To the parents who have just received bad news, I am thinking about you. I don’t know who you are or what news you got, but you are in my thoughts. I am sending you love and empathy in whatever struggle you are facing in your pregnancy and with your baby.
Most others might not realize that someone got bad news today, but I do.
I frequently have long waits in my Maternal Fetal Medicine office, but this feels different. So many of the office staff have apologized to me for my wait, even though I have waited longer before.
I am actually not typically irritated when I have to wait at these appointments. I feel “lucky” to be able to be watched so closely in my pregnancies after loss, to be taken care of by the high risk providers who are just as invested in me not having another baby die as I am. These ultrasound techs, nurses, midwives, and doctors have done so much for me and my partner in our journey to grow our family. I feel so appreciative of the good care that I don’t mind waiting for it.
But today, the wait feels different.
Today, when the nurse apologized that I would be waiting longer, after the ultrasound tech and the front desk employee had already apologized, I knew something was up. I knew that it meant you needed extra time with a doctor this morning. Perhaps you were with the ultrasound tech and in the ultrasound room for longer than it was scheduled for. You may have needed more procedures than the staff was expecting this morning. You likely needed time to process the news you were hearing and to be given information on potential outcomes and the options that were available to you.
You see, I understood something was different because I have been there.
Actually, five years ago today, I was you, for the first time. Twice my partner and I have been in this office for hours and hours and hours. We have needed hours of a doctor’s time rather than the 20 minutes they likely allotted in the schedule. Twice we have gotten the news that our baby died and I needed an amniocentesis that no one had been planning on. We needed to meet with a social worker, and we had to make decisions about delivering our baby or choosing a surgical procedure. I have been squeezed into a surgery schedule, and I have been booked for an induction at labor and delivery when I had no idea this would be in my weekend plans.
I know that I am the furthest thing from your mind right now. You likely don’t even realize that there are other patients in this office right now. Before today, you probably didn’t even know that the news you got was something that could happen in real life as often as it does.
I imagine the world stopped, just like a movie, and the only thing on your mind is what is happening in the moment in the room you are in.
I don’t expect you to be aware that I exist right now, but I am thinking of you. I know it was a hard day for this office, because they wish they never had to deliver bad news. But I know that this was likely one of the worst days of your life. You may have decisions to make about how to care for yourself, your baby, or this pregnancy moving forward. Your baby may already be gone, and you may just be starting the grieving process, currently in the shock of what happened today and the uncertainty of what is to come over the next few days.
You don’t know it when you go through this, but you will be okay.
You may not ever be exactly the same because this experience changes you. But you will be okay. Right now I know you are not, and actually being okay in the future is nowhere near important to you at this moment.
I am hoping that on some level you can feel my warmth coming towards you. I hope that you know that you are not alone and that so many of us have gone through this before.
We are here for you, whether we are loss parents already in your life, or whether you will build relationships with us after you have experienced this trauma. I wish I could be there for you right now, but I know I am a stranger to you in this moment. Know that you don’t feel like a stranger to me. You are me, and you are every other parent who has experienced complications and loss of a pregnancy or baby that I have interacted with since my shocking entrance into this world in this same office five years ago. I am confident that you will find us eventually, and we will be here for you when you do.