By L. Avery Brown,
Founder, Real Bloggers United
Pregnancy is many things to many people. For some it’s a beautiful expression of what it is to be a woman. For others it’s an opportunity to eat without fear of reprisal. While for others yet it’s a time of calm and tranquility. And then there are the rest of us; the ones who decided after about 3 months of hormonally charged Hell, that being pregnant was about as wonderful as getting a root canal without Novocain. (Which I did have done…seriously! But that’s another crazy post altogether!)
This particular post is about the saga that was my pregnancy and how all the little pieces of misfortunate happenstance all came together in one momentous instant causing me to open up my own personal can of verbal ‘whoop-ass’ on some unsuspecting (though thoroughly deserving) people.
I found out I was pregnant on my 3rd wedding anniversary on October 30, 1996. And things went along swimmingly, for the first few months. I had no morning sickness and my ob/gyn said I was the picture of maternal health. Of course…that was before the incident at the Mexican restaurant. I loved Mexican food…the spicier the better. But something about this particular meal late in my 19th week was different because I got sick...painfully sick. However I thought it was nothing other than a bout of indigestion and I went about my usual business the next day as a middle school teacher.
But then, I kept getting this pain…low on my right side. Not one to complain (much), I brushed it off. Unfortunately 2 days later, as I was driving to work I had the same pain again. Only worse. So I called my ob/gyn and got an appointment right away.
Only the doctor I saw wasn’t my usual doctor. It was some new hire at the office with the bedside humor of a piece of soggy cardboard. She assured me that it was just gas and sent me on my merry little way…back to my job.
Unfortunately, I never made it to my school that day because I soon found myself doubled over in pain that morning. And my husband, who was nervous like a long-tailed cat in a room of rocking chairs, took me to the hospital where it was determined that I needed to have my appendix removed…at 20 weeks! GADS!!
Yes, we were scared…but once it was removed, I tell you I was the happiest woman on Earth because that little pinky-tip sized useless appendage had thrown me for a loop.
And I thought to myself…it’s all smooth sailing from here on out. After all, things couldn’t get worse than having an appendectomy at 4 months pregnant, could they?
By my 5th month I started having heartburn…all the time. I went to my ob/gyn and saw the doctor with the sour puss attitude who, after listening to my heart and lungs and not so gently pressing on my abdomen…where I was still recovering from major surgery, told me to chew a few Tums or Rolaids and I’d be fine. Then she said to try sleep sitting up.
So I did. I went home and chewed up so many antacids in a 5 day span I wondered if I ought to buy stock in the companies. And I also slept sitting up. But still there was that everlasting heartburn. I tried to keep my cool and was pretty good at it for a week or so.
And then I lost my cool on a Friday night…in fact, I lost it so much, I was running a fever and I wound up in the hospital with the flu. Of course, this was a few hours after I’d called the ob/gyn and been patched through to my favorite medical person because I felt sick…as in sick, sick and that I didn't think it didn't have anything to do with the heartburn from which I was still suffering. But she essentially told me I was a hypochondriac and that I needed to relax.
Relax? Was she serious?
Eventually an ambulance was called to my house and I was taken to the hospital. At that point, I didn’t much mind the heartburn as I felt like I’d been hit by a train. When the nurse said my doctor would be around soon to check on me, I was none too pleased to see that it was the doctor who was not really my doctor. And she seemed quite miffed that I’d had the audacity to actually get sick. After 2 days in a hospital bed, I went home.
And I thought to myself…it’s all smooth sailing from here on out. After all, things couldn’t get worse than having ones appendix removed and having the flu so bad I had to be hospitalized, could they?
Apparently they could. Because the following Saturday I found myself calling my doctor’s office about the heartburn that had been simmering in the wake of my bout with the flu. And who should it be that responded to my call? Yes, that’s right. My ‘not really my doctor’ doctor who seemed perturbed that I’d disturbed her 2 times in a week and suggested I try a liquid antacid.
So I did. I think I drank a whole bottle of Liquid Mylanta in a 2 day span. But I saw no long lasting relief. I made an appointment to see my doctor on Monday. MY doctor. I said I didn’t want to see that other person and said that if she tended to me, I’d find a different practice. Thus, I was seen by my doctor.
Lo and behold. After an ultrasound we learned that my dear little ‘to be’ was sitting tailor breech (upright, with her legs crossed) and that her noggin was pressing into my stomach causing my discomfort. So what does one do to correct that issue?
Nothing. Abso-flippin-lutely nothing. It was all up to my sweet little tummy tyke to move. And she, obstinate as the day is long, decided she really liked sitting upright like a princess so she stayed that way until the day she was born. But I did get some stronger, more effective antacids and I got some relief. Thank God!
And I thought to myself…it’s all smooth sailing from here on out. After all, things couldn’t get worse than having ones appendix removed, having the flu, and having to deal with nonstop indigestion, could they?
I would seem so because as I entered my 6th month I noticed that my rings no longer fit. But I’d read in my books that swelling was common so I thought nothing of it until I noticed that my fingers and toes looked like sausages and they itched like crazy. So I called the ob/gyn (who was now on speed dial) and yes, I was rerouted to ‘her’. The same ‘her’ who already thought I was a bit melodramatic. And she told me to take a cool shower, then lie down and put my feet up for a while.
