Today the kids and I did something that I have been wanting to do for awhile, but had not found the time to fit into our busy schedule over the past six months, especially in light of our recent move. This morning after I taught my “Yoga Sculpt” class at the neighborhood church where I am a group fitness instructor, Sean, Abby and I visited the offices of many of the medical professionals that cared for us and our baby girl Molly during and after our pregnancy with her in 2008.
Though we always enjoy seeing the many doctors, nurses and other staff members who gave us such wonderful and compassionate care throughout our journey with our daughter/sister Molly and since, today we were on a mission to make some special deliveries. As I shared about in this post, since the book A Gift of Time: Continuing Your Pregnancy When Your Baby’s Life is Expected to Be Brief by Amy Kuebelbeck and Dr. Deborah L. Davis was published earlier this year (January 2011), I have intended to donate copies in Molly’s honor and memory. Our plan was to give one to our Obstetrician’s office, one to the Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist’s office, one to the Perinatal Cardiologist’s office, one to the Perinatal Bereavement Coordinator/Program at Advocate Christ Medical Center where Molly was born and died and one to the Chaplains/Office of Ministry there.
Today we finally accomplished our mission and it was a very therapeutic and moving experience for me. I also think that is was nice for Sean and Abby to be a part of sharing these books with those who have helped us on our family’s five year journey through secondary infertility, pregnancy loss and neonatal death.
At most of the places that we delivered copies of A Gift of Time, I chose to just give the book (with the inscription pictured here), along with a letter (which I will share at the end of this post) to the receptionists that happened to be working at the time we arrived. However, we did have a few really memorable interactions directly with some of those who have been a part of our journey through infertility and loss. Also, when I handed the letters and books to the receptionists, I should mention that I tried to give them a brief explanation of why we were donating these books and not one of the kind women who received them had dry eyes after our brief conversations. Each of these three ladies assured me that they would personally see to it that the doctors, nurses and support staff in their offices saw our letter and had a chance to take a look at A Gift of Time.
We had two especially touching interchanges today. The first took place when we stopped at the Office for Mission and Spiritual Care to drop off a copy of A Gift of Time for the chaplains who minister to so many families at the hospital where all of our children were born and our baby girl Molly died. As we had done at the two previous locations we had delivered books, I introduced myself to the woman who was working at the front desk there.
I only intended to leave a book and letter with her, however she asked if I remembered the names of any of the pastoral care staff who worked with our family during our pregnancy with Molly. I did happen to remember one name and she said that woman was there today. She told me how much it would mean to that person to get to see and talk with my children and me in person. So the kids and I agreed to wait while she paged the chaplain to the office. I told her that we had also planned to deliver a copy of A Gift of a Time to the Perinatal Bereavement Program (PBP) Coordinator, who I have known for years through the Caring Connections Perinatal Bereavement Support Group I attend monthly at the hospital. The PBP Coordinator works on the labor and delivery floor of the hospital and I knew that it was unlikely the kids and I would be allowed up there to hand deliver her copy of our letter and the book, so I suggested the woman page her and see if she was available to join us in the office too.
A few minutes later, both ladies enthusiastically arrived in the Office for Mission and Spiritual Care. The PBP Coordinator had met Sean and Abby before, but it had been awhile and she was happy to see them and how much they have grown. I introduced my children to the chaplain and then we all sat down and chatted for awhile. I gave them some of the background about the A Gift of Time and how it came to be. They were both very kind and complimentary in regards to our taking the time to hand deliver the books and assured me that they would be well utilized going forward.
The PBP Coordinator and the chaplain both shared that they intend to ask their colleagues to read A Gift of Time and familiarize themselves with the resources highlighted in it. I was so pleased to hear that and told them, as I also wrote in the letter we gave them with the books, that they were welcome to give our contact information (phone number, email and blog URL) to any future patients who find themselves in a situation like we experienced with Molly and might want to be able to communicate directly with a family who has “been there” before and survived the journey.
Before we left the office, we talked about Perinatal Hospice and how I wished there had been a program at our hospital during our pregnancy with Molly. They PBP Coordinator told me that one of her goals for the Perinatal Bereavement Program at the hospital in 2012 is to develop and implement a Perinatal Hospice program! I was elated and let her know that I would be glad to assist in anyway possible to help make it happen.
I also shared with both ladies how I have felt called over the last few years to possibly study to become a hospital chaplain myself someday. Both of them told me that they thought I would be an awesome chaplain, told me some about how the training (internship and residency) programs work there and encouraged me to keep in touch in the future. I have filed that information away and will definitely keep it in mind for when the kids are older and I feel ready to return to more steady work in the professional world.
