The Year of Not Quite Living—Part Two: One Step Up, Three Stumbles Down

Losing my job after moving my young family to another state was hard.  Not having another job prospect once I returned home was harder.  Finding out I was pregnant with my third child was beyond ridiculous on the stress meter.  It wasn’t like I had planned this. No, in fact, my husband and I were already in a frantic pace trying to figure out how to make our house payments, car payments and pay for groceries, (not to mention health care) on his part-time salary.    But, here we were, with a 1-year-old, a 2-year-old, and one on the way.  What should have been a joyous time of planning, excited calls to family to share the news, and re-reading “Things to Expect When You’re Expecting” was marred by the fact that we had no idea how we were going to survive.  I had been interviewing of course, beginning the day after I lost my job.  I had great credentials, good references, but always seemed to come in at a close second place for each job. Or, the job just evaporated, with companies still reeling from the 2008 recession.

The Pit of depression was getting deeper and darker for me.  How did I let all of this happen?  I worked so hard all of my life to do the right thing—being the first person in my family to graduate university, doing multitudes of unpaid internships during undergrad to build my resume, doing the tough jobs that nobody else wanted to do, but I knew would get me noticed and promoted.  Yet, here I was—pregnant and unemployed.  And—dealing with two babies while being bombarded with pregnancy hormones that made me feel even more like a big, fat, failure.

And then, I got a break.   A retail health care chain needed help developing a customer service program for their service staff. It was a contract position for just a few months, but it was something.  Finally.  A step up.  The light at the top of The Pit was just a speck, but it was there.

The day after I started my contract with this client, my husband and I went in for our requisite 10-week ultrasound of the baby.  Because I was close to 40 and had several miscarriages in my past, this was considered a high-risk pregnancy.   During the exam, the technician carelessly said to us, “Well, you must already know that there’s a problem with this baby.”  The air was sucked out of the room for me.  I heard nothing other than the bleeps of the sonogram machine and my heart beating.  When the technician realized from the shocked look on our faces that no, we didn’t in fact know that there was a problem with the baby, she abruptly excused herself from the room and got the doctor on staff.  I have little to no recollection of what happened next, other than I went into the exam hopeful to see the first images of my baby, and leaving knowing that the baby was likely not to survive out of the womb, should it –or I–survive the full term of pregnancy.

The next few weeks were a blur of more doctors’ visits, calls to a few close friends and family, lots and lots of crying, and trying to pull myself together each day to show up for my consulting gig as if everything was great.  In the end, my husband and I left our last doctor appointment with me no longer pregnant, and just like that—the small pinhole of light that I saw in The Pit was gone again.

I felt massively guilty—not only did I lose my job, but I lost my baby as well.  I pulled away from my babies, my husband and my friends—I was not good enough for anyone anymore.  Had I known that help for me would come shortly, I may not have come as close to giving up completely.   More to come in my next entry:  Part Three:  Fumbling Toward the Light