Open letters have been getting more and more attention lately, it seems. Instead of adding onto the angry open letters filling the media, I wanted to put a letter of love out instead. While expecting my third baby, there is one specific person who is constantly on my mind:
I’m mourning. It’s been around a year, and I am still mourning. There is a void that cannot be filled. I miss my doctor. Nobody compares, or even comes close.
When my [then boyfriend] and I took roots in the Madison area, my childhood pediatrician was still listed as my PCP. I didn’t take charge of my own healthcare until I was forced to after we got married. We went with convenience and chose whatever doctor was handed to us at our new clinic. My entire perspective of healthcare changed within those clinic walls.
I met my first-ever, adult-life doctor that day. She was a family medicine resident doctor and in her first year of residency. She happened to know some of my family and a few mutual friends. We had an instant connection. I was immediately comfortable with her. She was patient with my quirks in a way that [I think] only a new doctor can be. She listened to all of my concerns and hypotheses and entertained my suggestions and opinions.
Over time, we both grew. She gained knowledge and professional regard, and I went from a newlywed, to family planning, to growing my family, and so on. My hand was held throughout her entire residency. Not knowing what to expect, she gave me her cell phone number for open contact with questions or concerns. And it was her personal number I dialed when my water broke during my first pregnancy. When I went in to deliver my first born, she was the odd doctor out who encouraged me to grab a bite to eat and relax. She slept at the hospital and bounced back and forth between my delivery room and her rounds in the ICU.
When my second son was born, she prepared me for the chance of her not being available. She made sure that I liked the new doctor she referred me to (I did). But throughout prodromal labor and multiple hospital visits, she was always there. She had a rare evening free, with plans to play in her band, and still came to me in time to deliver my baby. She was as much as part of my birth stories and memories as any family member or vital detail could be. As time passed, I knew her residency wouldn’t last forever. But, oh, how I wished it could.
With my third pregnancy, I find myself spoiled. Nobody is like her. Nobody gets me like her. Or is patient like her. Or is caring like her. Just finding a doctor who will even attempt to be there for the delivery is a difficult task.
To those family medicine doctors, those residents just starting, those finishing their residency, and any OB that finds themselves holding the hands of a new mother: You mean the world. The care I received, I’m discovering, was extraordinary, but it defined my journey into motherhood. I will forever value my doctor, and hold a special place for her in my heart. Nobody has been able to replicate the care, understanding, and honesty she provided me.
Selfishly, I hope I find that replacement [I’m certainly searching]. If I happen to find that new doctor for me, I will still always remember my first doctor. She made such an important chapter of my life, that an open letter seems only fitting. I hope that you, readers, have or find your doctor, your place, and your comfort. Know that he or she is out there, and that there are some amazing, selfless, sacrificing residents well worth meeting. They may just define your journey, too.
For reference, the excellent care referred to in this letter was provided at the UW Health Verona Clinic.