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Lives of Doctor Wives: It's all about perspective

Friday, August 29, 2014

It's all about perspective

Contributed by Angela Hummel

I sit here on a Saturday morning alone with cancelled breakfast plans...again. This has been a difficult week, made even worse by the lack of support from my husband. It's not that he doesn't want to be by my side, it's that he can't be by my side. Demanding schedules and demanding patients win yet again.

Last week I had miscarriage number three, alone, in our bathroom while I'll let my husband sleep through my nightmare. I had to let him sleep, his surgery schedule was overbooked for the next day and I couldn't rationalize waking him so he could sit on the cold bathroom floor and wait. It was only 2 in the morning and I had no idea how long I'd be dealing with this. As much as I wanted to be selfish and have him by my side, I didn't want to take the chance of putting someone else's life at risk or putting my husbands career in jeopardy.  I had done this before, I could do it again. And honestly, I was glad that at least he was home.

Two and a half hours later, I am no longer able to go from the bed to the bathroom. As I'm sitting there waiting for the most recent contraction to pass, I beg God to please make this end and decide it's time to wake my sleeping husband. At that moment, God answered my prayer and I knew it was time to "page the doctor".

I'm not sure if God chose to pair me with an OB/GYN because I was going to have multiple miscarriages but I feel blessed to have my own personal, loving, tender expert during the hardest times of my life.  We have been blessed and pregnancy number three resulted in an active, beautiful, strong-willed little girl. My husband didn't want to play doctor during my labor but instead wanted to take a step back and be at my side. A decision that pleased me. However, labor didn't go as planned and as the senior resident at the time he step in and helped make decisions that resulted in a quick vaginal birth instead of a c-section. And honestly I believed that after that delivery, miscarriages were a thing of the past.

The rest of the day was hard, to go through an ultrasound alone, without even having that tiny heartbeat inside me to give me comfort. Even though I knew many of the staff personally, I wanted my husband by my side. The next afternoon I was fortunate enough that he was able to take the afternoon off and accompany me while I had lab work done, picked up prescriptions and headed to labor and delivery for a rhogam injection.   He was there as we stood at the nurses station checking in and the nurse asked "When is your due date?" And I just stared at her for a brief moment without being able to answer. Everyone in the nurses station turned to look at us and as I said "It was January 13, 2015".

"What do you mean?" She said with a confused look that I still don't understand to this day. I mean, come on, she's a L&D nurse, right?

My husband took the reigns and said "She had a miscarriage and she needs the rhogam injection". I may have sobbed right then and there if he hadn't been the rock by my side.

A few days later, 6:30 am, I wake up in an empty bed with stomach pain and gurgling bowels and I quickly realized that I have just a matter of seconds to move. A half hour later, my busy bundle of joy is ready to conquer the day while I lay helpless on the living room floor. Since I've had her this has been the hardest day of my life. A temperature of 101, a headache that is splitting my head in two, a trip to the bathroom every thirty minutes, emotions on high and a teething tot is enough to make me want to crawl in a hole.

And again it's a surgery day. He's already warned me that we probably wouldn't see him today. I manage to make it through the day laying miserably on the floor, staring at the TV, doing my best to care for my child and counting down until bedtime.

At 7:15 I crawl into bed, text my husband "I can't make you dinner tonight, I'm sorry. Get something on your way home. Love you" hoping to get a response and hoping he'd be coming to hold me, nurse me back to health, or just simply to be sitting in the house either watching TV or studying. Somewhere around 11 o'clock he crawls into bed, exhausted and hungry.

The next morning, I peel open my eyes, do a quick mental assessment of how I'm feeling and realize that I don't need to run to the bathroom. I turn over to see that my husband is already gone for the day but quickly realize that it's Friday! Half day in the office for him!  I need to spend time with him, I'm ready to talk about our miscarriage and discuss how I'm feeling to get some of this weigh off my chest. So many emotions rolling through me like a devastating thunderstorm that doesn't have enough pressure behind it to move it along. This is the first time we've decided to go on birth control after a miscarriage. Maybe we won't have another child but I'm not sure if that thought is adding to the storm or helping it pass.  I need to get out. Into a different environment. Away from the floor I laid on yesterday. I am hopeful that we can go to lunch, go for a walk or run some errands.

