A second pregnancy on National Rainbow Baby Day

I can confirm that after two lines, three ultrasounds (including an anatomy scan), and many months of all-day sickness that I am expecting a baby boy in November.

While everyone “in real life” knows, I have struggled immensely with writing about it. Maybe its because the written word is so concrete when pregnancy still feels so uncertain. Maybe it’s because I am scared to find myself, like three years ago, struggling to come to terms with the loss of a baby.

So why now? Well three things.

1) Today at work an older woman asked me if this was my first child. I said yes and she said she had 6 children within 9 years. Prior to the first baby she had two tubal pregnancies and thought she would never be able to have children. Suddenly I felt guilty because I know it’s not my first child but I automatically assume people will not understand. Losing a child, particularly a child that never crawled, walked, or cried creates these odd silences in your life. When someone asks me how many children I have, I get silent–waiting for the “right” response to bounce off my tongue. When I am lying in bed and I think about finally meeting him, I remember what it was like the last time. I pushed through unbearable pain just like all the women down the hall but it was only me whose room grew silent once it was all over. No cries from her and no cries from me. Just silence. The same silence that followed me home that evening but a quiet room means nothing to restless mind. And that’s the way every. single. day. felt for two years. So why did I think it would be a good idea to try this pregnancy thing again?

2) I lost Marième at 26 weeks. She was born on November 2. I am due on November 23. Being a little over 26 weeks breaks my heart again for the void that I will never be able to fill. Sometimes Marième seems like some imaginary child that I conjured up for the heck of it but then he moves and I remember just how real it all was/is. And there was/is nothing I can do. It could all be over in one night’s sleep and what will I do then?

3) I have been able to distract myself with work and our impending move cross country (that will be addressed in another post) but as the months wear on, I just want him here. I want to finally hold him and be at peace that he made it safely on the other side. Yes, I have heard “you will never not worry” about your child. I understand that. However, unless you have struggled to bring one child safely into the world, until you have held your baby whose eyes will never blink back at you, whose mouth will never crease into a smile, or whose shrieks will never pierce your ears, you will never understand the relief of just being able to see them everyday. You cannot fathom what it’s like to be told that you can only hold your baby for so long because they will start to turn colors. You cannot fathom what it feels like to realize today is National Rainbow Baby Day and you are still not sure that the baby you are carrying will be your be your rainbow because the finish line is so far away.

None of these thoughts are particularly uplifting, I have no answers to my problems and maybe that is the real reason I couldn’t announce that we are expecting a baby.

I want to control how the narrative of the second pregnancy/second baby will end. I wanted to write about him after his arrival because I’m too frightened to write about happiness and my hopes/dreams, only for him to be gone while my words live on. I guess I just don’t want to remember how much I love him if I will never be to tell him.

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4 Things I Will Do This Year

  1. Turn my townhouse into a home. My rent is going up when I sign my new lease and I am not happy about it but I promised myself that I would not move. I have never lived in a space longer than two years. I would like to change that. I bought two cute nightstands this weekend to remind myself that I will make this place home. Moving was a necessity for most of my life so I have no idea what permanence looks like despite the fact that I am in charge of my life. I will learn.
  2. Run my first 5K. I said I would run a 5K five years ago. It never happened but this year will be different. I found a race whose proceeds benefit people in need of grief counseling. Additionally, runners can have a picture of the person/people they are running for posted in the grief counseling office. So on Sunday, July 22 I will run for my mother and my daughter. Running is such a tough, yet mentally-clarifying sport that I cannot think of any better way to honor their lives than to push myself to live–for them.
  3. Continue working towards fluency in French. It’s been forever since I poured through my French grammar books, spent the entire day speaking French, and just immersed myself completely in the language. Fortunately, I still have solid oral comprehension skills. I just have to rebuild my written and oral production skills.
  4. Give Meetup a try. In case you are unaware, Meetup is an app that allows users to find local groups that mesh with their personal interests. I have lived in my current city for 2.5 years but due to graduate school, depression, and life in general, I have not been nearly as social as I normally would. I am ready to get out and meet people but every time a  Meetup reminder pops up on my phone, I chicken out.  I really need to get over the social anxiety and just go for it. Like yesterday. Fortunately there is a local French conversation group so I might be able to knock goal #3 and #4 out all at once!

I have a good feeling about this year. Hopefully things continue to “look up”.

