Rachel Whalen is one of those moms that we often tend to tiptoe around when we find out that their infant has sadly passed away. This unique, incredible soul is speaking out about a subject that the majority of us are uncomfortable with, but it’s a lecture in empathy that we must all be aware of.
What originally helped Rachel through her ordeal wasn’t all the bear hugs and embraces from close family and friends. Rather, it was the experiential memories she encountered at the hospital, right after her baby girl, Dorothy, was stillborn. She’s now sharing her story about the virtuous guides who presented her with hope in the aftermath of what was quite literally her truly darkest hour.
Condolences aren’t what really reduces the agony in a heartbreaking situation such as this. Only the passage of time and a system of loving support can help do that. Rachel’s system included the registered nurses at the hospital who treated her using their own exclusive brand of TLC. All the little things they did amazingly amounted to more than the sum of its parts! In a note that she wrote to her guardian angels on the Facebook page, An Unexpected Family Outing, Rachel said:
” To the nurses, Thank you for saving me. Your skills and your insights saved me from following my child into death, but it was your compassion that led me back towards life. The humanity you demonstrated is what carried me back into life; you made it possible to think about living after death. For this, I owe you my love and deepest gratefulness. Thank you to the nurses who constantly made sure my husband had enough pillows when he needed to stay in my hospital room. And many thanks to the nurses who let him sneak popsicles out of the freezer. You understood that this was an experience for him and that he also needed your attention.”
Often times it might be easy to forget that though dad had not been carrying the child, he is suffering equally as much as a mom is. Saving a life isn’t always about keeping the physical body alive. The doctors remarkably did their part in bringing Rachel back from the point of crossing over, however, it was really the nurses who were critical in saving both mother and father’s lives that day.
The nurses at the hospital were her guides and escorts, literally taking her to just where she needed to be so that her very own life could be saved.
” Thank you to the nurse who accompanied me when they hurried me to the ICU from Labor & Delivery. Thank you for being my supporter when I couldn’t speak out because I was also busy fighting for my life. I’m not exactly sure I would have lived to see my little girl if you had not been there. Thank you to the nurse who showed me how to load my bra with ice packs when I needed to decrease my milk after my baby was stillborn.
I also wish to thank you for holding me as I sobbed at the problem I could not set loose. Your embrace did nothing to lighten the heaviness in my breasts, however, you provided a glimmer of light into my extremely dark world. Thank you to the nurse in the ICU who came over to clean me up soon after my little girl passed away. Thank you for taking the time to help me wash my face comb my hair. I can still sense how it felt to have you pull my hair back into a ponytail, it was a touch that wasn’t a poke or a prod. It was a gesture.”
Self-care during a period of time when you just wish to curl up into a ball and pray that you disappear into a void is one of those things that usually fall by the wayside. But, it’s also one of the most significant steps that a person can make in propelling themselves toward the journey of healing. The nurse’s kind gesture filled a motherly duty at a time and managed her needs when Rachel was unable to do it for herself..
It may seem like a poor idea to talk about someone’s deceased child, but it was truly important to Rachel when one of the nurses acknowledged the tiny precious being who came to be an integral part of her soul. It blew her away when the nurse even dared to say her name!
” Thank you to the nurse who knelt by my bedside and asked me about Dorothy. Thank you for understanding how necessary it was for her to be real even though she was gone. I will always remember the way you leaned in, much like we were good friends, and asked: ‘Do you want to tell me about her?’ Thank you to the nurse who dressed my baby and took her picture. Thank you for ensuring that her hat didn’t cover her eyes and that her hands were positioned so gracefully. That photo means the world to us. Thank you to the nurses who took the time to read my chart just before shift change. I want to thank you for finding out our names and learning the name of our little girl before you walked into my room. It meant a great deal to hear our names spoken all together. It made us feel like a family.”.
All the “I’m sorry’s” on the planet won’t help moms like Rachel with what they’ve endured. Only an honest acknowledgment of that what they’re feeling is real, and giving them the chance to deal with that pain without everyone wanting to immediately make it go away, is what allows them to recover.
” Thank you to the nurse who slipped softly into my room on my first evening without having Dorothy so that you could hold my hand.
Thank you for whispering to me your story about your own baby who was born still. Thank you for being the first person to lead me out of the desolation one feels after losing a child. Your presence felt too good to be true. I’m still not convinced I didn’t dream you up just, so I could make it through that first lonesome night..
Lastly, I want to give thanks to the nurses who saw me through my pregnancy with Dorothy’s baby sister. Even after Frances came into the world, you always remembered that someone came before her. You understood that the birth of Frances did not make me a first-time mom. It made me a mother of two.”.
Rachel signed the letter, “Gratefully, The One You Brought Back.”.