An Open Letter to My Nurse Practitioner

I wrote and published this entry in September 2017. For some reason, I moved it back to drafts. I thought about our nurse practitioner for the first time in a long time the other day. While I’m no longer angry, it still stings that she treated us the way she did. So I’m sharing this again. I forgave, but I can’t forget.

Elliot’s 6th birthday is around the corner, and I find myself reading through old entries as we near the end of the month.

It all feels so close, yet so far away.

Finding out she died, having a long and difficult labor, having my own health scare when I developed pre-e during delivery, seeing her beautiful face, holding her for the first and last time all in the span of six hours, leaving the hospital with empty arms. Learning to survive and then to live again.

It all feels so close, yet so far away.

Dear NP,

It’s been 2.5 years since we last saw each other. I remember everything about that day so clearly. It was a Friday afternoon. You listened to my baby’s heartbeat and felt my belly to confirm that she was still head down. We talked about how I was feeling. You told me the baby sounded good and she’d likely make her grand entrance over the weekend. But if she didn’t, you’d see us again on Monday and then put the induction order in. You also told me to call if I noticed any decreased movement. Then you sent us home to wait.

As you know, my baby passed away over the weekend. By the time I realized she had stopped moving, it was already too late to save her.

I’ve spent the past 2.5 years being angry with you. I have felt so much hurt and resentment. I’m ready to release these feelings and find peace in my heart. I’m ready to forgive you.

I don’t blame you for my baby’s death. I know it wasn’t your fault. Trust me, I wanted to blame you, but I know you had no way of knowing what would happen to her. I’ve always felt that we received exceptional prenatal care, and I still stand by that today.

I’ve been angry because you never reached out to Ben and me to express your condolences. You never acknowledged our loss or our daughter after she passed away. You were our primary caregiver during my 41 week pregnancy. You were not our doctor, but we saw you most often. Week after week, you listened to our baby’s heartbeat, answered all our questions, and shared in our excitement.

Where were you when the excitement ended and the grief began? You disappeared. How could someone who was so involved in the care of our baby just vanish without a single word? Not even a simple I’m sorry for your loss.

I’ve often wondered if the practice advised you not to reach out to us, or if you thought we would blame you. I have asked myself over and over again how someone we trusted with our prenatal care could be so uncaring in the wake of such a devastating loss. How could you just ignore us like that? Even if you were worried we’d be too upset to see you, someone could have asked us if it was okay for you to reach out to us. You could have asked us yourself.

Once Ben and I started trying for our second baby, we decided to stay with the same OB practice, but knew we would request not to be seen by you. That may sound harsh, but so is ignoring us. We mattered. Elliot matters. We deserved some sort of personal note or message from you. Even the smallest gesture would have made a difference.

You seem to have left the practice soon after Elliot was born, so we never had the opportunity to see you again, even in passing. For the most part, I am okay with this. I was far too angry about your lack of acknowledgement of our loss to actually come face to face with you again.

I’d like to believe that you were affected by our loss. Not because I want you to feel sad or responsible, but because you provide care to women and their unborn babies. You should feel sad. Any decent human being would feel some level of sadness after such a tremendous loss. I hate to think we let someone into our lives on such an important level who simply didn’t care. We truly thought you cared about us.

Maybe you are a caring person. Maybe you really do have a justified reason in your mind for not reaching out to us. I will never know, nor do I want to know at this point. I’m not looking for answers from you.

I just want to let go. I don’t want to let the resentment and lingering anger nag at me anymore. I know you were not negligent with our prenatal care, but you certainly were negligent with our feelings after Elliot was born.

I cannot let your lack of basic human decency toward my family weigh on me any longer. That is on you. We were lucky to have so much love and support from our family and friends, as well as your colleagues. Everyone else handled our feelings with such care. They are all shining examples of how to treat parents who have lost a baby.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, if it involves prenatal care, I certainly hope you treat families who experience pregnancy and infant loss better than you treated us.

Now that I’ve gotten all this off my chest, I no longer hold the grudge that I’ve carried around for far too long. I wish you well.

Elliot’s Mama

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