Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

Back In The Saddle


…or the stirrups, anyway.

No, no, not in the TTC sort of way, not yet anyway. I won’t spring that on you without some high-octane angst first, promise.

But I did go to the OB/Gyn, for the first time since my postpartum appointment, which some of you may recall ended with me wandering the avenues of Midtown, weeping so hard people were forced to break the NYC taboo on talking to crying people and the one on stopping strangers in the street. (In case you’re wondering, it does take some doing, especially in the blocks around Grand Central.) I was, erm, a little nervous. Related: what is it about filling out those medical history forms that makes me afraid I’ve forgotten my own name, let alone whether I have kidney disease?

You will not be surprised to hear that I did not return to Dr. Russian, as punching her in the face would open me up to more court and jail time than fits my schedule. I stacked the deck a bit by going to Sugar’s doctor, whom I have met before. (In fact, I tried to go to her practice when I got knocked up, but they weren’t taking new OB patients.) Nevertheless, I was feeling pretty shaky as I sat there on the table waiting, gripping my notebook of questions. I fetched my journal out of my purse, for the sense of enhanced safety only another book can provide.

And…she was wonderful. She listened to my slightly quavery explanation of why I was switching practices and said it all sounded pretty traumatic. She said that lots of women push for four hours with a first baby and that it doesn’t mean they aren’t trying, and that they give nifedipine if they even suspect Reynaud’s in the nipples of a breastfeeding mother, because Reynaud’s is so awful and nifedipine is so safe. (See here and here for contrast.)

I haven’t written about this, but one part of labor that I have felt increasingly upset about in recent months is the part where I was bleeding heavily for days at home and Dr. Skinny said it was nothing and then was such a bitch about my calling back when it hadn’t stopped, twelve hours or more after my first call. I’ve talked to many, many women since then about their experiences of labor, and I have yet to hear anything that reassures me it was normal. I suppose it’s possible that it really was just a particularly determined (and large — this was a lot of blood) broken vessel in my cervix, but it’s also possible it was a placental abruption, and there is no way Dr. Skinny could have known it wasn’t via phone. I didn’t think it seemed normal at the time, and I shouldn’t have let her intimidate me out of that. Things turned out okay for me and the Bean, of course, but it’s not a comfortable feeling, thinking that I could have let my baby die — oh, and potentially died myself — because I was too chicken to argue with a doctor. I told the new doctor that, and she looked very serious. That does not sound normal, she said, and no one at this practice would have let you stay at home if you called bleeding that much. That will not happen to you here.

Ultimately, she said that while she couldn’t ethically say things about Dr. Russian to a patient, she was — I think the word was “horrified” — by what I had told her. Then she said so again.

So. Maybe it wasn’t just me.

If this doctor has a fault I am aware of, it is that I find her a little happy to cut, as surgeons tend to be. On the other hand, as much as I don’t want to have surgery for the endometriosis I’ve thus far fail to cure with denial or pregnancy, I’m not sure she’s wrong that I should have it. Things are getting worse, and most months I now spend three out of ever four or five weeks in some amount of pain. In particular, pain in the week before my period is getting out of hand, such that I’ve been dipping into my hoarded Percocet stash to sleep. Nothing else does a thing. The question in my mind is whether surgery is worth the pain of recovery, given that it doesn’t always help with endo. Somehow I didn’t get that question in, but I am being sent back to Dr. Demure, the man who did a transvaginal ultrasound without so much as seeing my legs, to see how my garden of ovarian cysts grows. Well, I imagine, from the way my back feels half the month. I’m also to see a rehab specialist about the way my hip joints fall to pieces and leave me so weak once a month, though she seems unconvinced that isn’t somehow also endo.

If I am going to try to get pregnant again in the spring or summer, I’m not keen to have surgery first. I’m hard-pressed to come up with a rational excuse for that — besides that I have no idea what I would do with the Bean for two weeks if my recovery were anything like Sugar’s — but she said it did not sound crazy. Should have asked her why not. In the meantime, I have a legitimate prescription for Percocet now, though she said several times that we couldn’t just carry on like this until menopause. Other than pain medication and surgery that might not help, there is no treatment. Birth control pills help some people, but are a bad idea for people like me, who get migraine with aura and don’t like the idea of having a stroke.

The pelvic exam itself was not much fun, though I think she was as gentle as possible while hunting around for cervix number two. Righty seems to have done the job at delivery, for those who were wondering. The worst part, though, was the groping around for uterus and ovaries and such like. I was doubled-over after and am still in a fair bit of pain, though some sangria left over from our party on Sunday did take the edge off last night. She may have a point about this situation not being tenable.

So! On balance, a win yesterday, I think. Let us hope for another one tomorrow, when I have a job interview at a college in Staten Island. I am hoping that my scanty publication record’s including a book about a forgotten corner of our most ignored borough will give me an edge.

16 thoughts on “Back In The Saddle

  1. I have to go remove E. from the pantry in a moment, but I just wanted to post and say I am really glad it sounds like you have a much better doctor, and I am also horrified by your previous experiences. I’m glad you have legitimate pain relief. I wish there was a clear solution to the menace that is endo.

