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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 […]

Stillbirth, Bravery, and Letting Guilt Go

Recently, I had the true honor of working with a special woman who showed me what true bravery looks like.  Beth* had gotten married in her mid-30s and had tried to conceive naturally for several years before choosing to do IVF. After several failed attempts, and having depleted her bank account, she and her husband decided to try IVF one last time. This time it was a success. She was beyond elated to discover that she was carrying twins. The biggest blessing of all was that she was going to be a mother to both a boy and a girl. Beth was grateful.

At around 20 weeks, Beth’s doctors discovered that Baby A was not developing as well as they would have liked. The medical staff kept a close eye on Baby A. At 24 weeks, Beth went to the doctor for a routine visit and was heartbroken to discover that Baby A, her son, had no heartbeat. At the same visit, Beth was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy), and emergently admitted to the hospital where she would remain until the safe delivery of her daughter over two months later.

This is when I first met Beth. I found her in her room overlooking the city, looking tiny in her huge room, and enormous bed. Our visits would become a regular part of her day and mine. Every week I would come to Beth’s room, give her the latest People and Us magazines, and we would talk. Beth felt trapped in her room. She was desperate to go home and begged the doctors religiously to let her take her show on the road. The answer was always a firm, “NO!” She […]

Holiday Reflection on the Year’s Pregnancy, Loss, Grief and Hope

“This time last year, I was eight months pregnant.” “I should have a baby that is almost turning one year old by now.” “I have been pregnant, and doing IVF for 2 years and still I have no baby.”

These are the words of the women I sit with on a daily basis. Holidays are difficult for many people, but for our community at The Blossom Method, it is yet another reminder of what they do not have.  Calendars mark time. They are a snapshot of progress and success. Many people feel foolish that they were so excited to deliver last December, only to lose their baby days before their due date. They feel silly that they were so excited and ashamed that they have nothing to show for that pregnancy, or the other failed ones that came before that one. As I see it, there is nothing foolish about how they behaved. In that moment in time, they were expecting a child. They were beaming with excitement and joy and ready for the journey of parenthood. Those emotions were real and honest. Why would anyone want to erase feeling good and happy?
Moving Past the Grief of Loss
Those moments of feeling hopeful, happy and excited are as much a part of one’s life as are moments of despair and heartbreak. Happiness, joy, devastation and heartbreak are all patches on our quilt. It is hard to have one without the other—not all days are bleak and not all days are euphoric.

The holidays are a period of weeks where we take stock—where have we been? Where do we still want to go? Who has made this journey bearable?  What will we do differently next time?
Celebrating Change, Keeping […]

When a Dream Turns Into a Nightmare: Coping with Stillbirth

At the Blossom Method, we believe that strength comes from sharing our experiences with one another and that being able to relate to one another is an important step in the healing process. Today on the blog, read one woman’s story about her own loss—stillborn twins. If you’re coping with a stillbirth, contact the Blossom Method—we offer personalized, compassionate therapy and counseling options for fertility, complex medical diagnoses, stillbirth and pregnancy loss, and more.
Pregnancy and Full-term Baby Loss
My first pregnancy was a dream—until it turned into a nightmare. My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for about a year and a half, and anyone who has been through the roller coaster that is infertility can understand the toll that it takes—on you, your partner, your friendships, etc. We married in September of 2011, but I went off the pill months before. By the summer of 2012, we began all the fertility tests, and by the fall we had our answer: a structural problem. IVF would hopefully be the solution, and we were incredibly lucky to get pregnant on our first try in early 2013. We felt even luckier when we found out that we were pregnant with twins.

But I was an informed consumer, I read all the literature—twins were higher risk, and we still had a lot of hurdles to clear. When we passed our 20-week ultrasound the first week of June with flying colors I finally let myself start to believe that we would be taking home two babies. We found out we were pregnant with a boy and a girl. My husband said, “This is an embarrassment of riches.” I couldn’t agree more—I felt like the luckiest girl in […]

Dealing with SIDS and Finding Support for Grief

It’s hard to know where to start when talking about SIDS and grieving from such a loss. It’s an awful tragedy, and because there are so few concrete answers regarding how it’s caused, how to prevent it, and what you can do to ensure it doesn’t happen to your baby, it’s all the more troubling. SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants ranging one month to one year old, and claims the lives of about 2,500 babies each year. Despite years of research, it remains unpredictable, which can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety on new parents.
Risk Factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Despite the fact that SIDS is unpredictable and, as far as we know, mostly unpreventable, there are some things to know and some risk factors to watch out for. That’s not to say that you should make yourself sick with worry, but it is obviously helpful to know before pregnancy that smoking, drinking and drug use can be potential risk factors for SIDS. No single risk factor is likely to be enough to cause SIDS, though, which can make its occurrence even more jarring.
SIDS Grief Support to Begin the Healing Process
If your infant has passed away from SIDS, it can feel impossible to begin the healing process because you can’t get any answers about why it happened. Getting the help you need can be difficult if you don’t know where to start or who to talk to. Your usual support system—family and friends—may not know how to offer you the comfort and help you need.
Grief Counseling and Support Groups
It can feel very defeating to need outside help, but the truth is that you’re not alone in this matter. […]

Perinatal Postpartum Anxiety – See the Signs and Find Treatment

If you took a poll of most pregnant women that come into our office, majority will report that they have heard about Baby Blues or Post Partum Depression (PPD) before, either from their pregnancy books, friends, or hopefully their OB.  Many will adamantly deny that they have Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression, because after all, this is supposed to be the happiest, most exciting time of their lives.  What many women don’t realize is that Perinatal Anxiety is just as common as PPD, and often coincides with each other as the symptoms are similar.
Perinatal Anxiety Defined
Perinatal anxiety is often dismissed,  as pregnancy and parenting both are anxiety provoking in and of themselves, so it’s reasonable that women struggle with increased anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum.  Because of this, very little research is done on perinatal anxiety independently from postpartum depression.

