~By Aviva Cohen, LCSW & Co-Founder of The Blossom Method

When I tell people I work with women and couples struggling with infertility, loss, postpartum depression and other tragic scenarios during their reproductive journeys, I almost always get the same questions: How can you do something like that every day? Isn’t it depressing? My response never wavers. Providing support to women and couples is my professional calling and I am inspired by my clients each and every day.

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Perhaps part of the reason I’m drawn to this work is because I straddle both worlds. I had my first three children with ease. I wanted to get pregnant, and poof, it happened. My pregnancies were relatively normal and the deliveries easy. Then I rolled the dice again and discovered just how lucky I’d been.

During my eighteenth week of pregnancy, I found out the baby inside of me had died. In an instant, my hopes and dreams for that unborn baby were dashed. I felt blindsided, confused, shocked and terrified. My doctor sent me to specialists, and then washed his hands of me. I was no longer a patient he wanted to treat. During this vulnerable time, I became lost in a maze of hospitals, doctors and nurses. I felt afraid and very much alone.

In my mind, I decided that if I got pregnant again before my due date, the pain deep inside of me would disappear. I quickly conceived again, but this time, at my nine-week checkup, the baby had no heartbeat. That was it for me. I had nowhere to go, no one to talk to, and no one who understood how I felt. When I tried to talk about the loss with friends or family, they told me I should move on. No one, not even my husband, truly understood how my heart was breaking.

Several years later, I conceived again. To say that I felt terrified, anxious and isolated is an understatement. During that pregnancy, almost out of nowhere, my new OB told me that a prominent hospital was hiring a part-time position for a Perinatal Loss Coordinator. What is that, I asked? She told me it’s the person who comes to your hospital room when you are told your baby has no heartbeat at thirty-nine weeks, the person who comes to see you in the clinic when your baby is not compatible with life and surgery is needed to end the pregnancy, the person who is there when you deliver an eighteen-week old baby that is not viable.

I was a therapist in private practice at that time and not looking for a job, but this one tugged at my heart. It was why I had lived through unimaginable pain. I had a unique perspective. I knew what it was like to be a first-time mom who felt overwhelmed and could not stop crying. I also knew what it was like to be pregnant, and then not. This was my chance to pay it forward and provide others with the support and hope that I had so desperately needed.

Chicago-infertility-supportWomen and couples now allow me into their lives in their darkest hour. I am in the delivery room when the news of the loss is first delivered. I lock eyes with these brave women and men, and I tell them I have been there myself. They know immediately that I understand their sorrow and in that moment, we all feel a little less alone. I consider it the highest privilege to be there for them during their most vulnerable time. Never for a second do I take this for granted.

Recently, I realized that there is more to be done and more support to provide before, during and after pregnancy. Women and couples are often lost after being discharged from the hospital or doctor’s office, such as I was after my loss. We often hide in shame, battle depression and fertility issues or try to become pregnant again, alone.

Women and couples deserve more, which is why I co-founded The Blossom Method. This therapy center is a gift of love and understanding. It is a space for women and their families to connect and feel less alone. It is a place for therapy, support groups, educational seminars, and validation. It is a place to feel found if you are lost. It is my way of giving back and helping those who come after me.

When people seem surprised at what I do and how much I love it, I tell each and every one of them that it is the most magical job in the world. I watch brave women and men grow, evolve and blossom. I am the lucky one. Every day I am blessed with another birth announcement or holiday card. Whether the baby in the picture is adopted, a result of surrogacy, IVF or a natural pregnancy, I celebrate their lives and their family’s journey. Nothing could be more rewarding and fulfilling.

(photo credit: stockphotos/freedigitalphotos.net)

About the Blossom Method

The Blossom Method is a therapy practice offering support, community, comfort and hope to women and couples experiencing issues related infertility, pregnancy loss, genetic complications, complex medical diagnoses, NICU preemies and postpartum depression.  Please reach out to us at 312.854.0061 or via email at info@blossommethod.com.

The Blossom Method is so proud to publish this piece as part of our You Never Know campaign. More than 15 bloggers from around Chicagoland have come together to declare that we stand with men and women who have struggled or are now struggling with reproductive challenges and empathize with their pain.