Next to the mothers. To all mothers

by Claudia Ravaldi

The importance of support for childbirth and the puerperium of mothers affected by perinatal bereavement in the words of a woman, doctor and mother, who shares with us her recent experience of accompaniment, recalling the importance of the here and now, of personalized assistance to the woman and the couple and how important it is to offer time for reflection and a protected space to allow families to begin to process their devastating pain.

I am a colleague anesthetist and in my work I mainly deal with obstetrics and obstetric analgesia, for this reason I often find myself dealing with the birth event but also with the fetal and / or embryonic death event.

I would like to share with you a recent experience … It happened to me once again to assist a woman with fetal intrauterine death in the 35th week of gestation, one of those events that every time you meet upset your soul and mark you forever.

The event of the past few days made me think so much and I thought about sharing my thoughts with someone … I was in the presence of this unfortunate mother, to reduce her pain, at least the physical one, the pain of a birth that does not it would end happily as usual.

I was part of a team, which despite the experience was literally terrified of what was about to happen.

Shortly before the birth, to the great bewilderment of those present, the mother expressed the desire to see the child she would soon give birth to.

The air was made of lead, you could hear phrases such as “My God, but think of what I remember it would remain if she saw it!”, And again, “an image that would never be removed from the mind …”.

At that point I felt I had to intervene it was an impulse that I could not hold back, I began to tell those present that as well as lawful it would be the healthiest thing that parents could do and that there was no good reason to take off. from memory that little face and that little body cradled with so much love for 35 weeks in the womb, and that to look forward, both mom and dad really needed this stage, accept the sad fate of their baby, pamper her a little more and greet her … Forever, as soon as they felt ready to do so. The labor went on fast and without complications P. was very good and her dad was with her all the time. When Sole was born she was tightly wrapped in a very long umbilical cord, too long, and which during her movements had made a real ugly knot that tightened more and more, until it was fatal.

She was a beautiful, perfect little girl, she seemed to be sleeping peacefully, I wrapped her with a cloth exactly as you do with all newborns, and I took her to her mother who with immeasurable love welcomed her in her arms, filled with kisses , close, observed, studied and analyzed in detail.

All this with great sadness but palpable and growing serenity. I cried with them, without shame and forgetting my institutional role and above all regardless of the judgment that the others present could express about me at that moment, and this made me feel free and light as a few times before. Even her father slowly after the initial outburst took her in his arms, he cried over her as he filled her with kisses. The mother asked that we take a picture of the baby while she was holding her, so as not to forget her.

These are the words I wrote down in those moments: “…. more than an hour has passed since the birth and Sole is still in the arms of her parents, I am in the next room and while I write (for fear of forgetting and to see these sensations and moments fade over time, in that automatic mechanism of detachment that often allows us doctors to turn the page and move quickly forward) I cry like a fountain, but I’m fine, I feel for the first time that I have won the fear of death and I feel I have been a good support for these two parents. It was an incredible experience, which I will never forget… “.

After I recovered my composure and impulsively jotted down these lines, I went back to P. who in the meantime had let his child go, her husband too had taken courage and with great dignity thanked everyone for the support and went home to take care of their eldest child who was unaware of the return of his loved ones … She, the mother, alone in her room with the mobile phone in her hand who, with a sad, but sweet smile on her lips, looked at the photo of her child, the only memory tangible of that daughter carried in the womb for 35 long weeks. I ask her how she is, if she has pain, the physical one I mean … and I explain to her that it is only for what I could possibly do something, she smiles at me and says “I don’t know if I will collapse now, but she was right Doctor, I did really well to want to see her, to want to hug my little girl … and I really hope to come back here tomorrow and find her again, for another birth pain relief, next time with a happy ending though! “.

We hugged very tightly and cried once again together … At the end of this long day of work I go home with my eyes swollen from shed tears … but my heart … he too is swollen, full, I don’t know what but it’s beautiful , it is a feeling of lightness, it is as if I had the certainty of having contributed to something positive. I hope I have taken care not only of P.’s physical pain, as my profession requires me, but perhaps also of his greatest pain … perhaps I have given him consistency and dignity, and this completes me as a doctor but above all as a person, as woman and as a mother who has six little angels in heaven who are smiling at this moment.

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