I was supposed to see my OB doctor (whom is also the doctor that delivered Ava) last Friday for a check-up. I woke up really angry that day and decided I didn’t feel like seeing her so I bailed. I did go to the appointment to see my doctor at maternal-fetal medicine. He’s great. A straight shooter, but with a ton of compassion. He talks to you like you’re someone he really cares about. I promised him I would go see my OB doctor as she was pretty worried about me. That OB appointment was today.
I woke up in a crappy mood today too. I guess I usually always do. I really did not want to walk back into the office where everything went to crap with my pregnancy. I really, really did not want to see the Dr. A., because she reminds me of everything Ryan and I have lost. I went anyway. This is what irritates me — I went to an appointment there the week after Ava died, and everyone was so kind and courteous to me. They didn’t make me wait in the waiting room with the 100 happy, pregnant women. Dr. A, the social worker, and the medical assistants were quick to see me and get me out of there. And I was taken out a back door so that I wouldn’t have to walk back through the parade of preggo women. I was so appreciative. But a month later, I go back for a check up and it’s like I’m just any old patient again. I sat in the waiting room with the beautiful, pregnant women for twenty minutes. I was anxious, angry, and very upset the entire time. Then I was taken back to an exam room, where I sat for a good 10 minutes reminiscing about the events that happened a month ago in that room. At one point I thought I was going to hyperventilate because staring at the exam bed where the medical assistant had searched for Ava’s heartbeat was too much to handle. I was crying when the social worker finally came in. She was nice, asked some questions, said I needed to see a counselor, blah blah blah. I mean it, she really is nice. I just don’t really want to hear that I need to pay to talk to someone who isn’t going to have a clue what I’m going through. I don’t want to do it right now. After she left to make some phone calls for me, I was expecting Dr. A. 15 minutes passed and the social worker came back in to update me on her progress with the calls, apologized for my wait, and assured me Dr. A. would be in soon. I waited in that nightmare of an exam room for another half an hour all by myself. Our entire experience with Ava circled my mind. I can’t explain how hard it was to be there. It felt as if it was happening all over again. Finally, Dr. A. came in, for a total of maybe 7 minutes. It was clear that she was only interested in seeing if I was okay, because there was nothing medically related about this appointment. And at this point I was pretty mad about waiting for the last hour and a half anyway that I wasn’t in the mood to talk. Don’t get me wrong, I like Dr. A. too. I can tell she cares about me and she cares about Ava. But it just had me thinking about how misunderstood the grieving process for mothers who lose a child is. Just one month later, I feel like I’m back to being “just another patient.” I’m not ready for that. In all reality, I think this visit was harder than the one I went to just a week after Ava died. At that point, I was still in shock. I was hours away from burying my daughter. The OB office and all it meant to me wasn’t really on my mind. This visit, I’ve had time to process everything and right now, that office is just a reminder of the worst day of my life. People, in general, don’t realize that grieving over the loss of a child lasts forever. Not just a week, a month, or a year. I need to be treated like I lost my child for the rest of my life. I needed the receptionists to acknowledge my loss and take me immediately back to a room so that I could avoid the emotions of seeing so many pregnant women. I needed them to be quick about getting me in and out so that I didn’t have to spend idle time having back flashes. I needed Ava to be acknowledged by each staff member I encountered there. I’m not blaming the office, or any person in particular. I truly believe people just don’t know what to do, or are unaware how long grieving a child takes simply because people don’t talk about it.
Someday soon, I plan to write a post about things people did and said that helped me, as well as things that didn’t help at all. Maybe it will give others guidance in how to handle a tragedy like this if it were to happen to someone else in their life. Maybe it won’t. I think everyone grieves differently and everyone has their own opinions about what helps and what doesn’t. But I think I can speak for all grieving moms when I say that we love to talk about our babies. We love when you acknowledge him or her. We love when you ask questions and want to see pictures. We want our babies to be a part of our life in all ways possible, and by acknowledging our beautiful children, you’re able to be a part of helping us do that. Don’t avoid the subject in fear that it will bring up bad memories. We haven’t forgotten anyway. We think about our babies hundreds of times a day. Even if we cry when you talk about him or her, don’t apologize. You’re helping us grieve. Sometimes I cry simply because I’m so grateful to hear Ava’s name come out of someone else’s mouth. It shows her importance. It shows how loved she is by others. A good example of this happening is when my niece, Arianah talks about Ava. Listening to Arianah talk about her cousin brings me so many tears of joy. My heart skips a beat every time she says “baby Ava.” At two years old, she has no idea how much it means to me. But at two years old, she is helping me heal, probably more than anyone besides Ryan. This just goes to show that “helping” someone who has lost a child really isn’t as hard as it seems. Be there to listen. Talk about my baby. Give me a hug. Bring Ava flowers to her grave site. Visit her. Look through her pictures with me. Cry with me. These things are all I need.