“I have known my whole life I wanted to be a nurse. Many say it’s because they love helping people. My reason for wanting to be a nurse was because I connect well with people. I connect with them emotionally, I pick up on body language, and I have an intuition about people that helps me do really well in my career as a nurse. I take pride in that, and I’d like to think the care I’ve given as a nurse so far in my career has been impactful on my patients.
This past weekend, I switched roles, becoming the patient myself. Only one blissful week after getting that positive pregnancy test and planning how we would share our big news to our families during the holidays, I had a chemical pregnancy.
In the middle of the grocery store, shopping with our 3-year-old. First the cramps, then the bleeding, it happened quick. I knew exactly in that moment what it was. I panicked. This couldn’t be happening, not to me, not now. We had so many plans and so much excitement. And within minutes, it all came to a halt.
I quickly rushed home to have my husband bring me to the emergency room closest to our house. While being triaged, and asked all of the questions necessary to diagnose the situation, I felt as if each answer I gave lead me to the same conclusion. I might have been pregnant before, but in that moment, I no longer was. The nurse who triaged me started to bring me back for an ultrasound for confirmation. Walking to the ultrasound she turned to me and asked, ‘Do you want a boy or a girl?’
I felt like the room was spinning, like I was in a nightmare I was going to wake up from. I knew walking into that emergency department I would walk out ‘not pregnant.’ Why was she asking me this as if there was still a chance? This was the same nurse I had just explained my bleeding and cramping to. I felt like someone had pulled a carpet out from underneath me.
After the ultrasound was complete, they left me and my husband alone to have a moment of privacy. A few moments later, the transporter came to bring me back to the exam room. He asked, ‘What brings you here today?’ I cringed. I explained I had found out I was pregnant but then experienced bleeding. He smiled and said, ‘Congratulations!’ to me and my husband. I felt like I was being punk’d. Like this wasn’t real, like everyone around me was an actor in a really bad horror movie. Going through this nightmare, it couldn’t be real.
I know this experience was not meant to ‘teach me a lesson,’ but if there’s anything I can take away from this, it’s that we need to do better. We need to do better in teaching our nurses and healthcare staff about pregnancy and loss.
We need to educate our nurses on what the appropriate care is for women who are going through this. Not just from a healthcare aspect, but from a human aspect. Acknowledge what these women are experiencing and show empathy. If you’re unsure what to say, just comfort them by reassuring them you will take good care of them, and that you’re there for them. Give them a box of tissues and allow them to feel the emotions that come. Sometimes that’s all they need.
One of the first questions people ask after finding out you miscarried is, ‘How far along were you?’ Almost as if it makes the pain any less. It doesn’t. It’s not always mourning the baby, but the plans and excitement you had that came along with that positive pregnancy test.
I don’t know where my career in nursing will take me, but I’m thinking this has changed the road I travel as a healthcare professional. I never want my patients to feel the way I felt in that emergency room. And while I cannot control the situation they are in, I can control how they are treated. I can connect with them and show them they aren’t alone. I can acknowledge and empathize. Our healthcare system needs to do better; we need to be better.”
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