I've been dreading this day since everything that has happened. Anxiety, fear, panic fill my mind. Lies from the enemy float around. The day for my follow up appointment since delivering Haven has finally come.
Questions. There are so many questions. She - The Doctor - will ask me if I have any questions or concerns and ask me how things have been going. And of course I will. I have. I've been. I think they'll be for always. Afraid to say my concerns and ask my questions out loud, to not have them answered and to see her look at me the same way she did while I was laying on my hospital bed.
- My cervix measurement was duly noted and measured at our 20-week appointment and ultrasound by you, Doctor.
- We understand that the cervix measurement may have "appeared" minute in comparison to the heart defect that was detected that same day and that you had to prioritize. Both, Paul and I being healthcare professionals, understand the method and importance of prioritization. That day you chose the heart defect.
- Amidst the tears, pain and shock of freshly hearing of our baby's defect, you went on to explain what this may mean for the remainder of our pregnancy, what things would look like post-delivery and the sequence of surgeries our baby would have to undergo shortly after birth and for the following months. When talking about Haven's defect, you gave us options. One of the options was to terminate our pregnancy, considering the fact that at the time we also didn't know if our baby had other defects/ abnormalities. For some reason, you seemed more for the option of terminating. I got and felt this feeling, as did Paul. I remember getting your phone call later on that same day and telling you our decision to continue with our pregnancy and that we were willing and ready to take on the challenges and life that would come with our baby's heart defect. I remember your voice sounding disappointed. I couldn't help but think ... That you were hoping and waiting to hear that we'd chosen the option to terminate.
No Doctor. We want our baby, we want this pregnancy and were ready to take on whatever lied ahead of us.
- 2 days after our 20-week appointment, I opted to get an amniocentesis done. An invasive, optional procedure that I previously made the decision not to get done earlier in our pregnancy. However, with Haven's heart defect discovery, Paul and I thought that it would be best to receive one to see if there were other conditions that Haven also had. We did this so that we could mentally, spiritually and emotionally prepare for our future, just in case there were others. The doctor that performed my amnio was the one who brought my cervix to our attention. She asked if we knew about my cervix measurement and she asked if our doctor talked about this with us. We told her no. Doctor, why didn't you think to talk us about this as well and not just about Haven's heart?
- The "normal spotting" that appeared 2-3 times during my second trimester wasn't just normal spotting. I see this now. It was my cervix slowly dilating and opening up. I emailed you about this spotting and you claimed it was nothing urgent to worry about, that spotting was normal and to just observe it.
- At our 24-week appointment & ultrasound, you were just about ready to send us off until Paul brought up my cervix measurement to you. I expressed my concerns and asked you to measure me/ take a look before we went home that day.
- I instantly saw it in your face that I knew something was wrong and when you said aloud that you couldn't see it properly on the screen and went on to do a speculation exam (similar to that of a Pap Smear) instead to get more visualization.
- I have a gut feeling that knew you somehow knew about my cervix already but maybe just didn't care enough to bring it up the first time (20 week appointment), or just "forgot" about it.
- You claimed that you felt terrible because you always seemed to give us bad news at what always seemed like every check up. But my cervix measurement was already on your notes from my 20-week check. So didn't you know? Weren't you aware? Wasn't this indicating something to you? Alerting you? A red flag? Didn't you want to make sure my regular day-to-day activities were okay despite the measurement? You're aware that Paul and I are in the field as well and know that we could have easily been compliant and more understanding with new instructions or orders from you.
- I could have been on bed rest since I was 5 months. Home bed rest. I could have worked less, or stopped working, taken things easier, not have been planning on traveling for our wedding anniversary or baby-moon or not have taken the day to day stresses of life so seriously, had I known.
- When you gave us more bad news and stated that my bag of waters (the bag holding and supporting Haven) was already hanging out at our 24-week appointment (thankfully, none of her limbs were hanging out at the time), you only mentioned 3 options for us. 1. Play the waiting game. Resuming to our normal life, knowing that our baby will be born earlier than expected (pre-mature delivery). 2. Getting a cerclage ("stitch" to put in to keep the cervix from dilating early). This was out of the question though, because the normal placing for a cerclage is roughly around 12-14 weeks. Also, placing this stitch inside me at 24 weeks, would only harm us by increase the chances of my water rupturing prematurely. Option number 3 (the last and final option) was an induction of labor - artificially stimulating childbirth using pharmacological medication (ie. Pitocin). Doctor, I want you to know that we felt that you had a very pressuring, suggesting approach towards option number 3 and gave us a strong belief that inducing me was the best/ only option, the best/ only option for our baby. Our wanted pregnancy. Our very wanted pregnancy. Our firstborn baby. Whom we later met to be our daughter. Our sweet, baby girl Haven.
- Then I remembered you discussing with us the option of termination at 20 weeks and the way your voice sounded and your reaction to us stating we wanted to very much keep Haven when we found out about her heart defect. As this scenario played in my mind, I couldn't help but compare it to this one. I then began to think - "The doctor, this doctor, she's not on our side. She's not for us. She's not for our baby. She's not for our sweet Haven."