So I did. But I still looked like the poster child for the Sausage Makers of America. On Monday my husband took me to the doctor and thank the Lord in Heaven, ‘she’ was off that day and I got to see my REAL doctor who put me through a stress test and determined that I was suffering from high blood pressure and anemia. Both of which can be deadly dangerous to pregnant women and their fetuses. I was put on bed rest.
So I rested in my bed. But I wasn’t happy about it. However, I was almost 7 months pregnant by that time and I knew it wouldn’t be long until I was ‘un’pregnant.
And I thought to myself…it’s all smooth sailing from here on out. After all, things couldn’t get worse than having an appendectomy at 4 months pregnant, having the flu, a fetus still sitting tailor breech and having high blood pressure and anemia. Could they?
Of course they could! However as I neared the end of my 7th month, I thought I was in the clear because I’d been eating well and resting so much it was driving me crazy just like my doctor had told me to do. But then I got a headache. Only it wasn't just a headache. It was the mother of all headaches...a migraine.
Only I didn’t know it was a migraine because I’d never had one before. It hit me around 4 PM on a Wednesday and by 7 PM I was miserable. It felt like there was someone in my head, slamming me with a sledge hammer. And by 8 PM I couldn’t open my eyes, I couldn’t handle the sound of anything, and even the clothes on my body hurt. What’s more I was so sick at my stomach, too.
My husband took me to the hospital because he figured he could get me there faster in his sporty little car than waiting for an ambulance to arrive. And he was right, too because he got me from point A to point B faster so fast I think there must have been a trail of burnt rubber on the road. And when we got there, he was every bit as vocal about me being seen by a doctor as you can imagine an expectant father would be.
I was put in the ‘high risk’ delivery area. They shoved IVs in my arms, strapped monitors on every bit of me that could be monitored and then they told me to wait until my doctor showed up. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. Which I did…between bouts of being violently ill.
And when I finally fell into a relatively calm sleep I was awakened by the sound of teenagers giggling. Apparently two unwed teen mothers had both been having what they thought were contractions and came to the hospital and were considered 'high risk' because of their ages. And they talked, dear God did they ever talk, loudly with one another about things like hoping they were back to their pre-knocked up state soon because they were going to the beach soon and didn't want gross stretch marks, or left over baby fat on their bellies. (I remember thinking Why? So you can wind up cooking another bun in your oven?)
But then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, a few friends of one of the girls showed up where upon they started talking with one another as if they were yelling across a football field. All the while my head pounded and the nurses couldn't give me anything other than a cup of ice because the doctor had to see me first.
Then a nurse popped her head in the doorway and told my husband and me that (thankfully) my doctor would be there soon. (By the way it was now about midnight…it seems that soon is a relative term when speaking of medicine). And I remember thinking, Sweet Jesus, please don’t let it be her. But apparently Jesus was busy dealing with other issues; either that or His secretary didn’t get the message to Him because who should walk into my room 15 minutes later…
That’s right. ‘She’ came in, wearing a Georgetown sweatshirt and looking rather irked for have to get out of bed to tend to me. She crossed her arms and looked down at me with her holier than thou expression and asked, “Alright. What’s wrong now?”
At that point every negative feeling I’d kept bottled up for the past few months because I was trying to be polite and lady-like came pouring out as I said (well, yelled is more appropriate a term)...
“WRONG??!! What the fuck do you think is wrong, genius? I’ve got a fucking headache from hell. And it doesn’t help that I’ve been stuck in this goddamn room for hours listening to those two stupid twits who can’t keep their legs together and their stupid ass loser friends who have nothing better to do than hang out with other losers. AND, I’ve had to put up with you and your sorry ass attitude for months because I’m too damn nice to tell you that you suck as a doctor. AND…if you had read my fucking chart you’d know that I have a goddamn headache, bitch! THAT’S WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME!”
Then it got quiet. Very…very quiet. I looked over at the gaggle of girls and they all looked like they’d been slapped upside their heads with 2x4s. And I thought that the doctor (by the way, you’ll notice I’ve never actually said her name and that’s because I, honest to God, blocked it from my memory…she was truly that bad) was going to start crying.
I thought my husband would have been upset but he looked rather amused to be quite honest. And anyway I didn’t care. I had reached the end of my rope and I was ready to hang somebody with it. My blood pressure skyrocketed causing little alarms to go off and two nurses dashed in.
And the doctor just stood there. Then she scraped her jaw off the floor as nurses rushed in and flitted hither and yon around me. She left the room without so much as a word.
30 minutes later my real doctor, Dr. Kressler, showed up and I could hear her outside the room, snapping at the other doctor about why in the world she let me suffer for hours when she could have given me something for my migraine a long time ago. Dr. Kressler came in carrying a needle filled with something I like to think of as liquid Heaven because within minutes I was feeling better and my blood pressure came down.
And I thought to myself…it’s all smooth sailing from here on out. After all, things couldn’t get worse than having an appendectomy at 4 months pregnant, having the flu, a fetus still sitting tailor breech, having high blood pressure and anemia and a migraine from Hell. Could they?
Thankfully…no. My daughter was delivered by C-section about 4 weeks later, a bit earlier than planned but ripe enough that she turned out just fine. And my doctor apologized profusely about the other doctor’s slack attitude. Needless to say, neither I nor any of the other women the other doctor had tended were surprised to find out that she’d been let go from the practice.