Perinatal anxiety can be classified into three different types: panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders and/or generalized anxiety disorders.   It shares many of the same symptoms of PPD, such as: feeling overwhelmed, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, feelings of guilt or incompetence, excessive worry, etc.  Perinatal anxiety can also include panic attacks, hyperventilation, and repetitive intrusive thoughts or images of things happening to the baby.
The Anxiety of Facing the Unknown
New parents are always facing the unknown, and have repetitive worry and thoughts/concerns, such as: “Is my baby healthy?” “Is my baby normal; is he or she developing appropriately?”   These are all common concerns and questions to think and wonder about.  It becomes concerning when parents ruminate about these concerns, and they become intrusive or debilitating to a point that they interfere with your ability to care for the child, your relationship with the child or each other, […]

Rebuilding After Loss: Find Hope After Losing Multiple Pregnancies

At the Blossom Method, one of our areas of care revolves around helping women and couples who experience the loss of a pregnancy or multiple pregnancies. In this story, read about one of our patients’ experiences and how she was able to find comfort in support groups and renew her hope for starting a family.
A Mother’s Journey Through Pregnancy and Loss
My life is marked by a series of dates. I am a numbers person and dates always stick out in my head. On March 3, 2012 I went off birth control. It was my husband’s 29th birthday, and we wanted to have a family. We tried month after month, and on September 30th, we found out we were pregnant. We were so excited, but we knew anything could happen. I was well aware I could miscarry—my mother had two miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy so I knew it could happen to me. On October 31, 2012, my baby was nine weeks and we heard the heartbeat. Three weeks later, Thanksgiving weekend, I was the magical 12 weeks and the grandparents were finally able to shout it from the rooftops. On January 18, 2013, we found out our baby was a boy—we named him Jack.
The Tragedy of an Unexpected Loss
On February 17th, at 24 weeks and 2 days, I started having contractions and experiencing heavy bleeding in the middle of the night. I turned to my husband and said, “We need to go to the hospital, something is not right.” In triage, my water broke. I will never forget the look on the RN’s face and the resident on call saying, “I’m sorry.” We didn’t get it. Jack still had a heartbeat, though. We […]

All The Pain & None Of The Gain: Losing a Pregnancy, Not the Pregnancy Body

One common experience of women who have lost pregnancies is the frustration that comes from having to go through the pain and struggle of a changing body during pregnancy, only to be left with no baby. Obviously, this pales in comparison to the grief that comes from losing a pregnancy. In today’s blog, we recount the experience of one of our patients, a woman named Mona who lost her pregnancy at 38 weeks.
Mona’s Story of Pregnancy Loss
Mona came into my office and the moment she sat down, she began to cry. “Look at me! I am wearing a fat suit!!! You don’t even know me, and you must think I am the chubby girl-the one who always cannot pass up a dessert!”

Mona made me laugh from the moment I met her—she is one of my most favorite people to see!  One of the many punishments associated with a loss-seems to be the lack of a justification for the weight gain. For women like Mona, who had gone to 38 weeks, delivered a stillborn daughter, and left the hospital empty handed-having endured all that pain for a poor outcome seemed incomprehensible to her. She was right! Her milk had come in, her breasts were tender and painful, she was in pain, and most of all she had been denied the joy and privilege of being a mother to a live baby. Over many heated sessions and debates, Mona came to realize, as many women before her had, that life is not fair, and she deserved better. A lot better.
Coping with Post-Baby Bodies with No Baby
How do I explain to a pregnancy loss patient that having the postpartum body and physical ailments associated with child birth […]

A Genuine Smile: Coping with Pregnancy Loss

When a woman is told her pregnancy is low-risk and there’s nothing to worry about, getting past the first trimester generally means they are out of the woods, so to speak. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Read this account of one woman who experienced the loss of a pregnancy at 24 weeks along and how she is managing to cope with the grief.
A Mother’s Story of Pregnancy Loss
July 22, 2014 – 24 weeks and 1 day pregnant: In my heart, I knew something was wrong; call it a mother’s intuition. You failed to show up for our designated time together the past two mornings. I would stroke my belly after my 7:30 a.m. shower and you would always respond with many loving kicks. I would tell you how much I loved you and how excited we were to meet you and I could tell you felt the same way.

I called the doctor and told her that I hadn’t felt you move in about 36 hours, they told me to wait 48 hours, but I insisted that something was off.
The Pain of Losing a Baby
The doctor agreed to see me at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23. I went in with every intention of having the doctor see your heartbeat but I saw the ultrasound and you were lifeless, a floating entity that I would never feel alive again. My world shattered in that moment, I broke and will never be the same. One minute you were kicking, the next you were gone.

My first baby, my only baby and my future, just gone and without an explanation. The moment when my life fell apart will forever haunt me through recurring dreams and repetitive thoughts. […]