Another year, another birthday. This is the first year where I have really felt my age: now 34. My 20s brought a lot of changes in our lives and then early 30s was just adding a number to the year, but I have become increasingly aware of my age. I think it is directly related to how much time I spent around pregnant women in my support group for women who had experienced losses. At 35, you are high-risk for age alone. When I was first pregnant with Nelle, I was 31. Now it feels like I have aged 100 years since then.
Two years ago on my birthday, it had been barely six weeks since losing Nelle. I can see the anguish on my face in pictures from that day – I was terribly strained in holding myself together. Last year, I had lost both Nelle and Iris, and still uncertain about the path of a third attempt at a third child. I was not pregnant on my birthday at any point with the babies that I lost, and now consider that fortunate that I don’t have to be further reminded. This is finally the year when I feel like I can celebrate.
Another milestone as well: the last day (most likely) with my therapist. I started seeing her shortly after losing Nelle so it has been slightly over two years. In the beginning she pushed me hard to grapple with the guilt that I felt. She challenged me to think about things in a different way. She saw me through the devastation of losing Iris. And I continued my weekly appointments throughout this pregnancy.
A few months ago, I noticed a lack of being nudged in the positive way I’d felt previously. I had passed all of the major pregnancy milestones. Sometimes I would be talking and she would interrupt and “and you felt x?” To which I would respond “well no, actually I felt y.” It felt like she assumed everything would be fine with my pregnancy, when I was still a wreck.
Then when I was about 34 weeks pregnant, she wasn’t able to schedule my weekly appointment. I have had the same day/time for two years and she had given my spot to another client. I was a complete disaster with anxiety. My OBGYN even commented how unfortunate it was that I wasn’t able to see her that week when I melted down in the office.
Autumn was born, and once I could drive again I re-stared my sessions. Again, she gave away my weekly spot. The sessions were feeling more like “chit chat” rather than exploring pregnancy after loss. I wasn’t just “fine” now that I had my baby. A friend of mine is a therapist and was surprised that my therapist kept booking my spot with other clients. She also said that sometimes therapists keep seeing clients “beyond therapeutic value.” They came in for a specific reason, and the therapist worked through that reason, but keep seeing them to keep collecting session fees. I began to feel that was happening with me and that my therapist was not a good fit for me anymore. But – since I had hit my insurance out of pocket, I wasn’t paying anything for the sessions. However, our insurance plan year begins again on November 1st. I started to plan in my head that this would be a good reason to part ways.
I wore the same shirt I wore for my very first therapy session. I don’t think it was intentional; just a shirt that fit my postpartum shape. At the end of the season she told me – again – that she had not saved a spot for me next week, but could do November 1st. I told her that I would be incurring copays starting that day, and we had made some budget changes and weekly therapy was no longer in the budget. I said I might come in every few months or so to not be so abrupt, but I doubt I’ll be back.
Instead, I will lean on friends and others when I need it. Two years ago I thought the support group was not the right fit for me and individual therapy was better; now I have found that the support group is what I need because they understand even after years have passed. I started therapy with the goal of being mentally healthy and I feel like I’m there. Grief still visits me, but I have accepted that and know how to live with it.
So here’s to starting Year 34 in a different way, from many angles.