Effects of Babyloss

September 9, 2011

Life always seems to be moving, to be coming at me. I rarely have time to think about what I am feeling or how I am coping.  When a babyloss Mom asks me how I am doing, I just tell the truth, I bury my feelings. I evade. I hide from my feelings. Soon, it will be 4 years since Norah died. I like to think that I function well. Sometimes I think about what I could have had, but then I bury it. As a babylost mom, the internet has been so valuable to me to look at what others are feeling and writing about.  We write about our pain, our anguish, our hope and our misery. However, one aspect seems lightly touched upon. How did the death of my baby effect my professional career?

I’m a scientist. I make observations, hypothesize and pose questions. I test hypotheses and formulate ideas. It sounds all very clean and glossy huh. There is a creative aspect to the job — I teach and I write manuscripts. However, my job and respect within the scientific community does not depend on teaching, it depends upon the quality and quantity of manuscripts that I produce. Anyone who has lost a baby knows that it messes with your mind — the lack of sleep, the images, the reminders. I forget to brush my hair or I forget to eat because I am in babylost world. It is hard to think consecutively, rationally….scientifically. One year after I lost Norah, I published two manuscripts but only because they were already accepted and at the publishers since before her death. Since Nov. 2007, I have not been a very good scientist. I teach, I write proposals, I have huge grants but I can’t publish. Since that time, I submitted two manuscripts and they were both rejected in 2010. The reasons given were that they were not well thought out, not well written, and had too many loopholes. Sound familiar. That is my life. I have lost confidence in my ability to be a scientist. I have recruited some other scientists to help me fix those manuscripts but they are still not submitted. I am depending on these people to look at my work critically before I submit again. I am annoyed that I have to depend on other people for a skill that I used to have, and I have to go by their timetable.

Norah’s death shattered me emotionally, beat my down physically and damaged my confidence. Her death stole my mental health. I am a scientist; yet, I have trouble playing the role. I am starting to physically feel the pressure from not being able to do the job. I wake up at nights in a panic. I work hard all day but at the end of the day, nothing seems to be done. My management of grants has not been spectacular, I have few results to show for the work I have done. I appear to no longer have a logic, rational mind. This hurts me. I have wrapped my life around science. My income depends upon me being able to do the job. I am not certain how to overcome this. I know that I can not be the person I was before her death. Over the past couple of years, I thought I would work through it, work my way out of this confusing mental spiral that seems to consume my thoughts. It has been almost 4 years and my thoughts still spiral. I wish I was linear thinking again. I do not know if I am going to pull out of this or if this is my “new normal”.  If this is my “new normal”, how do I incorporate this into my life as a scientist? Do I need to switch paths, look for other opportunities, maybe go into a field where I am told what to do instead of having academic freedom? So many unknowns. I can’t solve the equation with so many unknowns.

What about you? Did the loss of your baby effect your career?



  1. Well. I was not in paid employment at the time of Emma’s death and I have not returned to that world yet. I was a high school English teacher and I’m fairly certain I do not want to return to that world in a couple of years, when LO is school age. My confidence to project myself in front of a class has gone and teenagers are pretty good at sensing and exploiting that sort of awkwardness (I mean no disrespect to teenagers by that – hey are wonderful, inventive people generally). I am considering retraining as a midwife, which seems bizarre, but I think I could be there for bereaved mothers as they birth their dead babies and, perhaps, make a tiny difference. I just don’t know if I could abide successfully with the mamas having living babies …

    It changes EVERYTHING doesn’t it? ((HUGS)

  2. I am a scientist as well and feel exactly like you. Besides missing my baby like crazy every day, I am suffering secondary infertility. I have been trying to get pregnant again for a year and 10 months and all I got was one chemical and one tubal (that ended up in a surgery to remove one of my tubes). I don’t have any living children and am desperately anxious over this whole fertility issue. How can I focus on my research? I also think I am not able to perform well as a scientist any longer. It is such an intellectually demanding job and people expect so much from us. Some times I feel so overwhelmed that I want to give up. But I guess all scientists have periods of lower productivity. I am sure you will recover. You’ve been through so much in these last 4 years. I can’t even imagine how it would be to have 4 living children like you and continue with the same productivity. Give yourself some more time and patience. Hugs.

  3. Jill – Coach was a teacher but he will not be returning either. Wow, a midwife, I know you have the strength to do that.

    Francisca – I’ve very sorry for the loss of your baby and on top of that — secondary fertility. There is a blog that I read called Elm City Mom. She also struggled to get pregnant again after the dead of her child. Yes, there are definitely periods of feeling way in over my head and then sometime I just feel like I’m barely making it. I never feel as though I have it under control though. Time and patience – I guess that is what we all need but my girl has been gone almost 4 years. My fear is that I will never have a logical, linear thought process again.

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