be unsettling to give important information to intoxicated people. Another nurse - maybe the one who asked about the pharmacy - came in and said my family had arrived in the waiting room. The cuff puffed its last and my vital signs were deemed acceptable.

The young nurse peeled four heart monitor stickers off my chest. I hadn't realized they were there. She undid the blood pressure cuff and removed the compression tubes from my legs. I really missed those compression tubes. Then I sat up and she helped me to put on a pair of disposable underwear. She removed the IV line and held my arm slightly higher than my shoulder until it had stopped bleeding. I tried to gaze off in a way that suggested introspection rather than fatigue. I stood and took a few shaky steps around the room. I was freezing and let the nurse know that's probably why I was unsteady. She led me back to the bed. There was a lot of blood on the sheets, but if the young nurse wasn't freaking out I figured I didn't need to.

The nurse left so I could dress myself. I instantly felt better with actual warm clothes on. The nurse helped guide me out. I felt like I had been on 17 consecutive roller coasters. Also, my body was about 25% larger than I was expecting it to be. A few extra people were still milling about, but I didn't really feel like playing the eye-contact game. I did glance at the young nurse at one point. She smiled and half-giggled, "you're so cute!" It seemed like a strange thing to say to someone who's just had their broken heart removed, but I think it was kindly meant. The door to the waiting area looked really far away and I was surprised we reached it as quickly as we did. Perhaps the air was thinner than I was expecting. That's possible, right?

I stepped into the waiting room and my family smiled up at me. Either I was really tall or they were sitting. I think I thanked the nurse, or maybe I introduced her. Whatever. My daughter poked me. We all laughed. The end.

All of these details seemed extremely important. They are not.

Today 14 of the roller coasters have worn off. I am a little tired. My abdomen is still sore. I am taking ibuprofen, but a stick is a stick. I'm also feeling crampy, so it is a stick with a marshmallow on it which is still a stick. I am drinking a lot of water. No one has questioned me about it. The bleeding seems to have transitioned to heavier spotting. I am told I should feel like myself again by Monday. That seems a long way off, but maybe it'll be like the exit door.

tl;dr - The surgery is done. I am sore. D&Cs suck.

Best,
nj

-

Previously:
* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 1: No Fetal Heartbeat.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 2: Firing Squad Or Hemlock?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 3: Remember The Challenger.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 4: Mommy, What Does Bupkes Mean?

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Tomorrow: Sudden puddles of inexplicable weepiness.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on January 26, 2015


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