update: emailing the office about a medical issue with my baby

Remember the letter-writer last year who was pregnant and had learned her baby had a congenital heart defect that would require open heart surgery shortly after birth, followed by weeks in the NICU with an uncertain prognosis? (#3 at the link)  She was wondering how to let her office know about the situation. Here’s the update.

After seeing the response and comments, I followed the advice and did not email the whole office. After a few extra days for perspective, I realized I was overreacting to the news about her heart based on a prior loss. This situation, while serious, was not as grave as I had previously experienced. Instead I told my team, and kept them up to date on absences for extra doctor visits. When other colleagues asked how things were going, or gave advice on the early days of parenting, I typically said something like, “She has a heart issue, so she’ll be in the hospital for longer than usual.” Keeping my tone light let people engage further in conversation or not, as it suited them, but let people know this was a rather unusual birth situation.

I later decided I was glad to bring it up in conversation. Pregnancy and child loss is a taboo topic, and few people bring it up; therefore few people have any idea how to respond. My husband and I have tried to be very open about things, because we know how important it is to not feel alone when going through loss or health problems in pregnancy. My employer and coworkers have been great both personally and professionally.

I’m happy to report that the baby is doing great. She had surgery on New Year’s Eve at 8 days old. It was a success, and she healed about as fast as any baby they’d seen going through similar procedures. Most of her month-long stay in the NICU involved making sure she could eat and was gaining weight. She’s been home about 6 weeks, and other than some extra follow-up visits is basically a normal kiddo. I’m just now starting back to work part-time.

However, I did email the whole office in the end – with a baby picture.

Looking forward to getting back to reading AAM.

{ 70 comments… read them below }

  1. JK

    This is the best update we’ve had. Congratulations on your little one, and I hope things continue to go well!

    1. UKJo

      Yes, agreed! So happy for your littly doing well, and what a splended decision to be open. I couldn’t support you more OP! X

    2. Marina

      Was going to say exactly that. Favorite update ever. So glad to hear your kiddo is doing well!!!

  2. VintageLydia

    So happy things went well with your family and navigating the waters at work wasn’t as difficult as you thought it would be! Good update <3

  3. Kyrielle

    Thank you for this update! Happy New Year, congratulations, and I’m so glad that she is doing well.

  4. Simplytea

    Best News EVERRRRRRR!!!
    Congratulations. This is an all around win.

    <3 And it's Friday! Or Friyay, as we say.

  5. Tess McGill

    This made me smile! (This also made me want to go shop for baby stuff … I’m such a sucker for baby gifts!) I am SO happy for you and your family! Tremendous news! Congrats!

    1. AnAppleADay

      I agree and I teared up too. I giggled though when she wrote she’d emailed the whole office – with a photo of the baby.

      Congratulations OP! This is wonderful news.

  6. Ad Astra

    OP, I really appreciate your decision to be open about the situation, and I hoped that helped you feel less alone at a difficult time. You have every right to keep these things to yourself if you want to, but I think sharing what you’re going through does a lot to help people in similar situations.

  7. Stranger than fiction

    Op, I’m so glad the baby is doing well and I’m sure it’s a huge relief.

  8. AF

    Congratulations – very happy to hear that you and your little one are doing so well! And very happy that you work with such great people.

  9. Elizabeth the Ginger

    Add me to the list of people who are so glad to hear this update! I also want to commend you, OP, for being open. I agree with you that the culture of keeping silent about pregnancy issues can make prospective parents feel very alone if things don’t all go smoothly. No one should feel obligated to share about a difficult pregnancy situation if it’s not what they’re comfortable with, but I think it’s helpful for people who are comfortable sharing their stories to do so.

  10. Debbie

    Congratulations on your new baby. What a wonderful update. I am so sorry for your previous loss. (I noticed this since I had a stillbirth at 39 weeks.) I hope this new baby, while never replacing the one you lost, brings you much joy, happiness and love.

