Still pregnant (and struggling with feelings)
November 3, 2017 4:26 PM   Subscribe

This was me a few weeks ago - pregnant and at grad school. How do I move on from this event and care for myself in a respectful way?

This will not surprise most of you, however, he was sleeping around with other students. There's also been an element of drug taking and coming to work wasted. He's an all round great chap. I've ended up bringing up the issue with one of the other program managers but I feel like they've ignored me.

I'm still pregnant and have reluctantly decided to have a termination, which isn't for another week. I've told the guy, who has reacted in a typical way and doesn't want to destroy his family (other baby incoming). The feelings of shame are lessened because I realise his actions are beyond me but I still feel very stressed/powerless/high anxiety. No doubt the hormones of being six weeks pregnant are also flowing.

Can you please give me baby steps/ideas/reads to get through the next week and beyond caring for myself in a respectful way? I have a holiday booked this morning to go to a yoga retreat with a friend on the 23rd of November but I desperately need to keep my head above water until then. Please assume I am mostly alone and have to work during this time - with no family within 12 hours flight.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wow, that is very hard.

I can only speak for myself. If it were me, and I were terminating, I'd be focusing on (1) getting through that and then (2) suing the living shit out of the university if they don't fire him.

It's not noble but that's where I'd be. One thing at a time.

For (1) it might help to think about keeping the potential soul in the peaceful beyond, rather than bringing it to earth under these circumstances. YMMV on whether that's a useful framing.

For (2) you'd want an attorney who specializes in this sort of thing.

One thing at a time, one day at a time. Good luck. It'll be ok. You're smart and strong, you'll get through this.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:42 PM on November 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am so so proud of you, ok? List all of your favorite things to do/read/eat/drink/see and try to do only those things until at least you've had the procedure done. Be kind to yourself--I mean it! You did NOTHING WRONG. NOTHING. AT ALL. Keep up your gallows humor because it will serve you super well during this time, but feel free to lose your shit and get emotional too. What is happening is not fucking fair, and it's okay to be mad about that.

I wish I had more concrete advice for you but I am thinking about you and high fiving you from afar!!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 5:12 PM on November 3, 2017 [39 favorites]

My recommendation for the next week is to go as off the radar as you possibly can. Stay away from campus if at all possible, do not talk to that man, feel free to indulge in (healthy) escapism. If you want to spend all your non-work time for the next week enveloped in Netflix and pajamas, do that. Live off chicken pot pies, deli sandwiches, and canned soup if that takes some stress off you.

When I need to seriously power down I usually read books because that keeps me off the internet. This might be a good week to re-read old favorites or maybe dive into a series you've been interested in, or pick some memoirs/bioraphies if you find that kind of writing compelling.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:14 PM on November 3, 2017 [17 favorites]

Please send me a memail.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:21 PM on November 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

You mention your parents in the previous question, can you tell them? Are there friends you can tell? Can you seek counseling through your school? Shitty program directors and abortions are both things that fester in silence, and you don't have to be alone right now.

I also don't know your life, but I have been a grad student and had jobs, and you probably don't actually have to work, certainly not the whole time. You can, if the distraction helps. But people get sick all the time, you can get some slack here. Do as much as you can of whatever you want to do. You have a lot of big choices with no perfect outcomes - allow yourself to enjoy the things you can control and do want (yoga? the most delicious, nourishing foods? sleeping in?)

And yeah, I suggest that if you're in the US at some point you tell the Title IX coordinator - I have talked to one, they had some options for courses of action, some of which allowed maintaining anonymity (YMWV) and I'm happy with how that situation worked out. It sounds like your program director is probably on their radar already.
posted by momus_window at 5:22 PM on November 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

When I made the decision to terminate a pregnancy, the way I honored myself was by reminding myself that it was the best decision for myself and for that child. Based on my criteria that I used for making the decision, and based on the circumstances and long-term outlook for my life.

My recs for keeping from ruminating (aside from sleeping as much as you need to) is try to do a short term research project, watch truly awful anti-warm&fuzzy stuff (at one point I remember binge-watching Dexter) and maybe getting into a little volunteer project, like organizing all the shelves or files or pictures for someone. Something with a deadline but that isn't critical.

