“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.” ― Erin Morgenstern,
It was the summer of 1997 and I was freshly out of law school, studying for the bar while working in a lawyer’s office, and being stalked by my ex-boyfriend. My beloved older sister was eight months pregnant with her first child at 44 years old.
At the time I lived about two hours away from my family who lived in rather close proximity to my ex-boyfriend. I was “back home” visiting him in one of our attempts to put things back together or at least be friends when I got the phone call from my brother-in-law. He had to take my sister to the hospital and the news wasn’t good. I’m on the way I quickly said and left immediately. Parenthetical, my ex did not come with me he was very aloof with my family and friends. Only later would I realize how significant those signs were at the time.
I walked into the hospital waiting room and approach my brother-in-law with a pit in the bottom of my stomach. The look on his face said it all. He starts preparing me for the bad news. The bad could be worse but not by much.
Over the past few days my sister had noticed irregular movement from the baby. She knew something was wrong so she went to the hospital. Tests revealed the heartbreaking news. The umbilical cord had wrapped around the baby’s neck in her womb and the child had died. We were devastated.
Her gynecologist began a treatment that would induce her labor so she could deliver the baby. Our wait began. I spent much of my waking time at the hospital that day. I went to their house to get some sleep and returned the next morning.
When I walked into her hospital room I immediately knew something was wrong. She was bloated and her skin was yellow. I walked out of her room calling for a nurse and a doctor. A nurse approached and I told her there was a problem with my sister and something needed to be done. She didn’t want to do anything but I was insistent.
Her doctor arrived and tried to tell me there was no problem but I wasn’t having any of it. Our discussion soon turned into a battle of wills. His insistence that it was just the medication was met with my resistance that either the dosage was wrong or something else was going on. We were so close I could read his mind: Who does this bitch think she is? I stared him down defying him to ignore me.
Frustrated, he turned away but the necessary tests were ordered. The results? She was being administered twice the amount of labor inducing medication as was recommended and her internal organs were shutting down. They quickly formed a plan, including diuretics, to reduce the toxic chemicals inside her body. It was give and take at first but her condition slowly began to improve.
Fortunately, her condition stabilized and she was able to safely deliver the child we knew was already gone from us. Her doctor avoided me but I was fine with it. I did what I had to do. It would be the last baby he would deliver and he shortly retired from practice. We buried our little angel and tried to mend the hole in our hearts.
As little children we are taught not to question authority and to accept the answers given us. A lifetime of suffering at the hands of silence has taught me that we must do better. Everyone, especially women, should question their medical providers when they are given answers that are not satisfying. If you don’t get the answers you need, seek better advice.
Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death. Jean-Jacques Rousseau