I got a call this afternoon. A hurried, rushed phone. “Meet me in 10 minutes at her place. My husband is baby sitting my son. This is the only time I have.”
No arguments with that. I have learnt to respect these last minute hushed calls. I understand my friend’s commitments, her life that I don’t identify with. I have learnt from her, to be patient tolerant and ever accepting of the changes in other people’s lives. She taught me that to keep a friendship you have to give away expectations and egos.
I was on my way in less that 5 minutes. We were going to see our friend who just announced her pregnancy. I bought bright pink roses.What a lovely bloom I thought.Perfect for a mother to be.
The friend who called was already there, when I reached. She looked tired. A little sad. But then such has been her life.Her strife would make me uncomfortable. It took me some time to realise that I wasn’t upset with her, when she cribbed.I was sad and disturbed because it hurt me to see my friend not leading a life she deserves.
Warm hugs later we went onto chatter. I asked about the pregnant friend’s health? She said she was good now. So the pregnancy will last
inspite of the complications. Great! I thought.
The talking laughing continued. My pregnant friend looked subdued. The friend in me saw tiredness, eyes that had been crying. I knew some thing was amiss. The doctor in me could see dark circles,dehydration, defeatest posture, pain. Something was definitely wrong. She didn’t look like a happy pregnant mother.
So I asked about the dark circles around her eyes.She said, “May be because I have been sleeping a lot”.
I smiled. I was not convinced.
The other friend kept the conversation flowing. She has been convincing me to give up the idea of marriage.She thinks it is a big mistake.I kept poking fun at her.
What is wrong?
“I will be joining work coming Monday”
“Oh, so is everything ok now?” I ask. A little taken aback.
“Don’t you know?”
“I got my baby aborted last Friday.”
Suddenly I feel pain. I can’t beathe. Tears are welling up. I am shocked. I feel foolish. I am at a loss of words. This is my friend we are talking about. I have known her since I was 10.Less may be. She just lost her baby.
My friend is crying. The other mother has tears in her eyes too. Please don’t cry. I pray.I don’t know what to say.
I walk over. Hold my sobbing friends head in my hands and press her close to me. I feel her shaking against me.
I let my own tear roll down.
She needs me right now. She needs to hear the right thing. I need to be strong for her.
My mind races. Early pregnancy….chromosomal anomaly, blood problems, neural tube defects. Who knows, this was supposed to happen. Might have been the right thing to happen. For the baby, for my friend.
I feel the shaking has calmed down. I kneel before my friend. I see very sad eyes. I hold her hand.
I should say some thing. Should I be the friend here and say comforting words, or should I be a professional and tell her that may be this is for the best.
I say nothing. I let her cry.
She starts to speak.Telling me what her gynaecologist said to her.Telling about the possibilities of chromosomal anomaly, blood problems, neural tube defects.The tests that she and her husband will have to undertake to ascertain the cause of death.
I agree. I ask her a few questions of my own. I know the answers already. They only help me in reassuring her that she will be fine. Early pregnancy losses are a common occurence. Most women don’t even realise, they were pregnant. But it is natures way of selecting the most healthy fetus which survive and unhealthy ones that don’t. Might have been the best, more for the baby that the pregnany didn’t continue.Being born with chromosomal abnormalities or structural anomalies would have only made it tough for her child. I tell her.
She nods in agreement.I see fresh tears welling up.
“My child was 9 weeks and one day” she says softly. “The heart had stopped.So I had to let go.”
My heart aches at her pain.I know how painful letting go is.
I give her another hug. I tell her she is going to be fine.Ask her if she feels like a movie or a drive? I ask her to call me anytime she needs to talk.
I want to sob for my friend.I hold back my tears.I need to maintain my composure.I am a doctor for god sakes.
How many times have I had to break bad news.Tell people they are very sick.Tell them we wont be resuscitating them.Tell them they might never walk agin, tell them their loved one just died.Tell them they have AIDS. How many times I have seen people break down in front of me.Mothers, wives, husbands, sons,daughters,uncles aunties, nieces nephews,lovers partners.Name it I have seen it.I know how to remain professional.How to be rational.How to be the pillar of strength.
I have done this before. I can do this.
But I can’t.Not this time.