Monday, April 28, 2008
So I read every one's comments on what to do after the OBitch's office called. I pondered and questioned what it was I really wanted from them. I talked it over with the husband, put a call into my SF friend (who started the draft of the letter many months ago) and then I slept on it figuring I'd talk to SF friend the next day and then decide my next step. Apparently the OBitch's office couldn't wait, they called AGAIN, the next morning, not even 24 hours after the first call. That message was, "Hi, it's C from OBitch's office, I'd really like to talk to you, if you have a moment today, please call me back.". That message pissed me off. I mean Jesus, it took me almost 7 f*ing months to write the letter at all, couldn't she give me a little time to digest her phone call and what my response was going to be??? I don't like being pissed off, I really don't. I called SF friend and she suggested just calling after hours and saying that I am just too emotional to talk about things which is why I wrote the letter in the first place. Now,if I had spoken to her the night before, before I was pissed that is, I probably would have done just that. But now, with my new pissy-ness all riled up in me, I didn't want to play my dead baby mama card. I wanted to lay it all on her lap. So I took most of your advice, I wrote a list of everything I thought they did wrong, all of the changes I thought they could make in their office protocol in dealing with moms of stillborns, all of the outside support resources that should be given to a new dead baby mom etc.. I thought maybe I really can make a difference for another mom, maybe just maybe I can do something to make someone else not feel so alone and desperate for help and guidance as I did in the hours and days after finding out that our baby had died. And then bright and early the next morning, after I knew the office was open, I called her back. Her phone rang and rang and rang and finally, her voice...mail. Damn it. I was going to hang up but I am never sure how long one mood is going to stay with me these days and in the event my pisy-ness turned back into weepy-ness I decided to leave a message. I said who I was and that I appreciated her calling me back and thanked her for her first message, then I said I am not sure why you want to talk to me or what you want to talk about, but I just wanted to respond to her phone calls and say that I did appreciate her responding to my letter. And I hung up. I figured now if she was going to call again, at least she would maybe, leave a message, maybe, saying specifically why she was being so god damn pesky with her phone calls. Except she didn't call back, not the next day or the next. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. I thought maybe they decided to write me back, so over the weekend I checked the mail (I have been known to leave my mail in my mailbox for days and even weeks at a time. My postal carrier hates me I am sure. The only thing I ever get in the mail anymore are hard copies of bills I pay online anyway so why waste a trip to the curb just to carry stuff into my backyard and throw it away I ask??? Seriously,if you are sending me stuff in snail mail, email me so I know to look for it... those weeks back in December and January when all the free stuff meme was coming, I was standing curbside at the ready, much to the utter disbelief of my postal carrier, lest she decide to pocket my dead baby jewels or dead baby t-shirt or Niobe photos, and now that they all are here safely, I have resumed my mailbox avoidance tactics....but I digress)
No letter. Paper bills and useless free mailers, I HATE THOSE, but no letter. I thought maybe I sounded harsher in my message than I realized, this has been a frequent umm, issue, of mine, I think sarcastic, listener thinks Bitch, let's just say I have to apologize A LOT when I am talking.
Today, she called. I missed the call THANK the GOD I don't believe in and my unlucky stars above. Her message to me? "Hi It's C again. I don't want to bug you, one of the things in your letter, one of your concerns was our billing practices so I just wanted to explain how and why we bill the way we do, if you are interested in talking about that then call me back otherwise we can just leave things at that." WHAT THE FUCK??? She's been calling about the fucking BILL??? That's it? Oh for Christ's sake, don't even waste my time lady. If that is all you got out of my letter and that is all you care about "explaining" to me, I have a few words for you, they are the one's I left out of my letter, the ones that say, FUCK YOU.
I have no desire to listen to her rationalize why they feel it is ok to bill me for a full term pregnancy/delivery when I delivered at 23 weeks. I have no desire to hear her tell me that they don't bill "extra" if you go past your due date and for the same screwed up reason they don't "pro-rate" an early delivery. That's the 'logic' I am sure she would try to sell me, unsuccessfully. And the real pisser, of all of the things I wrote about, that would have been the easiest thing for them to fix, you know? They could have ignored everything, waived the balance and gone on their merry, unfeeling way, but nooooo, they want their $600(my portion after insurance) and they want me to 'understand' why I should feel good paying it. Fuckers. Never mind all of the awful things that were said to me or done to me, that doesn't matter at all, it's all about the bottom line, the almighty buck. Well, I can tell you this, the buck stops here and it sure as hell ain't going to that office. Should I receive another bill, I'll be sure to post the letter I send with it. It won't be pretty, it won't be nice and I won't apologize for it either, not one bit. Fuckers.
