I actually started this post three weeks ago, but then we got hit with the snowpocalypse and the judgement was not good. Stuck in the house with two preschool age autistic kids for a week was not fun for any of us. But, hey, at least we had power, which is more than many in our area can say. Last week was spent trying to dig myself out of the aftermath of the Shining-like isolation experience. I was hoping to start feeling normal (for me these days, anyway) by today, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Anyhoo, I told Betty Bear a while back that I would blog about my funny miscarriage story sometime. Since I don’t want to talk about the fact that I haven’t started my diet yet and have only made it to the gym once so far this year, I thought today would be a good day for that story.
I should start with the bumper stickers. I’ve blogged before about how I didn’t feel comfortable voicing my opinion in opposition to someone else shouting theirs, so for a while I voiced it by plastering the back of my car with bumper stickers. I took them all off not long after BeBop was born, but they are now finding their way back. I don’t know if it’s the upcoming election or a sign that I’m surfacing from my depression, but it feels good.
I started the bumper stickers in the lead-up to the 2004 election. Thirty years ago I would have been considered a moderate liberal, but the line has moved so far to the right in that time that I think I’m now firmly in the bleeding-heart category. Whatever. My views haven’t changed much in that time, but I’m no longer very interested in how someone else categorizes me.
The stickers on my car were all liberal, many of them anti-Bush. At work, I used to get a lot of positive comments about them. One friend commented to another one day about this sticker:
The reply was, “You know that’s Michelle’s car, right?” She hadn’t, but made sure to give me the positive comments in person from then on. I always appreciated hearing them.
I blogged a few weeks back about my father and the trip I took to see him in October 2004. When we got home from that trip, I found out I was pregnant for the very first time. I told everyone I knew. I told people I didn’t know, people I’d never seen before, people just walking by on the street.
I made my first OB appointment and was quite disappointed to find out they won’t see you until you’re 8 weeks along. Seemed like forever to me, but I waited – mainly because I had no other choice. The appointment finally came on Wednesday, November 10, 2004. We sat watching the doctor’s face as she ran the ultrasound probe over my belly. She looked concerned, which unnerved me a little. Then she asked me how far along I was.
“Huh,” she said.
Sparky and I looked at each other. “Uhm, I could be off on that, though.”
“Is it possible you’re only six weeks?”
“Uhm, I guess.”
“Huh,” she said again.
I’ve now been through four pregnancies and two c-sections with this doctor and I like her very much. During my second c-section, she was talking about how ugly my fibroid was and the male doctor assisting her warned that she might hurt my feelings. She told him that we had known each other a long time and she knew I would take it well. She was right. In that moment, I said, “I’m beautiful on the outside and that’s what really counts.”
I know how to take her now, but the first time I met her, not so much. So we sat there, not really understanding that we probably didn’t have a viable pregnancy. She was trying to prepare us without really alarming us. In retrospect, I think she probably accomplished that with me. She said she’d look at my blood work and let me know in a few days, or something to that effect, and we all went back to work.
Thursday and most of Friday passed uneventfully. It was really quiet at work because most of the doctors, fellows, and other lab staff were off at a national meeting. I noticed around lunchtime on Friday that I was spotting a little. Spotting can happen in a typical pregnancy, so I managed to convince myself that’s all it was. Until about 3pm, when my uterus began to divest itself of most of it’s contents. I sat sobbing in the bathroom stall for a while and then began to wonder what I should do. My purse was in my office, but even if I’d had it with me, it had no menstrual supplies in it. I was pregnant and wasn’t planning to need any again for a year at least. I could ask one of the women I work with except that the entire floor, including office/clerical staff, was deserted due to the national conference and it being late Friday afternoon.
