This is a letter to a lot of people. It’s a letter that I have written and re-written and edited with tears in my eyes, because I know that these or any words would never be enough. 

I have never been a fan of hospitals. In fact, I’ve often said that hospital visits and funerals were the two things that kept me from feeling called to ordained ministry. Ever since I nearly passed out while visiting my grandfather in the hospital before he died, I’ve avoided hospitals and places like them (read: doctors offices, nursing homes, etc.). And, fortunately, I’ve been pretty healthy my whole life.

So, as someone who has avoided hospitals and doctors for almost half my life, I feel the need to say so so so many thank you’s to the people who made the most devastating week of my entire life just a little bit easier with their kindness and compassion.

I get it. It’s your job. It’s your job to take care of people while they’re in the hospital. While they’re sick. While they’re delivering their babies–regardless of how happy or sad the circumstances might be.

But you all. You people. You went above and beyond. And because of that, I feel like my words of thanks will never ever be enough.

To RF, the nurse practitioner who was with us when we found out our baby no longer had a heartbeat: Your kind presence was exactly what we needed in our darkest moments. Our world was shattering before your eyes. You brought us tissues, gave us space, and then prayed with us. I don’t remember any of the words you prayed, but I will remember forever that in the moments where I could have never found the words to pray to my God, you did. Thank you for that. Thank you for your compassion in following up, checking in with our doctors, sending us a beautiful note, and for the time you spent with us at our two week follow-up appointment. We are so grateful for your presence throughout the process.

To JA, the nurse who admitted us to Labor & Delivery and who was with us on the day of my c-section and recovery for the few hours we got to spend with our precious boy Alexander: I still don’t have the words to express my deep gratitude for your kindness, gentleness, and compassion on the day we were admitted to the hospital. You walked us through the many decisions we would have to make without putting pressure on us. You were so gentle with us in the midst of the shock and grief we were experiencing. Your compassion made our heavy circumstances just a little more bearable. You made sure we were being cared for not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. (And then we let you know that we had at least three pastors on call to come visit us.) And then, Saturday, July 9. Scott and I were both so scared about the surgery. And you were such a calming presence. The way you cared for us, and for our Alexander, has forever left a mark on our hearts. You are part of our story. You are part of Alexander’s story. The hand and footprints that you made sit on the piano in the front room of our house. I touch them every day. I hope you know that what you do matters. It matters whenever a baby is born, but in our most devastating circumstances, your care mattered so so much. We are so grateful for you.

To KM, our favorite nightshift nurse: You brought the pain meds and the sleepy meds (for which I was so grateful), but so much more. You brought compassion, and kindness, and gentleness, and even a little bit of laughter. We were grateful for your presence several nights in a row, but especially on Friday night before my c-section. We were so scared and had been through so much throughout the week, and you brought peace in the midst of that. Thank you for being a light in the darkest nights of our lives. We are so grateful for you and for your compassionate care.

To the rest of the nursing staff at KMC Labor & Delivery and Mother & Baby whose names we can’t remember because we have spent the past 8 weeks living in a fog of grief: It was a long week for us in the hospital–much longer than we had anticipated. We saw a lot of you, and while we may not be able to recall all your names, we certainly recall the care and compassion you offered in our time of deepest need. You asked about us on your days off, checking in with our doctors to see how we and baby Alexander were doing. You didn’t ask questions when you heard raucous laughter coming from our room when friends and family were visiting. You offered only the greatest kindness and compassion. You made special accommodations for us to be away from families whose circumstances were much happier than ours–to guard our hearts in the midst of deep pain. You hunted down mysterious noises, calling in the building engineer to track them down. You asked our baby’s name, and assured us that you were praying for us. That you would remember us and our sweet Alexander. We are so grateful for the care we received from the nursing staff at KMC. We would love to do something for you all or in your honor, but we are still at such a loss. Our thanks will truly never be enough. (And then I read stories like this that leave me in a puddle of tears and I know that these words and thanks will truly never be enough.)

To Dr. P, officially my new favorite doctor of all time: We hadn’t even seen or met you in the practice before we met you on our third day in the hospital. And yet, you took time with us–more time than any other doctor. You explained what was going on in language we could understand. You helped us find a little bit of laughter in the midst of the most terrifying, confusing, and devastating circumstances. You explained everything to our families, took time with them, and told them to go home and take care of themselves. I don’t have the words to thank you for your compassionate care and your down-to-earth bedside manner. When you came to see us before we were discharged, you were honest with us about what this grieving process would be like. You reminded us to take care of each other, and gave us assurance that while this certainly wouldn’t be easy, that we would survive this. When we saw you again for our six week follow-up, you once again took time with us. You checked to see not only how I was doing (by asking Scott), but also how Scott was doing. Your kindness has made an impression on us. Your care has left us hopeful for the future, and has earned our trust in so many ways. When we walked out of the office after our six-week follow up, I declared to Scott that you were officially my favorite doctor of all time. Own it. We are so grateful in so many ways.

I have read horror stories on the internet about situations like ours. I thank God every. single. day. for the team of people who cared for us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually during the very darkest days of our lives. This team of people is a huge part of Alexander’s story and of our story.

So, yes. I get it that you were just “doing your job.” I get it, because I tend to say the same thing when people thank me for what I do in youth ministry.

But at the same time, I feel like my words of thanks will never ever be enough.

You are heroes.

What you do matters.

7 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Our Health Care Providers

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