The Ultrasound and the Fury

on February 29, 2012

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.

 


42 responses to “The Ultrasound and the Fury

  1. Matt says:

    Although I agree with you on many things, I regret that I cannot agree with you on this. in fact, it sickens me to my soul, to think that someone could terminate another human life without first having to go through this soul wrenching experience. Taking another human life should be a soul wrenching experience.

    • Alice says:

      WOW Matt the sensitivity seeping from your pours is just amazing to see. Guess it is a good thing you being male will never be placed in such a position. No one aside from me and my partner should have anything to say about what I do with my body. Oh and once the pro-choice peeps are willing to adopt an unwanted child then I might listen…..might

  2. Matt, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I welcome dissent, I feel like it keeps us all on our toes and makes us value our stances through the defending of them.

    At the core, I believe that since conception and gestation are not cut-and-dry subjects (just look to the uproar about schools teaching sex ed vs abstinence), and I don’t believe that terminating a pregnancy should be either. To have a panel of people I’ve never met, motivated by a religion that not only has no place in my government but no place in my life – people that don’t even share my gender and aren’t even capable of going through the very decision they’re seeking to abolish – decide what I can and cannot do is unimaginable. We could ALL be thieves, murderers, adulterers, copyright infringers under the wrong circumstances – but suddenly pregnant? Biologically, it’s impossible for male-born people to suddenly conceive or, at this point in readily applied science, carry.

    The gender of lawmakers aside, as I said, it’s not a cut-and-dry issue. Either allow abortion or do not, but making a woman who has possibly already undergone her measure of pain and tragedy and then some have to not only stand up against picketers, dissenters, screaming activists and social stigmas look at the product of someone that had hurt her? That’s inhumane, in my opinion.

    There’s a misconception that the women that would be forced to undergo this procedure (which amounts to federally-defined rape, by the way) are gum-snapping teens-to-twenties women that use abortion like drive through birth control. Is there abuse like that out there? Of course. Can we ever fix it all? Probably not. That doesn’t mean we should shut down a hospital because a doctor got caught in medicare fraud. You fix the problem in the system, you don’t shut down the entire system. That’s short-sighted, wrong, and it denies women the dignity they deserve.

    I have yet to see pro-choice activists picketing maternity wards for forced sterilization, and I think that’s telling. I am pro-life for myself and pro-choice for the rest of the women in the world – it’s a personal choice, just like the decision to have sex with someone, and it should remain that way. No politicians, no machinery, and certainly no religion-steeped finger wagging at someone who’s likely facing the hardest decision of her life.

  3. Epiphora says:

    Ignoring Matt’s insensitive response, this is really powerful. As is all of your writing, really. I can feel the pain through your words.

  4. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  5. e[lust] #34 says:

    […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  6. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  7. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  8. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  9. Curious Muse says:

    What an incredibly brave and moving post. In my country we are fortunate that science and medicine are secular. I am not forced to live by another persons beliefs.
    It is interesting that a man makes such a judgemental comment but completely fails to open his comment by showing any empathy for the anguish you express.
    He is sickened. He judges.
    I have had 6 pregnancies. I have one child. I lost all of my other babies and not one miscarriage was easier than the next. I rarely speak of my lost babies openly because my husband and I chose to keep our grief quiet not least to protect our only child from that trauma.
    Losing a child is not something you get better at doing with experience. However I do not use my experience to pre-judge the choices of others. My body, my choice, I have not and could never have an abortion. I have a number of friends who have and for every one of them it was harrowing choice and I supported their choice and did not judge. Their body, their choice.

    The point I would most like to make is that for every single pregnancy I experienced, I knew the very moment I was pregnant. I didn’t need a urine test or an HCG test or any scan. I knew, and the moment I knew I understood absolutely that within me another life was beginning. To suggest that I needed to have some doctor with his machinery show me a digital representation of cells and tissues as though that might somehow make me more aware and appreciative of that responsibility is an insult and a nonsense.
    A man with no empathy has no place judging others. Matt you are offensive and hurtful in your words. You speak of ‘soul’. Find some in your heart then perhaps you will feel less need to judge your fellow man (or woman) so harshly and so self-righteously.

  10. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  11. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  12. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  13. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  14. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  15. Very difficult to read, but how much harder it must have been for you and your partner to go through that.

    That said, thank you for posting that. As a future nurse, it was important for me to read that.

  16. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  17. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  18. Andy Freeman says:

    The ultrasound in question is a standard part of abortions. (Whether or not it is transvaginal depends on medical considerations.)

    The only difference is that some people think that the results should be shown to the mother.