P.S. Sorry for all the F-ers...my pissy-ness is back with a vengeance, best for me to stay away from real live folks for a bit, lest I start my next post with a plea for bail money.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
And now for the scary part. She wants me to call her. She really wants to talk to me about my experience at their office. She left her private number and asked me to please call her tomorrow, (they are having phone work done today) so that she can speak to me directly. Fuck. As soon as I hung up from the message I started weeping, I don't even know why. Now I can't stop. What the fuck is going on??? What should I do? I am great at the passive aggressive letter writing stuff but personal confrontation when I feel this vulnerable is not something I ever run towards, nope not I.
And what is there to talk about, really? Are they going to try and explain away the things I felt happened to me? Another apology? I can't bear the idea of trying to talk to someone about this and just balling like a schoolgirl and not being able to get the words out the way I want to. And I don't want to have to defend myself or my feelings, I just can't do it. I'm not there yet. I could do it for anyone else, just not me. It's too close.
I want to stand up for myself, for all of us, I really do, but I don't know how...
What would you do? Any assvice from my beloved mafia moms? I need it, I really, really need it.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
To whom it may concern:
I am writing this letter to discuss my absolute outrage over being billed by your office for a “routine obstetrical delivery”, full price, after the 23 week stillborn delivery of my son. You cannot begin to imagine the shock and disbelief I felt upon opening that bill. The treatment I have received by this office in the aftermath of this devastating experience has been appalling.
My own doctor, in the hour after my son was delivered referred to the delivery as “half a VBAC”, she then repeatedly referred to my son as a “23 weeker”, the insensitivity of those remarks cannot be explained or understood by anyone who has not had to endure the agony of birthing their dead child. She also, upon entering the exam room at your office , where I was sitting a mere 2 weeks after delivering my dead son, waiting to begin a multiple loss work-up, opened the door and asked me “Why are you here again?”. Then she looked at my chart and remembered “why” she had scheduled me for the appointment. The final insult came when she had a nurse, not herself, call me to go over the autopsy results of my son. The nurse, who did try to be sympathetic, did not speak English well and kept saying there are no answers in the report. I asked several questions to which she responded, “You have to ask your doctor.” over and over. I asked her why my doctor hadn’t called me and she just said, “She told me to”. Beyond the utter frustration I felt, the information was incomplete and inaccurate. When I finally did see the autopsy report and had another doctor explain it to me, the probable cause of my son’s death was listed in the report. Information my doctor should have seen and should have been given to me personally, when I was in the office. Not in a phone call by a nurse who had no idea what she was talking about and who could not answer any of my questions. Every other mother I have met since the stillbirth, who has suffered this same loss, had a doctor, who went over the autopsy with them, sat with them in their office and answered all of the questions they had to the best of their ability. Your office should offer the same standard of care.
After being released from the hospital and then having to return to your office for follow up appointments, I was chastised not once, but TWICE, by women at your appointment desk, for missing appointments while I was in the hospital delivering my dead son. Obviously they had no idea what had happened and were quite apologetic when I explained why I had missed the appointments but it was an indignity I should not have had to suffer on top of everything else I was dealing with at the time. I had the same experience the prior year when I had a miscarriage and had to be hospitalized after my uterus was ruptured during the D &C and I missed an appointment at your office because of it. It is clear to me that your office does not have any type of system in place to communicate with the appointment desk when a patient has been hospitalized or worse has suffered a loss. In this case I would suggest that your appointment desk staff be trained and admonished NOT to question, or worse criticize, someone who has missed an appointment, for it is quite likely there is a reason for the absence and the patient is not the one who should have to apologize or explain.
I have been a patient at this office for 11 years. For the first 9 years I received exemplary care by a fantastic doctor. I felt respected and well managed as a patient. She called me at home several times over the years when crisis occurred, to check on me and remind me that she was available if I needed her. In the last two years, except for when she has come in to rescue me in times of trouble, I have felt abandoned and discarded by my doctor and the practice. Anytime I asked my doctor for help or guidance, her pat response was, “I can give you a referral to another doctor.” And in the aftermath of the stillbirth, one, only one, nurse offered me her condolences. No one else. Even the hospital where I delivered him sent me two sympathy cards, signed by every single person who cared for me and my family while we were there. Your office should consider treating mothers of stillborns with the same respect and compassion.
