Truth is Revealed in the Unknown
I just completed 4 weeks in quarantine with two small boys under 5 while working full time from home. This past Thursday my eldest and I were butting heads all day that by mid afternoon we both needed a time out and I logged off and went to sleep during quiet time. When I woke up I felt like the worst mom for not being able to stay calm and collected while my son had a meltdown. And who can blame him? I think we are all on edge.
Later that night, while video chatting with my sister, she said my hair looked like the Mad Hatter from Alice and Wonderland and I replied, “It surely does feel like I am in a rabbit hole, going deeper and deeper with no end in sight.” There are many rabbit holes that we find ourselves in at different points in our life. In most cases, we are alone in the darkness, but this global COVID-19 pandemic has swallowed us whole and we are all trying to navigate this “new” landscape together. But for some of us, the struggle is ongoing and the pandemic just heightened or resurfaced many of the inequalities and social injustices that are felt and experienced on a regular basis, especially in healthcare.
When my husband and I decided to start our family and realized that after a year of trying unsuccessfully we needed to consult with a professional, his insurance provided infertility coverage. Throughout our seven years of seeking medical help to conceive, I was one of the lucky ones not to have to add the burden of finances to the pile of disappointment, embarrassment, anxiety and loss, just to name a few. But there are many families who do not have the health insurance coverage or finances to pursue this option. I wonder how many started on this path last month just to be laid off and lose the very medical coverage that would help them possibly get close to their dream of conceiving? Or the couple that finally made the decision to pursue fertility treatment just to be faced with another obstacle, COVID-19. Or the woman who after grieving a loss decided to get back up and try again only to lose coverage. It is concerning that just a month in quarantine wiped out 3 years of national employment growth and crippled many health systems. When we live in silos, we cannot see that our pain is shared among millions day to day and this crisis has lifted the curtains exposing a broken system.
For many of us who have experienced a pregnancy loss, it is a silent grieving process even among couples. When there was no heartbeat, I asked how long ago did it stop. The doctor told us maybe a week or more. There was very little growth from the last visit. I chose to take the pills and induce my body to remove my lifeless pregnancy. This was a Friday. And I took the pills that weekend and by Monday I was back at work. Life did not stop. There was no pause. There was no reset button. Plus my eldest son’s birthday was in a week and we decided to move forward with plans for a small get together and a trip to the aquarium.
I look back now and I think I wanted to stay distracted to not focus on what just happened. In our society, we live in the fast lane, working 60+ hours, trying to make that money to enjoy a better life. But when will that ever happen if we cannot slow down and just breathe? On his birthday we went to the aquarium and we were rushing to get back home to be there when the first guest arrived, but we needed to pick up the pizza and the cake. By the time we got to the house, I was completely overstimulated and exhausted and my husband exploded and I went upstairs and just started to cry. Our family and friends were downstairs, unaware of the hurt I was hiding and my husband found me and through the tears I told him how I felt in that moment. We held each other and in our pain we found strength to go back downstairs and celebrate my son’s 2nd birthday.
During this quarantine I realized that we cannot go back to the old normal. We must be able to redefine and modify our existence to address the everyday human realities that we encounter like pregnancy loss. We should be able to grieve. We should be able to take bereavement. We should be able to afford fertility treatment. It is important that we reveal our truths during this time. All the energy it takes to “hide” parts of our lives are now exposed. Our vulnerabilities are uniting us. Our creativity is moving us forward. For me writing and drawing are wonderful outlets to give a voice to an experience or emotion. Taking pictures and videos capture the now and can speak to me differently at each viewing. During this time, it is a challenge to grieve without physical touch, but let’s use our other senses to express our feelings and capture the hearts of many and stay connected. For positive change to happen, we must be accountable for each other. We must take care of each other. We must embrace our joys and heartache together and recognize that when we bind together, our collective strength can move mountains.