I have had so many bad dreams. The one that reoccurred the most was a doctor telling me that something was wrong, or that I had lost a baby, followed by me screaming “No. No. NO!” I would wake from fitful sleep, often drenched in sweat or tangled in my blankets.
Some of the worst triggers for these nightmares were my prenatal appointments. Being back in the same exam rooms… seeing some of the same doctors…. I was thrust into flashbacks when I was both awake and asleep.
To further add to my pained experiences at these appointments was the constant barrage of insensitive, uninformed questions. The medical staff would be unaware of the details of my chart and ask “Is this your first child?” Or wonder why I was filled with anxiety during the appointments. I was talking to a friend who had lost her son, and currently pregnant, and she received The Question about other children at home. We were both so angry at how medical staff, especially in that type of practice, could be so oblivious. As if those appointments are not hard enough. Those types of questions, and the days leading up to and following appointments, brought on the worst of my nightmares.
My therapist asked if any of the nightmares have continued, now that Autumn has been born. No. All of my nightmares were around pregnancy, and that chapter of my life is permanently closed. I’m spared those appointments going forward. But I wondered: what other dreams might await me?
I was driving to Trader Joe’s today and found myself rerouted by road construction. I had to drive by the hospital, where I had delivered my second son, my two girls that I lost, and now Autumn. Many of my nightmares take place in an operating or delivery room. Often I would drive by after losing Nelle and Iris and start crying, so strong were the memories of being there. And today, nearing the end of the physical reminders of delivery, nearly six weeks after my baby was born, I cried again. It hit me so strongly: I was taken back to the room where I had an ultrasound with a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist to confirm that Iris was gone. She said “I remember you… you were just here a few months ago.” Yes. When I lost Nelle, the same doctor had done the confirming ultrasound. I had to decide, for Iris, between surgery or Labor & Delivery, and I was alone in the room with that doctor. I wanted her to say something, to make the moment less awful, to help me choose. But it was just me and that decision.
My regular OBGYN had walked me down from their offices to perinatology within the hospital. He walked me down to another office, in another part of the building, so that I did not have to be alone. When I talk about the obliviousness of the medical staff in the practice, he is always exempt. He walked with me on that horrible day. Every prenatal appointment this time, he knew. I never had to explain. He knew how hard the appointments were for me, and would ask how I was doing with the utmost caring and concern. If only that were experience with every appointment. If only loss moms did not have to dread those appointments.
If only they knew how a simple question could trigger such a terrible nightmare.
What is my dreaming mind doing to itself? Why is it torturing itself in this way? Why – when I finally thought I had moved past such disturbed sleep – am I being dragged into the worst moments of the past 8 months that I would rather forget? –My Own Writing, April 26, 2016