So. Today we’re at the doctor, and that’s fine. He suggests a CTG for us, “come with me,” and he sits us down at a nurses’ station. While we wait, the nurse is across the desk from us, on the phone. She’s speaking Our First Language, and it’s not a fun conversation.

“No. Okay. Uh huh… and you’re worried the baby’s heart has stopped beating,” long pause. “Well, I will talk with … someone … here and call you back. What is your mobile? Okay. Well, it’s possible that you are having a miscarriage. Yes. Are you bleeding? OHHHHH-kay. I will talk with someone and call you back. Okay! Bye bye!”

My face was, probably: aghast, indignant, angry, galled.

See, with our first baby, melka started bleeding at 12 weeks in the middle of the night. I called our midwife. She told me it was probably a miscarriage, and that I shouldn’t bother going to the hospital – they can’t do anything anyway. I asked her what I should do. She said I could “wait for the baby to come out and bury the fetus in the backyard.” That was not the answer I was expecting.

I said, “no, what should I do right now to make sure my wife doesn’t bleed to death?” A week later, and no miscarriage, we had an ultrasound and the baby was still there, alive. (for the time being.) But the woman on the phone was wrong, and I followed her advice.

Melka, too, made that kind of call – twice, I think – when she was worried that the baby wasn’t moving enough. And the midwives said, lay down and be still, you’ll probably feel the baby moving. And so melka lay down, felt really hard, and told herself it was okay.

So we know what it’s like to make those calls, and we know what it’s like to get bad advice, or to be brushed off by someone with a cheery disposition. It was terrifying to watch it happen from the other side. Who was this terrified woman on the other end of the phone? What nightmare was I watching unfold? And why did this nurse just move on to paperwork when she hung up?

I’d like to read a blog written by a woman who deals with people like us all the time. What would she have to say? How has she dealt with the sadness? I’m looking for tips.

But I’m still angry. In the months after the baby died, melka would disappear into a sleep world. I would wait, thinking it would pass. A few times, it didn’t. She wouldn’t talk, she wouldn’t move, eat, drink, acknowledge me. I was scared. I called for help on a Sunday. I explained how scared I was and how I had no idea what to do, that I was worried she might hurt herself. The cheery woman at the emergency healthcare line told me to wait until Monday and call our doctor.

I went back to what I was doing before I foolishly called for help: failing.

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