I knew from the very moment my first pregnancy was confirmed that I would have to have a c-section. I had a sneaky suspicion I was pregnant, and wanted confirmation right away. My current doctor was booked for the next three months, and in my zealousness to be in the know immediately, I found a new doctor on the Internet. There were warning signs that this doctor (whose name I couldn’t pronounce) would not work out: A) I asked when I could come in, and she said all time slots were available, B) her office was located above a King Kullen, C) she said if I didn’t have insurance, we could “work something out.” Shady, but still, I was excited.
Despite the empty waiting room, I had to wait for 20 minutes, until I was ushered in by a receptionist named Oksana, who appeared both overwhelmed and barely 20 years old. The doctor looked at the ultrasound. And looked some more. And made a grunting sound while rolling the camera across my belly. Then she called Oksana in, and they had a heated argument in Russian, while looking some more. Finally, the doctor turned to me and yelled “Why you no tell me you have fibroids?!”
Fibroids. I thought it sounded like the name of a curiously strong mint that also regulates digestion. My husband said it reminded him of a 1980s video game. While I was picturing my ovaries quaintly shooting at pixilated sperm, the doctor informed me that fibroids are tumors. She neglected to use the word “benign,” but she did use the words “miscarriage,” “intolerable pain,” and “pre-term labor,” all of which made me freak the heck out. She mentioned nothing about the baby. This was not how I pictured our first doctor visit going.
The doctor continued to accuse me. How did I not know I had fibroids? Why hadn’t I had a sonogram before I got pregnant? I thought to myself: Who has sonograms before they’re pregnant? Is that a thing? Apparently the symptoms of fibroids are awfully similar to the side effects of Mexican food. Naturally, I had no idea.
The doctor poked her head into the waiting room. She asked my husband if he knew where the receptionist was. “You see where she went?” the doctor bellowed at him.
“Um. No. I don’t work here.” My husband was starting to get a bad feeling about this.
“OKSANA!!!!!” The doctor screeched from the other room. Oksana skittered in (she was stocking the storage room) and was asked to draw some blood, since she was also the staff phlebotomist. Six band-aids later, with bruises up and down my arms, Oksana sighed that this was my fault because my veins were “difficult.” If these people couldn’t extract blood from my veins, there was no way I trusted them to remove a baby from my minefield of a uterus. On my way out, I asked the receptionist (Oksana again) for our paperwork.
“Why? You go elsewhere?” she said in a way that was more a portentous suggestion than a question.
I cried the whole way home. I cried the whole way to our second opinion doctor, an older German fellow with a polka dot bowtie and a much kinder bedside manner. Yes, I had fibroids. Yes, they were pretty common. The symptoms my other doctor had described could very well happen, but probably wouldn’t. And then he giddily congratulated me on having two heartbeats.
“@$&*%!” I yelled. “Twins?!!!!!”
I was informed that one of the heartbeats was my own. And that I probably shouldn’t kiss my baby with that mouth.
The only side effect of fibroids that proved to be true was the necessity of a c-section. I was told that I had a fibroid the size of a grapefruit right near my cervix, so there was no way I could deliver naturally. I was not particularly attached to a mode of childbirth, since all of them sounded awful, but I was dismayed to learn that I would be awake for the c-section. No being put to sleep. No nitrous oxide. No shots of whiskey or horse tranquilizers. I would remember every moment of this.
And that was okay. It’s not the method I would have chosen for delivery (that method would be “concussed with a hammer and woken when the baby is three months old and sleeps for six hours a pop”). But since I had no choice, it became part of my story.
So…you want to hear my childbirth story? You DON’T?