By: Heather Somaini
It seemed like a perfectly fine day – December 8th 2006. Life was moving along fine, Tere was 22 weeks pregnant. Work was great. Tere was excited about her new job. I had successfully sold our two cars and we had finally bought our “family car” for our impending explosion of new, living, two-legged creatures in our house.
We had a 1:30p appointment with our perinatologist, Dr. P. He was such a great guy; fun to talk to and always made us feel like we were his only patient. But I hated going to his office. It was a perfectly fine office, nothing out of the ordinary – they were just never ON TIME. They were always running really late and I couldn’t understand why. How hard could it be? And if they are running late, why don’t they just call the other patients and tell them to come 30 or 60 minutes later so they didn’t have to sit in the waiting room forever? I hated it. It seemed so inconsiderate of our time and energy. How could they just make us sit and wait and wait and wait….
I was frustrated by the time we finally made it in to see the doctor but our ultrasound scan was fine. We were all set to go when I asked Dr. P if he thought Tere would be able to travel for Christmas. I told him Dr. C was going to check and give us the thumbs up or down the following week but he said he would check right then. I had no idea what it was he was checking for actually but he got the ultrasound back out and was clearly looking for something. He finished and said he needed to use the internal ultrasound to get a better look. He gave away nothing and it appeared like everything was very routine. We laughed and made conversation while he ran the ultrasound again.
Dr. P finished and said he wanted to consult with Dr. C but no, we wouldn’t be travelling for Christmas and he wanted me to take Tere over to Cedars-Sinai right away. He left us alone for awhile to call Dr. C. When he returned, he explained that we needed to wait for her to call back to discuss the situation and it could be a little while. None of what he described next really made any sense at the time. It was a completely new world for us. There were a lot of possibilities about what was wrong and I couldn’t really get my head wrapped around any of it. I kept thinking that none of it was really real since there were so many possibilities.
We waited and then waited some more. Dr. C finally called and our doctors agreed that I was taking Tere to Cedars immediately. Dr. P explained that I needed to drop Tere off at the Emergency Room and request that Tere be taken by wheelchair up to the Maternal Fetal Care Unit right next to the Labor & Delivery wing. We started to get up to leave when he also said that he didn’t want her to even walk to our car and that I needed to bring the car around front to pick her up. It was all starting to seem very serious and somewhat ridiculous.
We walked out of the room and I realized that an incredible amount of time had passed; that we were there much longer than we ever expected and had clearly taken up a lot of our doctor’s time. As they steered us towards the office back door, I flashed back to a previous appointment. We had been terribly delayed and I asked the nurse what the hold-up was. She told me they had an emergency with a patient and then gave me one of those sad looks that makes you feel really badly for someone you don’t even know. As we made our way to the ultrasound room, I saw that patient, a clearly devastated woman being shown to that same back door and I felt so sorry for her. But everything was ok for me so I put it out of my mind.
But today, it was us being shown to that same door; maybe with a slightly less devastated look on our faces but devastated none the less. I realized in a nanosecond why there was always a wait at Dr. P’s office. Today we were the reason for the wait. We were the emergency.
They gave us every minute we needed to make sure we were ok. They took all the time in the world to give us the best care anyone could ask for. They made all those other patients wait and gave everything they had to us.
It was the first time I realized we were in need.
It wasn’t going to be the last.