Doctor Doctor

Thank you, everyone, who has left a comment or emailed me about my last post. And even if you didn’t, thank you for reading because you care.

I’ll elaborate on my last post. First of all, I admit right off the bat that I probably should have been more proactive in doing my research. I could have done a lot of things differently. Husband wasn’t quite ready to see the situation as needing specialist attention, and frankly I didn’t know better. I would like to say this: if you are a woman 40 or over and want to conceive a child, go see a specialist for a consultation first thing. The general advice is to try for six months and then seek treatment.

When I first knew I was pregnant last June, I was assigned to Dr. H, my first ob/gyn. Husband and I went to visit. Dr. H was very calm, had a smooth low-volume voice, and was completely impassive in expression. I didn’t feel at ease. By the end of the visit I wasn’t sure I’d want to continue with him. For example, in the meeting when I inquired about whether my antidepressants would be a problem, he’d asked what I’d been told in the past by my psychiatrist. I replied that she and I had discussed the need to weigh the impact of depression on a pregnant woman and that the research currently suggested it was not a problem to take medication. He said, “Well, then I think you’d been given your answer, don’t you?” Well, doctor, I wanted to know what you think and what your stance was on this.

I also asked him some questions about testing and so forth and he asked where I’d gotten my information. I said I’d been reading some books given by a friend. He replied that “some women see the doctor from an adversarial standpoint, which doesn’t work so well,” and at another point suggested I stop reading so many books if they were making me uncomfortable.

Then he did the ultrasound. He saw little development and no heartbeat yet and said, “You should know that 25% of women of over 40 miscarry.” He told me to come back at the end of June for another ultrasound. When I did, that test showed a heartbeat, but it was very slow. He said this wasn’t normal, that sometimes embryos start out slow and catch up, but that this was not a good sign. (Turns out he was right, but he certainly wasn’t empathetic.)

When I began to miscarry mid-July, Dr. H was on vacation. So Dr. G called me back. Dr. G was a total 180 from Dr. H. He was concerned, answered my questions, at one point asking me if I was a nurse. I said no, I just read a lot. He said that was great that I was knowledgeable. I saw him the next day with Husband where an ultrasound confirmed the pregnancy loss. Dr. G was very kind and arranged things so I could have a D&C the following day. I do think he meant well when he said not to despair over the miscarriage, and that he meant to reassure me when he said many women have one or two and go on to have a child. However, I wasn’t 20-something or 30-something — I didn’t have time to keep trying. And the fact of my age would suggest that the miscarriage wasn’t just a “fluke,” but that I would continue to have trouble because women at my age do. The miscarriage later in the year would have been doubly concerning. I should have insisted on testing then instead.

In any case, I did not like Dr. H at all and I am disappointed with Dr. G. What I think is that these are two doctors in a busy practice who are used to dealing with “the typical patient” and who for whatever reason treated me as though I was one.

It’s possible that had I tried in my 20s or 30s I would have had a problem. It’s possible the problem resides with Husband. (We’ll get information on that too.) It’s just that women over 40, and even over 37, really don’t have the time to be casual or incurious about getting pregnant.

I rue the fact that I didn’t act sooner.

I’ll also “come clean” on what I mentioned in my last post about “deeply held negative belief about myself that I have struggled with for years.” As a therapist, I know about false beliefs. You may read this and think, “Physician, heal thyself.” Well, believe me, I have worked on this.

Here it is: I fear that I am destined not to get what I want.

My life was not easy in my early adult years. I fought to achieve my goals. Without going into great detail here — to respect the privacy of others — I’ll say the origins of this belief are deeply rooted in life experience from a very young age and continued well into my adulthood. I heard a lot of No in my life and, as a result, I learned to curb my wants and to curb my awareness of wanting. And because I had some really shitty experiences in my life, I began to wonder that perhaps it was my destiny to not succeed. Some people in this world have much, and others do not. Because I encountered so many problems, I struggled with this belief even as I pursued my goals. (And yet, I have achieved, so this disproves the belief. With each success the false belief is diminished.)

Have you ever read Ursula LeGuin’s short story, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas (link is pdf file)? It’s an allegory about a Utopian society that can only exist with a dreadful sacrifice that requires the complicity of the residents. When people come “of age” and learn about the sacrifice, some of them choose to leave.

They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas. Some of them have come to see it, others are content merely to know it is there. They all know that it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child’s abominable misery.

This resonated. Even now in this world, which is certainly not Utopia, I wonder about injustice and inequality of well-being and power. At that time in my life, I was a have-not. I didn’t want to be one, but I felt slapped down so many times as I strove to make more of my life that I wondered if I wasn’t fighting a futile battle against some Power that had control.