Health Update March 2018

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” – Pema Chödrön

In February 2016, I decided to get brutally honest with myself and post about my struggle to lose postpartum depression weight. Although I was still in the deep trenches of grief, I thought that losing weight would save me from myself.

The weight gain seemed to confirm everything that I thought about myself. I was doomed to become my parents. My estranged dad has struggled with emotional eating since I can remember. Surely this was a sign of things to come.

Focusing on “the inevitable” fueled my insecurity and by the time I returned home after a summer internship, my weight jumped to 188 lbs.

In September 2016, I told myself that although I wanted to lose all the weight by May 2017 (my original graduation date), my immediate goal was to feel comfortable being physically active in public again. I stumbled many times but by December 2018 I was 180 lbs. I made it all the way to 163 lbs in April 2017 which is when I started to really take myself serious. Since then, I have waffled back in forth between 156 and 162 (I temporarily hit 154 in September/October).

From the outside, the pounds lost and length of time might seem pitiful or impressive, (depending on your outlook on these sorts of things) but my story is much more complicated than the remaining 12 pounds. While trying to avoid crippling sadness and anger that I have felt for over a decade, I turned my body into a prison. I have starved myself of a vital nutrient needed for growth. Hope.

I thought that imitating happiness made it appear.

I thought that if no one saw you cry, that it meant that you were okay.

I thought that if I could just gain control of everything around me, everything would fall into place.

Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t.

Hope is not here to reaffirm everything I already know about life. Hope is here to awaken my weary spirit to the possibilities of what this world can be. Hope has reminded me that there is still a place for me if I am willing to welcome her into my life.

So how am I going to get over this last hump? I’m going to learn the damn lesson. I’m going to fight for my place. I finally believe that I deserve it.

To my husband on a very quotidian day…

Dear Love,

Thank you for being a great person. Thank you for always supporting me and providing a rational voice in the midst of life’s chaos. We don’t always agree and we don’t always know the right words to say but everyday we try. We try to be better individuals  and we try to treat one another with the respect and dignity that we deserve.

I am beyond lucky to call you my partner because life ain’t easy but with you–love is.

I am appreciative that you came into my life when you did. I have learned so much in a relatively short time. I have learned to be an adult, to forgive, to love, to lose, to grieve, to move on…

You have so many qualities that I admire. To name a few: you are a natural born leader. You lead by example, not force, not by demand. You are a natural lover because you love without conditions, nor do you seek anything in return. You are my husband because you have such a subtle yet silly sense of humor and you don’t just “get” my corniness. You find it endearing. You bring peace and calm to our home. You bring positivity and joy to my life. 

I love you times a million (and one–depending on if you remembered to vacuum the stairs this week 😁 ).

Love, 

Poupinette

The job hunt is (finally!) over…

Testing, testing, 1,2,3. Quarter-life crisis averted because I got the job that I wanted. What an amazing belated birthday present!

So I have a present for you, dear reader–a two-part series on my experience as a temp worker for one of the world’s worst employers.
I began working at a manufacturing plant in the middle of October, shortly after learning that I did not get a case manager position. According to the temporary agency that placed me, this job was a perfect fit with my education and experience (please insert an aggressive eye roll). I was even told that the other temporary worker had a similar professional background.
Based on the job description, I arrived to work thinking that I would be given administrative duties. I was told to wear steel toe boots, protective eyewear, and earbuds when ‘out on the floor’ (aka outside of the office with the machines and assembly workers) but in the office to dress casually. While on a tour of the building, I made a mental note to style myself à la Rosanne-show.
Sporting this ridiculous attire, I arrived for my first day of work. My supervisor, Myra provided absolutely no direction or training. Instead, she relied on the other temporary worker Anne, to teach me everything she knew. Myra also mentioned that I should get used to hearing her talk on the phone with her husband throughout the day (at the time I remember thinking it was an odd thing to tell your new employee but goodness, now I understand). During lunch, Anne gave me the rundown on how poorly the job fit our shared backgrounds. My position required that I write “work instructions”. Simply explained, a work instruction is the manual upon which assembly workers build commercial machines. Dear reader, please understand, I have never had any mechanical inclinations. So when I learned that my days would be spent talking about hardware, photographing and photoshopping the assembly process, writing instructions that mostly no one would read anyways (because people only care about the photos) I found myself…
…whoops, sorry, I almost feel asleep just talking about it!
Fortunately for you, dear reader, you can enjoy my not so lovely-foray into manufacturing hell for a meager price of FREE NINETY NINE. Stay tuned for:
Part 1 Hyper-masculinity, Sexual Harassment, and Cubical Asylum and
Part 2 Two Week Notice: The Journey to The (Never) End

