This is the first of two posts by Mama’s Comfort Camp member Ann. Ann is someone I know from Temple, she is my rabbi’s daughter, I see her only a few times a year when she comes up to Ithaca for Jewish Holidays. I’m relatively new to the Temple community, so without the Mama’s Comfort Camp, all I’d have known about her is that she is always beautifully dressed and tastefully made up, and her kids are incredibly well behaved. Read = I could have resented the heck out of her.
In the little bit of verbal exchanges we had, I noticed her wit and charm. I asked her if she’s on Facebook, and when she said yes, I invited her to join the Mama’s Comfort Camp. She did, and I proceeded to fall in love with her.
Her posts and responses makes me think, and she makes me laugh out loud. I am so grateful that through our electronic interaction I got to deepen our friendship, and I just can’t wait to see her again, I hope she’ll visit for Passover.
This post qualifies for what we call the PT status: PT= Potentially Triggering.
This is an emotional safety structure: we label posts that are about painful topics, in order to give our friends the opportunity to take a a fortifying breath before reading, or to give oneself permission to skip a thread if one is feeling vulnerable. You see, with hundreds of mothers from around the world, you can bet that other people would be up for supporting a mother sharing a PT story when you can’t handle it, and permission to skip things when you need to is an important part of our group culture.
More about the how and when of PT posts here.
So please take a moment to turn on the Self-Kindness forcefield to help you deal with any emotions that this post might bring up for you, or give yourself permission to skip this for today if you are feeling too tender.
About the Mama’s Comfort Camp and Pregnancy Loss:
Our group is one of too few safe spaces in which mothers can even bring up this topic, let alone be free to mourn such a heartbreaking loss while being fully seen, heard, and held.
Ann shared her past experience in support of a mother who was going through a miscarriage a few months ago.
I asked Ann if she was willing to share her story on this blog, and was so thrilled with what she wrote. Since Ann went through two pregnancy losses, we will be sharing her story in two parts, in chronological order, today and tomorrow.
Okay, I think this was the longest intro in the history of blogging, let’s pass the mic to Ann.
Ann’s Story, part 1
I’m a planner. I plan. I’m fairly good at it. By Thursday, I know I’m going to the movies on Saturday night and by Friday I know what I’m going to see. Sometimes I live on the edge and wait until Saturday afternoon to decide which theater I’m going to visit. On November 1st of every year I shop for my children’s Purim costumes for the Jewish “dress-up holiday” that takes place in the spring. And I often use Google maps to get directions to new locations. Even though I have a GPS in the car. You get the picture.
I’m a teacher. I don’t “work” from June through August. So when my daughter approached her first birthday, we slowly began to wean so that I could “try” to get pregnant so we could *plan* to have a baby by the following spring. Because I’m a teacher. And I plan.
August 28, 2004
I woke up Shabbat morning and nursed Gavriella. She was inches shy of 13 months and as delicious a nurser as she was, she was weaning so, so beautifully. All our friends had weaned in the weeks before and were expecting babies. But I had taken a pregnancy test a week or so before and it was negative so I felt like I had some time and it looked like we only had a few days/weeks left to our nursing anyway…
So after a quick nursing, I moved her to her high chair to feed her breakfast. I rose from my chair and saw that there was blood on the seat. I went to go get cleaned up and James and I commented on how strange it was that I would get my period so soon after completing my last cycle.
Fast forward about an hour and two saturated sanitary napkins and I enter the kitchen with a blood-stained pregnancy test in my hand and say, “I think I have to go to the hospital. And the reason I think I have to go to the hospital is that I’m pregnant. And I think I’m miscarrying.” James had me call a cab and instruct them to come as quickly as possible to take me to the nearest hospital. He would stay with Gavriella, probably taking her to synagogue.
About twelve hours of heavy hemorrhaging, multiple doses of Methargine, and several i.v. sticks (remember that) later James walked in the emergency room and they prepared to discharge me. My doctor didn’t think surgery was necessary; I would probably complete the miscarriage on my own. I begged the doctor not to make me leave the hospital. I just knew that I would bleed out and die. As she signed the final discharge papers, I said, “I don’t feel well.” The doctor said, “I know. It’s me.” “No,” I said. “I feel like I’m going to throw up.” She leaned over to take my hand and I fell back on the table. It was like a scene from a prime time drama when the doctor shoved my 6 foot husband out of the way and yelled for help. It was clearly time to operate.
By the time we knew I needed surgery, I had been away from Gavri for 12 hrs. I had asked for Gavri a few times during the day because they didn’t want me to nurse following the Methargine injection so I wanted to nurse before they gave me the shot. But they didn’t want a baby in the emergency room.
The procedure (D and C) would be done under general anesthesia, then the doctor was going to prescribe one week’s worth of antibiotics–Gav was only nursing once, MAYBE twice, a day. I knew, going that long between nursing sessions meant, in fact, that we were done. Gavriella would never nurse again. The best I could do was look forward to getting home and snuggling her.
We all slept in the family room and I wheeled her early in the morning to the corner store to get a banana when she woke. It was a treat and succeeded in distracting her from the fact that I wouldn’t…couldn’t?…nurse her. But when I went to pick her up, I realized how painful the bruises on my arms were. My veins had collapsed from the multiple accessing/de-accessing the day before. We could no longer nurse and for days, I couldn’t even pick her up. James was staffing a local political convention so our friends filled in the gaps and helped pick up the pieces (literally). I often look back at that time and wonder what people who don’t have an established community do in times of crisis…
About a week after my surgery, I found that I could still express milk. I called a girlfriend all excited–maybe Gav and I could pick up nursing again! Debra asked if I really wanted to do that, only to go through the emotional pain of weaning her again. I sulked a little. She was right. So I pumped…and continued pumping for the next couple of weeks. Gavri ate cheerios and breast milk for breakfast, drank yogurt and breast milk for lunch. It helped ease me through that mourning period. Quite frankly, I felt a little bit like a rock star.
Not long after the loss of the pregnancy and the resulting loss of my best nursing experience, I got pregnant with Her: the child I was *meant* to have. The one GOD had planned for me. Because if I had given birth to the baby *I* had “planned,” there would be no Sarit. Ann plans and God laughs.
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Hmmmm. A hand-on-heart sigh for this tender story.
The second part of Ann’s story will be here tomorrow.
Until then, both Ann and I would love to hear any thoughts and feelings that showed up for you when reading her story, you are warmly invited to share your comments with us.
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