What good can come?
This experience has sliced me open and spilled my guts all over the table for the world to see. I know I could have kept all the details of my circumstances and my feelings to myself, but I don’t think I would have survived. Carrying a sick baby and then watching that sick baby die was so very hard, uniquely hard because of my job. I needed people to understand, to help me- so I put it all out there.
Opening up, asking for help through this has helped me get closer to some people. It’s funny how you can know people for a long time, know that they are lovely people but not really get to know them. My community has rallied. I’m impressed about how some people can be so empathetic, can say just the right thing or can just be so darn pleasant. After telling a friend about how I spent a long afternoon with one visitor, my friend said “I didn’t know you were close with her.” I answered, “I’m not.” Until all this happened I hadn’t spent much time with her, but I had just the most pleasant visit. I’m having more of these pleasant visits with people. I’ve opened myself up to a world of people who care and understand. In my vulnerability, they have let me in. This is good.
I have also now realized how we can not truly know other people’s situations. I like to think I’ll have a new sensitivity to others. An empathy for others grief. My patients who are trying to conceive but can’t. I get that. My patients who have lost their child in a fire. I get that. I won’t really know they feel exactly, but I can empathize. I can understand that they are going through a really hard time. This is good.
Experience. I’ve wanted for a very long time to be a mother. One reason I was eager to find a partner in life was because I wanted to start a family. My book group once read a book that gave suggestions to women looking for men- the author suggested that when dating, pick three things that are important to you and if your date meets those three things, he’s worth dating. Mine were: kind, financially stable and wants kids. Wants kids. One of the three most important things to me. So I may not have the experience yet of raising kids, I have the experience of growing one. As someone who is faced with pregnant woman in her day to day work life, I am really thankful I got to be pregnant. I did it well. Despite the worry and emotional turmoil, I really enjoyed being pregnant. My happiest time was in the hospital in those last couple weeks- I wasn’t worried about the baby thanks to the monitoring- and I was confident I would have a live baby. Take away that risk of loss and suddenly I was comfortable. I’m glad those two weeks at least are my last memories of pregnancy. I know there were times of fear and dread, but ultimately because of those last weeks, I look back on pregnancy fondly. And I now have experience that will contribute to my work. I will be even more compassionate to many of my patients. This is good.
What bad may come?
On the flip side, I might be less tolerant of some of my patients. I have a new perspective on what is important and I may have a hard time sympathizing with someone who is struggling with something I consider unimportant. I remember in pregnancy having a conversation with a patient about induction. Being 40 years old, she had a risk factor for stillbirth, which increased after age 40. Our protocol is to induce by 41 weeks in this case. She was concerned about a recent report that suggested a link between Pitocin and autism. I remember sitting there carrying a baby that I wasn’t sure would be born alive and silently screaming in my head- what’s the point of worrying about autism if you have a dead baby?!? At the time, I was able to put my own experience aside and be sympathetic. I worry I’ll be unable to do that in the future. This is bad.
I think I will also have trouble being sympathetic to those with kids who are struggling for some reason. It could be a very good reason and I still might have trouble digging deep and being genuinely sympathetic. I know I’ll have trouble expressing joy for those who get pregnant and have babies while I am still waiting my turn. Somewhere deep down, I will be happy for them, because pregnancy and birth generally is a time to celebrate. But it will be overshadowed by a reminder of my sadness and grief and jealousy over their situation. This is bad.
I know some of these things are temporary. Some may last a long time. Some may stick with me forever. But I will carry my experience with me for the good and for the bad.