It is in the Shelter of Each Other that the People Live.

I hesitate to share this post because it is kind of negative and well, I don’t feel negative.  I kind of feel ok.  I feel really touched that Knocked up’s even thought to thank me, in her recent post (HERE) because the truth is, she has been helping me get through the termination of my last pregnancy, and has been giving me hope, that if I so chose, I can do a pregnancy again. I feel so happy that she has made it this far, with less battle wounds than anticipated. So someone go hand her Oscar, she has earned it but more importantly deserves it.

But in an attempt to facilitate some healing, I have written letters to people I am angry with.  That’s right! I have some pent-up anger about the whole thing too, because ultimately I feel that I was abandoned by people in this experience.  This in no way deflects or lessens the role I played. And at the end of the day, I take full responsibility for my actions, and don’t blame others, but it would be impossible to not have feelings of anger about a shit situation, you know? And I think it is a communal responsibility…

So the letters I wrote are really only meant for me, I do not plan to share them with the intended recipients ever. There are not meant to hurt, they are meant for my healing only. To get it out of my body, so I can focus on positive, and to acknowledge that those feelings are there, whether good or bad. It is meant to help me be aware of them so that they do not affect my relationships in ways that I don’t want them to, going forward.

I will share with you the letter I wrote to my midwife. Because I think it highlights the way HG women are cared for.  Please keep in mind of course, that this is my perspective of things, which is of course skewed, but also very real and true.

Dear Midwife,

I don’t even remember your name and yet you’ve had such a huge effect on my life.  Yes, I could google you and probably find out your identity, but I think I would rather forget.

I choose you because I like midwives but because you also work with doctors.  And while I wanted gentle and natural care, I knew I would also need doctors and medicine to look after me.

choosing you was a fatal decision. Well, that’s not really fair, but it was certainly part of a fatal equation.

I had to lie to get an appointment with you.  I had to affirmatively say I was further along then I knew I was. Even though I knew I needed early treatment and care, your front desk girls, would not schedule me, until I called back pretending to be someone else, and just making up how many weeks I was.

When I first saw you, I gave you the short and sweet version of my former pregnancy, the one that I have come up with to tell people quickly about my 10 months of hell. I told you I had Hyperemesis. Maybe you didn’t know what that was, but luckily I brought handouts (which you didn’t look at).

You gave me a prescription for Zofran, after I told you it didn’t work for me, and you assured me that every pregnancy is different. You saw me cry when you said I wasn’t 8 weeks along, and when I told you I was crying because that meant I wasn’t in the clear to not have HG, you didn’t say anything, except that I should make an appointment in another month.

I called you so many times after that visit.  I kept saying how sick I was and how my insurance wouldn’t even cover the zofran prescription.  I don’t remember if you did anything about that. I started taking left over odonatstron (generic zofran) from my last pregnancy two years ago.

I  called you to tell you I was dehydrated, and you told me to go to the emergency room. Dred filled me. I kept asking if there was any other option. Couldn’t I go to labor and delivery? Did you have fluids in your office?  Anywhere else?! I didn’t want to start the routine of the emergency room. I told you I didn’t have someone to watch my kids all day and also accompany me to the emergency room. I didn’t want to spend hours vomiting in the waiting room all day of the emergency room. You just kept repeating that there was no other option. (You didn’t say we would find another option for the future).

Finally, I gave in and I went to the ER where I was treated with shit care and uninformed people.  They gave me one bag of fluid on a fast drip, when I kept trying to insist in my weakened state, that I need at least two bags on a slow drip. They wouldn’t bring me enough blankets to stop the shivering.They never offered food and they were unkind. I don’t think you called to check on me.

I called you two days later and I pleaded with you and said I’m so sick. I was crying through the phone. I could barely get the words out, but I told you I was going to end the pregnancy.

You replied ” a little nausea is a bad reason to end a pregnancy.” I knew at that very moment that you just didn’t get it.  It wasn’t a little nausea it was tortious. It was playing mind games with me. In that very moment I was so discouraged and felt so alone, and I knew this was going to go the same scary direction as the pregnancy with my son.  I felt terrified that I was going to die, left in your care, or anyone’s care for that matter.

What I needed you to say was that you would take care of me, especially when I was crying out to you. I was after all paying you to take care of me, you could have at least told me you planed to get me to the right people and that I could do this pregnancy, if it’s what I wanted. (because I did want that)

You told me to come in and I said I would, but I didn’t.  Maybe in fairness, you wanted to discuss treatment for me.  But I couldn’t get past the fact, that you didn’t understand this disease, and that you couldn’t help me, and that you thought I was griping about a “little” nausea. I never heard from you again.

