Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Define Disaster

This is my favorite picture of our one and only first baby, John Robert "Rip" Harris

Cute and contemplative little sucker, isn't he?

I try really hard not to judge when other people say something "wrong" about our loss, because honestly there is no right thing to say.  But yesterday I visited one of my doctors, one I hadn't seen since before my pregnancy with Rip and he said something well, wrong.  His exact words were, "I'm glad to hear that your second baby is doing well because that first baby was a disaster."

It was one of those situations where you have to laugh to keep from crying.  I mumbled something to the effect of things certainly had not gone as we would have hoped and we moved on.  I am sure he probably wished he could have taken the words back as soon as they were out of his mouth, but it got me thinking about something I have thought a lot about over the last two years, the one group of people I DO hold responsible for their reactions when it comes to loss-doctors.

I have had many, many wonderful doctors.  Doctors who did and said the exact right things at the exact right times.  Doctors (and nurses, my lord have we been lucky with nurses) who I literally could not have gotten through the past two years without.

But then there are those who just don't seem to know how to handle something like the loss of a baby and I'm sorry, it's your job to know.  You don't have to know exactly what to say or do, nobody does, but at least respond like a normal human being.

A couple of weeks after we lost Rip I went back to the doctor with (understandably) questions.  Through the paper thin walls I heard the doctor on the other side say, " I really don't want to deal with this."  Yeah, I am sure it wasn't pleasant, but out of the two of us there was only one who REALLY didn't want to deal with this.

Funny enough, the first doctor I saw who DID seem to have the most normal response when he heard that I'd lost Rip was my neurologist.  A middle-aged man who I am sure doesn't deal with young women or the loss of infants much.  As soon as the words were out of my mouth, he was in tears, holding my hands, saying "I'm gonna throw up" actually kind of made me smile.  I'm not saying that kind of a response is necessary all of the time, but it sure got him plenty of referrals.

And I get it, in this day and age, I am sure there is a constant fear of being sued and I can only imagine what that is slip of the tongue or show of the wrong emotion and who knows what will happen.  But I met with a genetic counselor when I was pregnant with Gracie, who I am sure has seen every possible bad outcome in the book, seen more losses than I care to think about and yet she still took the time to comfort and cry with me, to see me and my babies for who we were and not just statistics.  She was professional and personal at the same time.  She was real.

I don't know what my point is, this is just something that has been weighing on my mind for a while and 
yesterday tipped me over the edge.  The definition of disaster is "a sudden event, such as an accident or a 
natural catastrophe, that causes great damage or loss of life" I guess maybe I can see where he was going with that.  But then I look back at the picture of my boy...define disaster for me again?


  1. I've experienced poor bedside manner with some doctors, too, but many have been wonderful.

    But those comments from your doctors (disaster, wanting to DEAL with "this") just caused my jaw to drop. It's a real shame that the value of life isn't regarded higher.

    I miscarried between losing my first son and becoming pregnant with my second. After the telling ultrasound, I was brought into the OB's office that was on duty and she walked in and said, "Why is it always me that has to deliver you with bad news?" She was the doctor who delivered my stillborn son. In that moment, I can assure you that I wasn't feeling sorry for HER.

    Your children are beautiful and that picture of Rip is gorgeous. He is so, so gorgeous.

  2. He is a little hunk.

    I'm sorry you saw such an insensitive doctor. The disaster is that you lost him, and what your life looked like without him. But your baby? Far from disaster. A miracle despite the situation, you know?

    And, "I really didn't want to deal with this"... Really, let me play the tiniest violin EVER for you... Because, seriously? I still take issue when people speak of my son as "the baby" or "the first pregnancy" rather than the little boy I grew in my belly and had to say goodbye to forever. Because there is so little tangible proof he was ever really here that the least it seems like a doctor could give you was recognition for things you've been through. A disaster he is not.

  3. Oh my, he's so precious!

    I am so sorry you had to hear the doctor say he didn't want to deal with this. My goodness! How heartless! I had to deal with an idiot of a doctor with no bedside manner while delivering my stillborn daughter. As if my experience couldn't be any worse I had to have an idiot that said the wrong things. I was so happy to have such wonderful nurses.

    Thank goodness for the good doctors in this world.