Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Primary Diagnosis: Fetal demise

“Primary Diagnosis: Fetal demise”… I chose this title for this blog

The previous title consideration: “God Bless my Lil Mexico Souvenir”

The decision  for the ending result title is pretty logical as it seems scientifically cold and calm and comparable to how I feel today regarding the state of my health that has been determined by the ER at the local hospital.

The definition of demise is of course: the death of somebody, the end of something that used to exist, to die… especially when it is slowly and predictably.

Slowly and predictably… that is the hook that reels in the rest of my life with this loss, presumably compounding my scientifically assumed emotional and hormonal pain of loss. It contributes to that ideal image that today I would be hating baby commercials, burning the list of names I had picked out, and rearranging the maternity section of the closet… saying good-bye to someone that “should” have been in our lives soon.

The delivery of 5 of my 6 children took place in this same hospital, average time from coming in the door to baby in arms being three hours, however with a range from 45 minutes to 5 ½ hours. I was there for seven hours, only to receive the verdict in the last thirty minutes of my stay of a diagnosis that of being fetal demise, from a man who made his first introduction to me at that same moment in the ER… there was no emotional attachment in my visit. Walking out of the electric doors at 12:30 am was quite different than being wheeled from a room with a baby in my arms and a balloon tied to the armrest. First words that came out of my mouth when I hit that night air on the walk to the car was “well that sucked” – yes I was talking to myself.  

Three full episodes of Law and Order, two front to back magazines, and a psychological evaluation of the family that was parading around the waiting room (that I seriously feel escaped from a mental institution or a local commune) – entertaining to say the least – led to my annoyance of the visit. I was hungry, tired, concerned how my mother was handling the kids at bed time, and a little worried that my usual night-time call to Ricardo in my absence was going to cause him to worry. The IV needle in the nook of my arm was hurting, and the air conditioning above was blowing as if it were a southern state of 100 degrees outdoors, which is so far from reality as this is freezing Pennsylvania. So I pulled my fists into my sweater sleeves, and adjusted myself in my seat a dozen times… there was nothing “baby” about this visit so far.

The rest of the visit was spent as a patient. I was taken to a room off of the ER where the nurse laid out the gown… and she was fumbling a bit, so I said “you need me to strip down right?” She smiled, “Exactly.” So that was cold. I left my knee high socks on and pulled my sweater back on. I was like a little granny all hunched up watching the votes come in on the Republican debate. After thirty minutes I was transported to the Ultra-sound via stretcher.

She pulled up the sides of my wheelie-bed with my purse beside me and my smock dress wrapped tightly around my legs and even tucked in a bit. There is something about riding through the halls of a hospital that is unnerving anyway, but when you’re wearing a flimsy smock with no undergarments, it intensifies that modesty like a bad dream. Plus it was cold.

All of the sudden I had this amazing flashback… the last time I was in a stretcher moving through the hallways. The guy was slamming into every corner, reaping havoc on my pain level, and Ricardo my husband who was beside me walking, was calling him a “pinche balboso” as he wheeled me to the surgery room from the ER in Mexico. I smiled at that memory of my husband’s determination of protection of his princess. It was comforting. I broke the silence with the woman pushing me and shared this memory with her. She changed her position from the back over to the side of the stretcher while she steered me through, ending the conversation close to our destination with how she was worried about her daughter’s planned endeavor to travel to Mexico with a MS medical condition. I told her, not all aspects of the medical care in Mexico are as horrible as the experience I had in the hospital. I expressed how on a scale of attention as far as daily life with the involvement of the local doctor and the kids’ frequent illnesses and injuries, it was rather advanced in that the care was quick and cheap, and it was in my opinion black and white.

I recognized the ultra-sound man as he introduced himself, and he said, "Yea, I’ve been here too long,” and he recognized me too, to which I responded, “Yea I have a lot of kids.” Kind of funny… I am not a professional, but by this point I can see the sonar screen and pretty much know what is going on. He started to place little crosshair cursors on lateral sides with an adjoining measurement line on a black circle. Aware that a normal part of a sonogram is first the measurement of the head, I thought okay that is the baby’s head… but he was moving the “mouse” around on my jelled up stomach to such degrees that I knew, that wasn’t the baby’s head, but it was my womb, an empty black circle. He measured a little attached piece sticking out of the side that was not black but was the only material object, somewhat grey-colored on the screen, like a little “nub”. He was quiet, taking multiple views and photos; I watched for a while, then rested my head back and stopped watching because I knew. There weren’t any feet or hands or arms or a face, nothing like a baby. I said, “There isn’t a baby in there is there?” He said “yes, but it is early in the pregnancy, I am detecting a baby’s pole.” I got a little a flutter of hope, and said “What is a pole?” And he said, “You know, the one end to the other of the embryo.” So I tried to show my experience with this sort of thing… “I am 11.2 weeks. I had a sonogram with my son at 13 weeks in which I could see him as a baby moving around with his arms and legs and face and even that he was a boy… this is not an early pregnancy.” He was only allowed to say so much because he was not the doctor. I told him though, “I read about this when the baby stops growing but the body continues to produce pregnancy hormones and women do not know.” I Google my self-prognosis for everything that happens to me or the kids prior to doctor’s appointments so that I have an idea of what is going on. The body will continue the pregnancy and the baby will have stopped growing due to chromosomal abnormalities. It all started to make sense to me at that moment. That is why I have felt less morning sickness, I am not showing as much as I should be, and most of all, despite that there is no scientific reasoning for the last and most important sign… I felt empty and unconnected with the “baby” that was in me. From a woman-with-many-children’s perspective, I knew there was something missing. Quite possibly that edge that pregnancy puts a woman at… that door between life and death, where a soul is exchanged to be placed inside your own body that brings your senses to a point of sometimes heightened discernment of life’s fragility… is exactly what I am referring to. We continued with the ultra-sound…

