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Monday, August 4, 2008

Back from Atlanta

Friday, we get to Atlanta and check into the hotel like they told us to and called the Atlanta Surgi-Center, the clinic, as I was instructed. I thought I would be told to go to the clinic, but they just asked me a lot of questions, such as my blood type, my age, how far along I was, my height and my weight, and then said I was eligible for the one day procedure. They also said they had my medical records from my doctor's office.

I couldn't sleep at all though worrying about the next day. "B" didn't sleep well either. I think we dozed off about 3 a.m., and we had to get up by 7. We made it to the office by 9 a.m., our appointment time. My doctor told me that it was not an abortion clinic, although they did do that, too. She said we would be separated from the people who were doing this for other reasons. We go in, and there are a few women in there already, and I go to the window, expecting to be taken to a separate area. She just made me sign in, took mine and "B's" ID and gave me a clipboard with a huge pile of papers and told me to fill them out.

While I'm filling out this paperwork, more women are coming in. Some of them are laughing and joking, and you can just tell they are so happy to be getting this over with. "B" keeps leaning over to me and saying, "This is an abortion clinic. It's not supposed to be," or "What is going on? Why did Dr. McGowen send us here?" I'm actually getting pretty frustrated, and then, they call us back. I'm figuring they'll separate us then, but I was wrong again. Instead the lady grills me about how much I weigh. I tell her, and I said, "I told y'all this twice yesterday over the phone."

I also saw that she had my records from my doctor's office in front of her, which they had when I called the day before. They sent me back out to the waiting room, even though they knew we were a special case.

So, we wait and wait, and finally, a nurse calls out my name. Again, I'm thinking we are about to be separated from the huge crowd gathering in the waiting room, but she tells me "B" can't come with me. She weighed me and I had lost 12 pounds since my last doctor's appointment. I guess the stress had gotten to me. Anyway, she sends me out into the waiting room.

An hour later, when the waiting room is filled to standing room only, the door opens and another lady calls out my name. Wishful thinking again, that we'll be separated, but again, she won't let "B" come back. She takes me into a room with an ultrasound machine and tells me to get up on the table. She says she's going to do an ultrasound to date the pregnancy. I get up on the table, and I say, "We're here because there is a problem with the pregnancy, not because we want to be," and she says, "I know, I saw your chart." I start to cry. She pats me on the leg and tells me they have made a huge mistake.

Because of my weight and height, I have to be a two day procedure, which they only do on Thursday and Fridays. She said we'll have to come back. I told her that we had driven hundreds of miles, "B" had taken a day off from work, etc., etc., etc. She says it doesn't matter, that they have to follow the rules because of my health. I'm so frustrated at this point that I don't know what to say. She says she's going to do the ultrasound anyway and won't charge us anything. She is going to do it just to date the pregnancy. She asks if "B" would want to see the baby, and I said yes.

So, she goes and gets him, and we explain the situation to him. He's furious. He was already upset because he knew I was upset about sitting in that waiting room with all those women, but this just made it worse. The ultrasound tech says she is really sorry, that the director has explicit instructions on what to do when someone is in our situation, and that wasn't followed.
Then, she does the ultrasound. The baby is measuring two weeks behind. She also has more fluid on her brain (lots of swelling, she said), and she said it looks like some of her brain is missing. My fluid is still extremely low, and I had a braxton hicks contraction while she was doing the ultrasound.

When she tells me all of this, I just start crying again, and so does "B". It was like adding insult to injury. So, then we meet with the counselor who tries to get us to reschedule. "B" and I just look at each other and say we'll do it later. And, we leave. By the time we got out of the office, it was too late to check out of our hotel, so we had to stay another night.

I don't know what to do now. My doctor sent a note to work saying I would be out for two weeks, and my editor, bless her heart, told our human resource lady and publisher that I had lost the baby, so they wouldn't have to know about it. I can not go back to that place in Atlanta. I refuse. I figure if they messed up that bad on just that I can't trust them to do the actual procedure, but I just don't know if I can carry to term, emotionally. So, I have no idea what I will actually tell them when I go back to work.

I did some research today, and there is no clinic in the state of Tennessee that will help us. The state law here says that all second trimester abortions have to be done in a hospital. I contacted a doctor in Knoxville who assisted with helping another lady end her pregnancy early, but they have changed procedures there since she had her procedure. Now, it is handled on a case by case basis. Each case goes before a committee, who makes the decision. I talked to the genetic counselor at that office today, and she said she doubted they would allow it since I didn't start out as a patient of this doctor. She is going to talk to him and get back to me.

Traveling to Atlanta again to go to a different clinic might be our only option if we decide we are going to go through ending it early. The only problem is "B" probably can't take any more time off from work. I'll have to have it done this week, and "T" starts kindergarten Friday. I would have to miss the first day of school for her, and I don't want to do that.

I know many will say just don't have it done, but I am going crazy now. I haven't felt her move since Saturday. Dr. McGowen said that it might be hard to feel her move because of the low amniotic fluid, so I can't be sure if she's even still alive. I'm going tomorrow to listen for the heartbeat. I keep thinking and wondering if she's suffering. What if I don't end the pregnancy and carry her to term and she does survive? How is that fair to her? How is it fair to put her through that suffering? I just don't know what to do.

2 comments:

Karissa said...

I've continued to follow your blog and just read your post about your trip to Atlanta. All I can say is "wow." That is absolutely crazy. Incompetence doesn't even scratch the surface, and that is the best word I can think of.

Have you considered grief counseling for what you are going through to help you process your (very normal) feelings? Counseling is something that I think most of us can benefit from, not something to be ashamed of. You have been and are going through a traumatic experience, and you need support navigating how to make it through.

Peace and love to you.
kb

Grace said...

I hope once you are at home, you would have a little more time and privacy to think about what you would like to do.
The way that place treated you really disgusts me. I am so sorry you have to put up with sh** like that!
I really don't have much to offer, but I can feel your pain and confusion.