  11. LD

    Congratulations! It also sounds like you handled the communication with your team very gracefully and effectively. Best wishes to you and your family!

  12. Turanga Leela

    I have tears in my eyes. I’ve been thinking about you, OP! Congratulations on your baby girl.

  13. LiveAndLetDie

    So glad to hear this positive update! Congratulations on your baby girl, I am so happy that she has gone through her surgery and healing so well! And thank you, OP, for being so open about your previous loss. As someone who has been through one, it is incredible to me how many women deal with pregnancy loss quietly and on their own and how it’s got a strange social taboo on it for people to talk about. I’m thankful for everyone that is willing to share their story, as it helps me cope with my own to know that I am not alone.

    1. Sunflower27

      This. I had two losses within three months and I hated how taboo it is to talk about it at work. One of my colleagues actually called me stupid for trying again. I’m now 13 weeks pregnant (unfortunately with complications) and hoping for the best.

      Congratulations OP!! So happy for you and your family!

      1. Green

        Hoping things work out for you with your pregnancy. It’s definitely everyone’s right to keep their personal losses to themselves and deal with grief however works best for them, but please don’t feel *obligated* to mourn that way. An acquaintance shared the other day that she was pregnant for the second time and acknowledged a prior miscarriage, and said, “I’m trying to talk about it more because it helps me to acknowledge her life and because it helps make it not quite so taboo for people to know that is happens to so many of us.” Kudos for her and for you.

      2. LiveAndLetDie

        I hope that things go smoothly for you in this pregnancy. Also wtf to your colleague, that’s so rude.

    2. TTC

      I plan to be open about it (three first trimester miscarriages within 12 months so far…) as soon as I finally reach the second trimester. Or decide to stop trying. It’s amazing how many people don’t even know how common it is…

      1. Grapey

        I hope for two things as the internet reaches more people around the world (including people born nowadays that won’t know a world without it):

        1) Medical knowledge can be corroborated easily. I don’t replace my doctor with ‘the internet’, but when 4 or 5 reputable sites say X happens, it makes it easier to bring up with my doctor.
        2) Talking about fertility won’t be as taboo – for all values of ‘fertility’. That includes people like myself that don’t want kids and can commiserate with others that feel the same way.

        Tangentially, my friend’s wife gave birth recently. When I dropped food off for the first time, it was nonstop “I didn’t know my nipples would crack while breastfeeding” “I didn’t know I might poop on my baby during birth” “I didn’t know I’d have to feed every 3 hours”…Don’t doctors discuss this stuff with their patients?! Or hell, why don’t other WOMEN tell other WOMEN this stuff?

  14. orchidsandtea

    Hurrah! Baby photos would make AAM even better, for the record.

    I’m so glad your little one is doing well. Also, thank you for saying that past loss makes it difficult. I just had one, and because nobody talks about it, I don’t know what to expect, or what comes next.

      1. orchidsandtea

        We have cat photos and renovation photos all the time, though perhaps you don’t like those either. Well, agree to disagree, I suppose.

  15. Emmie

    Congrats, OP! I’m very grateful that you shared an update with us. I wondered how y’all were doing, and am glad to hear the good news. Continued best wishes to you, your baby, and your family!

  16. Anne

    Congrats on your little one! Totally tearing up over here (dang pregnancy hormones). I’m so glad to hear that she’s doing well. And I’m sorry for your previous loss, I hope the new baby helps bring some joy and happiness into you & your husband’s lives.

  17. V

    Oh, I’m so happy to hear this. I have also experienced pregnancy loss, and my younger brother was born with a serious congenital heart defect. I was cheering for you when I saw the update headline. I’m thrilled that it’s good news. Best of luck with your baby girl

  18. Rahera

    Delighted to have this update. Congratulations, and thank you so much for letting us know :).

  19. Jillociraptor

    So glad to hear all of this! Congratulations on welcoming your little one and lots of well wishes for your family!

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