The day after we found out Porter was gone, I met my midwife, Michelle, for coffee to process and talk. I really struggled here. I didn’t want to decide the next step because I didn’t want it to be real. It was advised to me that because of my recent c-section (with the twins) and since Porter was 13 weeks, my safest option would be a D&C (dilation and curettage) and she would prefer it be performed in the hospital in case of a hemorrhage.
What is a D&C?
The D&C procedure includes dilating the cervix so that the remaining lining and embryo/fetus can be removed by scraping and/or suctioning. This is a procedure you will need to undergo anesthesia. Some OBGYN allow this procedure to be done in office or hospital.
I trusted Michelle, but I wanted be able to keep my son. I was very hung up on how they would handle and hold my sweet boy. Yes, I knew he would not be whole, but he was my baby and I did not want him thrown away in pieces. Michelle listened to me and did everything she could to see if we could keep Porter afterwards, but it didn’t seem like it was going to happen. Her friend and coworker, Celeste Pottroff, was the OBGYN that would perform the surgery. Michelle said Celeste would do everything she could for us to keep Porter.
Leading up to July 2nd, I was angry and anxious. I was extremely nervous about the possibility of hemorrhaging. I didn’t want to let Porter leave my body but I was partially ready for a bit more closure.
Guidelines prior to D&C:
No eating 12 hours prior to surgery
No drinking even water 12 hours prior to surgery
No ibuprofen the day before
The day of surgery, my mother in law came to be with our four girls. My oldest knew that we were going to the hospital because Porter was gone. But Ava, our 3 year old, seemed to not understand completely that Porter was not coming home with us. Leaving my girls that morning was heart wrenching. This was the last time they would ever see me with Porter and possibly the last time ever pregnant with their a sibling.
(I will have an entire post on grieving children, what it looks like and what we have done to help them cope.)
We drove silently to the hospital.
We didn’t talk.
We may have held hands.
I honestly can only remember wanting to die all over again.
I was able to preregister on the phone with the hospital. They tell you to get to the hospital two hours prior to surgery. I was expecting some wait time, really anything that could stall the inevitable was good to me. So when we arrived and quickly bypassed the registration and went straight to the surgery waiting room, I was petrified.
I checked in my name and before we could even find a seat in the waiting room, a nurse was there to take me up. I was panicking.
I had zero time to process.
I had zero time to hold Matt’s hand.
I had zero time to tell him my fears.
I had zero time to try to make light hearted jokes to cut the tension.
See the sad and traumatizing part of having a procedure in the hospital, at least the one we were at, was that no one was allowed to go into pre-op with you. You had to go up alone. Prep alone. Get your IV alone. Answer the same questions over and over. Alone.
I didn’t want to be alone. That was the last thing I wanted. I just wanted to be with someone and not feel like I was drowning. Because I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. Not without Matt there reminding me we would be ok.
But the nurse said “It’s ok! He will be up as soon as you are prepped.” And I hugged him and kissed him and walked away. I followed the nurse silently up to pre-op knowing full well that I was about to be asked to relive my story to strangers.
Steps to preparing for operation:
- Step on scale and get weighed
- Answer “What procedure are you here for?” approximately 20x
- Answer “When was your last period?” as avoidant as possible
- Share intimate details of your fertility
- Listen to nurse share her story
- Enter pre op bay (?)
- Listen to 20 step process on how to change and clean body
- Try to remember 20 step process while fearing some gust of air will blow open the curtain
- Wipe entire body down with sticky antibacterial wipes
- Stand butt naked fanning your hands to aid in the drying process
- Put on gown that someone has probably died in
- Put on infamous hospital grip socks
- Wait on edge of bed for said nurse to come back
Ok maybe this isn’t the process for everyone but I can say that for some people this part is overwhelming.
I was so nervous for the next part of pre-op.
Have I mentioned that I am completely terrified of needles? And IVs? I am talking hyperventilating, panic attack, flapping hands and crying. I hate it. I am scared shitless. Don’t ask me how I made it through my c-section with the twins, because that was also a shit show. LOL
The old lady that did the IVs was so so sweet. I did my entire spiel of can’t breathe, hand flapping and crying. I did the same thing I always do, “I am afraid of needles. You only have one try. If you miss, I won’t be able to try again.”
Seriously, face palm. I know, reader, you are probably shaking your head thinking, “drama.” Girlfriend, I know! I admit it.
This lady did it the first try and gave me a hug. She told my nurse to get my husband up here stat before I broke down again. Yep, that’s me the special high maintenance patient. But before he came up, a charting nurse and then followed by the anesthesia resident came in and ask me the same probing questions.
“What procedure are you here for?”
That was it.
I couldn’t answer it anymore.
My baby died and I was here to have him taken away from me forever. Did they understand who Porter was? No. Did they know our story and how he was meant to be our baby? No.
I couldn’t take having to say I was there to have my baby removed from me. He’s my baby.
Luckily, Matt saved the day. AKA he walked through the opening in the curtain and I pulled it together a bit. I know this part of the story is redundant but it felt like a wave crashing into my chest over and over. I was drowning.
That is until Celeste Pottroff came in to see us. I had said hello to her one other time in the office on a happier note earlier in my pregnancy. This woman is unlike many OBGYNs. She sat next to my bed and spoke quietly to me as if she was aware of the mourning we were in. The key detail to Celeste that made her truly stand out was when she asked us this:
“Does your baby have a name?”
I told the miraculous story that was Porter Vaughn Gooding’s.
I said it with pride, like any mother would have in their child that had surpassed obstacles.
Matt asked if there was any way we could keep Porter after. She said she could see what she could do, but was honest with us that this was not something that was done at the hospital.
She gave me a hug and said she would be back to walk with my bed into surgery soon.
TO BE CONTINUED…