Thursday, 12 January 2012

Making Sacrifices vs Being Paraniod

One of the first things that happens when you find out you're pregnant is you have to start giving things up. We give up our beloved glass or two of wine (perhaps not as beloved to some as it is to me,, but I digress). We give up soft cheese and pate. We try and cut back on the junk food and eat more fruit and veg. We make sacrifices in order to have a healthy baby.

The purpose of this post is not to boo hoo about the fact that I can no longer enjoy a nice glass of wine or two with dinner. It's also not meant to debate what exactly pregnant women should or should not eat, drink, or do. I am by no means an expert, especially since my only pregnancy prior to this one resulted in a dead baby... so what do I know??

The purpose of writing this is to explore at what point are we making sacrifices, and at what point are we just being paranoid? I know of women who have given up all kinds of things; artificial sweeteners, caffeine, salad at restaurants (due to fear that the leaves aren't washed properly), processed foods, salad bars, buffet restaurants, tap water, etc. I have also known of women who won't go to places where there may be second hand smoke or won't ride any form of public transport for fear of germs.

On the flip side I have known women who didn't sacrifice anything. They drank wine, went snow skiing, smoked like chimneys, and ate all the brie and camembert they wanted to. Guess what? Their babies were absolutely fine.

I have been struggling with a bit of a dilemma lately. As most of you know, I do not work outside the home. I'm a stay at home wife who has been desperately trying to turn into a stay at home Mom for the past 9 years or so. I did work as a teacher before we moved to the UK, but when we moved here we decided to focus more on the whole baby making thing and as a result I've not been in paid work.

One of the things I do with my time is to volunteer at a local primary school (that's elementary school to my US readers). I go in once a week and read with kids who need extra help. It's something that I really enjoy and is the closest thing to a job that I've got. It makes me feel good to know that I'm helping children who struggle to read to get better. It makes me feel like I'm still contributing to society. I love my time each week at the school.

Working there has been a part of both my "old" normal and my "new" normal. Going back to work at the school was a huge part of my recovery after losing my son. As I shared on this blog about a year ago, going back and reading with the kids was something that made me feel "normal" again.

So it seems odd to me that I am now going to be giving up my time with the students in order to keep my little Frosty safe. I can't figure out if it's reasonable caution, or pure paranoia?

As we all know, schools are a breeding ground for all kinds of viruses, illness, and germs. Kids go to school and wipe their snot and saliva all over everything. They are ever so generous with all the germs they are carrying.

When I was pregnant with my son I didn't worry about this. I have a fairly strong immune system due to all my years working with children. I wash my hands a lot and try not to touch my face when I'm at school.

But then my son died at 36 weeks. The reason?? An infection or virus that attacked his placenta. This virus or infection was of unknown origin. There was no trace of it left when they did the post mortem so I don't even know what it was for sure. I don't recall ever being sick during pregnancy either so it's all a big mystery.

I also have no way to know where it came from. I am not trying to say that it came from the children at school. I live in London, I take taxi's, and I ride public transport. I go to the shopping centre and I shop at the grocery store. There are a million places where I could have picked up this killer bug.

The teacher in me keeps saying, "You know, teachers have babies all the time. You're just being paranoid." But the Baby Loss Mom in me knows what it's like when it all goes horribly wrong. She knows what it's like to have to read a post mortem report for her baby. She knows what it's like to have to pick up her son's ashes from the crematorium. She knows what it's like to have to return all the baby shower gifts. Her voice keeps saying to me, "Why take any chances?"

I've been going back and forth with this since I found out I was pregnant. My mind has been battling this decision, not sure what exactly to do. But then this week I noticed a strange red rash on the face and hands of a little girl I was reading with.

And I totally freaked out!

There was a very real fear that I've never experienced before. Like I wanted to immediately run out of the room and shower in anti-bacterial gel. A visceral and primal instinct to protect Frosty. Of course I didn't run from the room because I didn't want to alarm the students.

Instead I waited until I got home and talked it over with The Hubby. He told me that he wanted it to be my decision and wouldn't share his opinion unless I really wanted him to. So I asked him and he said that he wanted me to stop going. His opinion is why take chances that you don't have to.

So I have decided not to go back. It's a big sacrifice because I love going and I know the students who I read with really need my help. But I can't get over my paranoia, or caution, or whatever it is,,, and this time I don't think I want to.

Maybe sometimes it's OK to be just a little bit paranoid??


  1. Well, what are you going to do if you decide to have a sibling for frosty? kids are walking petri dishes, but so are hospitals. If you got a severe infection in your placenta, chances are it came from inside you, we are all carriers of bacteria and viruses that only flair up when are immunity is under attack, like when we're pregnant. You may have even gotten it during an egg retrieval or an internal exam. This is a job that you love, avoiding children and hospitals, or putting yourself in a bubble, or washing yourself down with Purel every day isn't the answer.

    My sister has a rash on her hands and face, as well as her legs and arms almost all the time, it is called eczema and is quite common to get flare ups in winter months. I am glad you didn't run from that girl, ppl have been treating my sister like a leper all of her life, and it is upsetting to say the least.If you work in a school, you know that a kid is sent home at the slightest sign of a fever, rash, or cough until they are proven to not be contagious, with a doctor's note no less.

