Pete Ashdown and Six Tablespoons of Blood

Pete Ashdown

The other day a friend of ours noticed the Pete Ashdown sign in our yard. (Pete Ashdown is running against Orrin Hatch here in Utah in this year’s race for the US Senate, by the way).

Ashdown doesn’t stand a chance in hell of winning? You know that all these silly Democrats are really fooling themselves if they really think that he does.

Whether he does or he doesn’t stand a chance in hell, don’t you think it is important for someone out there to at least try to break the Orrin Hatch Dynasty? Wouldn’t it suck if everyone just sat on their asses and complacently accepted the status quo? Don’t you think it is important to at least have hope, hope that someday, someone, like Pete Ashdown, may actually defeat Orrin Hatch?

Thankfully, our friend is not someone who takes things sitting down. Instead, he is a person who actually knows how to make change and knows how to get my goat. Nevertheless, his Pete Ashdown vs. Orrin Hatch comments got me thinking. . .

And thinking is all l I have been doing since I saw the empty embryonic sac on my ultra-sound.

Just yesterday, there I was, sitting quietly at the University of Utah Phlebotomy lab and thinking again. I was holding a folder filled with research information and consent forms and my new University of Utah Hospital Red I.D. Card. As I sat there in the slippery purple vinyl chair, I watched as people registered, then turned in their paperwork to the next station and found their seat. I watched the many people walk in using walkers, accompanied by their mobile oxygen tanks. I watched as people repeatedly turned their prescriptions in to the “PICK-UP” window and listened as the red-haired lady told them that the “DROP-OFF” window was around the corner. Do they make things so hard to find on purpose?

I watched as the lab techs debated about where to send all of my blood-work,

There is so much. Do we keep it? Do they want it back in the department? What do we do?

I watched them scratch their heads as the hiccup my lab work was causing nearly halted the lab. I literally thought these young lab guys were going to blow a synapse. As one lab guy walked up to me, I answered their confusion,

You can just send my lab work back to the department. They will know what to do.

My words knocked them right back on track and the young man asked me to follow him. Usually I am all for watching the needle go into my giant veins, but it was lunchtime and I was starving. I was not sure how my empty stomach would handle watching the lab tech fill eight vials (equivalent to six tablespoons) with the blood that was surging out of my arm.

The first two vials were glass, which I didn’t think made a difference until that lab tech apologized because they were taking so long to fill.

I don’t know why glass vials takes longer, but they do. Can you feel the rattling?

I could. I could feel the vibration and for the first time in years, drawing blood really hurt. It hurt until he began filling the six remaining plastic vials.

As I looked away from my needle-pierced arm, I explained,

See, all these extra vials are for research. My doctor has entered me into a Miscarriage study. And maybe, hopefully, they can find something that will help someone else not have to go through this.

And this?

This is what has me all a-jumble. Since my miscarriage I have had days filled with great determination. I have had days where I want to get pregnant NOW! I have had days where I am understanding and realize that this is just another part of the process and on those days it is easy for me to be patient. I remind myself that I am really not that old and that I can still get pregnant. I have days where I feel extremely guilty for spending so much time on infertility and I have days where I wonder why the hell I didn’t push harder years ago. For the last few days, however, I think I have hit a low. Consequently, I am not feeling a lot of hope.

Yesterday, as I sat with my new doctor, who happens to be world-renowned for his miscarriage work (whoop-de-doo), I probably felt the lowest. It was early, he had a cute resident by his side and he promised me that I would get pregnant and that we would make it work.

Beth, its not just me telling you what to do. It is you and me. We are a team. We are going to make these decisions and we are going to make them together.

And I swear as he was telling me this, he was making that two fingered gesture, you know the one where he points two fingers at his eyes and then at your eyes and then back at his eyes. I think I have seen Tom Cruise make that same gesture. And now that I say it, my doctor is kind of the Tom Cruise of Miscarriage, (except my doctor actually believes in medicine).

I have done my homework and I know this man is an excellent doctor. I know he knows his stuff. I know between him and my other fertility doctor that here in the state of Utah I am truly in the most capable hands. But then as I sat in that tiny room and listened to him tell me our plan, I had a flash, or better, a sad moment where I let my guard down. I opened my mouth. And the learned, internationally famous doctor, super-star man that he is, paused, took a deep breath and said,

Do you have something to say?

Yes. You see, when I woke up this morning, I didn’t even know if I wanted to have any more children. [exasperated] The journey has just been so long.

He recommended that I talk to my partner (yes, he said partner, doesn’t want to get sued I guess — [wink]). He admonished that I not be afraid and that I be really bold as I speak with my partner, asking him what he thinks so that we can reach this decision together. Wow! In five minutes the doctor had assessed that I am timid and that I may not know how to talk to my husband. If anything, what he was reading in the entire five minutes we had spent together is how completely overwhelmed I was feeling and mostly, because it was so damn early, that I probably needed more caffeine.

Well, if you don’t get pregnant, you can always go and volunteer in Africa.

Because I sincerely think people have my best interest in mind, the moment he said that I could go to Africa, I thought he was being funny or trying to help me through a difficult situation. And then hours later I realized that this doctor was reading me for who he thought I was. He simply had placed me into some preconceived demographic. You see, I am over thirty-five (not much, but still am), I am a stay-at-home-mom (who can afford to stay at home) and of course I shop at Whole Foods. And maybe he was guessing that with the rest of the Oprah watchers out there [sarcasm], having another baby is just my personal vanity project. And surely if I can’t get myself pregnant than I most definitely can hop on a plane with Oprah and Gayle and we could have our book club while helping starving children and simultaneously publicly patting ourselves one the back. And if Oprah and Gayle are not available, surely Brad, Angelina and I can hop on a UN plane to Namibia. (Of course I would have to let the world know how great I am and blog because I went to Africa to help starving children).

I know that I am rambling and I hope someone out there is following.

My new doctor is confident that I can get pregnant, but my new doctor and any doctor for that matter simply sees me and everyone as a researchable, possibly treatable, living organisms. For them, I am cash in the bank — their job. When I walk into their office do they even remember who I am or simply wether I got pregnant with or without Insemination. The answer: without.

I am cynical. I am sad. I feel as though I have wasted my time. My boys still ask me if and when they can or will have a little sibling. I do not know if I should try anymore. My doctor was right: there are people who need my help in this world. There are less selfish ways I can spend my money. I wonder, however, if there are less selfish ways he can spend his time. Maybe my doctor can actually ask me a question about myself. Maybe instead of watching his Roles while asking me to tell him my birth stories, he can actually give me a second to catch my breath. For me, my birth stories are deeply personal and pretty traumatic. I don’t know how to solve my infertility. I don’t know how to help doctors raise the standards of their care. I know they are people too. I don’t even know if what I have already done has made things worse or better.

What I do know is that if I don’t have hope that things can and will be better, then I might as well crawl back in bed and give up.

Thank God for people like Pete Ashdown. Thank God for people out there, who actually still believe that they can make a difference. Right now, theirs are the spirits I am holding on to.

  1. July 18, 2006
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  21. July 24, 2006