With my new hormone prescription, I begin a monthly injection of a drug that essentially shuts-down my lady parts, as well as an order for a pelvic ultrasound the following morning.Like a normal person, I associate ultrasounds with pregnancy.
My first pelvic ultrasound took place 6 weeks after I learned I was pregnant with my son; it was a standard check on the viability and health of the pregnancy - and it was one of the most joyous days of my life.We had been trying to get pregnant for several months, approaching a year, and we’re starting to get consumed with fears and yearning. I was extremely happy when that home pregnancy test was finally positive, but I was also nervous and set my eyes upon the first ultrasound, where they check for the heartbeat, as the real indictor of what was to come. (If a heartbeat develops on schedule, the chances of miscarrying decrease drastically.)
I couldn’t wait to see that tiny little heart pulsing on the monitor and was in a state of pure euphoria when it did. The memories of that joyous day are clear: what my little gummy bear looked like bouncing around in there, what I was wearing, how big Bobby smiled, the flavors of celebratory ice cream we ordered at the ice cream parlor afterward. It was beautiful; it was happiness.The second such ultrasound of my uterus took place on week 2 of my second round of chemotherapy, under considerably less pleasant circumstances. After 4 days of unnaturally heavy bleeding, I was a deathly anemic cancer patient being checked for fibroids or other abnormalities that might explain my extreme reaction in response to the chemo’s alteration of my hormones.
My mother and I sat in the waiting room amongst a slew of pregnant women and tried not to be cut by the sadness of my visit in contrast with theirs. This was a demon I had already faced - many times.My husband and I had just begun trying for our second child when my health took a dive and began the process of uprooting our life plans. Every medical center I have entered over the last 8 months has had an OB-GYN office within. It’s been cruel.
I have jealously watched an unhealthy number of adorably pregnant women walk down hallways or enter elevators on the way to their check-ups. “That is why I should be here,” I think. Every time I look up from my little nightmare and upon a round belly, I am tormented with longing. I want to slump down in a ball and scream, “Give me what she has!”So, as it was, I was far ahead of my mother in coming to terms with that unpleasant contrast on this morning. Nonetheless, nothing prepared me for the torment I was about to endure upon getting the ultrasound.
I entered the little room and climbed onto the table, just as I remembered doing for my previous such visit. The technician, the doctor, and a third woman in scrubs all peered at their computer monitor at my side and discussed what they were seeing in my insides.My head turned to the opposite direction, where a second monitor was set-up for patient viewing. I was curious to take a peek in there too, maybe attempt to follow their conversation. (Creative measures are necessary in withstanding the dullness of medical appointments.)
When my gaze hit the screen, a stab of sadness sliced into me so completely I stopped breathing. There it was, that same round sack, the inside of my uterus, in black and white, up on the screen. But it was empty. Painfully empty; no gummy bear bouncing around, no tiny pulsing heart. No joy.I had to look away.
My heart is breaking.