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A Hard Day

alec vanderboom

I started crying during my ultrasound today. The baby is fine. He's really a boy. He's 20 weeks old. I'm fine. All of this is superb news. Amazing and unexpected. I still had some of the worse 75 minutes of my life inside that room.

I got a new tech. She was really bad at her job. She caused me so much physical pain. I can't even figure out how its possible to hurt someone that much during a belly ultrasound. Our interaction was so surreal that I'd say "This hurts me" and she'd grind the wand thing in my lower pelvic area harder. No apology or explanations or anything.

One of the first things she typed on my "snap shots" was the abbreviations for Placenta Previa. Of course, in my head, I immediately confused that with Placenta Accreta--this is the scary complication I don't want to happen with my five times cut open c-section scar.

Right after she types this, the tech stops talking. I spend 20 minutes on my back looking at increasingly ghoulish pictures of my non-moving son. The the tech starts redoing the painful stuff. It's right on the tip of my tongue to protest and demand a new tech when she voluntarily leaves to get someone more experienced to look at me.

She was gone for 10 minutes. During that time, I started silently crying. I felt like 'This is the start of the bad news." The baby is fine, but I'm going to have trouble. There's a possibility all of this could snowball and I could be dead in October after the delivery. I could picture how my OB hands wiggled in that creepy way as he described how the placenta worms through like octopus tentacles through 5 layers of solid muscle during an accreta. "If it's started at 20 weeks, there's no way to stop it from getting so much worse" I thought in fear.

Then a new tech comes back. It's night and day. The old tech is there making rude comments about my silent tears. The new tech is all lightness and comfort and reassuring. The first thing she tells me is that there is plenty of time for the Placenta Previa to move out of the way in the next four weeks. The new tech starts to finish the series and I start to trust her completely. The way she interacts with my belly is totally different. There is no pain. She takes the pictures quickly from multiple angles. There's just this gentle competence.

The new tech retakes the Placenta Previa shots. She tells the old tech "It's not even close." The previa isn't there. The new tech deletes the snapshot labeled Placenta Previa and resubmits with the simple label "cervix."

It's so crazy. Danger is there. Then it's not. Or like due to a mistake on my part--the thing I'm most afraid of-- mostly likely isn't even an issue at all.

Sometimes the hardest part about being an older mother is the simple problem of knowing to much, to soon.

I supposed to go back from another sonogram in 2 to 3 weeks. That's earlier than my next OB appointment. I don't know how I'm going to get myself back into that room. I'm telling myself to look at all the options for dealing with my anxiety--therapy, anti-anxiety meds, hiring a doula for the C-section. Yoga. Aromatherapy. Bringing my half my Carmelite community to sit in the waiting room with me.

There are Christians like St. Perpetua who were cheerfully eaten by wild animals in the Roman Colosseum. It's so embarrassing to admit that routine pregnancy check-ups are my mental Colosseum. There's so much past trauma. Two dead sons. An almost fatal NICU stay. Way too many conversations about Accretas than a non-med student should take.

It's always an honor to serve God even in the pathetic and humiliting ways.