A doctor finally asked me the right question no other had before

A doctor finally asked me the right question no other had before

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Until I suffered a pregnancy loss, I didn't know how sorely lacking in compassion this country's prenatal care system was. In my experience, many doctors have none of it.

The doctor who informed me of the seriousness of our baby’s genetic condition simply said "I'm sorry. I have no guidance for you." Then, a week after our loss, he had his nurse call me: "He couldn't call himself because he's delivering babies." I sunk to the floor and sobbed.

Doctors who saw me after I got pregnant again never once asked how I was doing since the loss. They didn’t address the serious mental issues I was facing, from depression to anxiety. They simply measured my belly, weighed me, took my blood pressure, and monitored my urine. And made the next appointment.

Today I met a new doctor who did something amazing: He acted like he cared about me as a person. “Let’s get to know each other first,” he suggested. He asked me about where I grew up, about my kids, and then, about my loss.

“What did you name her?” he asked next.

“Cara,” I told him, and immediately began to cry. I cried because I still feel grief-stricken whenever I think of her. I miss her like there’s a hole in my heart. Like a limb is gone. Like part of me died.

I also cried because I was so touched that finally, a doctor asked me a question no other medical professional had. Not one other care provider had taken the time to find out what my daughter’s name is. And I find that sad. She’s a person after all. A person who changed my life, and is still in my life in so many ways. She's my inspiration for everything I do. Without her, I wouldn’t be pregnant with this baby. Without her, I wouldn’t be the stronger, more aware, more compassionate, braver person I am today.

I hope even one doctor will read this and consider taking a moment to ask a patient about their life before they do this test or that test. If she is pregnant, ask how she feels: not physically, but emotionally. And no, having a receptionist hand her a questionnaire to fill out postpartum isn’t sufficient. How many of us are truthful when we're checking the "yes" or "no" box?

She needs to connect with a person, too. If she’s had a loss, ask her about that baby. She could really use a conversation that makes her feel validated and that it’s okay she’s still deeply affected by what happened. She'll feel supported. She'll know her experience matters.

The doctor who asked me about Cara did all of those things for me, and I truly appreciate it. Here’s hoping more medical professionals follow his lead. Because it really shouldn't be that hard.

Images by Melissa Willets

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

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