“Don’t push the panic button!”/I didn’t get the job…

I woke up this morning feeling refreshed from a date night with two Unisom gel capsules. I knew that my potential job at the behavioral healthcare clinic would be making their ‘final decision’ today but I told myself to not stress out. After all, I had been given all the signs that I had the job. No, seriously. The interviewer/potential supervisor told me that she wanted me on board and introduced me to someone in the Human Resources department, she showed me the office that I would temporarily have to share, and she even told me that she was sending all my documents to Human Resources right away (because the company is notorious for taking forever to process job applications).

The prospective supervisor turned out to be right on the mark. The process took forever but I tried to remember that she said she wanted me on her team.

So imagine my horror when I checked my email this morning and saw this:

Dear Dominique,

Thank you very much for your interest in employment opportunities with [insert company name]. I am writing to inform you that we have selected a candidate whom we believe most closely matches the job requirements of the position.

We appreciate you taking the time to interview with us and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Best regards,

[Insert company name]

Say WHAT now?!

Cue my distressed, angry tears and you can picture the scene in my bedroom this morning.

I am not angry that I did not get the job so much as I am about them making me feel like I was a shoe-in and prolonging my rejection. I mean, really? I thought I had the job because she SAID I had it. Not to mention HR called me like 80 million times during the process “to collect more information” as if there was anything else left to collect besides a map of my genetic code!

However…at least I know. I didn’t get the job and it is okay.

Now what am I going to do? The job that I thought I was transitioning into fell through and I am now without an income.

I wasted spent several hours trying to figure out why is life so damn unfair to me and now I guess, I have sort of sucked it up and accepted my fate. I’m not ashamed to admit that I briefly goaded myself for quitting my other job without officially securing a new one but then I read my last post that reminded me why I left and what lessons I have learned.

On the bright side, reading my post sparked my creative light. Just the other day, I took a Meyer’s Briggs test. I have taken various versions of this test before. So far as an adult I have consistently been labeled an INFJ. Careers that are suggested for INFJs include: public health educator, author, counselor, nutritionist, interior designer, technical writer, editor, librarian ect.

The key to career success for this personality type is a job position that appreciates their creative thinking, stimulates personal growth, and impacts someone else’s life. Without these components, INFJs become depressed from wasting their energies on things that seem of no importance to the world.

It is amazing how on-point this is for me. I have considered many of the careers listed (minus interior designing because ya girl has absolutely no decorating bones in her body, seriously) but I guess I have been too pig-headed to really contemplate how to get there. Writing professionally has been a dream of mine since I learned how to write. I gave it up shortly before college when I got tired of hearing, “you’ll never make money writing”.

I decided I would continue to write as a hobbyist and find “real” work but maybe this is my real work, I am unsure. For now, I will continue blogging, searching for volunteer opportunities to get out the house/continue building skills, and browsing job boards. Forgot to mention, I have decided to apply for freelance writing positions as well because…why not? What else do I have to lose? My imaginary job? Ha!

All I can do is remain calm and gently remind myself, “Don’t push the panic button!” because it will be okay…in due time.

Finding my sanity after leaving my job…

So I did it. I quit my first job  (my last day was on August 27) of my professional career in search of greener pastures. Life at the shelter (a homeless women’s mental health/substance abuse shelter) was not all it was cracked up to be. Although I loved working with our clients, several insecure co-workers created a toxic work environment that was not conducive for professional development and ironically my mental health.

One co-worker in particular convinced herself that I wanted her job because I have more education than her. Of course this was untrue. This same co-worker asked the new girl on her first day if she would try to take her job. Yeah, she was that insecure.

Additionally, the shelter is currently in a staffing crisis. This meant that I was doing extra work because we were short-staffed or just had incompetent people working. The place is such a wreck that the new girl (who just started three weeks ago) began applying for jobs during her second week which coincidentally was my last week.

What have I been doing since leaving? I am currently waiting for my clearance to make its way through HR before I start working at behavioral healthcare clinic. I am excited to continue connecting clients to resources and gaining new skills. I am hopeful that this will be the right fit because no one wants to change jobs every four months.

