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Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Brief Rant on Fetus-Holding and Other Things

Greetings, Inquisitive Guests and KuKd/TTCers!

I'm pushing my debut Ask a Disgruntled Dead Baby Momma column back a bit (yes, notice the subtle title change) to get this other thing off my chest first.

The inspiration for today's musing - a rant, actually - comes from The Dude (who, I'm pleased to report, has now amassed an even GREATER tribe of hens to cluck and coo about his Dead Baby Daddy woes and related drama!).

For those of you who don't worship The Dude like I do and therefore might not be aware of his KuKd background, allow me to enlighten you: his wife delivered their fetus/baby/something-in-between at four months gestation. Ah, the familiar and perplexing horror of the late miscarriage, sometimes called (bizarrely) a "spontaneous abortion."

There was one thing the Dude said a while ago that really stuck with me. Here is a slightly shortened version:

"Why in the hell were we put into the same wing as all of the other mothers that just gave birth. I understand for the delivery but not once we were transferred to another room for the night. All night I stared ad posters of babies on the wall and heard babies crying in other rooms. It was torture.

The part about it that's the hardest is when they put the baby in my arms before I was sure if I was ready for that. The image of a dead body that is so underdeveloped is more disturbing than I can describe. That image will be locked in my head till I die. In case I ever did forget, they gave us pictures as a reminder."

As someone whose experience almost precisely mirrors what The Dude is describing (except that we dodged the fetus-holding after lots of pleading and bribing the doctor with promises of beer after this ordeal was finished), his words produced a rather visceral reaction, almost making me spew my morning coffee across the living room in a milky-brown stream.

Man-oh-man, was I pissed.

Here's what I've come to believe about the medical and social work community, particularly the religion-infused medical and social work community: they all think they know what's best, and they like to plow blindly ahead and adhere to what they "know," without pausing to consider if it's really the right thing for the patient. Of course, they probably DO know more than we do, what with their advanced degrees and, in some cases, apparently frequent consultations with Jesus on how to handle sensitive matters such as KuKd.

Sometimes I feel like facilitating an informational conference call for doctors, nurses, and social workers involved with KuKd situations. Here are some things I would say:

1) Please don't assume that just because I got knocked down five minutes ago, I automatically turn into a hysterical retard without any thinking capabilities or opinions of my own. This is a confusing and horrible time in my and my husband's lives, but trust me, we'll get through it. You may be calmer than we are, but that doesn't make you smarter or more morally correct. If you have any suggested coping strategies, you are welcome to gently and objectively put them out there as possibilities, but if we say "no," which we probably will, deal with it.


2) As an example: do not set my 16-week fetus into my arms just because you believe it's the right thing to do, or because that's what normal mommies and daddies do when normal babies are born. THIS IS NOT A NORMAL, LIVING-BABY-DELIVERING SITUATION, in case you didn't get the memo. Not only does holding the fetus not help everyone, it actually HURTS some people, like The Dude (NOBODY messes with The Dude without talking to me first. Ka-peesh?).

I'm not saying that there aren't some KuKders who WANT to hold the fetus, or that there's anything wrong with holding the fetus. Some might want to, but some might not. Neither way is better than the other. I'm simply saying that KuKders should get temporary elevated status, simply for being suddenly up a shit's creek with no paddle, and not pressured to do things that make us uncomfortable. I almost couldn't beLIEVE that amount of pressure we got to hold the fetus.

I wanted to ask the nurses and doctors: do you see anyone throwing confetti on us and handing out foil-wrapped chocolate cigars in blue or pink pastel color, or hoards of friends and relatives showing up to congratulate us? No, you don't. You're thinking of something else, an entirely different scenario. I do not want to hold the fetus. So sue me.

(I know, I know. If I don't hold the fetus, I'll regret it for the rest of my life, and possibly even roast on a stick in hell after I die. As I said, I'm not stupid. So, you're allowed to ask me one time, but be willing to accept "no" for an answer without further discussion. In your world, it might seem like I'm rejecting my baby. But in my world, it's not my baby. It's a fetus who never became a baby. And even if he/she DID become a baby, what's left is merely the under-developed SHELL of that baby - an empty symbol that means nothing to me.

So quit insisting that your view of reality trumps mine. This is a situation where I get to be right. I'm the star of the pity-show here, not you. BOO-YA.)


3)On a similar note, do not sequester me and my husband in the regular labor/delivery ward for a week, ostensibly because we are *real parents* who just delivered a *real baby* (unless you have asked very politely and gotten permission). What the hell is UP with that! Whoever thought of that idea is clearly on crack. It's like sending the world's poorest man to the Emerald Palace with fifty-dollar bills hanging down from the ceiling. You can look, but don't touch!

As I said, I think you're confusing us with somebody else. Sarah Palin's daughter, perhaps? She just a baby right? Yeah. Nope - that's not me. Stop doing NY Times crossword puzzles at the triage desk and pay attention!


4) Please stock up on orange Popsicles for patient consumption. You always seem to have plenty of the not-tart-enough grape and cherry, but a shortage of tart-n-tangy orange. And get rid of green and blue altogether; people don't really go for those after age twelve or so. Oh, and a better DVD selection would also be nice - Shaun of the Dead, Team America, Raising Arizona and the entire season of the British Office would all be welcome titles for this KuKd momma.


