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A Lost Leave: When Postpartum Anxiety Takes Over

When you return to work, everyone asks you if it is tough to leave your baby. I have perfected my answer to this question. I say that it is bittersweet. Which it is. As much as I miss Max, my three-month-old son, I also am excited to be back at work, and gaining back a little bit of the “me” I used to be.

My answers start to be less perfected when people ask me how my maternity leave was. How do I answer this question without fully disclosing the experience I had? Does anyone really want to hear that I struggled with what seemed like debilitating Postpartum Anxiety—a sibling to Postpartum Depression? Do people really care that my body was in a state of constant panic, and that I suffered through weeks of insomnia? Can I actually tell people that I felt nervous all the time … or that it seemed like a stranger was trapped in my body? Would people look at me funny if I said I barely made it through each day and sometimes had to count the hours or minutes until my husband came home?

That is the reality of at least half of my maternity leave. I existed in a state of panic. I felt like I had adrenaline pulsing through my veins. I had a pit in my stomach at all times. I had to sleep with an icepack at night to soothe my burning chest. My arms and legs tingled relentlessly. I spent most of my days worrying. Would I be able to sleep tonight? If I didn’t sleep, would I be able to take care of Max tomorrow? What would happen if I couldn’t take care of […]

Healing through Action: Walking to Prevent Baby Loss

My least favorite question is “How many children do you have?” If you’ve lost a child, then you know how such a simple question—just a pleasantry in day-to-day conversations—causes a flash of grief, anxiety and guilt. This is typically how it goes:

Well-meaning person: “So, how many children do you have?”

Me: Internal movie montage cycles through the pain and frustration of: trying to get pregnant and not; of all the shots, blood draws of fertility treatments; the joy on my husband’s face when we saw two babies on the ultrasound; the joy on our parents’ faces to hear we were having twins; believing the worst was behind us; marveling at my changing body; quizzically looking at the doctor when he sent me to the hospital; disbelief when, at 20 weeks, I was told my cervix wouldn’t hold and we’d likely lose the babies; bottomless grief when, just shy of 23 weeks, we did.

Feeling like I’d never be happy again, that having my future stolen was unbearable, that I’d break my body with the crying.

Slowly letting time work on the worst imaginable wound.

Then I think of the medical intervention and healing that led to our daughter—5 months old as I write this—and how she has a brother and sister she’ll never know. That our family has to forge a new future that honors who we lost and treasures who we have.

Me: Blink. And remember that this well-meaning person would probably share my grief if I shared my story, but that it’s okay to just say, “This one for now.”

March of Dimes—March for Babies

On Sunday, April 26, March of Dimes is holding a fundraising walk downtown Chicago. With their mission to improve the health of babies by […]