Sharing too much

She was hemming and hawing over whether to take a particular medication in pregnancy. My opinion was that she would benefit greatly. Sure, everything has its risks, but women (and also some other providers) err on the “conservative” side recommending avoidance of all medications in pregnancy. Women and babies sometimes miss out on some valuable benefits. I’ve seen it done when discussing exercise. “No you can’t do crossfit,” “don’t let your heart rate go above 140,” and “if you don’t exercise now, you don’t want to start in pregnancy.” Baloney. None of these recommendations are evidence based and they do a disservice to moms and babies. Exercise has so so any benefits. I often want to share with my patients what I did in pregnancy, leading by example. I’ll make a quick offhand comment but quickly divert so there are not further questions. I would hate for them to probe too far and learn my baby died.

As I talked to this woman on the phone, I sensed she needed more assurance that the med would be okay. We had already gone over the risks and benefits, but she was still hesitant. Finally I said, “Listen, I was on a very similar med all through pregnancy. I only tell you this because I want you to know I wouldn’t recommend something I wouldn’t do myself.”

I hear the relief in her voice. Correct me if I’m wrong, but sometimes patients want our personal opinions. She began to seriously consider.

“Can I ask you one more question, if it’s not too personal?” she asked.

“Of course.”

“Did you breastfeed on the med?”

Sh*t. Just when I thought I had done the right amount of sharing, it backfired.

“My baby died shortly after birth- nothing to do with the med, so I couldn’t breastfeed. But had she lived I certainly would have. No doubt.”

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

I was reminded of this experience while reading C is for Crocodile’s post . How badly I want to maintain membership in this group- the “I’ve been pregnant too” club, as well as the “pregnant making hard choices” club. They are silent clubs, like most of ours are, so I have to allude. But by announcing my membership, I sometimes inadvertently have to share that I also belong to the babyloss club- something that sometimes feels right, but sometimes feel unprofessional. Here, it didn’t feel so good. I didn’t cry- I’ve become quite good at saying “my baby died.” It just felt crummy that my contribution, my commaraderie with this woman, suddenly became tainted. It’s as if it nullified my membership.


Has this happened to you? Have you had a time when you felt you shared too much? What happened?


10 thoughts on “Sharing too much

  1. I know I’ve already told you this story, but yes, I’ve been there! A friend had just announced her pregnancy, and she and another friend (whose baby was born a month after Ander, but at term) were chatting on our porch about pregnancy, and the dos and don’t, and the morning sickness and exercising and all the things that pregnant and recently pregnant women talk about. I was sharing my experiences too, but every time I did, I felt like they both looked at each other, listened politely, and then the newly pregnant one thought in her head “remind me not to do whatever SHE did. HER baby died, and I don’t want to end up like THAT.” It hurt a lot. I had at least been pregnant, had been part of that club, and I had done everything right. It’s hard to believe that, though, until it happens to you. And of course, I wasn’t going to need all the new baby advice that the new mom friend was doling out. I couldn’t share there. It sure sucks.

    • yes! that is very much like my day to day. wanting to chime in, feel kinship with my patients, but sometimes feeling makes me feel even less connected… because my baby died.

  2. Having given birth so prematurely, there’s a club I don’t feel I belong in – the pregnant club, because I didn’t get to the major stage, the third trimester. For that reason, I often feel like I can’t contribute to those conversations. I sometimes offer advice about the early stages of pregnancy but wonder whether how it’s regarded – even the most rational women can be superstitious about pregnancy. I know I did nothing wrong, but it’s tough. xxx

    • Oh yes! I feel that way on a smaller scale, when people complain about being around their due date- all the discomforts. Part of me wants to say, “i have no idea how that feels, I wasnt so fortunate,” but of course I dont. another part of me feels some validation having been 36 weeks and, if I”m totally honest, I dont think I was that uncomfortable. I’m not sure if it was the low fluid (and thus less to carry) or just an easy pregnancy or being active or simply mindset. It works against me- because I wasnt so uncomfortable, I usually have to work hard to have some sympathy/empathy for those who are struggling in the final days of their pregnancies. its hard to listen to any club you would love to have been a part of…. ❤

      • The low fluid was the REASON I was in so much pain, so I don’t think that’s why you weren’t 🙂 I was quite jealous of your lack of pain. Based on what my doctors said and what I’ve read from other women, head-down for 11 weeks plus no fluid = lots of pain. I could barely walk from 24 weeks on. So something was different with your body, but I can’t imagine it was from not having fluid, since that makes most of the rest of us so very miserable! 🙂

  3. I’ve had too many nurses not read far enough back in my chart and ask how the twins are doing, or comment that I’ll have my hands full with them. But it doesn’t seem quite the same.
    In this particular situation, I guess you could have said something along the lines of “I couldn’t breastfeed for other reasons”, but of course the risk is always there that she could ask some follow-up question… Your job must be incredibly hard in this situation. Hugs.

  4. My husband and I own a private business on the side and one of the products we sell are vitamins. Like, the best vitamins in the world. We are passionate about everything we sell, but especially these. I wasn’t taking them when I got pregnant or when I was pregnant. I couldn’t keep anything down, and I’m pretty sure the crappy free prenatal vitamins I had never even broke down in my stomach–even the ones that didn’t come back up. Lots of vitamins are like that. It’s hard to sell health products when all people can think about is, “Their baby died.” Somehow the product gets blamed, and now all I can think about is, maybe if I had taken those vitamins, my baby wouldn’t’ve gotten sick. But no one else sees that. They just see, “Do what they did and your children will die, too.”

    It’s that way with a lot of things. I was criticised by friends for my diet during pregnancy since if I wasn’t allowed to exercise and wasn’t allowed to gain weight, I had to eat as healthy as possible. So not much sugar, cheese, or meat. I got protein and other nutrients plenty of other ways though. I KNOW that my eating habits were NOT the reason Seraphim got sick, but all anyone sees when I say, “I ate like this when I was pregnant,” is, “Eat like she did and your babies will die, too,” and then they start shovelling the ice cream I’m sure.

    It sucks when you don’t have a success story and everyone connects what you do with what bad thing happened that no one knows a cause for.

  5. Pingback: “The Other Quiet Mom” | Expecting the Unexpected

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