The final insult in this long nightmare is the “routine obstetrical delivery” label and charges on the bill received from your office. I can assure you, there is nothing “routine” about delivering a stillborn child. And it is not routine to deliver at 23 weeks. It is also not a full term pregnancy and I did not receive 9 months of prenatal care, nor will I pay for it. Certainly your office is capable of classifying a stillbirth on a bill as a stillbirth. It is a great insult to a mother of a stillborn to be classified as “routine” and have our experience and grief dismissed in such a way.
I expect my bill to be adjusted to reflect the service I actually did receive. I also hope that in the future, your office will reconsider the way in which mothers of stillborns are treated. The hospital put a sticker on the door to our room that alerted everyone on staff who entered that we were birthing a stillborn. It reduced our exposure to insensitive comments and congratulations. Your office could do the same thing to our charts, our online profile, and to the exam rooms for follow up appointments. That simple act can make the difference for a mother who is looking for and needs support and compassion. The words “I am so sorry for your loss” may seem inconsequential but they are much better to hear than nothing at all, or worse, “Why are you here?”.
To say that I am disappointed in your offices lack of professionalism and human kindness in dealing with the stillbirth of my son would be an understatement. I hope this letter is read with an understanding of the intention with which it was written, that no other mother of a stillborn is treated how I was by your office. You can and should do better.
So that's it. I have no idea how it will be received by them. Given that I have already requested for my new doctor's office to get my file from the OBitch, I won't be surprised if they ignore my letter and just refer the whole bill out to collections...you know, because I am just another "routine obstetrical delivery". Fuckers.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I first heard of the "Last Lecture" just after Caleb died. I think one of you may have posted a link to the lecture a while ago so by now maybe everyone has already heard his words. I took a great deal of comfort away from his speech. It reminded me that no matter how bad things are in my life, I always have a choice. I may not like my choices but I do have them. And I knew after listening to him speak last fall, that my choice was clear. I had to choose to live, not survive, but live with the loss of Caleb. I have made peace with that. I know that I will always find a new part of the grief this loss has left behind, a simple, innocent errand or activity will call him forward and I will again be hit with the loss of my son. Reminded that we are living without him. That every day we live takes us farther away from him and his brief physical presence in our lives. I have made peace with that too.
I know my children have been forever changed, their innocence stolen, much too early and so unfairly. I can only hope that I am able to show them how to live with grief, how to be sad and how to mourn and then how to find it within yourself to heal and to begin to live once again. And to find, no reclaim, joy and to feel it too. I hope we have shown them that even in the darkest of times, to never lose...well, hope. That even without the benefit or curse, depending on your perspective, of religion, we have taught our children that no, we are not immune from tragedy, but we are also not helpless to overcome it. That part of what they will take with them into their futures when they remember their lost little brother is the knowledge that having loved greatly and having lost greatly has not diminished them or weakened them but rather has shown them the real courage and strength it takes to truly love someone, even when the love can not be reciprocated and worse, even when the love seems to only cause you pain. The courage and strength they both have within them and are so unaware of now. I wonder if they will ever realize, when they look back on these days, how much it spoke of their character and hearts when they welcomed their new cousin into their lives. Not once did either of them ever begrudge their cousin or her family for getting to be born or for having a new baby, when they could not enjoy those things with their own baby brother. As a parent I was overwhelmed by their actions, by their complete lack of selfishness or envy and by their desire just to love a new life, by their desire to love, again, at all.
It speaks to me about belief, not in "God", but in healing, in the things we can not see. The things we wish to be there, things we never touch and yet we believe in them. Hope. Love. Courage. Strength. Magic. Ghosts. Dreams. Miracles. In the interview last night, the same idea was brought up in relation to this famous letter:
"Dear Editor--I am 8 years old."Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus."Papa says, 'If you see it in The Sun, it's so.'"Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O'Hanlon115 West Ninety-fifth Street
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Not that I liken our experience in any way to a belief in Mr. Clause, but I do compare the healing with the idea that we heal with the belief that there is something out there worth healing for, even if we can't see it in the moment of our grief. For me I could always see why I had to heal, they were standing in front of me from the moment I got home from the hospital, willing me to be their mom again, aching for me to love them and not to be sad. Desperate for comfort and assurance that their world would be righted again. It wasn't really a choice at all, or at least not a hard one. Caleb's life had been taken away, from him and from us. We could not let that take away our lives too. And so, as I wrote to a dear friend recently, I choose to love all my children equally, no more or less than the other, not even Caleb's death could allow for him take more from me than the other two each have. And I have found peace with that too.
So that's where I am for now. Living with what has been handed out, choosing to live and hoping I can live with the choices I have made.