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To the Well-Meaning Doctor Who Stole My Hope

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Dear Well-Meaning Doctor,

You saw me struggling to hold it together in your office that day. My son, Davy, was 6 months old, and his many medical needs were taking their toll on me as I navigated my new life as a medical mama

He hardly slept, cried almost constantly, turned blue and choked multiple times a day and had a feeding tube. I was exhausted, and the mom guilt from not being able to balance his needs with the needs of my other three children was wearing me down.

You saw all that, and you made it a point to look me in the eye and ask me how I was handling everything. I saw the concern on your face, and I knew you cared.

“The only way I’m surviving right now is by reminding myself that it won’t always be this way,” I said brightly, trying to pretend I was happy even though I was absolutely miserable.

My parenting mantra that had gotten me through rough patches before was “This too shall pass.” I knew Davy’s situation was unique, but I was applying my mantra to my daily life with him liberally anyway. It was my hope and my saving grace at that point.

Gently, you replied, “You need to realize that it probably will always be this way.”

I was stunned. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t. I got through the rest of the appointment and fell apart the moment I got back in my van.

I know you meant well. I know you were trying to prepare me for what could lie ahead. But you stole a piece of my hope, and it took me months to get it back.

When Davy was 10 months old, we switched to a different health care system. I wish I could take him back to see you again so you could see who he is now. You saw a malnourished, screaming, sickly baby with significant delays. Today, you wouldn’t recognize this sweet, lovable, 2-year-old boy who laughs all the time and loves to give hugs. I can’t go out in public without multiple people swooning over how adorable and personable he is. He’s an amazing little boy who only has mild developmental delays and whose medical concerns are mostly under control at the moment.

I was right. It did get better, and it’s not as hard as it used to be.  

The next time you come across a mom like me, please don’t take away her hope. It might be all she has left. I’m not saying you should lie about a prognosis, but you don’t know what the future holds for her little one. Realistic hope is still hope.

Originally published: August 1, 2016
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