It’s baby season on Facebook these days. I love seeing my friends post their exciting news, especially knowing that I have my own special news that I am quietly enjoying right now.
I wonder about the friends that stay quiet. Those that I know love and want kids, but have not posted an announcement for themselves. I wonder if they are feeling that sting that comes with being happy for their friends, but wondering if it will ever be their turn, or knowing that they will never have that turn, or worse yet, knowing they had a turn and it was cut short.
This summer, my husband and I lost a baby. My midwife thought I was farther along than I did, but it didn’t matter. It still hurt. I shared the news gradually with a very small group of people, mostly because I didn’t know how to feel.
I felt bruised. I was sad. I wasn’t devastated, but I still hurt. I had no idea how I would answer the question, “How many kids do you have?” I wanted to say, “Three.” – but people wouldn’t understand. I would cry at the oddest times over the oddest things – things that I had no idea would be a trigger. My husband held me while I cried.
I was pretty numb. I actually stayed at work while it happened because the rest of the leadership team was out that day and I knew someone needed to be there. Only one person in the office knew. I plastered a smile on my face, hunched over my computer, prayed that the cramping would go away quickly, and took the next triage call.
When I lost the baby, my midwife told me that other women would hear about it and tell me their own stories. She told me her story, and it was comforting to know I wasn’t alone. But, I quickly found out that miscarriages are taboo topics. People, especially those who have never experienced a miscarriage, can be very uncomfortable talking about them. Most of us don’t even announce pregnancies until we are past that golden “13 week” mark. It’s almost as if losing a baby doesn’t count until then. Like if we lose the baby in the first trimester, we can deal with it better by ourselves because “it was early.”
I beg to differ.
We need to break this code of silence about the loss of a baby. We need to support each other through good news and bad. We need to be sensitive about the questions we ask, but neither should we be silent. A hug goes a long way. Don’t be afraid of tears. They are healing.
Dads need support too. My husband acknowledged that he did not yet feel as attached as I did, but he still hurt. The baby was half him, after all. And he had to watch me go through the emotional roller-coaster afterwords. I don’t know how he did it.
I still think of the baby often. It’s not every day any more, but I will never forget. If anything, it has given me a greater appreciation for my son and daughter. I don’t take the uneventful pregnancies I had with them for granted any more. Every “normal” milestone I achieve in this pregnancy gives me a sense of gratefulness that I didn’t have before.
I know that my husband will be there for me no matter what, always willing to hold me and let me cry.
And every time I see a friend post that they are expecting, or that their baby has arrived, I am glad. I am grateful that they, and their baby, are healthy. I also say a little prayer for those experiencing the pain of a loss, because I’ve been there- and it’s hard to face someone else’s joy over something you want so much when you’ve had it and lost it.
This pregnancy, I did what I always do – shared the news with close friends and family as soon as we found out. However, this time I plan to announce our news to the world before the 13 week mark. Once we have that first ultrasound I will share our joy, but I will share it with a prayerful heart for those who are hurting because of a loss.
I want to start conversations. Let’s take the taboo out of talking about miscarriage.
Saturday, October 25, 10:00 a.m. SAT Prep. Take advantage of the SAT Math Prep course at the Savage Branch. It is designed to help students excel on the math portion of the test. Students will take an official practice exam to simulate the experience, learn test-taking strategies, and solve problems related to algebra, geometry, and probability. Grades 9-12 only. Graphing calculators are recommended. 3 Day class October 11, 18, and 25. When you register, you will automatically be registered for all 3 days. HiTech is funded in part by a National Leadership Grant for Libraries from IMLS. Visit hclibrary.org/hitech_events for more HiTech classes. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760.
Monday, October 27, 10:15 a.m. Just for Me. A class at the Savage Branch for children who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. Ages 3-5; 30 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Also offered at 2 p.m. at the Miller Branch, 10/28 ay 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the East Columbia Branch, and 10/29 at 10:15 & 11:15 a.m. at the Elkridge Branch.
Monday, October 27 – Thursday, October 30, 3:00 p.m. Homework Club. Join us after school at the East Columbia Branch for a snack while working on your homework in a relaxed setting. Ages 11-17. Mondays – Thursdays; 3 – 4 pm (school days only). No registration required.
Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, 7 to 9 p.m. Free. Prenatal Class for Your Early Pregnancy is for parents-to-be and parents in the first trimester. Learn about the early stages of pregnancy including your body’s physical changes, your baby’s growth and easy ways to promote a healthier pregnancy in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.