With that being said I have learned four important things that I will take to my next job:

  1. Be weary of work acquaintances. Although I may not be in a competition for jobs, raises, ect. some people are and they will do anything to ensure that you ‘lose’. It would be nice to have the work family but the chances of that happening are probably not that high.
  2. As important as it is to know how to respond to crisis, it is important to know how to prevent a crisis. I am going to be mindful of filling up my emotional/mental tank with self-care practices. While working at the shelter, I was sick more often than not. No, it is not because I suddenly became lax with hand-washing. High stress=little to no sleep=weaker immune system. At least that is the equation that has effectively ruled my life since I can remember.
  3. Know when to move on. At first I did not want to admit “defeat”. I told myself to stick it out even when dealing with the passive aggressive comments from my shady co-workers. I ultimately decided to leave when I evaluated how low I was paid for my level of education, experience, and skills.
  4. Learn from everyone’s mistakes, not just your own. In the future I hope to be my own boss which most likely means I will have employees. All of my experiences being an employee and observing supervisors’ behaviors is beneficial for my future career goals.

Although I am still bummed that I was unable to make it an entire year at the shelter, I am happy that I recognized the signs of work-hell and got out of there before I had a mental breakdown.

So if you are reading this, please send positive vibes my way because I need it! If you are going through your own work-hell, I wish you well and I am sending job-hunting fairy dust your way!

Being asked the ‘baby question’ by people you don’t know…

This week, my well-meaning internship supervisor asked if me and my husband planned on having children. Naturally, I was uncomfortable with her very personal (and frankly very sensitive) question. I tried to cut the conversation short by saying, “umm…yeah, maybe.” Clearly she did not sense all of my body language saying, “Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.” Instead, she asked, “Oh, how old are you? How old is he? Well…you two are still young enough and have some time to figure it out. Are you two still on the fence?” Yet again, I mumbled something and I tried to trail off. The not-so funny thing is, is this woman is 42 without any children. I honestly have no clue, nor do I care why she does not have them. I would never ask her why she doesn’t either because it is none of my business. What makes her question so odd is that she has recounted stories of her close friends who have lost babies both through miscarriage and infant illnesses. So you would think that by now she would know it is impolite to ask random people about their fertility decisions.

Do not get me wrong, she is generally an easy-going person whom I get along with but I could not help but feel this sense of judgement. Even without her knowing my story. Her question dredged up the all-but-forgotten baby discussion between my partner and I. Admittedly, I am true to my zodiac sign, the Capricorn, because I am a slow-moving, methodical thinker that ponders every decision I make which causes my loved ones to become frustrated and annoyed. (I have no clue why…perhaps procrastination…but I have had like a three-week binge of reading about zodiac signs. In February and March I was consumed with personalities. I’m strange like that.)  Decisions become increasingly difficult when they involve the “big” moments in life such as going to college, choosing a major, applying for jobs, and oh…deciding if and/or when to have a baby.

Tack on the fact that we have already had one unplanned pregnancy that resulted in a late-term loss and this I-like-to-plan-out-my-life lady has nearly lost her mind. It is amazing how much better I feel this April compared to last year but the problem is that I am finally starting to regain control of my life. Unsurprisingly, pregnancy and all of its consequences do not lend itself well to that.

I cannot control whether I will be able to conceive a child within a medically reasonable time-frame (in spite of the fact that I do not nor have I ever had any medical conditions that would suggest otherwise.) I cannot control whether I will have a healthy pregnancy although I can try to care for myself as much as possible before and during. I cannot control the outcome of said pregnancy which is perhaps most frightening to me at the moment. I cannot control how I feel about the possibility of another loss. I cannot control how that will affect my relationship especially with someone who is absolutely sure he wants to have at least one child. I cannot control the way he deals with his desire to have a child versus my indecisiveness. I cannot control the exact amount of time, money, and other resources that will have to be dedicated to this hopefully healthy being. I cannot control if the little being turns out to have a few medical issues even though it would feel so damn unfair. Most importantly, I cannot control the fact that I feel guilty for replacing the girl that I thought would be my one and only child, Marième.

