It Happened

I’ve been dreading patients’ questions about my baby the whole time I’ve been back at work. It’s pretty common that patients ask me about my personal life, which I can understand because I am aware of the most intimate details of their lives. I figured it would happen with one of the teen patients I see. Because they have regular, frequent appointments and I am the only nurse many of them have seen, they tend to feel comfortable asking me very personal questions (again, also probably because we talk very openly about things that are very personal for them). I was surprised today when it happened with a regular, adult reproductive health patient. I had seen her last year for her annual exam, but I wasn’t pregnant at the time. She had asked then if I had any children, to which I jokingly responded that my animals were the closest thing I had to kids. At this year’s annual, I was talking to her about preconception health and her plan for kids when she said “You don’t have any kids if I remember correctly, right?” Gah. I froze. It would have been really easy to say no. I don’t have kids. But I did have a baby, and I didn’t want him to go unrecognized. I knew telling the truth would risk making her ill at ease for a visit that is already uncomfortable for most women, but there was no way I was going to be able to pretend that I hadn’t experienced the greatest joy and greatest tragedy of my life. I told her I had a son who died as an infant, but no, I didn’t have any other children. It actually wasn’t all that awkward! She was slightly taken aback but simply told me she was sorry. I thanked her, and we got back to her visit.

I’m glad that milestone of bereaved parenthood is over. It wasn’t exactly the situation I was dreading-someone asking about my baby or talking to me about new motherhood, but it’s good preparation. I’m sure it will happen again, and I hope that it will go as well. I’m happy that the first time happened with someone who knew the right things to say and reacted remarkably well.

Forward steps, everyday.

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4 thoughts on “It Happened

  1. I’m in healthcare as well, and my newborn son died in February. I still get asked “How’s motherhood?”, “How’s the baby?” and the worst, “Where’s your baby?”, all the time. I’ve been surprised by the wide range of reactions when I tell people what happened (from pure shock, to great kindness, to “you’re young, you’ll have more”)… and also surprised by my own varying emotions when I tell the story (sometimes calm, sometimes numb, sometimes impossibly choked up).

    • I’m so, so sorry for the loss of your son. For some reason, I always find it very comforting to meet another baby loss mama whose baby is close in age to mine. What was your little guy’s name?

      Like you, sometimes I can tell our story as if it doesn’t even affect me anymore, but sometimes I can barely hold it together. I’ve been fortunate to have most people be really gracious when I tell them, although I have had the “you’re young, you’ll have more.” Ugh. As if it could ever be that easy.

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