I sat for an hour on my stretcher following the ultra-sound, only wheeled back down to the ER. My room was taken because it was a busy night for them, so I was parked up against the wall. I was right in the middle of all the action, so I just watched and listened… “so this is what a normal life is like” – the conversations were normal – normal life things that happen to people that I have not experienced in years now… Two people were talking about a car that the other was selling and upon ending his shift with his coat on gave a wave and said “Facebook-message me and we’ll talk more about it.” Wow – reality smack in the face.

I have Facebook messages that are regarding loss… loss of rights, loss of husband’s presence or ability to be with me and our children, just loss…

This hospital staff, bustling around my stretcher as if I were an invisible part of the scenery, caused me to feel like I was watching a candid camera film that was to show a person such as myself “this is what real life looks life.” I am sure that this is being overly sensitive. But I am incarcerated within my own mind because of the immigration jailers. I have been given an indefinite sentence of guilt for loving a man from Mexico and forming a family with him. I am never going to be able to break free to join the rest of society, or so it seems, until my husband is “awarded” a begged for visa… as if that constitutes begging.

I try to think of the good things, like the fact that I have cried every day of my pregnancy here in PA without my husband in Mexico. I have been so emotional and nuts over everything. At least that would subside without my pregnancy continuing… I mean just as soon as my HCG hormone levels reduce to normal levels. At least now I can be stronger as a person in the many efforts that it will take in the near future to resume the paperwork where we left off on the sponsorship. At least our next family time/visit with Ricardo in Mexico will not have to be revolved around the pregnancy or regard any type of prenatal care issues, or due dates. We are now without timeline pressures that a pregnancy can put on our already powerfully complicated situation.

Ricardo is very logical. He is my counter-balance because I am dramatic, and he reminds me of this quite often and says that our daughter is the same. He is my rock and my best friend, and I am extremely lucky to have him and I love him so much.

His first reaction to my call was “why do you call me now and not before” because I call him every night and it was very late. His voice was groggy like I just woke him up… I said “I was at the hospital Ricardo the baby is gone” Immediately he was at full attention. I think he thought Catherine because I call her the baby – I said “I am not pregnant anymore. The baby did not grow.” I was being lighthearted towards our conversation because he deals with enough depression of our absence as it is, and I know he has this huge protective need for being here with us. I did not want to make it sound like I was losing it or anything, so I was somewhat as upbeat as possible. I finished with “you okay?” He said it was natural and he was fine… just like I expected.

So that is what happened last night. I was secretly hoping that the ultra sound would reveal this little kicking baby in there with a strong heartbeat proving that my spotting was just a fluke… I even prayed in the little room to please protect me and the baby. I felt completely engulfed in Him for a few seconds as he laid his protection on me. I know that is why I am okay right now, emotionally. I just have to proceed with the miscarriage as of right now not showing any signs, yes, no cramps nor blood… I look for it to begin in the next week or something… I am a little afraid about what to expect.

It was not God’s decision for my baby to not develop. The baby stopped growing around 6 weeks and its sac had a measurement of 8 weeks, but my HCG levels are high like a normal pregnancy. It was nature taking its course. Sometimes biology is real and that is a part of life. God does however protect the soul from pain when you ask for it. That is how I have been surviving.


  1. I miscarried at about 10 weeks the last time I was pregnant. My heart is right there with you Raquel. No matter what anyone says about it, that is something that will take some time to mourn. Sending you an internet hug.

  2. This was a very beautiful, very moving post. Thank you for sharing. I am sorry, and I wish you the best.

  3. The loss of a child, whether it's one you held or one that was just beginning to grow, is a kick to the heart. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I am so sorry for your loss.

  4. Awww, Raquel, you are in my thoughts and prayers now and always. I am so sorry.