Then I remembered my friend, Wendy. I was pretty sure I’d seen her earlier in the day and her office was in the suite just across the hall from ours. I stuffed a bunch of toilet paper in my underwear and ran. I almost lost it when I saw her door closed, but knocked anyway because I didn’t know what else to do. There was fleeting relief when she opened the door, followed by frustration at my inability to communicate my situation through the blubbering. I finally got it out and she gave me a shoulder to cry on and some supplies to…well, some supplies. I went off to use them and call my doctor and Sparky. I’m pretty sure I called the doctor first, wanting to make sure I knew what the plan should be before I talked to Sparky. Turned out the plan was to go in to the OB’s office.
Sparky wanted to come get me, but I said no. He worked from home at that point and the doctor’s office was almost half way between our house and my office. He would have had to come all the way across the lake to get me and then drive back across the lake to get to the doctor’s office. Plus, my car was at work and I didn’t want to have to come back and get it. Those were the things running through the surface of my mind, but deeper down I knew that I just really didn’t want to sit in my office waiting. I needed to do something.
Wendy wanted to drive me as well, but I turned her down, too. I told her I didn’t want to have to come back to get my car. What I really didn’t want was company. I could see that she wanted to argue with me, but she didn’t and I really appreciated that.
So, off I went to the parking lot to get my car and here comes the funny part. As I’m driving toward the exit, I see this woman waving wildly at me. I put on the brake and rolled down the window as she ran over to the car. I think she introduced herself, though I don’t remember her name now, and then she starts gushing about how much she loves my bumper-stickers.
The whole time she was talking, I was trying to figure out why I stopped. I didn’t know how to gracefully exit the situation and I wondered if there was anyone but me who, in this type of situation, would be so worried about hurting a stranger’s feelings that they would stop and talk to them like this without cutting them off to say they needed to get to the hospital. Which was about the time she asked me the question she had flagged me down for: the ‘Like a Rock’ sticker was her favorite and she wanted to know where I found it.
I looked her in the eye and said, “I’m very sorry, but I’m having a medical emergency and I have to go.”
She sprang back from my car like I had hit her with live jumper cables and said, “Oh my god, I had no idea! You have to go!”
I blinked at her for a few seconds and then said, “But I got it at CafePress.com.”
She said, “Go!”
“I actually put them on magnets so I can switch them out and that one has fallen off before, so I bought extras and you can have one if you want.”
I think at this point she may have decided my emergency was mental because she started backing away from the car and said, “Just go.”
I rolled up my window and spent the drive to the doctor’s office thinking about how that was the most surreal conversation I’ve ever had in my life. I met Sparky at the doctor’s office, where they did an ultrasound and determined that my body had done a pretty efficient purging job and I wouldn’t need a D&C. She told me to take it easy for a few days, gave me some medication for the pain, and sent us home.
I tried to think of something to do for Wendy to say thanks, but Emily Post doesn’t really have a protocol for this situation, so I think I ended up giving her a mug with hot chocolate mix or something in it.
I wrote a letter to the woman from the parking lot apologizing for our exchange. I put it in an envelope with a rock sticker, but I didn’t know how to find her, so I wrote “FOR THE WOMAN WHO ASKED ABOUT MY STICKERS” on the envelope and attached it to the back of my car with the rest of the bumper stickers. I left it there for several months, but nobody ever took it. I don’t know if she saw it at all. Maybe she did and was afraid to take it. Maybe she avoided that parking lot so she wouldn’t run into me again. Maybe she quit her job and moved to Bolivia to get away from the crazy lady whose psychotic break she interrupted. Or maybe she’s never given it a second thought. I did, though, and I wanted her to have that sticker.
As I was writing this, I realized that the woman in the parking lot gave me something to focus on other than the tragedy that was unfolding in my body. It was just what I needed and I’m suddenly grateful to her on a whole new level. Thank you, Mystery Lady. I still have your sticker and if you ever decide you want it, it’s yours.
*Edited to reflect the correct spelling of hilarity. Thanks for not catching that, WordPress. Way to be on top of things. 🙂