On my fourth morning, with the bleeding and cramping increasing, I couldnâ€™t wait any more. I called my doctor and was told that since I wasnâ€™t hemorrhaging, I should not come in. Her partner, on call, pedantically explained that women can safely lose a lot of blood, even during a routine period.
I began calling labor and delivery units at the top five medical centers in my area. I told them I had been 19 weeks along. The baby is dead. Iâ€™m bleeding, I said. Iâ€™m scheduled for a D&E in a few days. If I come in right now, what could you do for me, I asked.
Donâ€™t come in, they told me again and again. â€œGo to your emergency room if you are hemorrhaging to avoid bleeding to death. No one here can do a D&E today, and unless youâ€™re really in active labor youâ€™re safer to wait.â€? [...]
At last I found one university teaching hospital that, at least over the telephone, was willing to take me.
â€œWe do have one doctor who can do a D&E,â€? they said. â€œCome in to our emergency room if you want.â€?
But when I arrived at the universityâ€™s emergency room, the source of the tension was clear. After examining me and confirming I was bleeding but not hemorrhaging, the attending obstetrician, obviously pregnant herself, defensively explained that only one of their dozens of obstetricians and gynecologists still does D&Es, and he was simply not available.
Not today. Not tomorrow. Not the next day.
No, I couldnâ€™t have his name. She walked away from me and called my doctor.
â€œYou canâ€™t just dump these patients on us,â€? she shouted into the phone, her high-pitched voice floating through the heavy curtains surrounding my bed. â€œYou should be dealing with this yourself.â€?