Monday, July 19, 2010

The Boss

Tori had put me in touch with her magnificent mentor. Apparently he was keen to see me, which was fantastic, seeing as it was impossible to get an appointment any other way. He was taking no new patients...but apparently, I was special.
Now, my reason for seeing The Boss was threefold: post-natal checkup and grief counselling, pre-natal counselling and preparation (for subsequent babies) and taking time to establish a relationship with this man prior to him hopefully undertaking my future antenatal care. I also wanted him to investigate my fertility, to see whether I would have problems conceiving next time around, like I had with Sybella. We werent anywhere near ready to start "trying" (gosh, I hate that word. It sounds so forced) but I am a planner, an organiser and I like to be prepared. So I made an appointment with The Boss.
On the day of my appointment, I met Tori beforehand for a coffee. She ended up coming up to The Boss's rooms with me and waiting with me for the hour (trust me, he is worth waiting for) before we got in.
It was finally my turn. The Boss walked right out of his office, over to my chair. He shook my hand, smiled and looked me right in the eye. "Come in, Stephanie," he said. He turned to Tori and explained that he had another student in the office with him, but he might ask her to sit out in the waiting room with Tori. I told the Boss that the student didnt need to do that, I was happy for her to sit in. The reason for this, is that medical students, particularly those majoring in obstetrics and gynaecology, need to be aware of the prevalence and effect of stillbirth and pregnancy loss. I suspect that many young doctors probably go into their specialty thinking it will be lovely to be surrounded by life and birth and possibilities. And for the most part, that is what the job entails. But there is the small element of tragedy when it comes to obstetrics and I like to think that I did this student a favour by letting her hear my story. Of course, I am grossly generalising when I say obstetric students go in thinking it is all pink babies and fluffy clouds. These ladies and gentlemen are clever enough to become doctors in the first place, I am sure that they have enough awareness to know that there arent always happy endings. But my point is, that I thought it was important for the student to see the other side of the coin. So I allowed her to stay. By that token, I asked Tori into the room too, for education's sake. She was so thoughtful that she said to me, "no Steph, this isnt about me learning, I am coming in purely to support YOU." Which I was thankful for.
In the room, the Boss sat at his desk across from me. He leaned across the table, took my hand in both of his and looked me in the eye. "I am so sorry for your loss" he said with utmost sincerity. He stayed like that for a few more moments, to cement his message of respect and condolence. It was very moving.
We discussed many things during our appointment. The Boss had suspicions that if Sybella had been born alive, there would be a high probability that she would be a very sick little girl, and possibly wouldnt have survived the first year. This was in spite of the fact that we still havent had the post-mortem results returned to us, but I trust that he would know best. He would have seen a lot more situations like these than I have.
I relayed my concerns about infertility. He assurred me with conviction that the reason I had experienced infertility was indeed because of uterine adhesions, and since they had been removed, I shouldnt anticipate any other problems in this respect. He wrote me a referral for a sonohysterogram to check my tubes and uterine cavity. He asked me to have that performed after my next period. He told me that I could get pregnant as soon as I wanted, and medically, there was no reason to wait. But to be very very sure that I had grieved for Sybella before I embarked on another pregnancy.
He asked me what kind of antenatal care I planned for my next pregnancy. With Sybella, I had used the public system, and had regular clinic visits in the Outpatients ward every four weeks. Each time I would see a different doctor or midwife. I feared having to go through this system again, seeing a different doctor every time. I didnt want to be my own advocate. I didnt want to fight for extra ultrasounds or foetal heart monitoring, having to explain my story at each visit. I didnt want, like last time, tell a different doctor that my baby's movements were weak, and be dismissed, because even though they were weak, I was still having ten a day. What I wanted was one person, who knew my whole story. From Jack's ceaserean, to having a retained placenta, to infertility, to treatment, to Sybella's pregnancy, birth and death. Who had all my results and scans and blood tests in front of him. Who had access to Sybella's post-mortem results. Someone who would do whatever I needed in light of my anxiety.
I told this to The Boss. He nodded in agreement. Then HE asked ME if he could be my doctor. He explained that he understood if I wanted to return to the Clinic for any reason (e.g. to relive the same antenatal care and have a happy outcome this time). I was stunned, because I had never assumed that he would undertake my future antenatal care...I had hoped, but I didnt know what his books looked like. But here he was, asking me if he could look after me. I felt so special. It was probably then, that I developed my little crush...
I assurred him that I would be thrilled to be his patient. I gushed a little, and probably batted my eyelids too. Just kidding...
The Boss said that during my next pregnancy, we would do whatever I needed to get me through. He said that if I had experienced anxiety before, it was nothing compared to how I would feel next time. I was told I could have as many scans as I wanted. He has a little machine in his room, so I would probably get to see teh baby each time. I could call anytime I needed, 24 hours a day. I could come in whenever I needed to, between appointments. At the end, I could have foetal heart monitoring daily, or even have a little stay in hospital before the birth to get me through the last weeks. I could be induced early, or have a c-section early (37-38 weeks) if I wanted.
Well, this was most reassurring. It made me think my next pregnancy would be a breeze! I would be coddled and wrapped in cotton wool...which I think all pregnant mothers should be anyway, but here I was, lucky enough to have it actually happen. I left the appointment feeling lighter than I had in weeks. The fear of another pregnancy had dimmed somewhat. I had put my trust in this man and I knew he would see me through successfully.
You know what? I think Sybella sent The Boss to me also. She knew how distressed I was during her pregnancy and how I feared the worst. And she knew I would have more children, so that Jack wouldnt be an only child here on Earth. She wanted me to feel safe again. She wanted to make sure my next (and probably last) pregnancy was enjoyable. I love this about her. I love how good she is at looking after us, even though I should be the one looking after her. I really think that if she were here, and got to grow up, have birthdays, get married and have children of her own, she'd look after everyone around her. She'd be caring like that.
So thankyou, my Sybella, for sending me this doctor, to look after me and your future little sister or brother. Such a beautiful big sister you are already.


  1. Beautiful Steph - you are blessed xxx

  2. I love this! I found my doctor in much the same way... he's like a big teddybear.

    I'm thrilled that you're supported like this!

  3. I love this post.
    He sounds wonderful :-)