Mendy said...

This is the saddest post. How I wish I could say something clever and witty that would be both comforting and uplifting. At the risk of sounding too religion-infused please know that I do life you up.

Heather said...

I am still horrified that there are hsopitals out there that have these horrible policies. My husband and I must've "gotten lucky" (how ironic!) with our hospital. Everyone was very sensitive, compassionate. We were asked politely and with out any pressure for everything. We were told should I have to be transferred from the birthing room I'd go to a different floor, not babies. I never heard or saw a baby (until I walked out to go home and just past the elevators...I knew what was "over there!" since I'd been "there" before. I'm just horrified for any of you that had to have more suffering lumped on your heads that day. Oh, and I would send THIS letter to them. They need to know they're being idiots!

*~*Lis*~* said...

Yea what is up with keeping the dead-baby parents in with the *real* parents? Big crock of shit if you ask me!

Monica LeMoine said...

Mendy - yeah, there's no perfect thing to say. It's like, I think KuKd parents need to do whatever is right for them. We all come from different walks of life. Religious, non-religious, whatever. I just don't think you should be pressured to do/be/think ANYthing when you're going through a painful loss.

Heather and Lis - yeah, it's just a weird policy. I think, if you're going through it and you WANT to be in the labor/delivery, great. If you don't want to, that should be honored as well.

In the heat of the moment, when it comes right down to dead-baby-delivery, it's not about politics or religion or what's psychologically wrong or right. It's about surviving the hardest moment of your life. You do what it takes to survive, and philosophize about it later. At least, that's been my experience.

"numb_was_better" said...

I like the rules but can we also add one. Don't try to hug me. I'm not a hugger. I hug my wife and my mom. My dad get's a handshake. I definitely don't want to hug my nurse. Sorry to ruin your coffee drinking experience. As an addict that pained me to hear.

Brenna said...

You said it--as always, with the just right amount of heart and smarts and snidishness (if that's a word?). It's so true. We were among the lucky who landed in a hospital that seemed to do most things right, but it really does irk me to hear about others who were prodded into situations they didn't want to be in. There's no one-size-fits-all response to losing a baby, and it's ridiculous to think we'd all react in the same way.

Viktoria said...

A-Fucking-men, Sister Monica!
I think the medical community's desire to "help" us grieve the way they think is best is in response to how they've changed dead-baby policies. It was not too long ago that it you had miscarriage, blighted ovum, spontaneous abortion (holy hell how I hate that phrase), stillbirth, whatever it was their job to remove all evidence that a baby or possible-baby ever existed and the best thing for everyone was just to pretend nothing ever happened. We all know this is bullshit and doesn't work so the medical community in an effort to be more sensitive is now eager to choke us with our loss. "Here *shove*, you need to hold, feel, do everything or you'll regret it later." Like before they've gone too far to follow "policy" instead of treating patients as individuals.

PS: I love orange popsicles too. oxoxox

Monica LeMoine said...

Viktoria -aMEN! Yes, you've said it perfectly - they've swung too far in the opposite direction. Balance, people! Balance!

jen said...

i agree with everything (except the orange pops - you can have mine, all i want is cheese and pudding).

a little different perspective: when max was born and i was taking little walks around postpartum, i kept passing the room you were in after zack's dirth. my heart cracked a little each time. good thing they didn't try and put me in there!

Michelle said...

Wow that is just absolutely F***ed up! That is all I can really say! This makes me very sad!

chicklet said...

While I can't relate, and selfishly hope I never can relate, the idea that they keep you in the maternity ward is just awful. You should start a petition or something to have hospitals change that. That's just sooooo wrong.

And the holding the fetus thing, I really hate when people assume they know what's best for you. Maybe you're not the kind who will be pleased you held it, maybe you're the kind who needs never to. They should understand that. There should be some set of rules they all get from people like you who have been there and know what it's actually like.

Anonymous said...

I am so very late to the proverbial boat on this, but I've been reading this blog straight for two days and it's been so ridiculously... helpful? I guess, but that isn't quite the right word. It's been a relief. A massive relief after all the other options. I had a daughter, stillborn, who only lived for 26 weeks, a month ago.

Here's the thing, though, about why I'm responding now. I didn't think I'd want to hold her, and I said, initially, I didn't, and I 'sassed,' for lack of a non-grandmother-related word, the nurse who had the gall to suggest that I didn't understand this sense of loss I was about to experience. I damn well did understand that sense of loss, ma'am; what I didn't understand was that it would take me 51 hours of labor to experience it. That's a whole different issue.

A different nurse, a lovely, strong nurse whose name I wish I still knew, asked shortly before I finally went into labor, if I wanted to 'take her to the skin,' or something like it. If I wanted to hold her immediately after her birth. And I realized I did. I didn't think I would, but I did. And I asked my partner to cut the cord, because I couldn't bear to be separated from her by anyone else. And I knew what I was asking was so much, maybe too much, but he did, for me, and for her. And it all made me feel somehow just a bit better, and maybe just a bit more in control of a terribly out of control situation.

Point is, it was one incredibly thoughtful nurse who asks what I wanted rather than suggesting or assuming, that allowed me to have an experience I'm glad I did. I don't know if I would have regretted not holding her, but I'm glad I did.

Thank you, so much, for this blog.