- Whenever bad news was identified, you always seemed to choose or want to sway Paul and I towards the other way. Somehow it was like you didn't want us to "deal" with this. With all the bad news. With the potential of what our future was going to look like. Like you wanted to save us from all this. But only by doing "short cuts" - pregnancy termination, induction of labor - and not letting nature take on its own course or allow God to let this pregnancy happen the way he has already planned for it too.
- You scared us, you made us terrified, you scarred us (literally, for life). And not just us but our families, our loved ones and dear friends. This, the "one and only" scary option.
- Everyone near and dear to us scrambled after work, school, dropped whatever it was they were doing that day to come and be with us because they didn't want to miss the birth of our baby; the first baby to be born into our family, also the first grandchild. A big labor and delivery room filled with crying, scared, confused and terrified people.
- When we fervently prayed for a sign, for another option, for another way to try and help keep me pregnant, keep our baby inside me and to give her more time - another doctor did. She explained the option of bed rest. Hospital bed rest. And this is exactly what we chose. We knew immediately that this was the power of God and his hand over us and our situation. Hospital bed rest it was, for careful monitoring until God would call the right time. His time.
- When you learned that this was the decision we chose, the next day you came into my room looking at us again with the same disappointment, the same confusion and without emotion. Like you've done in the past. Like you didn't understand why we chose this, how we could want this. Again, like you were not for us, on our side and not for Haven.
- Each time you rounded in my room during 0700 am morning rounds, you'd never spend more than 5 minutes with us.
- Every now and then, you'd state awkward comments that were "off". "You're going to deliver early. Still." "The baby will be coming soon." "28 weeks most likely will not happen." "It will happen before 28 weeks." With every comment, every statement that contained this energy you gave off - despite the added hurt and pain this gave to us, Paul and I did our best to shrug it off, refused to believe this and let you "win". We decided that we'd pray instead, to continue praying and believing and choosing in hope. With every comment or statement you said, it only made us pray more and believe even harder.
- When Haven's birthday finally arrived, you came into our room in the early afternoon. Haven at the time had already passed and went onto heaven. You sat at the end of my bed with a room full of people with mixed emotions, myself included. I remember the only thing you asked me was if I had any questions or concerns. I recall myself with eyes filled with tears, an unsteady mindset, and utter confusion as to how or why one could or would ask this type of question. Responding to you, I stated, "No, I do not have any questions or concerns at this time", still shocked at your question. You then, got up and couldn't believe my eyes as I saw you wiping your tears from your very own.
Whenever I reflect on everything that has happened, I go over and replay every detail and scenario that occurred. Some (most) nights, Paul and I talk and review our whole pregnancy and Haven's life over and over again to see if there was something one of us somehow missed; this also helps us to vent and allow each other to see how things unraveled through the eyes of the other. Although we both know that there was nothing that could have been to change or prevent what happened, as this was all a part of God’s grand and better plan, I can’t help but to blame myself. I think maybe it was something I ate, something I lifted at work, maybe it was inhaling or being too exposed to the bleach at work, the stress – even crippling, gut-wrenching thoughts (lies from the enemy of course), like, “maybe this pregnancy wasn’t meant for you”, “maybe you’re not meant to be mom yet”, “you did something wrong”, “Paul did something wrong.” The list goes on. Some days I let him win. Some days if not most, I feel robbed, defeated, stolen from. I know and understand that this, will not just be part of my current grief process but of my lifelong grief journey. That some days will be good days and the others will be hard ones, the real hard ones. I understand that through prayer and conversations with God, Paul, my family and close friends – that the enemy will continue to fit and try to break through every small corner, hole, and crevice in my mind that he may be able to fit through. I understand that this will all take time. I know that Paul and I will need lots of help. I know that this is just not any other regular "passing season”. This will be a journey, a process, a chapter of the “’til death do us part” of Paul and I’s marriage that will be for as long as we are here on earth side until we are reunited again with our sweet girl.
Many have already begun to tell us things like, “This will pass.” “Things will be okay again.” “It takes time.” “Time heals all things.” I smile, we smile as we hear these things. But we know that “time” will not erase Haven, nor our time with her. “Time” will not make things disappear and be okay again. Yes, “time” will pass, but Haven will not.
She will always be.
In the next few hours, Paul and I will come face to face with the doctor that took care of us during our pregnancy. Days leading up to this, I imagined myself preparing a physical long list of questions and concerns I wanted to ask her to help ease my worry, fear and anger. Instead, I am overcome with a sense of peace. I am to talk with God before resting my eyes tonight and through the entire morning until our name is called at the doctor’s office. I'll be asking for help, for the Holy Spirit to be with us, guide us, to ease both Paul and I in our speech with the doctor and that the “right” words would flow from our mouths with his guidance versus the words of our flesh.
Tonight, I rest in this Truth - Time does not heal. God does.