  2. I think it is a bit of both caution and paranoia. I mean, look at what you experienced before. I have never been through anything like that but feel I would respond the same way. I would want to do whatever I could to make this time turn out differently. I think you need to do what makes it easier for you to sleep at night and worry less.

    Take care!

  3. I think you're paranoid, but you know what....I think that's how pregnancy after loss goes! I think every little thing makes us crazy because we have been that 1% freak chance before and we don't want to be it ever again! I think if there is something that helps you to worry just a little less (not volunteering) then you should take a break. My doctor told me to do anything that would make me worry less because lets face it, the worry is constant so we take what we can get. I think this is the right decision for you because no matter what people say you will worry every time you go and we know you don't need that extra nagging at your mind that this is hurting frosty. Stick to your decision because if it is right for you then it IS right!

  4. I think you need to do what you think is best and feels right for you. Only you can decide. Paranoid or not, it doesn't matter. Are you going to have someone tell the children. I think you should probably have someone do that so they know what is going on. Take care. Praying for a healthy pregnancy and baby to hold in your arms, take home and love on.

  5. Absolutely it does. Infection plays heavily in my loss of the twins, too. The only thing I've done differently since is taken a daily Femdophilus pill to try and keep the good guys versus bad guys bacteria ratio in my vag balanced. Once I do conceive again - if that happens - I plan to double the dose of that and add supplements to strengthen the crap out of my amniotic sac(s), since SROM also played a part in our loss. I did eat a (fabulous!) Caesar salad while pregnant and I'll never do that yummy as it was. I think once we're on this side, we do whatever it takes, no matter if someone else thinks we're paranoid or not. They would be, too, if they experienced the Hell we live in today.

  6. My husband works at an elementary school, and I'll never forget the look on his face when the doctor mentioned testing for fifth's disease and saying that it's often spread by kids in classrooms. He was so scared that he might have brought home something that killed our baby. I tested negative, so her death remains a mystery, but I completely understand your fear. Similar thoughts ran through my head last night as I ate a spinach salad at a restaurant, but asked for it with mozzarella instead of blue cheese (and how I love blue cheese). Last time I was pregnant, I'd occasionally have a sip of my husband's beer or wine, just to get the taste of it with a meal. I know that's not what killed my baby, but I can't do it this time. Maybe it's paranoia, maybe it's caution. I just know that if something goes wrong, I couldn't bear to feel that I brought it on myself.

    The truth is, there's no way to control everything you're exposed to, and you can't stop living just because you're pregnant. But you CAN control some things, and if reducing your risk of exposure to germs is something that you can do, then why not do it? I'm sure the kids benefit from having you there, and obviously you'll miss it, but peace of mind is hard to come by in a pregnancy after loss. If this makes you breathe easier, then it's definitely the right decision.

  7. Mamma you do what you need to do to keep your own sanity.. in these times of anxiety, hope and a bit of fear it is all we can do to keep sane. XO

  8. Goodness. I think you are entitled to do whatever makes you feel comfortable in this situation. If I were in your shoes I think I would feel the same way and would stop going. As to the infection to placenta comment...I'm not a doctor so I don't know but even though it ends up in your body and system you never know where it started. I think the fact you go about other daily life and aren't talking about being a germ-a-phobic means that you are just being cautious in this scenario. I agree that it's important to have someone follow up with the kids...I'm sure you've thought of that :) Take care of yourself

  9. One thing I learned from my loss is that we can't control things, but you should do whatever gives you peace. Those kids will still be there when you have the time to go back, when your baby is grown and in school:D I will definitely be more careful in my next pregnancy with food and germs (last time i had a french doctor who told me everything was ok -wine, cheese, caffeine), and it ended up I had an undiagnosed kidney disease that was not helped in the least by those things. So, in short, I agree with you. You are not paranoid, you are cautious.

  10. I feel your pain. I posted about this very subject the other day (though I admit in a far less eloquent way):

    I found that for me the best I could do was give up control. I hope you find a road that suits you.

  11. Stuff what anyone else says or thinks!! You are DA MOM and you do exactly what you feel is right!! You're an intelligent woman and don't need to be told the obvious (there are germs here, there are germs there..yada yada) you just need to feel good about YOU. Let mother nature and your gut guide you here, it's no-one else's journey but yours (and hubbys too of course). Some people may think that their 'advice' is good for you, but sometimes people just need to be as empathic as they can and just support each other.
    I would be doing EXACTLY the same as as you. :-)
    Thinking of you x

  12. There's no question - those students are GOING to be there when you deliver Frosty. There's no reason to live afraid for nine months if you don't have to. If you have the strength to make the sacrifice and miss the kids, then the peace of mind is worth it.

  13. When you are pregnant its only natural to be paranoid and then take make sacrifices as a precaution. I remember before I ate most things I checked on the internet to be sure I could. I still do it with my son, now. I think in the scheme of things a few months without pate or a drink is not bad. Sometimes we are at our healthiest when we are pregnant because we are so cautious. As your hubby said whey take a risk if its not necessary. To what you have to do to feel safe.

