“The 30 Second Pregnancy”
By Gracie K. Harold
Trigger word warning: pregnancy, miscarriage, grief, expletive (bull$#*!), appalling lack of medical professionalism, hospital
My pregnancy test was positive…for a whopping thirty seconds before it faded to “not pregnant”. This happened on a day when I was expected to be in meetings or appointments all day long. So, I called my doctor; whose office ordered blood work at the local hospital. I was assured that as long as I arrived before 7 pm that evening, they would receive the results as soon as possible. We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 pm. My lab order was nowhere to be found; and of course, it was a Friday night so the Dr.’s office was closed. We went home to wait until Monday, after being told that there was nothing else that could be done.
Meanwhile, I started spotting. Monday morning, I called the Dr.’s office again; and the nurse asked why we hadn’t called the after-hours doctor on call. No one had ever told me that was an option. I had asked about it at the lab in the hospital, but they informed me that they were unable to call and inquire about the lab order. So, I rushed back to the hospital for my blood work. The lab tech was able to rush my results so that my Dr.’s office would have them within an hour.
After two hours, the office called to tell me that they wanted me to take another pregnancy test. When I expressed my confusion after having just had blood drawn for the pregnancy test; she stumbled over her words and said, “Oh, now I see the test results. I will call you back after I read these to a Dr.” So, I waited. Remember that I had a miscarriage this past summer, so my fear of losing another child was palpable. A nurse called me back another hour later.
The following is a direct quote from her: “The Dr. thinks that you are getting ready to start your period, so please take some ibuprofen and rest.” Insert Christian expletive here; no, on second thought, insert what I really said here: “This is Bull$#*!”
I had been spotting and cramping for 5 days, and had taken two different pregnancy tests which I was anxiously awaiting the results from. Additionally, I can’t take Ibuprofen; it’s clearly documented in my chart. I re-explained the reason for the office to call me back; that I was waiting for the blood test results. “Oh, well, the Dr. only said that you were starting your period. Oh, wait a minute, I didn’t read the other notes from your phone calls this last week.”
Ok, time for a few sarcastic comments. I was under the impression that a professional office is expected to do all of their research BEFORE they pick up a telephone to answer a patient’s questions. Perhaps I am anal and picky, but isn’t there a certain protocol to protect against liability? I thought that protocol usually called for a complete picture of the patient’s history and complaints.
At this point, I told the nurse that I would either drive the five minutes to their office in order to stay in the waiting room until I was seen; or she could schedule me with a provider in the next two minutes. “Oh, I think there’s an opening. I guess I don’t understand why you need to be seen if you’re not pregnant.”
That’s how I found out that I had a false positive on my pregnancy test.
I love my Dr., I really do. However, as this is the second time I have experienced this gut-wrenching treatment and lack of sensitivity by the nursing staff; I can’t possibly fathom being willing to undergo this a third time. Call me a cock-eyed optimist; but I was under the impression that an Obstetrician’s office was in existence to compassionately walk alongside their patients throughout all phases of their journey to have a child; especially after the loss of a pregnancy. Apparently I was sorely mistaken.
I curled up in my bed, and sobbed until I went to pick up James from work. It hurt worse than a ‘hellish pain”. It was hell. I knew all of the platitudes, all of the “reassurances”, all of the Bible verses. I hurt. I cried. I screamed and cussed. I journeyed through, accepting it as it was; how I felt right then. It’s ok. I am completely allowed to have a weekend of grieving over what I thought was a new life. Likewise, I am also allowed to feel relief in alternating waves; and then come back to the grief again.
Needless to say, I now see a different Dr. On my first visit, I told her about the false pregnancy test. Her response was to say, “Oh my word! That’s like…(at this point, she took her hand in an uphill motion while making an airplane-takeoff-type noise, then sharply brought it back down with a crashing noise). I smiled through my tears and said, “That’s it exactly…and that was the absolute, most compassionate response that I have received in the last year from the medical community. Thank you for treating me as a grieving mother; and not just as another patient.”
Grief hurts, and that is ok. You have permission to grieve. Life brings joy sometimes, and that’s ok as well. You have permission to laugh. Both of them are part of the grief journey. Every step may look different from the last; but no matter what, please know that you are not alone. I railed at God; spewing expletives as if I were a nail gun and he were a new building under construction. He listened. His love for me is still here.
So even in my sadness and grief; somehow, I can cling to Him honestly through my exposed, jagged heart. I know that He will continue to carry me on the days when it literally hurts like Hell.
Dueteronomy 33:27 states, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the Everlasting Arms.” Go ahead, join me.
****As an incredible side note, I was hiding out in my favorite writing “cave”. Behind me was a wall. I set about taking pictures of the stopwatch screen on an old phone that I planned to use in this post. Below is the gallery of the progression of the photos. IN NO WAY DID I ALTER THESE OR SUPERIMPOSE THEM! All I did was flip between filters. I think it’s like God is reminding me that all of my grief is covered by the cross; and He’s here to walk me through it.****