As I prevailed and achieved my goals, and as I worked on my soul through therapy, I became more confident. When I met Husband and received his love, when we joined our lives, my life improved dramatically. The question of whether I am deserving went dormant. I thought it was for good. But this dance around the desire for a child has ignited it again. And this is why I’ll try the EMDR process, to see if I can meet it and drain it of its power.

It sure would be nice if I could have what I want easily, without struggle. This has not been the path of my life, however; why should it change? The fact is I’ve gotten what I wanted many times. It’s just required great perseverence.

Explore posts in the same categories: Journal, Pregnancy, Quotes

7 Comments on “Doctor Doctor”

  1. Fran aka Redondowriter Says:

    I’m thinking of you, Kathryn, with a lot of compassion and empathy. I have a former roommate, now 42, who just gave birth to her first child in August–totally healthy. She had had several miscarriages and one stillborn at 7 months. They finally worked with a doctor in Toledo who got special drugs for her from England–and she carried, though she did have bedrest the last months. I’d be happy to put you in touch with her, if you would be interested.

    And, as you know from comments when you miscarried, don’t rule out adoption. Though I was younger than you are, when I didn’t get pregnant by 24 (surgery and lots of treatment, but that was the middle ages in fertility treatment compared to today), we adopted our first boy–and then two more. I have never regretted it. I think about half my school’s “little” students were conceived in vitro and many were adopted.

    By the way, thanks for posting about existential loneliness. I guess, for people like us who had restrictive upbringing, it’s just something you learn to live with.

    Anyhow, again, thinking of you as you go through your testing.

  2. gerry rosser Says:

    I understand that feeling that you will not get what you want. I still deal with that after achieving and getting many things. For me the flip side is the deep-seated feeling that in those cases I do get what I want, it must be worthless because I couldn’t possibly get/achieve anything worthwhile. It is ultimately just very tiring to always feel that way.

    I do not hold doctors in hight esteem, for the most part. I think that a great doctor, no, even a competent doctor, is as rare as finding competence in any profession or line of work. In a world where marginal competence is praised as greatness, then few aspire for more, and fewer achieve even that, i.e., competence.

    But more to the point, in terms of my thoughts for you:

    ” ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers —
    That perches in the soul–
    And sings the tune without words–
    And never stops–at all.”
    Emily Dickinson

  3. TP Says:

    It’s incredibly difficult to separate “wanting” from “not getting” – after all, if you don’t get what you want, what better solution than to attack the source of the want? (This is one of the things that always made me a bit uneasy about Buddhism, at least as I superficially understood it.)

    To want requires a sort of assumption of risk of not getting, and at least two kinds of faith/hope/belief: that the want is perfectly legitimate in itself, and that one will not be utterly destroyed by not getting, if it should come to pass. Anyone who’s had any sort of experience with disappointment can appreciate the difficulty of cultivating this sort of equanimity. In fact, it might just frame a (the?) fundamental problem of existence – how to summon the courage to truly want something in the face of uncertain and sometimes unkind reality.

    Which is a long way around to saying that for what it’s worth, you have lots of company on this issue (myself included).

  4. Winston Says:

    I know you are sick of the old cliched saws. But there happens to be one that I keep reminding myself of and I find it so true. That is – nothing worthwhile ever comes easy and without hard work. Sounds like one of those things my grandma would say to me, but the older I get, the more I realize she was a very wise woman.

    She would also say that if it was meant to be, it will be. Que sera sera. And most of the time I think that one is bull.

    Will be thinking of you and with you and hubby on this.

  5. marta Says:

    By the by, my ob/gyn was great. Change doctors! Change now. You simply cannot feel this way. Sometimes I think people have unrealistic expectations of doctors–but this is not one of those times. I refuse to believe that there isn’t a good doctor for you in your corner of the world. And to be honest, I’ve never understood why anyone would want a male ob/gyn.

  6. donna Says:

    Children are wonderful. Having a child is a great thing. But.

    If it doesn’t happen for you, that’s ok. If you want to adopt, that’s ok too. If you decide not to have kids after all, that’s ok.

    There are a lot of paths in life. They don’t make any sense until we’ve walked down them and look back. Sometimes, perhaps for most people, they don’t make sense even then.

    That’s what Omelas is about. Knowing it isn’t perfect for everyone. The ones who walk away are those who have decided the illusion of the perfect world is a fallacy, and they choose to explore the realities of life.

    Your path may well be away from Omelas. It might not be the perfect thing you always imagined for yourself, but – it will be real. As you are real, as your feelings are real, as your hopes and dreams are real. Even if never realized – still real.


  7. Liora Says:

    There’s a quote by Anthony Robbins I really like: “The past does not equal the future.” You’re not destined any which way. I can understand that feeling. I’ve had it myself before. But it’s just a thought, just a feeling, that doesn’t have any substance.