On top of the termination, I've also had a lot of early miscarriages (before 9wks). You didn't ask, and maybe you've already heard other people's anecdotes, but ime your body starts to feel not pregnant 3-5 days after it is no longer pregnant. Bodywise you feel totally normal within a week. So count on continuing to rest and nourish yourself well for that additional week, but after that physically you will likely be ready to go back to your regular routine (which is also something to be aware of, the dissonance that might come up between how your body feels and how you might be feeling psychologically. You deal with it the same way, by reminding yourself of the criteria you used to make the decision in the first place).

Feel free to memail me if you'd like me to elaborate, or if you'd like to chat.
posted by vignettist at 6:38 PM on November 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can probably find this on Youtube, but I'm giving the Spotify link...

The artist is ZenLifeRelax. Track is called 432hz Deep Relax.

Here it is on Youtube. 3 hours of it.

Just listen. Be well.
posted by jbenben at 6:43 PM on November 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

The period before a termination can be really, really stressful. First of all, yes, do not under-estimate the hormones swimming around your body right now. Second of all, it is completely normal to be anxious about the procedure itself. Lastly, it's also okay to have doubts and to be sad. That doesn't mean it was the wrong decision.

For what it's worth, I was afraid of a lot of things. One of those things was that there seemed to be a lot of stories about women who wished they hadn't done it, lived lives of regret, and mourned the anniversary every year. Absolutely none of that happened to me, and now more than a decade later I can't even remember what season that was, let alone the date. I wish I'd known the things I was most afraid of were not going to happen.

So with all of that in mind, the most important act of self-care is to remind yourself that this too shall pass. The next 10 days are going to be difficult, and a roller coaster, and whatever you can do to make yourself feel better is good. Ice cream. A pedicure. Netflix binges. Guided meditation. A yoga class. Naps.

But don't ever forget that it takes tremendous strength to choose the hard thing, and you should recognise and honour that strength within you. It will see you through.

If you have a friend - any friend - you can unload on who will support you, lean on her. If you don't, you can PM me your number if you want and I'll be your jesus christ academia is a cess pool and abortion is the pits friend.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:34 PM on November 3, 2017 [33 favorites]

If you are in the Philadelphia area and want someone to go with you for support (or stupid jokes or whatever you need), please DM me.
posted by mcduff at 8:33 PM on November 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you want to talk about what it's like or want to chat with someone who has been thru something very similar, please feel free to memail me. The time between the decision and the procedure sucks. Be suuuper nice to yourself. I have never regretted terminating and what DarlingBri wrote also resonates with me.
posted by quince at 9:39 PM on November 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you've made the decision give yourself permission not to think about it again. Basically it's a done deal and you're done and past it already mentally. Just don't think about it at all if you can and rest your brain a little. That will help a lot. The actual procedure isn't bad and like other posters I have had zero regrets, especially seeing what a nightmare time friends who are forced to co-parent with idiots have doing so.

I will give you a bit of advice here on the work-awkward- end of things. You are there to advance your career. Definitely don't talk to anyone about this at the program or university or in the industry/ field of study unless you do decide to make a formal complaint. Lie freely to your peers if you feel like it, you owe no one anything. And decide if you want to pursue it formally or not then stick to your guns. This is not something you "bring up" to a program director. Did you expect a resolution without having to go through a formal process? You won't get one and if someone "brought up" something like this up to me heads would roll because they'd have to because I would have to escalate it. So just be wise and talk it over with someone who does not know these people. Only talk to people affiliated with the university if you can be assured of their confidence until you decide how to proceed with the university- like a counselor.

Personally, I would not begin to think about suing the university as advised and would be extremely reluctant to put it out there at all. You are 35, probably a peer of this man age-wise, and it was consensual plus you knew he was married. He will have a lawyer that will not pull any punches. It'll be a fucking mess that you don't need. He is sleeping with students and coming to work wasted, he's on borrowed time, you can stay out of it with a clear conscience. Don't discuss with the other women he's slept with either. Practice good judgement here. I think it will be a huge relief to give yourself permission to let it go. I know you feel shame but you are hardly the only person to ever find themselves in this position, it's a very human thing, none of us is perfect.
posted by fshgrl at 9:59 PM on November 3, 2017 [9 favorites]

Similar to Mcduff, but if you're in NYC and want company, I'm available via meta mail.
posted by Caz721 at 10:49 PM on November 3, 2017

If in Sydney, memail me. You do not need to be alone.
posted by jadepearl at 1:43 AM on November 4, 2017

I used to be a crisis pregnancy counselor for Planned Parenthood. What you're feeling is absolutely 100% normal. And truthfully, ANYTHING you feel about your situation is absolutely 100% normal! Be kind to yourself, know that you are making the best decision for yourself given the situation as it is at this moment, and, you will be okay.

