"The leaf with a teardrop reflects both intense suffering of loss and hope for the future. Though fallen; the leaf maintains it's vitality symbolizing hope. It cradles the teardrop with it's upturned edges creating a sense of comfort. As seasons change, so do feelings. Just as there is winter and spring, there is sadness and hope."
...This is what hangs on the door's of patient's who have lost a baby, whether it be miscarriage or stillborn. This past weekend, I cared for a family who's baby was born sleeping. Unfortunately, the mother also had some serious medical issues that required diagnostic testing following her delivery. Wouldn't you know it...the technician came bounding through the door, cheerfully congratulating the new parents on the birth of their new son. My heart sank. I then proceeded to nudge the technician all the while shaking my head "no" and mouthing the words "their baby died." Obviously, she did not realize this and never intended to bring my patient to more sobbing tears.
Well...not only did this happen once...it happened AGAIN! When I finally was able to order my patient a meal tray, the dietary staff came bounding in with the same cheerful enthusiasm, congratulating my patient and her husband on their new baby! I wanted to crawl under a rock...and sob with them.
I know the heartache of loosing a baby. I lost two. One which I delivered prematurely at home, the other, under anesthesia via a D&C before the birth of my second son.
While all of the stories surrounding the loss of a baby are different, I feel that the emotions are similar. Which are summed up in the quote under the leaf. It's the loss of the future, and all the hopes and dreams we had for that child.
After realizing that the majority of our hospital staff were unaware of what the sign on the door's even meant, I took matters into my own hands. I decided to write an article for our hospital newsletter, educating employees throughout other units just what these signs meant and to please use discretion and sensitivity when encountering these patients.
I thought it was going to be a fairly simple task. I mean...how difficut could it be to tell people what a simple purple card with a teardrop and a leaf means??? Well it was way harder than I thought. First off...while I am somewhat comfortable speaking of infant death because of what I have dealt with personally and professionally, alot of people aren't. It's very difficult not to be blunt, or offend someone. Also, I needed to take people's education levels into consideration. I had to keep it simple, yet intelligent enough not to sound like an idiot. I just hope I got my point across and saved some mother's in the future from going through the same experience as my patient did last weekend.