Dear Doctor -- Part One

Dear Doctor,
     I have a terrible memory. I forget things easily. I do not, however, forget you. If I heard your voice in the middle of a million other voices, I could pick it out. Yours was the voice that broke --no, shattered -- my heart.

    I didn't know you. You weren't our usual pediatrician, just the one on duty the morning after we welcomed Henry just before midnight the day before. You were young, with a sweet face. The nurses told me you would be coming to "discuss things further". We waited for you to arrive, and I hoped you had some good news. You knocked on the hospital room door and entered. The same hospital room we visited on our tour when I was pregnant. I almost puked on the way home from our hospital tour, I was so scared to go through childbirth again. Little did I know how much my life would change in that very room a few months later. Childbirth would have been the least of my worries. 

    You weren't the first to mention to me the words "Down syndrome". You were actually the second doctor to talk to us about it.
    You used the words "babies like this" a lot. You said "babies like this have thyroid problems" and "babies like this will have speech and motor delays".

   Babies like what, I wondered.

    Your phone rang. You answered it. "It's his endocrinologist." 

     You picked up your phone, and then you spoke in Spanish to the other doctor.

    I had two thoughts.

The first -- he has an endorinologist?
The second -- why are you speaking Spanish?

    You spoke about my child, my newborn baby boy, in another language right in front of me. What did you have to say to her that you didn't want me to hear?

   You scared me. You told me what was wrong with Henry. You talked about thyroid problems, and gross motor problems. You talked about the holes in his heart. You told me he was at an increased risk of dying in his car seat because of the Down syndrome.

    I asked you, "Are we sure he has Down syndrome? Shouldn't we wait for the blood test to come back?" You told me that the blood test was just to confirm "what we are all thinking."

    Okay. Are we all just ignoring the negative MateriT21?

    And who is "we all"?

    I dont know where you are now. To be honest, I don't give you much thought. 

But I wish you didn't stir such fear in us with how you described Down syndrome.
I wish you were more understanding.
I wish you didnt speak in another language, to someone is also fluent in English, about our son in front of us.
I wish you had something positive to say about my son's future.

I wish you could see our son now.

I wish you could see how happy he makes everyone. 
I wish you could hear his giggle.
I wish you could marvel at his outstretched pinky when he grasps things.
I wish you could celebrate his achievements like we do.
I wish you could hear him say "da-da" when his father enters the room. 
I wish you could see him dance when we play music. 

But more than anything, I wish you never, ever deliver any diagnosis in that way again.

Erin Wells and family




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