This morning, a friend called me out about my last post, “The Nitty-Gritty.” I was told that I shouldn’t be apologizing for grieving. She is right, but I can’t seem to help it. I’ve been made to feel like I shouldn’t be feeling this way because I was only 15 weeks pregnant. I haven’t been able to find closure. And I’m going to tell you why.
The same night I was discharged from the hospital, pretty drugged up on something similar to Morphine, I called my midwife and told her what had happened. I don’t remember if I asked her what came next, but she did tell me that it was most likely hospital policy that the baby’s body and the placenta (which I had delivered together) would be sent to the Pathology Lab for testing. She said this was a standard procedure. When the weekend was over, I signed various forms authorizing my midwives to request all my medical records from the night of my miscarriage. They had told me that they would review all the labs, nurse’s notes and doctor’s orders and would try to figure out, based on the results, why I had gone into labor at 15 weeks of pregnancy, and what the sex of the baby had been.
I waited for a week, maybe more (My memory is hazy since I’ve been in kind of a grief-induced walking coma for 2 months). When I heard back from my midwives, there was no answer to any of my questions. There was no Pathology report. There were no nurse’s notes or doctor’s orders. There were only the lab results on the blood work they had done, checking my iron levels and iron binding. My midwives expressed dismayed amazement that the hospital hadn’t sent the baby to Pathology. So I asked, what happened to my baby’s body? The answer: I don’t know. But I knew. Because I know that anything that comes from a person’s body that contains blood is considered a biohazardous material. And I know that biohazardous material is incinerated. I knew that if my baby’s body hadn’t been sent to Pathology, then it was thrown away, like trash. And this is what keeps me up at night.
I have been on a downward spiral of depression since I lost the baby. I feel regret that I chose to go to the hospital, because if I had stayed home and delivered with my midwife, I would have the answers to my questions. I feel guilt that I had been too shocked to form cohesive thoughts and verbalize the questions that were in my head. Why didn’t I ask to see the baby? Why didn’t I ask what I had had? Because I was thinking those things as I lay on the gurney in my bloody johnny. I feel devastated and disgusted and angry that my baby’s body was thrown away like a piece of trash and I will never have my questions answered. I feel cheated because instead of planting a tree in honor of a lost life, I could be burying my baby.
Two weeks ago, I went to my doctor to talk about medication for this depression. When I told her what had happened, she looked at me with astonishment and actually said, “That is so fucked up!”. She told me it was no wonder I was depressed because on top of experiencing a traumatic loss, I had received poor care. My doctor told me she was going to call the hospital and try to find the answers to my questions so that I could try to find some closure. But she has not been able to find any answers for me. In fact, the answers she got left me feeling even worse. She was told by the head of the Emergency department that there is no protocol in the ER for the handling of “products of conception” after 12 weeks of pregnancy. There is no record of the Pathology lab ever receiving any “products of conception” in my name.
Those three words, products of conception, drilled a hole in my heart each time they were said. Over and over and over, “products of conception aren’t in Pathology” “products of conception aren’t stored anywhere in the hospital” “there are no protocols for the handling of products of conception”. The last time I checked, the definition of a product of conception is A BABY!! What the hell else is the product of conception? Baby, baby, baby, baby. Let’s say the word, people. I don’t give a shit if doctors and hospital personnel fear saying the word “baby” when referencing the “product” of pregnancy. Will the world end if we say that I delivered a baby – that my baby wasn’t sent to pathology – that there are no protocols for the handling of a baby’s body? I didn’t go into the hospital to have an abortion. I went into the hospital to deliver a baby. And I’d like that to be acknowledged.
My doctor asked about grief support groups for women who have miscarried. The answer was that there is one, but its for women who lost a baby at 18+ weeks of pregnancy. So because I was 15 weeks, I guess I’m not supposed to feel this bone-crushing grief? I guess I wasn’t supposed to have loved my unborn child, because I was just 15 weeks? I didn’t pass a kidney stone and spend the last 2 months grieving the stone. I delivered a baby. A baby I already loved. I am grieving a lost love. So why am I being made to feel like I shouldn’t be? I’ve been feeling like society thinks I shouldn’t have blinked an eye at the loss of my “product of conception” because I wasn’t at the socially acceptable number of weeks to feel grief. That is bullshit, but also why I feel apologetic when I burst into tears and can’t even speak when I think about it. I lay awake at night thinking of everything I should have done, all the questions I should have asked, wondering if I can ever go through another pregnancy again, even though I want that baby so badly that I cry. But I feel bad if I bring it up with friends, or cry about it to my family members. I don’t want to make others feel as badly as I do.
So that, my friend, is why I was apologetic. I’ll try better next time.