I trusted you as my “doctor” maybe too much though. Could you not see on our first meeting how much I wanted my baby? How excited I was, and how I talked about all my births and midwife care and my sweet children. Could you also not see how scared I was? I brought handouts for goodness sake! An attempt for someone to validate me.  Did you not hear how desperate I was when I kept calling you, crying on the phone, begging for help?

Well now my baby’s gone, along with my sweet easy life before this happened.  However unfair to put this on you, I do feel that you played a role in  that.  It is on your head too.  Mostly of course, it is on mine, but I think you have some responsibility too. Even if you don’t know it, or dont’ care, or whatever.  My hope for you is that you will treat the next woman and baby who present with this, with more love and compassion, than you treated me.  Maybe with kid gloves even. And maybe you will get the next patient through it, and Baby will be born into her mother’s arms the way it should have been for me.

-Juliana

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8 Responses to It is in the Shelter of Each Other that the People Live.

  1. Diana says:

    Juliana – May I offer my opinion? Here it is: This is a really good letter, and I think your midwife should see it. I know that you wrote it as a healing experience for yourself, but the fact is, as long as your midwife does not know the impact she had on your life, she will go on treating other mothers in the same way. If she was able to read your letter, it might have a great impact on her. Of course, it’s totally up to you! But just throwing in my two cents.

    You are doing an awesome job, and I pray for you often! 🙂
    Diana

  2. Victoria Perszyk says:

    I completely agree with Diana. Your midwife and her supervisors should see this. If not for your healing, but for the woman coming after you who will have HG. I had to make a complaint about my midwife, and it was for all the woman after me that I did it. I insisted that she and her fellow midwife learn more about HG and the medications to treat it. Sadly, one of the only ways these people will learn about HG is if we, the sufferers, teach them.

    BTW, I’d love to see the rest! I could write a few of my own…maybe I should.
    Victoria

    • I have thought about writing her a letter. I have an extra copy of Beyond Morning sickness, and she is going to be the recepient, but I am going to write a letter that isn’t meant to hurt her, but to inform her. Because in reflecting on it, I think 1. the message will be heard better and 2. I wonder how much of this is my perception given the lens I was viewing it all from, and how much of it is actually her “fault.” So I don’t want it to fall on deaf ears, if she didn’t percieve any of it in the above telling at all- does that make sense?

  3. Diana says:

    Juliana, I think you are absolutely right. Writing a calm informative letter is the way to get to someone’s heart, and I’m sure it will have great impact. Good for you!

    During my second pregnancy, I was searching for a consulting OB to help me, and due to a big mix-up (story on my blog) I got kicked out of an OB’s office when she found out that I was a midwife’s client (I had discussed it and gotten it cleared with the office staff, but the communication wasn’t made). Almost a year later, I wrote a calm, informative letter to the director of that OB practice, starting and ending positively, stating the case unemotionally, etc. – and though he (of course!) didn’t change his mind on the practice’s policy, I received a really friendly letter in reply, and I am sure that some seeds were planted. It was a positive interchange and I was satisfied with the outcome. Hopefully your interchange will be as friendly, and hopefully more effective than mine! (But seeds are often planted long before they bear fruit.)

    I’ll look forward to hearing the end result!!

  4. Ashli says:

    I agree with honey for the flies.

  5. dallison says:

    Juliana, I didn’t find this post to be negative in any way. Sharing your healing process goes a long way in helping other people with their own. The title of your post says it all.

    Adding to the thoughts you started, I often wonder about a “worst-case-scenerio” plan. I think HG sufferers need a very strong-willed person to serve as an accountability partner…someone who is bossy enough to put together a team of people to pray us through the worst or even put together a team of baby-sitters who can hold us hostage so we don’t do the unthinkable.

  6. Ashli says:

    Want to add that while the midwife may not have been the cause, she certainly could have been the difference. Maybe she can get educated and be that difference for the next person with HG. Maybe you can be the one who effectuates that change.

  7. MOM says:

    IT IS SO HARD FOR OTHERS TO UNDERSTAND HG. EVEN I DIDNT REALIZE THE SERVERITY AT THE ONSET OF YOUR PREGNANCY. I HOPE YOU WILL FIND SOME COMFORT IN YOUR HEALING SOON. AS I LEARN ABOUT THIS DISEASE, I AM REMINDED OF MY OWN SHORTCOMINGS AND I TOO FEEL LIKE I FAILED YOU. PLEASE FORGIVE ME FOR EVERYTHING I DIDNT REALIZE, FOR WHAT I SHOULD HAVE DONE AND WHAT I SHOULD HAVE SAID. WITH MY NEW KNOWLEDGE, I WILL STAY WITH YOU DAY AND NIGHT, TAKE CARE OF YOUR CHILDREN, AND NOT LEAVE YOUR SIDE. I WILL BE YOUR GUARDIAN ANGEL.

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