Grief for what could have been; A pregnant doula during Covid

At 32 weeks pregnant, I’ve been holding onto this for a long time it seems. As someone who is very open about my private life (especially during pregnancy), a lot of my friends have asked multiple times about blog posts. I just haven’t been able to find the words to go along with how I’m feeling, until now. So here it is, my pregnancy story thus far with little K4.

Those of you who know me already know, that I was so very young when I had my older children. Still a baby myself at 15, 17 and 20 respectively when they were born.  I had very little support or knowledge. With my boys I was in Germany and Alabama and had few friends and no family. I never heard congratulations on my pregnancies, I never felt celebrated or even loved. They’re very hard times to look back on, and I have almost no fond memories of my pregnancies.

2019 was a year of healing for me and my family. I was pregnant with a surrogate baby, I went to therapy, I realized who my true friends were, I set boundaries, and I learned a lot about myself. I also walked away from a long career in the culinary field to pursue my next grand adventure and long awaited dream of being a full time Doula. I put in the hard work, I learned the things, I took the trainings, I met the people, and I said ‘yes’ to myself more.

My husband also embarked on his own grand career adventure. Walking away from the career he had always known, and embracing something that he had dreamed of since he was a young, live events.

We found a home to raise our kids in, and finally move out of our tiny apartment. We found so much joy celebrating 12 years of marriage, and 14 years together. We looked back during our anniversary dinner at how far we’d come from a couple on kids in the housing projects of New York, with not a dime to our names. Back at the days of being babies trying to raise babies and rejoicing in how amazing our kids are turning out to be. We looked back at just a few years ago when we were damn near homeless after my husbands spinal surgery. It felt like we had maybe, just maybe, figured it all out. And we started dreaming about one more baby to make our lives complete.

We moved into what we hoped would be our forever home February 1st 2020. We talked more and more about that baby. We all were just starting to get the swing of our new routines. In the beginning of March I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and told it would make it harder to get pregnant until after I was in remission. This, with the knowledge that 4 rounds of IVF (which I did as a surrogate) made me and my husband wonder if a baby was possible. On March 13th, Texas went into lockdown over Covid-19. On March 19th, I got a positive test that I was shocked over. Right away, I felt a deep since of sadness instead of joy, and knew that I was not going to get what we had been dreaming of, but instead would experience something similar to my previous pregnancies.

Over the next couple months my husband would lose his job, taking our insurance with it. My kids would experience isolation, helplessness and hopelessness. I would seclude myself more than just the lockdown. I stopped calling my friends, I stopped answering texts.

When the protests started I felt spite for my unborn child. I should be out there, getting arrested and fighting for human rights. Instead I was crying, bedridden for days at a time and sinking into a horrible depression. Instead I was pretending that I was fine, and happy about my baby, but waking up every single morning asking myself “Is today the day I finally call someone about getting an abortion?” And it sunk me deeper. The baby I didn’t even know if I could get pregnant with, that I wanted so badly, and all I could think about was getting an abortion. It tore me apart. My husband didn’t know for a long time, I refused to talk about it. I didn’t tell my friends. I didn’t tell my mother. I suffered with my feelings, alone and in silence.

I still dreamed of my baby, of baby showers, of belly rubs from friends, or excited talks at coffee shops about my birth plans. I dreamed of appointments with my midwife where my older kids would help find the baby’s heartbeat, of strolling through stores, picking out the perfect first outfit for K4. Then I would wake-up, with low funds in the bank, a new death toll and an ever looming cloud over my head and heart.

When I hit 19 weeks, I knew my decision was final, I would be keeping my baby, but asked myself what cost had I decided on? Bringing a baby into this world, taking away from my older 3 that I’ve fought so fucking hard for. I still couldn’t bare it. So I did the next best thing I could think of, and I dove into my work. At one point being on call for three weeks straight. One 12 hour birth, one 8 hour birth, one 26 hour birth. Placenta after placenta, meetings every single day. Filling in the gaps with what I called “administrative work” that was just busy work I didn’t need to be doing. Pushing maternity leave back farther and farther and at one point wondering if I really needed to take it at all.

And then came the day that I snapped at my husband. This isn’t a normal thing in my home. After almost 15 years together, we’re very good at communicating and there is very little fighting, let alone being mean or angry with one another without immediately talking about the real problem and moving forward together. But this time I said “everything is your fault! You don’t do enough! I can’t do this anymore!” He took my hands, that beautiful loving man, and said “What is really going on here?”

And I finally let out everything and then some. See the thing is, is that once you let go, you let out more than you knew was there. I don’t hate my baby. I don’t hate my husband. I’m grieving so very deeply. I’m grieving for all the hopes and dreams that we had. I’m grieving what we worked so hard for. I’m grieving everything, and the world just isn’t fair. I mean, I know it’s not, and I’ve always known that but for some reason I wasn’t letting myself sit with it and try to move on from it. So many of us need some kind of control and I am no exception. I needed some small form of control and I had no idea how to get it.

I’m 32 weeks pregnant now, and I’ll be honest, I still don’t know how to find control, or to let go of it. There are still so many unknowns and sometimes it feels like it gets worse everyday instead of better. I’ve let myself love my baby, and I’m excited to meet him. Even after all the things I’ve already done and been through, I question if my love is enough for him. I question if I’m a good mom or have any idea what I’m doing. It’s insane really. My entire job is to help and educate birthing people and new parents, I know all the things, my clients love and trust me and that’s because I’m good at my job. But I’m human. And even I, the expert, wonder if I am enough for my baby.

I’ve started trying to talk to my friends more. It’s hard because I know I have a lot of heavy things on my heart and don’t want to burden them with it, but I also know that they love me and want me to talk to them.

My mini baby shower was this past Saturday. I threw it for myself, it was basically me and a table in my garage with cupcakes melting in the sun. Shortly before my first guest showed up I had a complete meltdown in my bathroom. It’s not supposed to be like this. We’re supposed to hug, and eat, and play games, and laugh and celebrate. I know I’m not the only one feeling this way, out of the 26 people I invited, 8 people came. It’s not about the gifts. Gifts are great and fun and we do need the essentials, but I miss my friends. I miss being extroverted and working a room and dancing and laughing with other people. I had my meltdown in the bathroom, and then I went out and loved on those who came as much as I could. I tried not to cry as they showed up. Then I tried again not to cry as I closed the garage door when it was over.

What happens now? After all of that? I still don’t know. I’m slowly trying to plan maternity leave, even though I’m terrified of not having my income to take care of my family in such uncertain times, even though I’m terrified of what it will mean for this brand new career I’m busting my ass to succeed in. I’m slowly trying to plan my birth, even though I’ve had minimal prenatal care and I know I’m not in the right mind frame yet to welcome my baby at home. I’m slowly making my postpartum plans and telling myself to do all the things I preach up and down to my clients. I’m slowly connecting to my baby, singing to him and longing for him even through all the pain.

And I’m slowly, sharing my story with all of you. Because those of you who are also pregnant right now, I see you. There is no handbook for this. No one we know has been pregnant during a pandemic. There is no right way to feel right now. The only thing I do know, is that none of us will get through this alone, we need each other.

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