Letter to Giorgia


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This is a letter I wrote to my doctor just ten days after Annie was born. Giorgia is my OB/GYN. I have not always been on a first name basis with her. I met Dott.ssa S. just three days after leaving the only home I ever knew to move  to Rome. I was six weeks pregnant. She doesn’t speak English, and I don’t speak Italian. What an adventure this was going to be. For the next 14 weeks we had regular visits, but hardly talked to one another. We communicated through our translator, my husband, we rarely spoke directly to one another. This was scary, frustrating, so confusing, and not what one typically expects to experience for her first pregnancy. She was great, don’t get me wrong, she took very good care of me and my unborn baby. But we just didn’t have a connection yet, how could we? We couldn’t even communicate! Then at 22 weeks, things began to change.

At our 22-week ultrasound, Dott.ssa S. brought in a medical translator, the first time in over 10 appointments that she did this. I was immediately alarmed. The doctors informed us that they found an abnormality in my umbilical cord. I was told that I had a 2 vessel cord and given the option for a late amniocentesis. The doctors told us their was a 25% chance for DS, a possibility that the baby could have a serious heart defect or other defects, or that the baby would not survive the pregnancy. SCARY!  I looked up to my doctor with tears in my eyes as she rather coldly told me, “You have five days to go through with the amnio.” “Why five days,” I asked. She then informed me that after five days, it would no longer be legal to terminate this pregnancy. My husband and I were in shock. We immediately said we wouldn’t terminate, no matter what.

And that’s when it happened: The first spark of a beautiful friendship.

She told us that, legally, she couldn’t tell us what she thought we “should do”. She was glad to hear that we decided against the amnio. She ordered some tests to check the baby’s heart. She spent over two hours with us that day. And after 16 weeks of meeting with her, I saw for the first time what a caring and compassionate doctor I had. She made our next step so easy….we let go and let God. I am so glad I didn’t get the amnio. I would’ve been freaking out through the whole pregnancy, researching everything, and worrying about all the things Annie could have. Undoubtedly, this would have been harder on her during the pregnancy. Dott.ssa S. quickly became Giorgia, available 24/7. She kept me calm and strong.

I started having contractions at 6 1/2 months and had to go on medication to stop them, with periods of bed rest. Annie was born almost a month early via C-section because I had too little amniotic fluid left. We received a clinical diagnosis (testing still had to be done for confirmation) at the hospital the morning after, though I knew the moment they laid her limp body on mine (a topic for another day). Giorgia was there along with a pediatrician and geneticist. She stayed in the room with us for so long I can’t remember. She cried with us and held our hands. She said ALL the right things, which I needed, because following our sharing the news with others, so many said the wrong things. After ten days of non-stop tears, I sat down and wrote this….

10, April 2011
Dear Giorgia,
There are no words for what you mean to our family.  There is no possible way to thank you for what you have done for us and for all the love and support you have given us through our entire pregnancy and the past week.

Eight months ago, I left everything and everyone I knew and loved to move to Rome for Michael’s new job.  I found out I was pregnant with Anne the day my husband left, I was to follow two weeks later.  I had never been more tremendously scared and excited at the same time in my entire life.  My entire life I have wanted nothing more than to be a mother. And I was going to be a mother for the first time away from my family and friends in a foreign country.  I was terrified of finding a doctor I would be comfortable with because I do not speak Italian.

And then we met you. In the States, women search and search for the perfect doctor to deliver their babies. I have friends who met with up to ten doctors before they found the right fit for them.  Michael and I didn’t really know what we were doing, and were not familiar with Italian health care.  And so we were told to go to Villa Stuart. I didn’t need to search to find the right doctor for me, because God sent me to you. And with each visit, I grew more and more comfortable with my doctor I could not understand.  When we got the news of the abnormality in my umbilical cord and the grace in which you delivered it, I knew I could never ask for a better doctor.  I have been in and out of doctor’s offices my entire life, with chronic asthma and eight previous surgeries.  And I have never felt better taken care of than with you.  You were always there, every step of the way and I truly believe that you saved my baby from a harder life.

Though my delivery and holding my baby for the first time wasn’t what I expected becoming a mother would feel like.  Though my first three nights of motherhood were filled with grief and guilt and nervousness for my little angel. Though my first moments as a momma were not of joy.  It was the most amazing and significant moment of my life.

Days later I am the happiest mother and can’t wait for the rest of my exciting journey with Annie.  My life is filled with more joy than I have ever known.  And, Giorgia, YOU were a huge part in getting me where I am today.  You took such good care of Annie and me the past eight months.  But more importantly, you got me through all of the tough news.  You held my hand and cried with us.  You were our greatest comfort.  We had no family here to do that for us, and you stepped in.

We are forever in your debt, and forever grateful. My only hope is that you will be there for the births of all my future children.  I could never find a greater doctor than you.

Thank you from the bottom of all of our hearts. We love you.

Colleen, Michael and Anne Kathleen


2 responses »

  1. Colleen – I’m so glad you emailed me about this blog!! I will be tuning in every week to see what’s going on over in your part of the world!! My heart goes out to Michael (& you) for the loss of his grandfather. I was VERY close to my grandparents & my grandmother also had Alzheimers. It is a tough situation and I feel his (your) pain and loss. I love the picture of him with Annie – wearing a “pink” shirt no less!!! Not many men would do that LOL!!

    I know I’m biased when it comes to you and your family – but I think you should consider writing a book – not just a blog. Your writing style is CAPTIVATING and wraps the reader up in the first few words. I feel like I’m sitting in the room just listening to you. Your emotions are so clear through your words that I don’t even need to see your expressions!!

    Love to you all

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