The Other Waiting Room

The OBGYN waiting room was especially busy on Thursday. In the left corner sat a young couple absolutely mesmerized by their strip of black and white sonogram images. Next to them was a very pregnant mother trying to distract her toddler with a children’s story from the waiting room’s collection. In the hallway just outside of the office, a woman paced with a baby in a stroller, “Just holler when you need me,” she said, “he should be asleep in no time.”

But I wasn’t around any of these women. I was in the other waiting room. This can be a lot of places, today it happened to be an unoccupied ultrasound room. Sometimes it’s the chairs near the lab, or an empty patient room, or even just the bathroom. It doesn’t really matter as long as you can be alone.

I’d come to the OBGYN for for an ultrasound- not the kind that looks for a baby, the kind that looks for something else. For me it was to see why I’ve been experiencing consistent cramps since my last D&C, over two months ago. They weren’t “bad cramps,” as I’d explained several times before to my doctor, but something just didn’t feel right. Perhaps they were from the new birth control I’d started (a pregnancy within 6-10 months after a partial molar pregnancy is very dangerous) or maybe they were just digestive cramps? Or maybe they were a hundred other things. Each time I mentioned the cramps, they were brushed aside. I had no other side effects, so there wasn’t a “huge concern,” at this point. My only concern was the little voice inside of me that kept pestering, “something isn’t right…”

So one day before we were supposed to leave for our big road trip to show Harlow the ocean, I decided enough was enough. I was listening to my gut on this one. I called my doctor and asked to be seen immediately.

When it was time for my appointment and I was lying in the ultrasound room, surrounded by screens and beeps and that underwater sound the machine makes, I’d heard that this moment can be very traumatic for women who have experienced a loss. But that would never be me. I was fine.

But as the ultrasound tech scrolled around on my belly, I remembered that the last time I was in this exact room was the moment I heard the heartbeat for the first time. It was there once. But at that appointment, the one that feels like it was 100 years ago now, I didn’t understand the importance of that sound. I took it for granted. I didn’t understand the fragility of it- how quickly it could be taken away. It wasn’t until the tech said, “Taylor, are you okay?” when I realized tears were streaming down my face.

Rather than telling the truth I swallowed hard and said, “yes.”

The ultrasound revealed that my uterus lining was much too thick than it should be. In another time I might have cracked a joke, “Hey lady, who are you to be calling my uterus too thick?” But I had no jokes. Again, I just nodded and said okay. She told me I could get dressed and the doctor would see me soon and explain more, in the meantime I could go back to the waiting room.

I thought of the couple and their sonogram photos and the woman reading a book to her toddler and I’d never felt so small in my life as I looked at the tech and meekly asked, “Is there… is there anywhere else I could wait instead? I just don’t think I can go back out there right now.”

She nodded sympathetically and I knew I wasn’t the first to ask. I also wouldn’t be the last.

When I met with my doctor a few minutes later in a patient room she basically repeated what the ultrasound tech had said, my uterus lining was too thick and something needed to be done ASAP. She’d have to go in and do another D&C surgery to get any remaining tissue to make sure it wasn’t cancerous tissue from the partial molar causing it, and at the very least to decrease the thickness. I think that’s what she said anyway, by the time I heard the words D&C I had wrapped myself in a blanket of numbness and didn’t want to hear any more.

I came into this appointment with a to-do list of things to buy for our trip the following day, but now I was thinking about the diaper like pads I’d have to go buy, the huge underwear, the dark baggy clothing I’d be wearing for the next 3-4 weeks. Again. I’d just gotten over the first one, how was I already doing this once more?

We were scheduled to leave Chicago Friday at noon, meet our friends and family in Nebraska for a football game, then head west. Instead, we checked in for surgery at noon on Friday. The drive to the hospital was all too familiar and I felt like I was stuck in a bad deja vu loop. The cramping, the bleeding, the nausea, the crawling back into your own bed after it was all said and done feeling like a shell of yourself, just begging for sleep to take you away from of all this. It was all happening again.

Once I stopped feeling so sorry for myself that same little voice reminded me that I would get through this, just like I did the last time.

And then I will go to my follow up appointment next week at my OBGYN and sit in the waiting room full of pregnant women and remember that they may have had their own struggles to get where they are, or maybe they haven’t, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because my thoughts won’t be on them, they’ll be with the women in the other waiting room, the ones we don’t see.