Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Really, there is no closure. I know.

My son, Max, had a stroke at birth that resulted in brain damage and cerebral palsy. We live with the highs and lows of his special needs every single day.

Closure? What closure?

And yet, in my mind, there is a way to get some: I want to call the doctor who guided me through my pregnancy. I've been thinking about it for years. 

I adored this doctor. It was my first pregnancy, and I was a very curious and sometimes nervous newbie. “Hi, kiddo!” she’d say when she walked into the exam room. I’d reel off my list of questions, she'd answer them all wisely and calmly. She’d make me laugh. In some ways, she felt like a big sister.

She was one doctor in a group practice of five. There was a chance she wouldn’t deliver my baby. And as fate would have it, she wasn't on call the morning I was ready to go. The youngest doctor in the group did the deed, a soft-spoken man I’d met only once before. I had a c-section.

After Max had been whisked away to the NICU on his second day of life, my doctor came to visit. She was teary-eyed. “I’m so, so sorry,” she said, and I knew she was. She gave me a hug.

That was the last time I saw her.

Over the years I’ve thought, with bitterness, how the course of our lives would have been completely different if a coworker had never recommended this doctor (or her practice) in the first place.

But I’ve also thought tender thoughts about her as I’ve navigated the territory of my own pain and grief. Has she thought about Max? About me? Wouldn’t she like to know how he’s doing? I’ve Googled her; she’s still at the same practice. So is the doctor who delivered my son, a delivery thought to have caused a stoppage of oxygen to his brain. Him, I couldn’t bear to see. I do not hate, but I have not forgiven. Even seeing his name in print is distressing.

Yet my doctor, my old doctor, I want to connect with. I want to show her that yes, I have a child with special needs, but he's doing incredibly well for himself. And he's beautiful. I want her to make him laugh.

I don't know what's holding me back from calling her. 


  1. Maybe you don't know what you would say? Perhaps writing a letter to her first would be helpful, even if you never send it?
    I am in such a different boat on this one. ASD, with no "known" cause leaves an anger with a different sort of edge. There's no one to point a finger at really, though I do struggle to understand why no one who knew better than we did about atypical development waved the red flag at us earlier...like a year earllier than they did. I was kind of forced to continue to work with these people, which made it challenging, but also gratifying to see how they eventually stepped up and did the right things for our daughter. My OB loves hearing about how each of my children are growing and progressing. They ask for pictures at each annual check up and listen with concern as I share our struggles. I bet your doctor would love to hear how Max is breaking down his barriers.

  2. I think that obstetrician would be touched and moved to hear from you and about Max. I think too often doctors involved with newborns never hear how things went over time.
    I contacted a genetics counsellor we had seen when Ben was just 3 days old -- and then a few times over the next couple of years. We didn't have a perfect relationship, but she was genuinely thrilled to hear about how Ben was doing. They had taken photos of Ben at 3 days -- we had to traipse through the hospital looking for the photographer. That had been very traumatic for me. So years later, the main reason I contacted this woman was I wanted a copy of those photos. But a secondary effect was that I could tell her how Ben was doing and she was also interested in BLOOM.
    And I bet your doctor has thought about Max and you! I think a letter and photo would be a wonderful surprise. Louise

  3. I have to say, I like the idea of the letter - even if you don't send it. And I can relate...we left the practice of the doctor that said those first words to us at during Quinn's first year of life. A lot of my go to that practice, and it still makes me sad we had to leave, but she just didn't get kids with differences. Sadly.