I would be more than happy to talk to you and can be reached via MeMail. I wish you the best and I am proud of you for being the grownup in this situation.
posted by cooker girl at 6:46 AM on November 4, 2017 [11 favorites]

This is a YMMV situation, and there’s nothing you can take action on about what I’m going to say, but I’ll say it in case it’s comforting. Pregnancy hormones can be powerfully affecting to your emotions, and that effect can go away really quickly and completely when the pregnancy ends.

When I had an abortion twenty years ago, I was an emotionally volatile unmoored mess until it happened. Immediately afterwards, while I still had things to be upset about, I was back to my emotionally grounded baseline. Hopefully, your experience will be similar.
posted by LizardBreath at 9:20 AM on November 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

For self-care, exercise (walks, swimming, etc.) if you feel you have the energy. Even 10 minutes of walking can be really helpful when your mood is low. If it's not great weather for walking outside, housecleaning with an upbeat playlist can have a similar uplifting. Distraction can be really helpful-- maybe it's time to watch all however-many seasons of Downton Abbey or Buffy or whatever your favorite escape-TV genre has to offer.

Also, if you happen to be in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area and would like a supportive, non-judgmental person to meet for coffee/walk or go with you to your procedure, memail me. I'm a freelance writer and my schedule is flexible.
posted by tuesdayschild at 1:40 PM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're in Atlanta, drop me a line.

You will be ok.
posted by jessicapierce at 3:48 PM on November 4, 2017

have reluctantly decided

You don't have to do it if you don't want to.

Be kind to yourself. I may be biased, but I find massages to be a very good way to get soothed with loving touch but also it can be totally impersonal with zero expectations on you. I don't know if you can afford it but even a half hour can be very nurturing.

In times of stress warm easy comforting foods like chicken soup are my go to. I also find that having lots of low effort /low cleanup food available helps me a lot. (Frozen meals, or even Ensure).

Your family is too far to visit but, are they too far to call? Even if you don't want to tell them what is going on with you, if you have a good relationship with them just talking to them or telling them you're having a nonspecific hard time might be helpful for you.

If you like yoga are some gentle/restorative yoga poses at home something that you could incorporate into your life?

Animals are very very soothing for a lot of folks. Is going to a dog park or pet shop and petting/playing with the animals (with permission) for a little bit something that appeals to you?

I find guided mindfulness meditations to be really helpful especially if I do it on a daily basis. I especially like these ones from UCLA, the shortest of which is only 3 minutes long.

The main thing I think though is just to like... Be nice to yourself. Say nice words to yourself instead of harsh ones. You are having a tough time right now. Give yourself the love and compassion that you'd give your best friend.
posted by windykites at 8:24 PM on November 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Please be gentle with yourself. It is okay to have complex and sometimes even contradictory feelings about the things you are experiencing. Feel free to MeMail for further support in Portland OR.
posted by sutureselves at 2:47 PM on November 5, 2017

Being six weeks pregnant SUCKS. For many women, that's when pregnancy hormones are really ramping up.
Every time I have been six weeks pregnant, I have had horrible feelings of nausea and exhaustion, and also just tons of feelings of sadness and doubt and terribleness. It's debilitating.

Even me, with an easy job and a loving partner by my side who will do all the housework and cook dinner and rub my back when I feel sick, even having been through this part of pregnancy a couple of times before, despite wanting my pregnancy very much, I STILL spent my sixth week of pregnancy (and let's be honest, several following weeks as well) spending 100% of my free time hiding in bed feeling miserable.

Have compassion for yourself. You can respect yourself and honor what you are going through by listening to what your body needs for the next couple of weeks. If that is mostly to lay on the couch, watch dumb TV shows, read steamy fanfiction, and eat lots of chicken pot pies and ice cream, go ahead. It's OK to spend a couple weeks in "survival mode." You'll be back to your usual awesome self soon.

(And for what it's worth, I cheered when I read this question. I've been thinking about you since your last question. I think you're doing the right thing and I think you will look back on this as the best decision you could make in this shitty situation.) Hang in there and know that people care about you!
posted by beandip at 11:02 AM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

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