I am thrilled to share this powerful essay by physician mom K. Hope Wilkinson. In "I'd Rather Be Dead", published in the October 2019 issue of the Journal of Graduate Medical Education, she writes honestly about the attitudes she encountered after the birth of her special needs daughter.
The opening paragraph draws in the reader:
When my daughter was born, something was clearly wrong. She was just shy of term, but she weighed only 3.5 pounds. Her initial Apgar score was 0, and she was coded, intubated, and resuscitated. On her fifth day, the neonatologist did brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) “for prognosis.” Specialists pointed out to us everything that was wrong: the way she flapped her hands, the tilt of her ears, the size of her chin, the crease of her palm. They constantly reminded us what most babies do: smile, lift their heads, not just be little lumps. Eventually they diagnosed her with a rare chromosomal disorder, one that is barely described in a few publications. The kind pediatrician told us we would sing to her, we would read her stories, and she would go to school because we do those things for all children, but they didn't know what else her future held...
We want to read the rest, we want to know what happens. And, we need to read the rest, because her message to us as healthcare providers is very important. I know that the author made a considerable effort to craft this piece, and that it was not easy for her to share her story. Please check out the essay and let this brave mother in medicine know that we appreciate her hard work and perspective!