It feels wildly unfair that other people don’t have to choke back tears when someone asks for the eighty-millionth time, “Do you have any children?” or “You would make a good mother.” It makes me feel like crud when people remind me that I (allegedly) have SO much time to have children when I clearly couldn’t even have one in my early twenties! I want to punch people who do not understand how emotionally taxing it is for parents in the baby loss community to even get to a place where they can even begin to think about having a child because they are not so sure if the stars will ever align for them.  And honestly, it does not help when your spouse reminds you that trying to hold off on the discussion until at least thirty years of age might not be so practical in our case as I once thought it was.

In spite of this, I have chosen to find meaning and value in my life, regardless of what happens. I do not want to be consumed with my ability or inability to bring another life into this world that I forget to live and appreciate my own.

And if I am so fortunate–that is what I want my child to know.

5 things I am looking forward to this spring/summer

  1. Starting my first “real” job. I am super excited to officially enter the workforce. Sure, I have worked in retail and served as a teaching assistant for university-level courses (along with a variety of other campus positions) but this will be my first ‘adult’ job. In the past, I have expressed my disinterest in pursuing a career in academia so it certainly does not come as a surprise that I cannot wait to get out.  I will not miss the competitive nature of academia even in moments where competition makes absolutely no sense. I will not miss the verbally-abusive, self-absorbed, out-of-touch, and rapidly aging faculty members that hasten the department’s imminent death. I will not miss spending countless hours working on papers that are barely read before being graded and placed atop another stack of professionally irrelevant work. Most of all, I will not miss the low pay for quality services that teaching assistants provide. (Meanwhile faculty members make bogus amounts of coins for classes that really their TA has put together with less time and fewer resources.) But…I digress. I look forward to cultivating new skills and gaining practical work experience in the non-profit world because this sort of environment not only brings me joy but allows me to make meaningful connections with human beings again. Yes, this is the complete opposite of discussing my theoretical framework and research methodology for hours on end.
  2. Moving into a new place. For the past year and a half we have lived in a shabby, dimly-lit 2 bedroom apartment with a landlord who is friendly but clearly gives zero effs about the state of his property. Fortunately we have found a place that is a bit larger, has PLENTY of natural light, and only slightly more expensive. Additionally, there are not any bad memories associated with this place so it will be a nice fresh start for me, my husband, and our dog. We can bond over decorating and making our place a home. Best of all, I finally feel comfortable inviting my family to visit from out-of-state.
  3. Welcoming my sister and nephew. Speaking of family, my sib and her son are coming to visit us in June and I am more than excited. Although life has dealt us an interesting set of cards, our relationship has matured in ways that we could never have anticipated. It will be nice to add new energy into our home for a week and to take them on a tour around our humble, but not-so-bad city.
  4. Visiting the rest of my family in my hometown. Last summer I spent time with my grandfather, adopted grandmother, sister, and nephew. Everyone else I avoided like the plague because….well, my reasons. Anyways, this will be the first time that I am seeing friends and the rest of my family in two years so…[insert a dramatic drumroll] it is long overdue.
  5. Embracing all life has to offer. In the past year, I have really worked on shifting my perspective and becoming a better person in general. Don’t worry–I am still a skeptic. However, I have learned to let life happen and to enjoy every moment of my current reality. I look forward to what this next season has to offer. Cheers to spring and summer 2017!

The stages of letting “it” go…

And when it’s over…truly let it be over.

Do not linger on, waiting for the words that will never be said

Do not linger on, aching for the wounds that might never be healed

You will analyze and at times justify their mistakes

but they are theirs and theirs alone.

It has no bearing on your worthiness.

It has no bearing on your purpose.

Your actions will never change the core of their being.

You may be the most dedicated, empathetic creature

on this Earth

and if they do not respect and appreciate you,

it will amount to nothing.

You will grow to hate yourself for allowing them

to take advantage of your patience,

of your strength,

of your generosity.

And one day you will have enough.

You will hastily grab everything in sight

and throw it in your bag.

Rushing out the door,

determined to no longer beg for love.

But once you reach your destination

and carefully begin to unpack,

you will see bits and pieces from your former life.

And you will cling to them,

because it is all you know.

How can you give that up?

You tell yourself you will throw it away as soon as…

but “as soon as” never arrives.

You stare at these items from time to time,

remembering its place of origin,

remembering the promises said upon receiving them,

remembering the feeling of hope.

And it will be these memories

that you fear losing.

You will hold on as tightly as you can,

even as they slip through your fingertips,

wishing to be set free.

And when this happens,

do not linger on.

Just let it be.