Saturday, October 25, 2008


Some of the medication has begun to help. I'm feeling a little less panicky and jittery, a little less weepy. Still scared. Still sad. Still lost.

Maybe a little more lost. Trying to figure out, again, how to go on with the next 6 months. To confront somethings or to withdraw from them. As I type that the lump in my throat grows and my eyes get a little glassy.

C is working hard to take care of me, but he still struggles. Needs his own time to heal. It is a weight on his shoulders.

The psychiatrist says to err on the side of pulling too far back from stressors like school, so I can heal. C says just focus on getting better. If I do that, my studies get pushed back probably six months. At least. What does it do to my professional development? What does it do to the rest of my life? What does six months matter in all this? Where am I actually going with my studies. What does any of this matter? In the scheme of things, what does any of it matter?

Talking with some of my colleagues/classmates, they say push through. You'll be glad when it's done. Some say confront the rigid prof, push her to work with you, to give you some leeway. We have always had a sort of odd relationship. All of this scares me. I want to run and hide. I want to quit.

Talking with a colleague, a wonderfully supportive one who has not been afraid to talk to me in my grief, has said to find someone else to teach you this course. Do it in a different way. Even with the drugs I feel flushed with anxiety, and fear of even trying.

I am tired of crying in front of my faculty. I'm tired of crying in front of my mentor. I'm tired of feeling like I'm just failing at everything. Even with good days, and good hours...i'm just so tired of it.

I had a good talk with one of my profs (SL), someone I'm taking an advanced research course with. Her role in the department is kind of transdisciplinary, and she in addition to the social issues around education, she also works with the Women's Studies and the Family Studies departments (neither of which have phd programs). I was following up with her about a conversation we had had about "amb.iguous losses" and how I was starting to see my interest in research head in that direction: the idea of what makes a mother, a baby, a family, how losses of babies -- before and after they take a breath -- gets discussed or not discussed. The new so-called "cult of mo.mmy". (Of course, the rigid prof specializes in girlhoods and femininity).

It was a good conversation, even though I admitted to her (SL) that I hadn't really come in to see her with any specific question or point. I talked a little about what my experience was like at school after I lost the boys. About how hard it was to see those birth announcements everyday fr 4 or 5 or 6 months. About what a hard time people seem to have talking about these things and how that furthers the innate sense of isolation of a new DBM.

I talked to her about how I had come to this community of smart, articulate, supportive, loving grieving mamas; what a safe and wonderful place it is; and what it said that many of us had to go outside of the traditional routes or institutions to find a safe place. It occurred to me that it might be worth studying the idea that one of the few safe places for people like us to deal with this, with something almost as common as autism, was so far outside the everyday community.


Something that left me speechless? This awesome prof told me (with glassy eyes) that when the initial email went around to faculty announcing happened, it was made clear that I preferred not to talk about it, not to be approached by faculty about it directly. Perhaps that followed the initial announcement.

Way back when, when I sent the chair an email asking her to let folks know, I told her it was because it wold be too hard to make the announcement over and over again. Maybe she took that as "don't talk to her about it." All my colleagues, the other grad students greeted me with hugs and cards and tears. Very few faculty approached me, and all this time I've wondered why.

I don't know what do do next, personally, professionally.

I don't know how to end this post.


Reese said...


The people saying push through it are not/have never endured what you are enduring. If I was in grad school when this happened to me (and not in a job already), I don't know how I would find the energy to proceed (as it was hard enough to get motivated without any extra stress). It was hard to crawl back to my job as a mourning woman amongst a bunch of military men. Even then I had to ask if I could do this/wanted to continue this gig.

You don't have to make any permanent decisions. But you may want to take the time to think about your options right now.

Thinking of you---Reese

Ya Chun said...

Academics are such a weird lot (and I say that from the inside). I couldn't imagine continuing my phd program while going thru deadbaby grief.
Consider all your options.

Hugs and a reminder to take deep braeths

Thalia said...

This is such a frustrating story. They were only trying to do the right thing, yet they've hurt you more by doing so.

Perhaps that you'll find that having had this conversation with awesome prof, the others might get the message?

Tash said...

I like your convo with Awesome Prof. You know, I've found that turning my attention back on this issue over this past year (with GITW, specifically) has really helped *me.* It's made me realize this is the one area of my life where I don't have to fake it, really -- I *know* this. I know how shitty it feels. I know what to say. And maybe some out of body academic focus like that might be good for you, too? Channeling that energy into something constructive? I like that idea.

I can't imagine my profs speaking to me about something like this, even if the email had said otherwise.

Antigone said...

I had family, friends, and colleagues circulating those types of 'leave her alone' e-mail. I needed to talk more than anything.

CLC said...

That stinks that your original message was mis-interpreted. I would be upset too. At the same time, does it make you feel any better about some of those people? That maybe they aren't the ogres you thought they were, but maybe they were just trying to respect what they thought were your wishes? I still am frustrated with people when they don't say anything to me or acknowledge that I had a baby. But then I find myself wondering how I would have handled this from the other end 11 months out. I don't know that I would be any better at it. It's just a shame that in society, it is the rare person who is able to show empathy and compassion and that it's easier for most to brush it under the rug. I hope maybe your prof learned something from her conversation with you.

luna said...

it's nice to know you have someone you can talk to there. and I'm glad the meds are working a bit.

you have been through so very much this year, sue. I know the months leading up to the anniv will be tough. it can get harder before it gets easier. I hope you do what you need to do for you.

niobe said...

I think that that kind of misinterpretation happens far too often. When I called my rabbi after my twins died, he somehow heard me say "don't visit, don't write and don't call" when I thought I was saying just the opposite.

I think that, in these circumstances, people often hear what they want to hear.