Memory (noun):the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information
Memories are just a collection of little moments, aren’t they? But how we piece together the collection is important. So I wanted to share this letter with you, it’s the letter I sent to the staff at the hospital to thank them for looking after me and my Summer. My aim in sharing this is to put you in the mind frame of someone who’s just become a net receiver. To put you in the shoes of someone who’s just been through a particularly traumatic period, because now that time has passed, I can step back and see that in times of difficulty, it really is all the little things that count.
So let this be a reminder to me and to you: try to be a good little moment for someone today.
Saturday 25th April 2020
Please could you forward this message on to the midwifery team at B hospital, and anyone else involved with my care, during my stay on the labour ward between Wednesday 4th March – Monday 9th March 2020.
I am sorry that it has taken me so long to write this note, it has been on my to-do list for some time, but I’m working off the hopeful assumption that a message of thanks is indeed “better late, than never”.
It is difficult to do you all justice individually, so this is my inadequate attempt at a collective thanks to the department. (So though I do name just a few people below, please know that this message truly is intended for all who cared for me. I am just sorry that I didn’t note down all of your names and thank you all personally at the time).
Last month in the early hours of Monday 9th March, our daughter Summer, was born extremely prematurely at B Hospital. She was 19 weeks and 5 days old, and weighed just 195g. Against all odds, Summer lived for an hour, in doing so showing us that she had the classic family resolve: the sporting stamina of her daddy and the stubbornness of her mummy. She was chatty too, squeaking at us three times in her short time. She died soon afterwards, in my arms. Summer was our third loss.
It was a complete whirlwind being in hospital, spending that week mentally and physically preparing for the heart-breaking fact, that our baby wouldn’t be coming home. Though it continues to be a difficult time, none of our sadness is due to our experience at B hospital. I am so grateful for the care and attention I received. Everything was handled so beautifully, and in all honesty, I am so relieved that I have no trauma or regret associated with my time spent with you all in hospital.
I have repeatedly reminded myself that having it all happen as it did, under your care, ended up being the “best” worst case scenario. As such, my memories of my daughter are all wrapped up in the kindness, the attention and the great care we received. All of the staff we encountered were so thoughtful, respectful of our privacy and that is what has stayed with us. I am truly thankful for that.
In complete awe of the care I had received, I remarked to my husband that I’d like to retrain as a midwife, but then he uttered two horrifying words: “night shifts!” And reality struck. So, leaving it to the experts, I do have some words of thanks for some specific people. Please know that this is by no means an exhaustive list, but a reminder that in times of stress, it’s often the little things that count and indeed the little things that are remembered. So with that in mind…
To S, thank you for being so natural with Summer. We know she didn’t look like other babies, but you were so wonderful with our daughter. You said “would you like to see your little love-bug now?” which made me smile, as my maiden name had “bug” in it. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but that was special to me. Xx
To C, thank you for your time, you spent so much time listening to me one morning. When you came in and I saw the little cross hanging around your neck, I just needed to speak to you. Those discussions were some of the hardest I’ve ever had to go through. Thank you for being a kind ear when I needed it the most. Xx
To K, you were the first person I properly met and I was blown away by your warmth. I felt like I was being cared for by a friend. You had a day off on the Thursday, but when you came back in on Friday you said “I was thinking about you yesterday”. I know it sounds silly, but given that it was such a lonely time, it felt really special. Thank you xx
To E, I was struck by your proficiency the moment you appeared at my bedside! (I know that might not sound like much, but in my books, it’s a compliment). I hope you’ve had time to try the vegan curry and had many other lengthy discussions based around the topic of “what’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week?” Xx
To the trainee midwife (I am so sorry I can’t remember your name!) who endured a full hour of me, during my iron infusion on the Thursday. Thank you for your company and distraction, during that difficult time. I can’t remember the entirety of our conversation (feminism and Brexit definitely formed part of it) but I know we well and truly set the world to rights. Xx
To J and the bereavement team, thank you for treating us so tenderly throughout and for talking us through everything so patiently. It’s been made all the easier knowing that you’re here. Special and many thanks also for all the bereavement items. Summer’s hand and footprints are now my most treasured gift. Thank you to whoever it was that took such great care to ensure that all her fingers and toes were accounted for. Thank you also to the photographer on that morning, you did a truly fantastic job. The photos are absolutely beautiful, her little hands, her little poses, her little smile. You captured it all. Finally, thank you for the aching arms bear and sweet dreams box. I have contacted both of the families to say thank you for these gifts, but would like to thank the hospital for being the intermediary for these thoughtful items.
And finally, many thanks to H and E. It is so difficult for me to do you both justice in such a short note. I know that you’re both incredibly busy, so thank you so much for everything. Please know that I appreciate that there was a lot going on behind the scenes, that I will never fully comprehend or be able to thank you for. We had to have some difficult conversations, but I will always remember you treating us with utmost compassion and kindness. Thank you for your care and insight. I believe a big source of James’ comfort and management of grief has come from knowing that the care of myself and our baby was in your very capable and trusted hands. So thank you, on behalf of us both.
To you all, words just don’t cover it. A simple “thank you” is wholly inadequate for all we went through together, but I hope this note goes some way towards conveying that sentiment more fully.
Please take care of yourselves and your families, during this challenging and unprecedented time. And keep doing what you keep doing, so wonderfully well. I hope to see you all again, but hopefully in much happier circumstances: forth time lucky?
PS I have included two photos for you to be able to put some faces to the names.