For those readers just joining the blog, I was pregnant in September of last year. Things did not go well, and I lost my baby in late October.
There were a dizzying few days at the end when my HCG numbers, which are commonly used as an indicator of pregnancy via blood test, went down then oddly back up before eventually declining again. Those numbers are only supposed to go down when the pregnancy is being lost, and aren’t supposed to go back up if they’ve declined, as I was told. To this day, I don’t know what happened – I assume the first test was incorrect.
When the HCG numbers briefly went back up and my hopes along with them, I was sent across town to a clinic to get an ultrasound done so my doctor could see what was going on with him or her. The clinic seemed nice enough, but I was just a wreck – steeped in hormones, steadily bleeding and afraid to have hope that the beloved little life in me was going to make it after all. My partner, now my husband, was there with me and held my hand like his life depended on it. He was my anchor when everything was falling apart in that clinic. He helped me out of my clothes and into the gown, drying my tears and assuring me that we’d make it through either way.
He guided me to the darkened room and onto the table, where he stroked my hair and tried to calm me down while we waited for the doctor. They came in, and he stood by my side and watched like a hawk as they doused my abdomen with lubricating jelly and passed the scanner over and over without a word. My anxiety was practically audible at that point, and the desperate questions we both had – is that our baby? Is everything alright? – were brushed off, firmly and politely, with repeated reminders that only my doctor could tell me anything. I cried softly and my partner moved closer to the table so I could lay my cheek against him for comfort and support.
Then they brandished a wand and explained they needed to take pictures inside of me. And told him to get out.
My partner, my rock, and the father of the child inside of me – the one who had seen me gloriously naked thousands of times and at least, provably, once – had to leave. It was against “company policy” to have a man in the room when the procedure was being done. I was terrified and disgusted at the same time, scared out of my wits for my child and the fact that a completely unfamiliar procedure was going to be done on me without my partner there to hold my hand. I was vulnerable, and the fact that another nurse was called in to assist the first one only made me feel more exposed. I felt sick as I felt the probe slide home, the monitor turned completely away from me, denying me even the steadying influence of watching my tiny child. Repeated requests for both my partner and a look at the screen fell on deaf ears and I was left to lay back and allow not one, but two people to move this piece of machinery painfully around inside of me.
When they were done, I was left to clean up and I cried in gut-wrenching sobs in that darkened room, using the gown to clean my own blood and what felt like gallons of medical lubricant off of and out of my body. I stumbled back to the changing rooms in my ill-fitting and now stained robe and my partner wordlessly gathered me in as I wept. I felt bullied, abused and alone in that room, with a million different questions no one would answer and a heart ache that could have tumbled cities.
This, dear readers, was voluntary. This transvaginal ultrasound story was the experience of a woman trying to have a child with a committed partner, a woman who had a home, car, job and supportive family and friends.
Imagine for a moment there was no partner waiting to gather me in after, or to hold my hand before it all started. Imagine I had no job, or house or car, no friends and family to support me. Imagine if my birth control failed, if I’d been raped or abused, if a million other things went wrong that precluded my desire, willingness or ability to step into parenthood.
I’ve been alone on that table at a moment when my life was changing, and everything hinged on what happened next. To be forced to go through that? When I know what it is? It sickens me in my soul.
I hope it sickens you too.