I walk in through the glass double doors and flash my badge to the lady behind the desk. Head down the hall and clock in, then up the stairs to the Same Day Surgery Unit. Once my things are put away, it is off to look at the schedule board.
I stop. My stomach falls. There you are in black marker. Twelve-week miscarriage for D&C. We have not met before, but already I am grieving with you.
It is not long before you arrive. I know you are in shock as you walk up to the registration desk. I have seen that hollow look before. You carry with you a dear and precious child. And you cannot believe all this is real.
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I walk you to your room, look you in the eyes and say, “I am sorry for your loss.” You nod.
And I wish there were more I could say . . . something that would help.
This cold, sterile place must be frightening to those who do not work here. This is not where you and your baby should be. You both should be at home. You should be choosing what to have for breakfast based on cravings and the anti-nausea factor. No. You should not be here in this little room with white walls and a creaky, metal stretcher.
My hope is, that a soft smile and kind words will help to make this place a little warmer. I wish I had more than that to give to you.
I leave the room so you can change. As I go, I say, “You are my number one patient today.” I hope you know this is true. I may have hernias, gallbladders, and ACLs to care for, but you are on my mind every step of the day.
The surgery team soon comes for you. You are surrounded by lots of people and lots of questions. In the chaos of it all, I see you kiss your partner. I see the courage and resolve you hold. The anesthesiologist asks if you are ready. You say yes and bravely off you go.
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When you return you are dizzy, woozy, and in pain. With the right tricks, we have you feeling quite a bit better in no time.
This is the pain I can fix, but there is another pain I am worried about.
Before you leave, I ask you if you would like information about support groups. You see, today is the only day I will get the opportunity to take care of you, but there will be many other days you will need care.
This loss is great. The pain of losing your baby will need an abiding care.
Your partner goes for the car and a few minutes later, we get you into the wheelchair. Down the elevator. Through the lobby. You are leaving the hospital, without your baby. I know the incredible emptiness of your arms feels tangible.
As the car pulls around to pick you up, I say a silent prayer, Comfort her.
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Dear loss mama, it is my hope that on the day of your D&C, this was the kind of care you received. I know it is not always the case. Nurses and doctors, just like the broader culture, can be awkward and scared of grief. It often takes our own losses, to teach us what to say and not to say to a grieving mother. No matter what your story, please hear this.
You are strong and brave.
You ARE a mother.
It truly was my privilege to take care of you today.
Originally published on Sharing Magazine