After we left the Office for Mission and Spiritual Care, the kids and I dropped off the last of our five letters and books at the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist’s office in a building located adjacent to the hospital and then we headed home for lunch. I considered asking if the MFM was available when we stopped by today, as he has been involved with a number of our difficult pregnancies over the years and took such great care of our family and our babies in utero. However, knowing how busy he is, I opted not to. The kids were tired and hungry, so I thought it was best we be on our way.
Not long after we got home, the kids and I were eating lunch when the phone rang. It was the MFM! He told me that he had gotten our thoughtful letter and the copy of A Gift of Time. He said that he wished that we he requested to see him in person, that it only would have taken a few minutes. The MFM shared how he still thinks about us and what we have been through and how much he appreciates having the book as a resource for other families who will follow in our footsteps. He said that sadly he sees one or two patients a week with poor prenatal diagnoses and prognoses and that he looks forward to letting them know that there is a resource available to them now in A Gift of Time. WOW! I was blown away.
Our experiences today with the MFM, as well as the PBP Coordinator and the chaplain were exactly why I have wanted so much to share A Gift of Time with all those medical professionals and support staff who helped make our journey with Molly more bearable. It has been yet another therapeutic opportunity for me to feel like some good has come from our experience choosing to continue our pregnancy with Molly after receiving such a devastating prenatal diagnosis and prognosis back in January 2008. Though as I have shared here before, I no longer believe that everything in life “happens for a reason,” I do believe that we can make wonderful things come from the tragedies that we experience and survive in our lives.
Thank you for reading. I will leave you with the letter that we included with each of our A Gift of Time book donations today, along with two pictures that I took of Sean and Abby on our adventure “sharing hope for the future” with medical professionals, support staff and families who will likely benefit from this resource going forward.
Dear Doctors, Nurses and Staff,
Thank you for the wonderful and compassionate care that you gave our family three years ago, during our pregnancy and after the birth and death of our daughter Molly Marie Benson on April 17, 2008.
This book, A Gift of Time: Continuing Your Pregnancy When Your Baby’s Life is Expected to Be Brief by Amy Kuebelbeck and Dr. Deborah L. Davis, was published earlier this year (January 2011). In honor and memory of Molly, we are giving copies of it to many of the medical professionals that cared for us and our baby girl during and after our pregnancy with her.
We are giving a copy to our Obstetrician’s office, one to the Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist’s office, one to the Perinatal Cardiologist’s office, one to the Perinatal Bereavement Coordinator/Program at Advocate Christ Medical Center where Molly was born and died and one to the Chaplains/Office of Ministry there.
A Gift of Time was written by the authors of two successful and widely read books for parents who have lost children: Waiting with Gabriel: A Story of Cherishing a Baby’s Brief Life and Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby. We read both of them during our family’s five year roller coaster ride through secondary infertility, pregnancy loss and neonatal death. They helped us to cope and to heal throughout our journey, especially before and after Molly’s birth and death.
We wish A Gift of Time had existed when we received Molly’s poor prenatal diagnosis and prognosis early on in the second trimester of our pregnancy. We are so glad that it is available now as a resource for those who sadly may someday need it. We want all of the doctors, nurses, chaplains and other caregivers that worked with us during and since our pregnancy with Molly to know about this book and be able to suggest it to patients that you may care for in the future who could benefit from Perinatal Hospice http://perinatalhospice.org/
Over 120 parents (including our family) shared their personal experiences with the authors to help make this possible and are quoted throughout the text. We really like how the authors tied it all together with their thoughtful and informative commentary throughout the book. The book is also well organized with a detailed Table of Contents, so that readers can either approach it from beginning to end, or pick and choose the parts that may best apply to their situation or where they are at any given time on their journeys.
Kathy is quoted as “Kath” on pages 82 and 137-138 in A Gift of Time. We are honored that the part of our journey with Molly included in this book may be able to help others who have or will one day live through such a bittersweet experience. We were also very moved to see Molly’s name in print in A Gift of Time. Seeing and hearing our baby girl’s name never gets old or loses its magic for us and helps us to keep her memory alive in our minds and hearts.
We also found it healing to read A Gift of Time at this point on our journey (almost three and half years since Molly’s birth and death), as we never get over the death of our children.
It has helped in our efforts of continuing to work through our grief and make peace with our loss. We think this book is an insightful resource for those who have been there and for those who will someday live through such an experience.
We also highly recommend A Gift of Time for friends, family members, in addition to medical professionals and support staff that care for those who are pregnant with babies who are not expected to live long.
Thank you again for everything you have done for our family, throughout our pregnancy with Molly, after her birth and death, as well as during our pregnancy with and through the birth of our “rainbow” baby girl Abigail Grace “Abby.”
Please consider sharing or suggesting A Gift of Time with any patients you encounter in the future who could benefit from reading it. You are also welcome to share our contact information (which I included in the letter) with those patients if they would like to be able to communicate directly with a family that has “been there” before and survived the journey.
Bob, Kathy, Sean and Abby Benson
with Molly in our hearts