The day in the life of a doctor's wife never goes as planned...at 3 o'clock he sends a text.

"Do you mind if I go with Craig for a drink?" Thankfully he texted instead of calling because I truly would have blown my top on him. But I quickly think, "He's had a tough week too. He lost this baby just like I did. And he rarely spends time with friends outside of work."

"Go ahead, then we will go out to dinner tonight." I respond. "Are you sure?" He asks. "Yes, the baby is napping and I'm doing some work."

I want to be so very selfish right now. I want to tell him "Are you kidding me!?!" But he always passes up the chance to spend an hour or two with friends to be home with us, he turns down invitations to stay home and study and he has been through as much as I have this week. Plus, I can give up two more hours of his time to have him for the rest weekend.

"Meet me at Chipolte at 6" he texts me "It needs to be quick, fill you in when I get there". This isn't sounding good. A big sigh escapes me and I get things ready to go. Surprise, surprise he needs to go. back. in. on. a. friday. night. for. a. surgery.  At this point I am so desperate to get out of the house, talk to an adult, feel normalcy and escape the last week. Desperate isn't even the right word. I usually make a few trips to the gym, get groceries, run errands and attend a play group during the week but I've been restricted from exercise for the week, leaking clots, and then too sick to even leave the house.

A patient with placenta accerta is going to need an emergent hysterectomy tonight because of uncontrolled bleeding as soon as she gets out of interventional radiology. Her life is more important than having my husband at the dinner table with us. He finishes half his burrito when the page comes through. "Don't forget we have to take your car to the shop in the morning and then we have that fundraiser breakfast" I remind him as he bends to kiss the little one and then me. "Got it. Can't wait to spend some time with you" he says.

The next morning after dropping his car off we are finally all together to do something as a family. I am blabbing about a new project I've started, really making small talk and sharing some positive insight into the last few days. "I got paged, that girl we did surgery on last night isn't doing well, so I to skip breakfast. Her heart rate is really high and she may have a pulmonary embolism." I could not believe I was hearing this again! Not again, not now! I need my husband and I've been pushing it off and pushing it off. I was so excited to actually have time with him today that I was up at 6:30, showered, dress in a cute skirt and summery top.

"That is it. I am sorry but I need to tell you this." I say through welling up tears.  "I hate your job this week. I know your patients need you but I need you. This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life and I have shared you with everyone else. You have been gone all day and most nights you have been in bed hours after me. We have no family here and I've been dealing with everything by myself." 

"I'm sorry, this has been tough week. This patient is really sick and I need to go in." He says as he reaches over to caress my knee. "I am sorry to do this to you again."

So here we stand watching him pull away in the only vehicle we have, stuck once again at the house without him. The fact that he does what he does to help others and save lives is very important to me and during these hard times I have to remind myself much more frequently that this life isn't just about me. Keeping my perspective positive and not allowing selfish thoughts to take over does keep me from becoming bitter. These things that have happened could easily make me hateful and full of self-pity but living in a dark place is so unappealing to me that I focus only on the positive.

I know my husband's heart. It always shows through. He's always there when he needs to be. Maybe not when I want him to be but when it matters most God works things out to make sure I'm not alone.



Blogger Leanne said...

As a wife of a 4th year med student, I don't know how bad it can get yet with residency...and I admit reading this post I was thinking, "How am I going to do this? There is no way...this is too hard..." But then I read, "God works things out to make sure I'm not alone." YES. Yes. Thank you. You are right. That was the reminder I needed. I hope things are looking up for you!!!!

October 17, 2014 at 2:45 AM  

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