Friday, November 7, 7:00 p.m. Scott Stossel and Brigid Schulte in Conversation. Do you make notes in a book’s margins? Imagine having a conversation with the author about your thoughts. Scott Stossel and Brigid Schulte indulge in the opportunity to discuss their most recent works and ask the pressing questions they’ve penned in the margins of each other’s books. Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic, is the author of the 2014 New York Times bestseller, My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. An award-winning journalist for The Washington Post, Brigid Schulte wrote the New York Times bestselling Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.
Wednesday, Nov. 19, 7 to 9 p.m. Happiest Baby on the Block. Learn successful techniques that can quickly soothe your crying newborn and promote a more restful sleep for your infant in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Parent kits are included in the $50 couple fee.
“Wherever I go – in stores, on the street, in restaurants, in people’s homes – I see repetitious scenes of whining, and tantrums, and – even more unsettling – an increased number of kids who look sullen, unrelated, and unhappy.” – Robert Shaw, M.D.
At a recent gala store opening the freebies were flowing — at least till mid-morning when one nine-year-old’s favorite treat ran out.
Several of us customers watched as the sales rep offered the young customer a substitute.
She took the rep to task — loudly.
“That’s not fair!” she stamped her foot. “Everyone else got the one I want! I deserve to get one too!”
The embarrassed parent intervened with an appeasement bordering on pleading: If the child would just be quiet, she’d take her somewhere else and buy her the unavailable item.
The late child psychiatrist, Robert Shaw, would have called this gift – this opportunity – “a teachable moment” – one in which an active parent might seize the day and demonstrate “an ethical response” to such unacceptable petulance.
But that didn’t happen.
In The Epidemic, Shaw dogmatically reasons why:
Today’s indulgent parents are either absurdly permissive or “checked-out” to their children’s emotional needs. They provide all the bells and whistles of excessive living, but scrimp on the moral input.
Case in point: today’s mutation of self-esteem. Where it was once a normal, healthy by-product of emotional development, according to Shaw, it isn’t any longer. Parents in large part, can thank themselves: “Lavishing excessive praise” on their kids, lobbying teachers “for sugar-coated assessments, even lowering expectations,” have all helped foster the current crop of little “self-worshippers.”
And who are the parents Shaw targets? Certainly not “The Have Nots.” “Primarily,” he stresses, “[it’s] a problem in middle- and upper-class families … comfortable families, where there’s plenty of money but simply not enough parental time…” Shaw also gets on that all-powerful electronic babysitter – television. American preschoolers (he says) spend up to fifty-four hours a week in front of one, absorbing TV’s endless communication of both the simplistic and insidious. Messages like “It’s okay to use weapons to deal with conflict. It’s okay to swear, bully, have sex, drink alcohol, and disrespect the adults in your life” have all contributed to the dearth of empathy and compassion in our children.
Indeed, he goes on: “Kids today demonstrate such a startling lack of character traits that many schools resort to a regularly scheduled moral curriculum.”
Disquieting when you think about the lifeline teachers already provide to both student and parent. Disquieting when you think about the “dissatisfaction of American teachers today. For the record, more than 200,000 will choose to leave their profession this year.
The Epidemic is a stinging, grim, and discomfiting diatribe. Parents will resent and buck everything Shaw criticizes. But in the end, we all have to take it on the chin.
Every critical moment of your child’s life deserves you in it.
1(Would Greater Independence for Teachers Result in Higher Student Performance? PBS Newshour, August 18, 2014)
Howard County Garden Club creates a “Circles of Healing Garden” as its gift to HCGH
The Howard County Garden Club plants a garden in front of Howard County General Hospital. “Gardens help with healing…When I retired (from health care), I wanted to continue to provide service in health care, only in a different capacity,” said Garden Club President Laura Warfield.
Gardens are places of nourishment – for both the body and soul. We plant vegetable gardens for the joy and health benefits of growing our own food, and flower gardens for the aesthetic joy they bring to our lives.
But gardens can also have healing properties. Sitting quietly in or by a garden is a form of meditation. In fact, the March 1, 2014 issue of Scientific American noted that, “Studies show that just three to five minutes spent looking at a view dominated by trees, flowers or water can begin to reduce anger, anxiety and pain and to induce relaxation.”
With that in mind, in June, the Howard County Garden Club installed a beautiful new garden at the entrance of HCGH with the theme “Circles of Healing.” The garden includes an array of flowers that bloom throughout the year arranged in a circular design. There are 158 plants of 12 different species designed to provide color and interest throughout the seasons.
