Ask the pediatrician

I almost forgot! Here's a gem from Friday that I think you'll appreciate...

All the books on grief tell you to ask your pediatrician about how to help your living child deal with the death of a sibling. All the books say to consult with the pediatrician about how to handle the possibility of another pregnancy.

Now let me tell you what you will get from your pediatrician...

A look of "I'm so sorry to hear that"...and advice to pretend nothing happened or is happening. Yes, you heard me right...pretend like nothing happened or is happening. His advice? Break Sam of the "I want up" habit now, so we won't have to explain why I can't pick him up if I get pregnant again. And THEN, when my belly starts to grow, explain it as little as possible so that if we experience another loss, we won't have to deal with it or worry about it.


I just don't even know what to say. I wanted to grab him by the throat, this highly trained medical professional, and shake the living shit out of him. THIS is the advice he is giving people?!?! You have got to freaking be kidding me?!?!?

Yes, my son is sad that Baby Alex didn't come home. But should I have pretended? Should I have glossed over the truth for my son's well-being and mental health? Should I have denied him the opportunity to know his brother for the short time that he had?

My advice...don't bother asking your pediatrician. Ask someone like a grief counselor or someone who has some hope of knowing what they're talking about.

Maybe I've screwed up my Sam for life. Maybe his mental health will never recover. But I feel a lot better about scarring him with the truth and letting him love his brother, than I would if I had lied to him or kept the truth from him in order to protect him. I guess I'll just have to hope that he feels the same way when he is older.


Lorem ipsum said…
I'm so sorry you got such an insensitive response from your pediatrician (who should at least know better than I about tact!). Is his bedside manner similar?
holley said…

What rock did they crawl out from under to say such stupid things?
I could be completely wrong, but I cannot imagine that suggestion coming from Angie's pediatrician. Your ped must have gone to the school of stick your fingers in your ears, say la-la-la and prentend nothing bad ever happens to anyone.

No child wants his/her parents to lie to them about anything, let alone something as large as a sibling and their death. Heck, some of them have a hard time trusting the parents after they learn about Santa and Frosty.

I think Sam would be more likely to feel unfairly robbed of a relationship if you pretended you weren't pregnant.

I'm starting to think you are surrounded by medical idiots out there.

Big hugs.
Sweet Coalminer said…
Wow. Although I have to admit, I don't believe after my experience that there's a whole lotta sensitivity training in med school.

Alex is a member of your family. Sam sounds like a smart little guy, and I'm sure senses when things change and how you and Stephen feel. You couldn't possibly hide Alex or a pregnancy from him even if you tried.

You are a fantastic mother and person, but the doctors you see? Not so sure they deserve you and your family as patients.

At least he didn't tell you to tell Sam to be grateful he doesn't live in Afghanistan...
Julie said…
OMG OMG OMG. My mouth is hanging open here. What an IDIOT!!! I am just really so amazed at the ignorance.

I think it was right to tell Sam about his brother. He is not stupid, and he sees that mommy and daddy are sad, so he needs to know why they are sad. You wouldn't want him thinking he had done something. I know he can't fully understand, but I don't see that his brother should be kept from him.

Jeez, what an idiot.
Lisa P. said…
Um, beg your pardon Mr. Idiotic Pediatrician, but you are suggesting that the next time Catherine gets pregnant that she just ignore the situation, explain nothing, and have Sam assume that the same thing will happen again?? I think not.

IMHO, Sam is lucky to have known his brother, even just through the words you pass on, and that would have been wrong to ignore. I don't think you are scarring him, at all; you're teaching him about love and beauty and the fact that we can somehow find happiness through our tears.
Heather said…
I can't say much more than has already been said. You did the right thing in telling Sam the truth, Kate.
Jill said…
Halfwitted moron. I have explained as much as is reasonable to E and yes it meant that there were some tricky misunderstandings and worries, but we kept the dialogue open and honest and still talk about Thomas and the other baby when we drive past a cemetry or whenever she wants to.

Now she knows that Thomas and the other baby were made wrong rather than sick, and the fact that she is here means she was made just right and won't die if she gets ill. That's as much as she needs to know about the 'why'. Most importantly she knows that people in our family can die and together we get through it and become ok again.

They fill in too many blanks wrongly for us to ignore anything. You did the right thing with Sam and he will always thank you for your honesty. But you knew that already:)
MB said…
Gracie knows about Audrey. She even held her in the hospital. I'm sure she doesn't remember that, but she did. When she sees baloons in the sky, she always says they are for Baby Audrey. I never taught her that. I think a lot of people don't give kids enough credit. Honesty is the best policy.
NervousKitty said…
Ugh, I'm sorry you got such ridiculous and hurtful advice. I don't believe you've screwed up Sam at all - how could it be bad to let him love his brother and know that you love his brother, too?
vixanne wigg said…
The women in my support group who have living children have all told their children about the babies who died. It seems like their children find the whole thing very they would since they've grown up with that knowledge. Apparently they freak others out, though, with their honesty...which I'm not sure is a bad thing.
Marlayna said…
Kate I am completely shocked. I cannot even believe what I read. You are absolutely right, in my opinion, on how you handled this with Sam. Yes 3 is young to deal with loss, but he is bound to experience it again in his life and this will help him when those times come. Don't question yourself. I just can't believe your pedi said that. :(

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