Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Different shades of bitter

I just had a nice long talk with the "new" coworker in my office (I'll call her NC). She's been here over a year and I still learned something about her today that I didn't know.

NC has a three year old daughter who is absolutely precious. Perfect in every way...including her little attitude. When NC was six months pregnant, she was told that her baby had a one-vessel cord that was probably an indicator of Down's syndrome. She was advised to have an amnio and she consented. The amnio confirmed Down's syndrome. Yes, remember that bit up there where I said that she is PERFECT in every way...including her little attitude. She does NOT have Down's syndrome. She is healthy except for a small digestive system deformity that was corrected by surgery earlier this year.

Now HOW does that happen? NC says she suspects someone screwed up the test results somewhere. She says she feels bad because she is certain there is some mother out there who was expecting a healthy baby and ended up with a baby with Down's syndrome. Can you imagine?

But what fascinated me was being able to talk to her. Three months she visited a high risk doctor. Three months she lived in fear that her baby would die before birth. She listened as they prepared her for an extended NICU stay and her child's multiple health problems. She practically lived at various doctors' offices as she submitted to NST's and ultrasounds and "reassurance doppler checks." She didn't buy anything for the baby. She didn't set up a nursery. She lived her own version of "normal" as best she could, fully prepared to walk out of the hospital with empty arms. And in the end, she walked out of the hospital with a healthy baby girl.

Fully expecting her to tell me I am crazy, I asked her how it made her feel. I mean, after all, she has a happy and healthy child, right? So it shouldn't bother her to talk about pregnancy? To see pregnant women? To hear conversations about strollers and diapers? You know what? Three years later, she still is "bitter" toward happy shiny pregnancy talk (her word, not mine).

So how's that for a kick in the pants?!?! She got a healthy baby out of her ordeal and she's still less tolerant of the same things I'm less tolerant of...after three years! Her experience still provides her with a perspective that requires her to see the forest AND the trees. To be realistic...even if it means being the scary one in the room. She has an insider's view. And even though she came out on the "winning end," her attitudes and personality are still shaped by what she went through.

Now I feel...I don't know...somehow...justified. (I think I'm going to have to ask her if anybody has told her to get over it.)

She also said that her mother-in-law told her that the reason her daughter was "spared" was because of divine intervention. "God wouldn't do that to you." NC's response? "So God WOULD do that to someone else and their child? Why?"

Oh my gosh! She gets it! She doesn't have a dead baby...and she gets it! To me, she is an amazing find. A rare gem. Talking to her somehow lessened the headache I woke up with this morning after a night of dead-baby nightmares and fitful sleep. And when I told her that, she understood that too.

I guess bitter ain't so bad if you've got good company.


Julia said...

bitter is pretty much all the company I can keep nowdays. Or at least sympathetic to the bitter.

She does sound like a gem.

Kathy McC said...

Isn't it great when you find someone in real life who gets it?

Angela said...


Aurelia said...

She sounds amazing. Keep her close.

I am curious though? I'm wondering if it was a mix up or if her daughter's placenta had a mosaicism and threw off some cells. Bad placenta, healthy baby. Just because it was always a fear of mine to get inaccurate results....hmmmmm.

niobe said...

I was thinking the same thing as Aurelia about possible mosaicism.

It's so great that she's understanding. Because in real life (in my real life, anyway) I've found that the very few women I know who've experienced losses are, oddly enough, among the least sympathetic to me. I think their attitude is something like "Well, I managed, so I can't see what Niobe's whining about." Or maybe being reminded of their losses just hurts too much.