Being a mother, a father, at work

Time has taken on a strange quality lately—there is stillness, there is non-movement, and then time will inch and eek along, snickering over its shoulder at me. I am getting on a plane for Atlanta in six days and those six days are vast and long highways I feel I will be forever climbing along. In the desert. At noon. Without water. Kidding. Actually, I’m starting to feel okay-ish on the estrogen—homicidal me takes turns with sleepy smiley sloth-me, and during epic snuggle sessions (“Great sesh, bayba,” DH will say afterward) and yoga, I am lovely. Headaches come and go. Stickaround angry feelings happen. But I often feel excited, warm, and happy. Zero depression (that only happened during the first week of Lupron, yessss). All in all, things have been going smoothly, and I am grateful.

I put all this good energy out there with the hopes that my dear body will understand when I slap on 3 patches tomorrow (goodbye 2). How close, how very very close, we are getting.

Today at work, a resident’s family member, a woman who has alienated herself from staff through hostile behaviors (this kind of thing is common with caregivers who feel guilt about putting their parent in a nursing facility), broke down and sobbed in my arms. She is maybe in her late fifties, early sixties. I held her as if she were a little girl, pressed her to me, and said, “I know, I know, this is so hard.” I was channeling my latest guardian angel, the doctor who did my scratch biopsy. I understood karma—really got it—in that moment.

Just before I left work today, I met with a very young woman and her parents. The young woman had just sustained a traumatic brain injury that had left her unable to speak, unable to breathe well or eat on her own, and it was impossible to say how much she could understand us. The parents were trying to be so cheerful when I walked into the room, so helpful, accommodating, but I could see the strain and devastation in their faces—the shocked eyes, the trembling lips.  I felt my heart physically ache in my chest (really). I wanted to gather them all to me and just hold them and tell them it was okay to be sad, that they didn’t have to be cheerful for my sake.

What a job. I felt all of my maternal instincts rising up, taking over. I felt deeply connected to the mother in me. What a gift these people give me. When I get frustrated, stressed out, exhausted—and these things happen every week, sometimes every day of every week!—I have to remember the gifts, the opportunities to love and hold other human beings during profound crisis.

I told DH about all of this. And he told me about a session with one of his patients that knocked me down—a picture the patient had drawn of a seriously traumatic event in his life (battle in Vietnam). As he told me the story he started to choke up. I listened without holding him, because I knew that a hug would interrupt his exploration. So I let him explore it all. Then we hugged.

“These jobs we have are so… weird,” I said lamely. “So intense.”


Then we did what we often do after a debriefing—we flipped a switch and got playful. Went to yoga. Had a blast making and eating dinner together.

I think we are going to be great parents. Makes me so deeply happy to think it.  Can’t imagine how happy it’ll make me to live it.


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  1. Freiburg

     /  August 23, 2013

    You definitely will be great parents, it is so touching to see how loving and understanding you are! Six days to go, am so excited for you.

  2. It’s great to envision yourself as parents together. And someday your child will know how very wanted he or she was, which seems one of the greatest securities of all.

    I often felt, when on all the estrogen, very emotional. I continue to feel this way. Your job must make this extra hard, though it sounds rewarding as well.

    • I think I saw a New Yorker cartoon on one of the blogs—two kids playing, talking about a third in the background. One says to the other: “He’s an IVF baby—that means he was *really* wanted.” It makes me laugh. Yes, the estrogen is proving to be more challenging than I expected! Last night I got a full-on wave of nausea out of nowhere and had to lie down. The side effects seem to come and go—maybe a prelude to the symptoms to come…


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