Every year at my annual OB appointment, I have some kind of drama. I have been going to this particular practice since I was pregnant. I was a patient there when I lost my daughter at 37 weeks. A doctor in this practice delivered her still. And now, once a year, I return there to endure a certain kind of hell that goes beyond just a pap smear and a breast exam.
I know that for the rest of my life, I will be asked how many pregnancies I have had and how many live births I have had. I get asked it a lot. When I gave blood earlier this year, when I had a physical a few months ago, I think the only doctor that does not care is my dentist. I am used to saying that I had one pregnancy and no live births–and then explaining that my daughter was stillborn. Normally that is more than enough information.
This year, however, the nurse seemed confused. She asked me if the only surgery I ever had was lasik. I replied, “Well, that and my C-section, of course.” She started at the computer and then looked at me and said, “But you didn’t deliver him, did you?” I sighed. “Yes, I sure did. He was a she and she was 37 weeks and 1 day old. I had to have a C-section after a full day of labor.” The nurse then apologized, looked embarrassed (they always look embarrassed) and left me to wait for the doctor.
Sitting there in my XS gown, which open in the front (keep in mind that I am at least an XL), I felt so vulnerable and alone. The doctor entered and shook my hand and started to review my history. She noticed that I had gained some weight since my last appointment and asked if I was being active. I replied that I go to the gym three times a week and that I chase a four-year-old the rest of the time so I am getting plenty of exercise. She paused.
I knew what was coming next.
First, she asked me when my first pregnancy was. I said 2011. Then she looked baffled. She said, “Your chart shows 2 failed IVF’s. How do you have a four-year-old?”
“Adoption”, I muttered. My living daughter was adopted. “Just like I told you last year and the year before,” I wanted to say.
Apparently, all of that information was wiped from my record.
After the exam, I stood up to get dressed. I am happy to talk about both of my daughters, but I hate having to explain them when people are ignorant. And add to it all the fact that my weight is a big issue for me and now a medical professional was worried that I had gained too much over the past year. It was all I could do to keep it together.
As I walked out to pick up my prescription for my mammogram (because that will surely be fun!), I was cold and sad and frustrated. Then the kind receptionist asked me how old my daughter was now and how she was doing. The one person in the office who did not rely on medical records actually knew my story and my life and remembered all I had been through.
She should teach the clinicians there how to behave. She has a year to do so before I have to go back. If I go back. To be honest, it might be time for a fresh start. For my daughters and for me.