A Perfect Stranger

Journal Entry: March 15, 2018

Yesterday, two days prior to the six week mark, my husband and I went to my six week postpartum follow up. I’d had an okay morning, spent mostly by typing up a couple of my prior day’s journal entries.  We decided to go into town early to run a few errands before the appointment.  We went into town way to early and found ourselves sitting in the hospital parking lot, waiting to go into the doctor’s office until 15 minutes prior to my appointment.

That time in the car, and then in the waiting room, felt endless, and I cried, a lot.  So much so that I thought maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have any tears left by the time we sat down with the doctor.  My doctor came in, and as it turned out, I had plenty of tears left to cry with her.  How could I not feel a sweeping, relentless amount of emotions when she came in?  This woman, with her beautiful and insurmountable compassion, and faith, helped me through the most devastating day of my life.

This woman was a perfect stranger to me before February 2, 2018.  From what I understand, it is actually kind of out of the norm that, in my entire pregnancy, I had not had one prenatal appointment with her, but I hadn’t.  This woman, a perfect stranger, gave me the worst news of my life – that my baby’s heartbeat was gone.  Then she delicately helped my husband and I through that day, and through the decisions that had to be made while we were both in a state of total shock and despair.  She knew what we needed that day more than either of us did.

Looking back now, I cannot fathom how we would have gotten through that day, without this woman, a perfect stranger before that day.  She held my hands as she delivered the news, she hugged me, held me, cried with me and she shared her faith with us throughout that day.  Not only did she refuse to treat me in some sterile way, but, I am fairly certain she must have exhausted herself that day, through the amount of compassion she gave to us.

Something leads me to believe that this doctor serves every patient she sees with a high level of compassion, but, still, she made us feel so special and loved.  Not just because I am that 1 in 100 statistic whose pregnancy was ending in stillbirth.  But, because in that short time, that felt like an eternity to me, she took the time to see my husband and me for who we are.  She took the time to share her faith with us; she helped me feel God’s presence during a time when I could have easily chose to just be angry with Him.  She quickly grasped and understood how in love my husband and I are with our baby, and how much it pained us to not be able to bring him into this world crying and breathing.  How much it pained us that we would not be able to take him home and teach him to live his life as a child of God.

 “NEITHER DO PEOPLE LIGHT A LAMP AND PUT IT UNDER A BOWL.  INSTEAD THEY PUT IT ON ITS STAND, AND IT GIVES LIGHT TO EVERYONE IN THE HOUSE.  IN THE SAME WAY, LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE BEFORE OTHERS, THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD DEEDS AND GLORIFY YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN.”  MATTHEW 5:15-16

At the doctor’s appointment we discussed what I suppose is “the usual” for loss moms – I am one of those now.  It isn’t a club I really want to be in, but I am.  We discussed my physical well-being for a short while, as I seem to be doing well in those regards.  We talked about how I am doing mentally and emotionally, and about my returning to work.  She reminded me that this grief has no boundaries, “no should”, or “should nots” and no set timeline.  She reminded me to take it easy and give myself grace.  All reminders I often need.

We also discussed our plans for future children and she reminded me that I will be sitting in that office, with her, under happier circumstances one day.  We also talked about our Marshall.  She shared with me some very dear and special memories and feelings about our day with Marshall – those things are just too dear to my heart to share; they’ll stay in my journal and between the three of us.  But to sum it up a little for you, we all felt something special and unforgettable, in God’s presence, about life on that day.  These shared memories and feeling will forever remain in my heart – as will this woman.

How a woman, who was a perfect stranger before that day, a perfect stranger just moments before she gave me that difficult news, can make me feel so special, so loved and so surrounded by God, is beyond me.  It was definitely God at work.  I remember saying to my husband that day, before we delivered Marshall, that even though I didn’t understand it, this must have been part of God’s plan.  I don’t know how I could feel that way, or utter those words, in those moments, but I did feel that way.  I believe, in part, because God orchestrated it all and that He put a woman with me that day, whose strong faith would help to remind me to trust His plan, even through this heartbreaking loss.

I can’t thank this woman enough. I’ve expressed my gratitude to her multiple times and I just feel like I can’t ever possibly thank her enough.  Yes, on such a devastating day, God gave me something brand new to be grateful for.  It isn’t the bond I’d prepared for and so deeply desired, more than anything.  But, that day, I gained a friendship and different bond that I am certain will never, ever be broken.

I left the doctor’s office with very mixed emotions.  I was happy to not have to return anytime soon, to not have to, again, walk past the birthing center, into a waiting room with expecting moms, while my womb, and arms, are empty.  That isn’t something easy do, to say the least.  But, at the same time, there was an uneasy feeling about not having a “next appointment” listed on my after visit summary.

I think one of the ladies in an online support group put it best, when I couldn’t quite figure out why I felt uneasy about not having another appointment listed.  She said that it is like being kicked out of the pregnant club, but without the beautiful prize I was supposed to leave with; the beautiful prize that so many other moms do get to leave with, when they depart from the pregnant club.  I can’t sum my feelings up any better than that.

Now I want to ask a favor of every mom who has been able to bring all of their babies home, and of every mom that will, in the future, bring all of their babies home.  Before I ask you this favor, I want to be clear.  This is coming from a place in my heart, not from a place of resentment or envy – though I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I am envious.  I ask you this, please be grateful for the doctors that have, or will, send you home with your babies.

I get that it is easy to take things for granted and to be upset about how something went during your pregnancy or birthing experience.  I am certain that I, quite possibly, would have taken a lot for granted, if I had come home with Marshall in my arms.  But please, take something from my experience, let me give a piece of myself to you, when I tell you, that if you are, or have been able to, take all of your babies home; you have a doctor to be grateful for.  Even if everything didn’t go as you had planned.  You don’t have to live the rest of your life in wonder of who your child would have been today.  I didn’t get to bring my very first baby home – yet I couldn’t be more grateful for the woman who served as, but became so much more than, my doctor that day.

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