The doctor visit.
About 1/4 of the way through my 2nd pregnancy, I was measuring way ahead of schedule and so my midwife wanted to have me do an ultrasound. The day that I scheduled it for was a day that she was out of the office so, thinking it would just be a routine thing, I decided it was fine to see another doctor at her practice.
The day came and I dropped my oldest (and only at that time) son off with my sister-in-law. The hug from my little 1 year old dude was routine. The drive to the doctor’s office was completely normal. The ultrasound seemed to take a lot longer than I remember the other ones taking (so many pictures!) but, I just chalked that up to the baby being so tiny.
I went back into the one of the tiny, sterile rooms to wait for this mystery doctor to look at the pictures and give me his report. Finally, in he came with his professional looking glasses and bright white lab coat.
Hi. I’m Dr. Turn-Your-World-Upside-Down.
“Your baby has anencephaly“
“Oh? What is that?”
A long explanation ensued but all I heard is “your baby has only developed to the brain stem. It will not survive after birth.”
And then the kicker: “When do you want to schedule the DNC?” he said in the same manner the dental assistant speaks to me when she wants to set up my next teeth cleaning.
Ears ringing. Lights blaring. Sound tunneling.
“Wait.” I said, “When do I want to have an abortion, you mean?”
Now Doc’s matter-of-fact attitude turned sour. “Don’t you have another child? Think of him. If you carry this baby to term, it won’t take all the fluid you produce for it because it is living off of your central nervous system. You will be on bed rest and will not be able to care for the child you have now. The one that will survive.”
The room was, like, really hot all of the sudden, and I could not form words.
The doctor walked out….and then back in with a book. “Here.”, shoving a medical book in my face, “This is what your baby will look like. He won’t live longer than a day….and probably for only a few hours, if that.”
Sweet baby nose….and peacefully closed eyes are what I could see in the picture. And a flat head from the eyebrows up.
“I’m not going to kill my baby.” I said softly.
“Huh…..your choice, I guess” said Dr. It’s-My-Mission-to-Scare-You-into-Submission.
“Yes, it is. That is not the way I know to do this life.” I said with a little more gusto.
Out he walked. And then, minutes later, out I walked. Pushing open doors to a world where I carried a baby that may never breath the air I was breathing. Or wrap his little fingering around mine. Or do that hilarious head bobbing thing on my shoulder when she is hungry.
And then, there he was again. Dr. Annoyed-and-Disgusted-Bedside-Manner. Standing by his car, smoking his cigarette.
“I really wish you’d think about this more and change your mind” he called to me.
I kept walking to my car, numbed by the fact that this guy was literally out to kill my baby. I’m not sure I’ve met another human being that was so careless with his words and so quick in his judgement. To him I was one of those people who just didn’t get it. That just couldn’t accept the cold hard truth of this situation. The kind that sees hope in a hopeless situation.
As I sat down in my car and shut the door, I realized I hadn’t even cried yet.