St. Thomas Midtown always smells the same, ya know it? Every time I go-no matter who goes with me-or how well I try and mentally prepare myself (or forger altogether)-the smell gets me every time. The elevator carried mom and I up to the 5th floor and I made my way to suite 505. WOMEN Ob and Gynecology. I live there. JK. But it feels that way. I checked in with the receptionist for my ultrasound and sat down next to my mom who was calmly checking her phone as I gazed around the empty, eerily quiet office.
The tech called my name and I instantly recognized her. She is the same tech that scanned me and discovered my miscarriage almost 7 years ago (at a totally different office), and she is the same tech that told me I was pregnant again-with twins. She didn’t recognize me, so I dutifully followed her into the exam room housing the ultrasound machine. I asked (from ample experience) “Do you need a full or empty bladder for this?”. She answered “Empty.” so I went into the bathroom. On the back wall hung a cork board with a piece of pink colored paper that said (from what I remember) “If you’ve experienced a loss today-or any day- please know that we are so very sorry. Please tell us what we can do for you today. You are not alone.” ReadyNest Counseling’s logo was at the bottom.
I washed my hands and threw the crumpled paper towels into the trashcan. I undressed and wrapped the sheet around my waist. I slid down to the bottom of the table and placed my feet in the stirrups. “It’s actually ridiculous how second nature this is” I thought to myself as I laid down on the near flat pillow halfway down the table.. The tech knocked quickly at the door and came in to begin the test. I told her why I was there and that actually, she can scanned me twice before. “Oh really?” She said. I told her that she was the tech that told me I was miscarrying. And the same tech that told me I was pregnant with two rainbow babies, who will start kindergarten in the fall. The conversation led to the story of Banks, and life now, and it was a very surreal, sweet moment. As the test ended, and I started getting dressed in the near empty office, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit thankful. As the tech was leaving the room she looked at me and said “It was so good to talk to you. And don’t take this the wrong way, but I hope I don’t see you again”. “Likewise!”, I smiled back.
I walked out in the hallway. Usually busy and bustling with nurses and pregnant bellies, the hall was quiet and still. In a strange way, I’ll always love that place. It’s been the backdrop for some of my hardest and happiest moments. And even though I never keep my pants on long when I’m there (and absolutely not in a suggestive way), it still feels comfortable. Safe. A little bit sacred in a way.
It’s interesting that doctor’s offices-these places of unknowns and problems and pain-can also be comforting, calming, and hopeful-all at the same time.
I told the ultrasound tech today that I wouldn’t trade my story for anything. I wouldn’t want to do it again. But I wouldn’t trade any part of it-the good, the bad, the downright ugly, for anything. Somehow, the scary parts and deep scars, the blood on the floor and gut wrenching losses, made me. They molded me, somehow, into who I am now. And I never even knew it was happening. I never thought in the moments that felt like my life was ending, I was actually becoming.
Peggy and I have talked a lot about “sober mindedness” in my sessions recently. It essentially means to be acutely aware. Perhaps, that’s what I was experiencing today at WOMEN. I’ve been kind of mad at God lately. Watching my precious, insanely strong Mother-in Law battle such a difficult cancer has been extremely difficult. More difficult than I’ll ever share in this space. There seems to be hard thing after hard thing, and to be honest with you I’ve been pretty bitter about it all. Several months ago I battled a rough case of bronchitis and most recently, I found out, via a trip to the emergency room, that I had a 7 cm cyst on my ovary. My ultrasound today was to follow up on that cyst and I think it’s resolved, or resolving anyway. But in the emergency room, the doctor mentioned surgery and my mind spiraled quickly to the place of “this is NOT fair”. And it’s not. None of the bad things-or the annoying things-or even the good things-are fair. None of it’s fair. And I remind myself of that a lot these days.
But maybe it’s ultimately not about what’s fair and whether or not we deserve something to happen to us or not. Maybe it’s about what we decide to do with it and who we decide to become as the result. I don’t know why God allows things to happen (notice I didn’t say cause-allow-totes different word) but I do know that regardless of the cards we are dealt, He is near. And he holds us. And ultimately, he uses every single thing, good and bad, to mold us into something far more precious than we can conjure up ourselves. We can’t see it while it’s happening, but when we catch a glimpse of ourselves in a mirror-a totally different person than the same mirror showed years before-we see it. Even if only for a moment. Somehow, as life was swirling and seemingly out of control, God was taking the fragments and creating something new.
I will always love my doctors at WOMEN. I will always think they’re the best of the best-because they are. I will always be eternally grateful for the lifelong friendships I made there-especially with Emily. I will always cherish their role in assisting me in bringing life into the world. But more than anything, I will forever be thankful they have been such a key part in my becoming.
But….let’s just have some normal annual exams for a few years and wait awhile before the next rare event or surgical intervention, ok?