In June, just a week after James was born, an old post of Mike’s was picked up by the Huffington Post. It was his love-letter to nurses, and it got a lot of attention for giving praise to an often-overlooked profession. However, some readers took exception to Mike’s words about the way the doctor in charge handled things the night Madeline died. In a nutshell, those people thought Mike was needlessly harsh about the way the doctor in charge acted the that night, and that we are just a big family of doctor-haters.
Now, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that’s not true. I mean, my General Practitioner’s nickname on this blog is Dr. Looove because I LOVE HER. I cried when I left my last appointment with Dr. Risky because I wasn’t going to see her again. I have genuinely liked almost every doctor I’ve come into contact with, and I’ve dealt with a large amount of them in my life. It wasn’t hard for me to ignore the commenters that called us doctor-haters because it’s not true.
However, the comments opened a lot of old wounds for the members of my family who were there the night Madeline died. They’d witnessed the head doctor’s callous behavior and the comments defending him enraged them. I’ve written about my feelings toward that doctor, and they weren’t pretty. I have done a lot (A. LOT.) of work in therapy to erase that man from my thoughts. Not forgive – forget. I don’t waste time on him, and that is what works for me.
Since James was brand-spanking-new when this post was republished, my family was at our house a lot, and of course they wanted to talk about it. I paid very little attention, more consumed with resting and cuddling my new baby. While I was nursing James in another room, I could hear them all rehashing April 7th, 2009. After Maddie died that night, I was unaware of anything else going on around me. At the time, I hadn’t realized that the doctors were having their post-mortem only a few feet away. I didn’t hear anything they discussed, so I had no idea that HE (the thoughtless head doctor) said, “Well, we kept doing everything we could to save her, but she just wasn’t trying to live.”
He said that Maddie didn’t try to live. MADDIE. The little girl who was supposed to die the day she was born, who fought every day of her seventeen months. He said she didn’t try. And I didn’t find out he’d said that until over four years later.
I felt like I had literally been gutted. I cried like I had in those early days, loudly and from deep inside. I could not stand the idea that anyone thought that little girl hadn’t tried, hadn’t fought like hell, to live. It wasn’t luck that kept her alive for almost a year and a half. It was the skill and dedication of the doctors who cared for her (like Dr. Looove), her family, and Madeline herself. How dare he say she didn’t try.
My postpartum hormones did not make this new discovery an easy one. I felt very low, and it was hard to recover. I was upset that I had (even unwittingly) let this man back into my brain. It took even more work to get him out of my head this time, but he is now banished forever.
It’s taken me five months to get to the point where I can talk about this. On Maddie’s birthday, when Annie again asked me why her sister died, I gave her all the contributing factors she could understand but not trying wasn’t one of them. Annie and James will always know what a fighter their sister was. Not trying will never be an option for them – just like it wasn’t for Maddie.