Monday, April 7, 2008

A Different Sisterhood

Downer alert: This post isn’t as funny as (I hope) I usually am.

Some of you know this already. I was counting down a few weeks to announce my pregnancy, but last Thursday we got some sad news.

So now I’ve joined a different sisterhood, one I never thought I’d join, the one of women who have miscarried. Up to half of women have, says my kind new doctor. The March of Dimes says 20 to 30 percent. Out of 5 women I spoke to, 3 had either had one or knew someone who did, so that’s running closer to the doctor’s number.

On the one hand I feel guilty for feeling so much better, physically, than I have in weeks. On the other hand I feel guilty about everything I did in the past 2 weeks: Was it because I stood in front of the microwave? Took care of my son when he was ill? Fought with my husband? Ate those 2 bites of not-steaming-hot lunchmeat before I read that you’re not supposed to? In reality it probably was not any of those things. But those thoughts go through my head at random times.

We weren’t planning to have another baby, but we hadn’t been being careful about NOT having one, either, unless being too tired to do more than watch TV every night counts as contraception. I was still in the overwhelmed, can-I-do-this stage. And just starting to think about how maybe I could. And now it’s over.

It’s a strange feeling. Empty. Which in a way, ironically, sums up how I’ve been feeling anyway for quite a while. I just hadn’t been able to name it.

This blog has helped me not feel so empty. So I’ll just keep blabbing here for a bit this morning.

Like, about doctors. When I had DuckyBoy we lived in Brooklyn, and so of course my doctors were all Manhattan. I haven’t even had a gyn checkup in a few years because I so dread the trek into Manhattan from here. So needless to say I wasn’t keen to use the same obstetrics group again. Both doctors were nice but I wasn’t crazy about the delivery at Mt Sinai anyway, so to make a long story short I was shopping for an ob out here in Queens.

I’m very leery of doctors in Queens. I had a bad experience with DuckyBoy’s first Queens pediatricians; they weren't horrible, but in the end we switched to my original choice, Dr. Eden. I edited his column at American Baby for years, so I felt I knew him and I trust his choice of associate.

There’s a nice internist across the street from me, and one dermatologist who had an extremely long wait in the waiting room and another who, while seemingly fine, in the end hacked up my thumb pretty good to get rid of a wart. Anyone else might have done the same, and it was his last resort to do the surgery, but still. Left with a minor bad feeling I am.

So there I was a few weeks ago, with a positive pregnancy test and no ob. Only one friend who’s been pregnant in Queens. And I was trying to wait to tell people I was pregnant, so I didn’t really want to have to ask her.

Oh, and since Husband is self-employed now (a consultant), we have different insurance: hospitalization coverage, plus something called “Multiplan,” which is a volume-discount type of program (you pay the doctor for each visit, but you’re supposed to be charged the rate an insurance company would be billed at).

So I did what any self-respecting modern women would do: I looked online. I got names from both insurance-plan directories, Googled “Forest Hills obstetricians,” and read local parent message boards. I’m barely active on the boards, so what I found I wasn’t confident of.

Did some online research of local hospitals and called their physician referral service to get 3 names.

I even called Dr. Eden’s office; I love him and his staff, but here’s what the office manager said: “There’s one across the hall, they have nice offices and a lot of people going in and out, I can run over and get a card for you if you like.” I know she was trying very much to help, but that’s not exactly the rave referral I was looking for?! I took the name anyway; it turned out to be one I'd heard of from the message board.

The only rave referral I got was for someone in Manhattan, which is what I was trying to avoid.

So I was compiling a list of names and questions, dreading setting up a few informational appointments because I know the doctors hate those questions, roll their eyes, etc. and yet I did not want to NOT ask them.

And then the issue came to a head when I was bleeding, more than spotting, on Thursday morning.

I called everyone on the list and said, “I’m about 10 weeks pregnant, I haven’t seen an ob yet, and I’m bleeding.” I got an interesting variety of responses:
• Not in the office today.
• He can’t see you until next week.
• Even if you were our patient we’d tell you to go to the ER. (This already was my last resort, but since I wasn’t an emergency by ER standards, I knew I could be sitting there for a looooong time.)
• We’re booked but you can come sit in the waiting room and we’ll try to fit you in.
• He’s/She's no longer doing obstetrics but here’s someone else’s number.

I got this last response twice; once from one of the docs whose name was given to me by the hospital referral service (!) -- so a blind referral from a blind referral seemed way too random and I did not want to call.

The second time was from the office recommended by my friend in Queens. When I was spotting on Wednesday I had a feeling I needed someone soon, so I asked her. Of course, turns out she delivered in Manhattan, but she now sees a Long Island doctor she’s happy with. So when her doctor’s office gave me another name, I was willing to call. At least I knew someone who knew someone…

They were the last phone number I had -- and they were the only office able to give me an appointment. And I think God was in the details, since the doctor and his nurse were so nice and kind. And so was everyone at the surgical center they sent us to.

So now I feel relieved, sad, grateful, confused, ready to get back to the plans I was making before I took that pregnancy test, and empty. All at once. I believe God has plans for me, I don’t believe God makes babies die, and I believe the best way to move forward with my life is with God’s help. Would it be strange to say, “Amen”?

1 comment:

Sara said...

I'm so sorry, Jan. I'm impressed with how well you're writing about such a stressful situation.

Finding a good pediatrician seemed impossible when we were in Queens. Ours was... okay. Fine. Nothing wrong with her. I didn't even bother to try to find an OB/GYN, and instead trudged to the Upper West Side every few weeks.