This morning I had to face another one of those "firsts"...those things that a grieving person does that will almost certainly bring back that flood of memories which inevitably leads to a cascade of tears. Today it was me vs. the Midwives' office.
I arrived early and listened to a couple rounds of Silent Lucidity while sitting in my car. I sipped my coffee and ate my chocolate chip muffin from Mendoker's. I was feeling ok....that is until I saw that guy carefully walking with his obviously pregnant wife back to the car that was parked near me. Oh boy. Not quite 2 years ago that was us.
I let out a good cry and steeled myself up to walk inside. I took the stairs, just as I did every time. Well, except for my very first time since I didn't know where I was going. And except for October 11, 2010 because my contractions were a minute apart and (as we would find out the next day) I was apparently already 10cm dilated. So, I took the elevator then, but I took the stairs today. I cried a bit as I approached the door, and then put on my poker face for the signing in, the form filling out and the presentation of the "Parent/Child" insurance card. After all, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield (and my employer's Human Resources) we are no longer a "Family", simply a parent and a child. Oh, how words can matter. Sigh.
The receptionist informed me that I hadn't been there in awhile (translation: I missed my annual exam in 2011) so she had some forms for me to complete and another for me to update. It was the dreaded "Married" to "Single" switch. Then it was changing my emergency contact from my loving husband, my friend, my Superman to someone else. Then, it was entering the details of my son's birth. Finally, it was a million personal health questions not a single one of which I wanted to think about for longer than a second.
Then, I prayed. Please just don't let them take me back to THAT room. I could handle any room except the one where I was in labor. The one where he held my hand and told me I was doing a good job as we waited to hear what sort of progress our son was making on his journey into the world. The room where the midwife with decades of experience told us I was "8 or 9 centimeters along" so as not to panic my dear husband who would have to drive us the rest of the way to the hospital. The room where it became clear that it wouldn't be long until we met our Domani. The room we left under strict instructions to go to the hospital, go directly to the hospital, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Don't stop for coffee. Just get to the hospital and walk right up to L&D. Carolyn would be waiting.
Thankfully, they didn't take me back into THAT room.
Instead, it was a room with a different memory, the room where I went for my first appointment. I had to go without Joe that first time because he was home recovering from his emergency surgery. I met with Katherine and I told her everything. She confirmed my pregnancy and figured out my due date. She assured me that she and the other midwives were there not just for my pregnancy, but to be a support for Joe and me. One of the things that I valued most about Ursula, Grace, Katherine, and Carolyn was how with every appointment they checked on not only me and the baby but also on my husband and our emotional well being. They genuinely cared about how he was feeling and what he was going through. I felt like they each were on the journey with us.
This morning, back in that room, I felt that care all over again. Once again, I was there without Joe. Really, really without Joe. But once again I felt like I was not alone on the journey. The most wonderful part of my annual checkup today was the loving words and sweet hugs from a midwife who had been through my grief herself. Having lost her own husband to cancer, she knew just how to connect and what to say and do. There was nothing especially profound about the visit itself, unless of course you count the fact that I made it through as profound.
And maybe for those of us living through grief, that is profound. It is profound to move forward through those places and circumstances which bring us face to face with our sadness, anger, and fear. It is profound to embrace that first time and second time and third time as an important slice of life. And it is profound to allow my Joe to smile next to me through it all, always a part of who I am and who I am becoming.
Thank you for this beautifully written piece. A perfect example of how writing helps us work through an emotional experience.
In the beginning you explored your fear that your visit would be too painful, filled with unbearable memories. Then those memories eased into recollection and recognition of the care and kindness of the wonderful support team of your midwives.
The last paragraph shows the hope and strength that you possess.
And finally the last sentence is my favorite, Joe's smile, always with you.
What a wonderful tribute to Joe and the midwives. I am so happy to read of their support. Carolyn delivered Robbie and Ursula delivered Rachel. I continue to go there and now I know why....sometimes you need more support than a doctor will ever give you. Hugs to you and Domani. - Lisa Herrick MorseDelete
Lisa- I did not realize you see the midwives at DelVal too. Maybe we did speak about it, but it fell away from my brain. It was Ursula who I saw on Monday and she was just wonderful. A true reminder of why I chose to see those amazing women instead of a traditional OB/GYN. Nice to know we share that in common as well.Delete
Mom, more than some of my other posts, I found this one especially cathartic. It was helpful to recount the experience and I'm sure many years from now I will appreciate being able to reflect back on the memories contained in this post. And there is truly something special about imagining Joe's smile with Domani and me throughout the day.Delete