Running into people at the grocery store is generally not a big deal, except, when it is. Today is the first time I have run into someone I haven’t seen in just about a year who asked the dreaded question, “what have you been up to lately?”. I hadn’t thought about this scenario. If I have been asked, it has been someone I know well enough to disclose the truth, or someone who is enough of a stranger that “not much” or “busy busy” would have sufficed. This person was in the grad program I had graduated from and we knew each other professionally and for over the course of a couple years. I didn’t have a stock answer prepared, so I blurted out, ” I was pregnant for 6 months and lost the baby, I am taking time off from work right now to heal”. Now there’s a way to bring a conversation to a grinding halt. Luckily, she being a therapist, was very kind and said all the right things, but in that moment I realized that this is going to be a reality that I face over time until I get back in the swing. Normally, I could have avoided anything personal with the usual “all work no play”, etc, but literally, pregnant, is what I have been for the past 6 months, no further explanation needed.
Here we are, a month out from the dreaded day but the bills still remain piled up on the dining room table. I decided a beautiful Sunday morning would be a prime time to tackle them. The story comes to life again in dates and care rates. We are fortunate enough to say we have a pretty good insurance policy so we can pay these off as they come, but they come with vivid reminders of the sequence of when things happened, where they happened and who was there when it happened. I decided to balance the bills with thank you notes to all of my care providers to bring some humanity into the mix. That seemed to help a bit.
Not to mention, the maternity clothes I bought that aren’t returnable and the baby clothes/items downstairs. I am still not sure what to do about that. I convinced myself that the maternity bathing suit is wearable this summer since the material is meant to stretch anyhow.
We will get to all of it in time.
My pup deserves a shout out for all the love and comfort he provided to me for the duration of the pregnancy. Countless snuggles and genuine love as I was couch-bound for 3 months. Nutman, you are the best. Many walks this summer to thank you.
March 11th is Marc’s birthday which happened to be the date we scheduled our anatomy scan. We thought it was fateful that these two things were happening on the same day. I was nervous that morning and wanted Marc to ride with me to Yale MFM for our appointment. I picked him up from work and off we went, my heart pounding in my chest and my stomach doing flip-flops. Marc was cool as a cucumber which was a comfort. We were called in for the ultrasound, the little guy on the screen moved his hand in a way that looked like he was waving hello. Tears were falling from my eyes, we did it, we really really made this baby! Marc looked proud as I squeezed his hand, he was on my left side and the screen was in front of us both. All measurements were made and the tech said the baby was perfect but wouldn’t get into a position that would allow her to reveal the sex of the baby. She asked if I was comfortable with a trans-vaginal ultrasound and I was so excited “go right ahead”.
After telling us with certainty “it’s a baby boy”, her tone suddenly changed, as she told us she needed to get the Dr. Seconds later Dr. Lipkind entered the room and checked what the tech had found. She explained that my cervix had shortened to 1.8cm when at this point of the pregnancy it would normally be between 5 and 7cm. My heart sank, this wasn’t good news. The Doctor continued to explain that since this was my first full term pregnancy that they would not cerclage (put a stitch in my cervix to secure baby) for fear of breaking my water and exposing membranes. She said that we would try progesterone suppositories and for me to cancel travel plans to be close to care providers. All the celebratory happiness drained right onto the floor. The plan now became, keep baby in, don’t have contractions and watch for signs of pre-term labor because baby wasn’t gonna be secure in his “house”.
I got dressed and tech said a saddened “Happy Birthday” to Marc. I was frozen. I dropped Marc back off at work and spent the rest of the night, bawling and praying the worse case scenario wouldn’t be our scenario. The unknown came back into our lives once again and we had no choice but to keep hope. The day had turned from extreme elation to hopeless fear.
In my heart and gut, I knew how this was gonna go….
Things I will forever associate with Anders:
-Sharon Van Etten
-“The Princess who Believed in Fairytales”, by Marcia Grad
-Thanksgiving and Christmas
-Walking on the boardwalk
-The most excited excitement
-My amazing Midwife
-Birth Partners, LLC and their devotion to their cause
-Sleeping on my left side
-The desire to drink coca-cola
-Feeling reserved and protective
This is an ongoing list…..
When I was in graduate school and starting my internship at a mental health agency, I struggled with anxiety and feeling like I didn’t know enough to start practicing as an LPC in training. I called a good friend of mine from high school and she introduced me to the “phenomenon” of Impostor Syndrome.
“Impostor syndrome” describes a situation where someone feels like an impostor or fraud because they think that their accomplishments are nowhere near as good as those of the people around them. Usually, their accomplishments are just as good, and the person is applying an unfairly high standard to themself (and not to others). It’s especially common in fields where people’s work is constantly under review by talented peers, such as academia “
As a therapist, I struggle with this on a daily basis, on a broader scale. How can I possibly help anyone when I have so many questions about happiness, love, depression, anxiety? But I think that very question is why I CAN be empathic, present and authentic. I have been blessed and simultaneously cursed with infinite sensitivity which makes my role as a therapist dually rewarding and inspiring and also very complicated.
I thought a lot about how writing this blog may impact my career. I know that it could be conceived as a boundary issue to go public with my “story”. I decided to go public because “counselor know thy self”. I am being more authentic now because I AM being human and hopefully empowering women to feel open to share their experiences with loss, mental health challenges, pain and all that comes with being a person.
For me, I think I struggle with Impostor Syndrome as it can translate to our loss of Anders. I feel that others stories are sadder, more heartbreaking, more challenging, etc. I know that could be my wall of protection against my pain and suffering. But knowing and feeling can sometimes coexist but not intermingle. I thought I felt Anders kicking the other day, I needed to find a reason “why” I was experiencing this and started reading about Pseudocyesis, false pregnancy and other body phenomena to explain what I was feeling. Truth is, I knew the answer, and giving it a name that has a scientific nature is not helpful. The feelings I am feeling are grief and they are to be expected. They don’t occur in a linear fashion and they can knock you on your ass if you don’t take care of yourself. I am really mad I don’t get to hold Anders in August and feel that love that Mom’s talk about. When I feel him inside me, like a phantom limb, it doesn’t scare me but reminds me of how it felt to have a baby growing inside of me, having to sleep in different positions, take care of myself, eat well, rest, pause….things I am going to continue to do just for me. Anders taught me so many things when he hung around in my uterus and I am forever grateful to him for it.
All throughout my pregnancy I ate a LOT of oranges and drank copious amounts of orange juice. Not since. I would often lament this plastic orange peeler my mother had when I was a kid, making it so easy to just get eating. There would be days that I was afraid to move around too much and yes, honestly, would not get up to go peel an orange, for fear that I would stand too long and rock the boat. When my Mother came to visit me when on rest, I would talk to her about said peeler and she said she still had it. I don’t think I own anything that I had before age 23/4. In some ways I think that symbolizes something that changes when you become a Mother.
This past weekend we had some dear friends over. It has been a while since we have been up to being social. From early pregnancy, to the week of the loss and subsequent events that followed which I will share in time. A friend who I hadn’t seen in almost a year (who is one of my favorite human beings on the planet) and I sat on the couch talking about tangential nothing/everything. In our conversation I mentioned said orange peeler, he said his parents had one when he was growing up. Immediately thereafter he got his tablet and perused for the orange peeler from our childhood. He found close to the exact one and he bought two to be sent to our house, one for me and one for him so I will have to come visit him and deliver it…. Our other friend who was here walked in to see what we were up to and when he learned that he was buying me a peeler said with sincerity “that’s really so so nice”. I agree, it’s one of the simplest gestures that carried me through the weekend and has a good chance of sticking with me.