Address to the Medical Professionals at a local hospital
How one feels to hold her son, 5 years in the making, for the first time and in the same breath, saying goodbye, forever? That was the reality, for me.
I can never forget June 26 of 2013. A rush visit to the ER left me, childless, had near death experience, and a husband paralyzed with shocks. That summer I lost my son Kevin, to Pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome, at gestation 26 weeks. Words cannot describe such shock in life and I wondered why it had to happen.
I struggled physically to recover and pre-eclampsia sent me right back to the ER three days after the delivery. I was such a wreck that it took me four months to regain my strength and I am still battling with hypertension. But, the emotional struggle is much harder to deal with. It feels like I wake up every morning to face the same nightmare; the guilt of not being able to protect my baby, the longing of holding him one more time; the deep sadness of a lost future and a possibility of never having another child of my own… How do I make sense of this?
As I drift down the path of recovery, I search long and hard. But, I am grateful that I have wonderful people around me who have helped me tremendously by being there for me and sharing my burden of grief. Today, I would like to share some of my thoughts and suggestions to the professionals in the medical community when handling parents with infant loss:
First of all, for high-risk pregnancies it is the best to conduct more regular check-ups than the normal intervals. In my case because of my age and medical history, I was considered high-risk but was still scheduled for check-ups on regular interval of every 4 weeks. The tragic happened on 26th when I was 6 1/2 months pregnant, but 2 days before my regular check-up was due. The old blood on the placenta indicated that the abruption could have happened days before I was checked into the ER. In that case, if I were checked every 2 weeks or even few days earlier, my baby would have been saved. It would also helpful to educate high-risk pregnancy patients of possible issues and the symptoms they should look for, such as pre-eclampsia, which affect 5%-10% of all pregnancies. Again, it is not an insignificant number to ignore — One infant loss is one too many.
Secondly, it is for the best to inform the doctors and nurses who were involved the outcome of the delivery to avoid confusion and embarrassment. What happened to us was that someone from the delivery team congratulated us for having a beautiful baby after we were told that our Kevin was not going to make it. For a moment, I almost had my hopes up thinking the whole thing was a prank and my baby would wake up. Of course, he did not. I endured another drama.
Thirdly, compassion and caring really makes a difference. I would like to thank the birth center at the hospital, the doctors and nurses who have cared for me during my stay. Almost every day, my delivery doctor, Dr. M, would come and check up on me and ask how I was doing. When I had questions about my conditions and doubts of what I might have done, the medical specialist was brought in to answer my questions and it helped ease my pain, especially pain of guilt. Having a bereavement coordinator, Aggie, who is compassionate and experienced, from the very beginning really made the difference since we were so shocked and almost paralyzed when the news was brought to us. She guided us every step of the way and shared her compassion, as we were her friends not just another patients. Our support group is also an important outlet for bereaving parents. It plays a critical role in my journey to heal through sharing.
I remember the day I was wheel-chaired out of the hospital on June 29th. It was such a warm sunny summer day. But, my heart was scared. It hurt like thousands of knives dropping from the sky and cutting me like raw meat. As we turned corner, a nurse came by, she leaned over, gave me a big hug and said, “You take care.” I could almost see the tears in her eyes. As she walked away, I felt less hurt.
Death and life can be so unpredictable. Even with advanced technologies, we can still feel so powerless. But, what we, as patients, most wanted is your knowledge, compassion, and human touches that make us heal, from the inside.