The Howard County Garden Club, originally established in 1932, today has 37 active members, including its president, Laura Warfield, who spent more than 30 years in the field of health care before retiring to focus more of her energy on creating gardens. “Gardens help with healing, and this garden will be welcoming to people as they arrive at the hospital at what could be a stressful time. When I retired, I wanted to continue to provide service in health care, which is near and dear to my heart, only in a different capacity. We were honored to have the opportunity to redesign the entry gardens because the hospital is such an integral part of our community,” said Warfield.
There are many kinds of gardens being included in health care settings today, including nursing homes, continuing care communities and hospice facilities. Therapeutic, meditation, restorative and other kinds of gardens have specific elements and definitions. The American Society of Landscape Architects said the following about gardens and their healing properties, “A healing garden is a somewhat vague term lacking precise design implications, but its purpose is to support generalized healing by helping patients become healthful, well and whole. A meditation garden is likely to encourage inwardly-focused attention for the purpose of deepening personal knowledge and attaining peace with oneself. A contemplation garden provides an ambience conducive to examining issues beyond and/or larger than oneself in a thoughtful, deliberate, perhaps religious or mystical way.”
Each year, the Howard County Garden Club raises funds to provide a garden to a local organization. This year, in addition to Howard County General Hospital, the club installed the Enchanted Garden at the Miller Branch of the Howard County Library in Ellicott City—a sustainable, community-based teaching garden with an emphasis on healthy eating. The Enchanted Garden was a natural fit for a partnership between the hospital and the library, and the Well & Wise blog project was created to promote healthy choices for residents of Howard County, with the Well & Wise blog as its first component.
The next time you visit HCGH, stop by our “Circles of Healing” garden at the main entrance and enjoy a few minutes of reflection on the healing gifts of nature.
I recently had an experience that tested the popular British mantra: “Keep calm and carry on.” What happened? I was trapped in an elevator.
It’s not the first time, I’m afraid. I have a history with elevators. But it has been several years since I was last involuntarily trapped in an elevator.
Ironically, I was returning home from a relaxing massage appointment when the elevator broke down with me inside. Luckily, the emergency call button worked and help was called right away.
The hardest part was waiting in the capsule, feeling the heat and anxiety build. I’m not usually a claustrophobic person. Quiet doesn’t bother me, nor does solitude. But the fact of being in a space I cannot leave started to make me sweat and itch.
I felt the urge to scream. But no, that wouldn’t help and it wouldn’t make me feel better—just more upset about a situation I couldn’t change.
Breathing helped—not too big or quickly. Slow, regular breaths. Take it easy. Be steady.
I called my husband to let him know what happened. (Thank goodness for cell phones!) It made me feel better that he knew I was safe, just waiting for help.
Then, the emergency responder called back and asked me for my information while we waited. Hearing her voice was soothing—the world was still out there and I would soon return. She saw the fire department responders coming and let me know of their arrival.
They called through the door to ask if I was OK. I could see them and was relieved. The outer door was open in moments, but they struggled with the inner door. Finally it popped open like it was meant, and I could roll out in my wheelchair.
It was good to see the faces of strangers. Funny that it had only been about a half hour, but it felt like longer. They asked if I wanted to see the paramedic, if I was OK. I shook my head—I was fine, just wanted to get back home.
“I’m sprung,” I joked with my husband as I headed home. I felt liberated and that I’d won a small battle by keeping the fear demons at bay.
Sometimes we are challenged unexpectedly and have to summon calm and strength in strange places. I was reminded of the power of staying cool in (literally) a tight spot. This is a lesson I hope not to forget and can be applied more widely in daily life.
From stressful work situations to the annoyances of daily commuting, a little calm and breathing can go a long way to finding a way through the moment.
How strong is the biological element in gender? Is it psychologically possible, in infancy, to engineer one’s sexuality? At what point in utero are we wired to be male or female?
In 1966 rural Winnipeg, none of these facts mattered to a teenaged couple whose baby boy had recently suffered a botched circumcision and now faced a life they could not imagine. They would journey all the way to Baltimore to the Johns Hopkins Psychohormonal Research Unit under the auspices of psychologist, John Money. Their son, they were promised, would be successfully reassigned as a girl. What Janet and Ron Reimer may not have been told was that “sexual reassignment had never been done on a normal child with normal genitals and nervous system.”
Journalist John Colapinto delivers a precise and compelling examination of a world-famous case that proved “pre-birth factors set limits on how far culture, learning, and environment can direct gender identity in humans” in As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.
Only more compelling is getting to know David Reimer himself. A girl from the age of two until eighteen, his battle with depression and self-loathing is heartbreaking—shocking at times—but you will come away believing he is one of the bravest people you have ever met.