    Good luck with the job interview. I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

  2. Dr Russian really is a piece of work. It’s fecking enraging. Good to hear you have found someone you feel comfortable with. So little to ask for!

    Good luck with Staten Island. Fingers crossified. Wouldn’t be such a bad commute, eh?

  3. okay. stop. what’s the connection between BCPs, aura migraines, and strokes? because i get aura migraines, only went on BCPs before IVF/FET, and don’t want a stroke.

    okay, but this post is not about me. i’m so thrilled you were able to have a more positive OB/GYN experience. i know you don’t need my two cents, but maybe the surgery won’t be so bad? the pain sounds pretty out of control.

    also, a job interview! yay!!! good luck!!!!!!!!!

    • I’ll look for something to email you, but basically, people who get migraine with aura are in a higher risk group for stroke with BCP (I think similar to smokers?)

      THAT SAID, I truly wouldn’t worry about taking it for a TTC-style amount of time. After all, nothing on earth raises your estrogen level like being pregnant, and no one says you shouldn’t do that. The issue here is more about being on it for years and years.

      I’m pretty scared about the surgery (so shocking, to a reader of this blog, that I might be scared of something, I know), partly because I’ve really never had surgery besides ER and wisdom teeth, and partly because Sugar had a similar surgery and her recovery was horrible. But, as I tried to tell myself last night when using it as a substitute for pre-interview anxiety, it is not exactly on tomorrow’s agenda.

  4. So glad you found a provider you like! If you can afford to do so, you might want to consider hiring a doula. (I am a doula… I should throw that out there.) I really think it will help to have someone advocating for you when you’re ready for your next go ’round and an extra set of ears to bounce things off of. Just a suggestion — it sounds like you had such a complex birth experience and those doctors should have been loving you up and giving you confidence, not making you feel like dog shit. 😦 I’m sorry that happened to you, fwiw. Doulas support all kinds of birth, so even if you’re going into the next birth planning to utilize epidurals, etc. a doula can still be helpful. It’s not all earthy crunch crazy — just be sure to interview a few and see if your personalities mesh with your ideals, etc.

    • Thank you for the advice (really)! I appreciate the thought — and the tacit permission not to go without pain relief 😉

      I did actually have a doula this time, a trainee (for reasons of price), who was not a great match. She wasn’t awful, but she mostly wasn’t that helpful either, although I think she meant well. She wasn’t weird about the epidural, but she also wasn’t an advocate in any way. It was nice that she held my leg while they stitched me so Sugar could be with the baby, but yeah. If we do this again, I definitely would like a doula again, but this time someone with more experience.

  5. I am sending massive hugs for the pain.

    I could also send one of the microwaveable heat bags that I stick down the back of my enormous granny-esque underwear when my hips are crazy sore? I would make you a new one, naturally, in case the idea of pre-grannied warmth terrifies:P

    Awesome that your new doc is not a twat too. Being NHS, we don’t have the same choice as you guys do but when my surgery wouldn’t see me until I was 12 weeks pregnant, I did manage to change my doctors for one which would. It’s amazing how much care varies from dr to dr, even in a supposedly standardised system like the one we have here.

  6. You may be a loathesome person, but even YOU deserve a health care provider who isn’t an insane monster. So I’m glad you seem to have found one.

    (I do hope you’ll never again think that it was “just you”, because it’s so clear that what you went through was so very…not just you.)

    So! Being operated on! What a delightfully complicated decision. I didn’t know Sugar’d had something done to her innards! The recollection of her suffering would be enough to make a the most robust person quail, I bet. One does tend to hear that endo surgery doesn’t work in some cases or doesn’t work in any lasting way, which is so shitty. I hope you get some good, convincing information on the question of whether it would be likely to work for you. Here’s a useless piece of anecdata, for what it’s worth (nothing): I’m guessing your surgery would be laparoscopic? My lap recovery was pretty breezy. So while it was a different procedure, mainly poking around, no garden of cysts to pluck from, etc., is IS possible for recoveries to be fiiiiiiine. The myomectomy recovery was breezy, too, which did involve a good deal more cutting and removing. ANYHOW!

    I surely do hope your interview went really well and you’re even now being offered a delightful position.

  7. So glad that you found a doctor who could tell you that you weren’t crazy to object to the insane things that happened previously–you definitely weren’t crazy, but it’s extra nice to hear it from someone with an MD behind her name.
    Fingers crossed for the job interview! I had lots of fun taking the SI ferry when I went on it as a tourist a few months ago. I imagine it might lose its appeal as a daily thing, but still way more fun than sitting in a car in traffic.

  8. I am crossing fingers for interviews and saluting sensible doctors (and two-finger-saluting Drs Russian and Skinny).

    And as for return of endo and bloody migraines and surgery and all that jazz, well, damn it, but having to live Situation Untenable and the choices and sacrifices we make and the endurance we can do, did I say damn it? Am going to cry now. *hiccoughy snotty interval in which May makes choked noises and the phrase ‘it’s not FAAAAIR’ predominate*.

    No one should have to put up with WEEKS of pain each month and no one should have to make decisions about child-bearing and fertility while their own reproductive organs shriek abuse at them and I am sorry.


    Pimms o’clock! Booze for everyone!

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