  19. Mia Wallace says:

    I can relate…
    We had a similar experience of losing a much desired baby, going through the ultrasound to verify there was no longer a heartbeat, being told the news, and being left to cry and mourn the little soul we already loved so much, if only for a short 8 weeks. The way you were treated in the ultrasound room is disturbing and I am so sorry for that. Yes, the ultrasound techs aren’t allowed to say much, but they could have at least had some empathy. And asking your partner to leave? Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.
    I do NOT agree with the ultrasound before abortion law. I’m sure the vast vast vast majority of women seeking abortions don’t go into the decision, don’t go into the clinic, care free and happy go lucky. It’s a big decision that I’m sure most women in that situation appreciate. Forcing them to look at the unwanted fetus inside is just rubbing salt into an open wound. I’d ask the pro lifers which is worse – taking the life of something that is physiologically incapable of living outside of your uterus, or raising a child in a loveless, hostile environment?

  20. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  21. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  22. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  23. Anisa says:

    This is my first visit to your blog, and I’ll be back for more.

    I was pregnant in August, and not pregnant in September. It has been a long journey of grief. I’m sorry for your experience and hope for better days to come.

  24. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  25. vanillamom says:

    my first visit here…how terrible and poignant.

    I sat with my sister in law as she had her trans-vag to discover that her baby was no longer alive. A child that my spouse and I were going to adopt…I was allowed to stay with her, hold her hand, comfort her (we comforted each other, really).

    And I have stood outside an abortion clinic as a volunteer escort when visiting a friend. At first, it was “her gig”…yet it was a life-altering experience for me.

    No one who came to the clinic that day was young and carefree…I’d guess appx 30’s…careworn. The inhumanity of those who espouse “christian” beliefs is staggering.

    I thank you for sharing this painful story, in such a powerful way.

    Blessed be…

    nilla

  26. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  27. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  28. Shadow_Sun. says:

    It’s been a long time since I worked in an ultrasound department but what I see from your post is the effect of a culture clash between ordinary people and members of staff. As staff we feel
    that it is easier for the patient if we don’t acknowledge the shock of what is happening- if we treat it as ‘normal’. We deny the patient any answers or information because it is not our job to interpret only to get the best images so that the consultant can decide what it is best to do. I agree with you, this makes us inhumane and culpable for the extra depths of misery we unwittingly are causing…and it is one of the reasons why I’m glad not to be working there any more…I’m so sorry it happened like that for you, I really think that you should print your post out and send it anonymously to the hospital..

  29. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  30. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  31. […]       “The Ultrasound and the Fury” by That Toy Chick (Reproductive Rights, Memoir, U.S. Public Policy) 2/29/12 I found this also a difficult piece to […]

  32. Rick says:

    Thank you for expressing so elloquently what I haven’t been able to. It still hurts and it was now a long time ago that I too was ordered out. I was ordered out eight times. We lost eight pregnancies- eight babies- eight children. It still hurts, there are days when I can think of little else. My wife died a few years later- cancer caused by the lack of vitamin d, and poor nutrition caused by her obsessive dietary behaviour, which, in turn, had caused all the spontaneous abortions- the correct term for miscarriages.There has been no explanation as to why no one chose to offer help, though the blood tests would have indicated the need, though they took the money for having provided it. I was the only one to be left out of the loop. I learnt a lot after she died. I was always treated as the cause of the problems. The reality of it was that I was the victim. Everything was done around me, behind my back, they kept me ignorant and painted me into corners that made it impossible for me to act on anything. I have no children, no wife, no explanation, nothing, and I’m mad as hell. I’m normally very placid but this is so close and destructive. It never had to be. Thank you for offering language with which to express it. Thank you.

  33. Everyone – I want to take a moment to thank you for reading my story and offering your own personal experiences. The process of sharing the difficulties of our loved ones and ourselves helps promote understanding of a hot-button issue that some only know about through campaigning and rhetoric. My heart grieves for those of you who have had to endure the scrutiny of this process, and similar experiences with brusque medical staff. It’s a sad and sobering reality when we cannot receive the explanations and involvement we loudly request while simultaneously being forced to receive the same we decline with equal fervor.

  34. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  35. […] Featured Posts (Picked by Lilly) ~ The Ultrasound and the Fury- I cried softly and my partner moved closer to the table so I could lay my cheek against him for […]

  36. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  37. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  38. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  39. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  40. […] The Ultrasound and the Fury- 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. […]

  41. Sasha says:

    Oh… my… gods… this brought tears to my eyes and I’m a tough cookie… I remember when I had that done… I didn’t bleed but it was painful and they wouldn’t let the baby’s dad be their… but I gladly had my mother and aunt fight over what gender the little sucker was. Which made it even worse. I didn’t want a baby. I was so careful I figured it was a mistake. But it wasn’t. I’m happy that Ambrose (my soon to be two year old) is in this world. but I wish I was as prepared as you. But any who love. I’m not sure if you have a little one, but if you have yet to conjure one I hope you do soon. They’re tough at times but it pays off (I know super cliche lol)

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