  14. It is ABSOLUTELY ok. I hope you feel confident in this decision, don't second guess it. You didn't freak out and quit right there, you came home, thought it over discussed it with your husband and made a rational choice.

    1. Perfectly put Amelia x

  15. I'm no medical professional but I'm sure the chances of something bad happening to your baby as a result of you working in the school are so very slim. However, I am also sure you made the right decision. There's no point in taking risks when you don't have to and also no point in stressing yourself unnecessarily as that wouldn't be good for you either.

  16. I have not lost a child as you have, but I came close (my son was born with a congenital heart defect). My son has multiple VSD's (holes in heart) So many, in fact, the doctors couldn't count all of them. We were told to keep him away from sick kids, from the public in general. Now despite the fact he is now over a year old and the majority of his holes have grown over (ensuring he won't need open heart surgery, thank god!) I still cringe whenever I see a sick kid around mine. I think I might carry that fear around for quite sometime yet.

    In your case, I don't think it necessarily comes down to whether you are being paranoid or not, merely your own mental well being. If you are stressing yourself out then that's not good for you or the baby. This is your body, your pregnancy, your child. If you feel being around kids is a risk, no matter how small, then don't take it. I didn't, and I've managed to keep my sanity! :) (Even if the majority of my family think I'm being a bit "paranoid").

  17. I think you need to do what feels best, paranoia or not, it doesn't really matter. if it gives you more peace and less stress then that's probably the right thing.

    And I would love to volunteer with children but I just couldn't during our fertility struggles.

  18. I started to comment yesterday but couldn't come up with a good way to say "I wouldn't do the same thing, but I still support 100% what you've decided." Now that I've seen several others say it so much better, I'll just chime in. If any risk, no matter how small, causes you unrest, then you need to choose the less stressful route. It's great that you and your husband are on the same page with this too.

    Another matter entirely, but I recall going through a horrible summer right before my older son started pre-school, worrying about a highway near his pre-school and a play area that I thought was insufficiently fenced. I know my worry was partly a larger anxiety about having him out of my sight after 3 1/2 years during which we were nearly inseparable, and my guilt that the separation was occurring more because a new baby was coming than because he NEEDED pre-school. However, in retrospect, I don't pooh-pooh the worry at all. He ended up being fine. But I should have pulled him from that preschool and looked into other options that would have made me more comfortable. It wasn't worth an anxiety-filled, nightmare-laden summer, and there was no way I was going to be able to talk my fear into going away. Welcome to parenthood. It's all about looking for small areas of control, when we all know in our heart of hearts that true control is pretty much beyond our grasp.

  19. This is an issue I am debating right now! As an elementary art teacher who comes in contact with approx 500 students each week, is on my feet and on the go all day I worry that the job I adore might have had a contributing factor in the premature labor that ended the lives of my sons and has the potential in harming this new pregnancy. Finding that balance between my worry, my desire to make sure this pregnancy has its best chance and my love of my job makes this all that more complicated.

    Taking care of yourself mentally and physically is important...if this feels like the right thing at this moment it is best to follow your instincts. I know I am feeling like an over-reaction is better than an under-reaction that I will question or regret later.

  20. I think it's completely understandable that you want to be cautious (not paranoid) given your prior experience. Please don't give yourself a hard time about it.

    I found you through the Blow Your Own Blog Horn linky. My heart chipped a little reading your post; thank you for writing & sharing so honestly.

  21. I think you have the right to do what's right for you, especially considering what you have been through, and that it is a volunteer job.
    By the way I am a teacher at a similar pregnancy stage to you and I just have to live with the kids and all their germs. Taking a Vit C helps me feel better. But I know it is all beyond my control. I just have to do what is best for me and I need the money so I need to work.

  22. You can go back later. With Frosty in tow. You've got to do what you've got to do.

  23. Your life, your decision. And parenting is also about making lots of little decisions that are right for you and your kids, so call it practice....

  24. Found you through blow your own blog horn.... Firstly, sending you a huge hug, you have been through a lot, and I am so sorry for your loss. Secondly, congratulations on your pregnancy, how exciting for you!

    To be honest, I think you have to do what makes you feel the most comfortable... The decision is completely yours and you can always go back at a later date when baby is older! Good luck with everything, and make the most of putting your feet up! Emma :)

  25. This is your rainbow baby, you can chose whatever you want. Sometimes we all need change to cope.. change to go on. Firstly and lasty we are mothers and we take care of our child before all.. Someday you will be a mom volunteering in kindergarten, a soccer mom maybe.. time for others children will be in your future. You are already a wonderful mom, you are doing what you think best for your egglet :) I would do the same. After it is my child.

  26. I look at some of the comments from mothers that say you can't put yourself in abubble during this pregnancy. I say we can sure as hell try. With my rainbow baby I was faced with being exposed to kids at my kids school when I went in an did reading. As soon as there was an outbreak of slap check I was out of there and didn't go back for the rest of my pregnancy. I don't think you are being paranoid, it is what anyone of us angle mums would do to make sure that we get to bring out baby home.