Nurses Provide Compassion to New Mom’s Unexpected Gift
Nurses from MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena join Dr. McClintic and Maddox at their book release and signing event at Turn the Page bookstore in Alpena. Left to right: Shannon Brousseau, R.N., Dr. McClintic, Maddox and Jessica McEwen.
In 2010, Occupational Therapist Jamie McClintic, O.T.D., gave birth to baby Maddox at MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena. She did not imagine her daughter would possess an extra twenty-first chromosome and be diagnosed with Down syndrome. Dr. McClintic’s process of grief, acceptance, love and advocacy led her to write a book designed to help others work through complex feelings of loss and love, and cope with unexpected life-long diagnoses.
Because Dr. McClintic was not prepared for this outcome, the news of Maddox’s condition was devastating. “When you hear that the chances of having a child with Down’s are one in 100, you certainly don’t think you will be the one,” Dr. McClintic said. “It was extremely difficult getting past the shock of it. Families need support.”
Outside of the steadfast love and encouragement from her mother, Dr. McClintic spoke about the importance of the professional and compassionate team of nurses in the Maternity Care Unit at MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena. “Nurses are real people with a calling,” she said. “They feel everything alongside you and treated me with so much kindness and love. They also provided resources that gave me a much-needed feeling of empowerment in what felt initially like a hopeless situation.”
Dr. McClintic recalls receiving poems, books and a cross from the nursing team to help get through the early days. She remembers one unnamed nurse who entered her room, gently took Maddox from the bassinette in the room and placed her into her arms without saying a word before quietly leaving. Looking back on it, it was exactly what she needed at the time.
“Making connections with patients and helping them and their families through the best, and sometimes worst, times in their lives is a privilege we never take for granted,” said Jessica McEwen, R.N., manager, Maternity Care Unit. “During Jamie’s pregnancy, she was in a car accident which required hospitalization. That stay allowed us to get to know and form a relationship with her that carried through to her delivery. It was an honor to care for Jamie and help her through a complex time in her life as a new mom.”
The first night, Dr. McClintic remembers receiving grief counseling. “They didn’t miss a beat,” she said of the nursing staff. “They balanced resources with both verbal and nonverbal compassion. That’s the best you can ask for.”
After going home, Dr. McClintic searched for additional resources to help her make sense of her situation and get to a place of caring and love with her daughter. Many of the books she found fell short. “I really needed to read something that I felt was honest and real, addressing the grief and sadness I was feeling so that I could acknowledge it and move through it,” she said. She began writing every day on her lunch hour and found it therapeutic. She decided she could provide to others a tool she had been searching for.
With input from friend and social worker Sara Griffore, M.S.W., Dr. McClintic created Grieving the Gift, a book containing a record of her story with self-reflection activities at the end of each chapter designed to help other parents and caregivers of children with disabilities. “This was a long process, but I’m happy with what it has done for me and, by extension, the rest of my family. I hope it will help others as well.”
“I am so excited for Jamie and her family,” said McEwen who is mentioned in the book along with fellow colleagues. She attended a recent book release event to get her own copy signed. “Our team is humbled to be a positive part of her story,” McEwen added. “Seeing Maddox and the McClintic family thrive is why we do what we do.”
Dr. McClintic lives and works in the Alpena area with husband Scott and their children Maddox, now age 12, MacGregor, age 10, and Oscar, almost 3 years. Those interested in ordering a copy of Grieving the Gift can find it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and through the publisher AuthorHouse.
Those interested in more information on women’s health and maternity services at MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena may visit www.mymichigan.org/maternity.