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I was Supposed to Have a Baby with Aimee Baron, MD
In the Jewish community, the topics of infertility, infant loss, and pregnancy loss are beginning to come to the surface.
Aimee believes that you can never talk about any of these things too much. Aimee is a pediatrician who personally suffered from secondary infertility and had 6 miscarriages, two of which were in the 1st trimester and four in the 2nd trimester. She has 5 children, so especially in the Jewish community when people look at her, they see a happy family. But the reality is, the experiences that she had with her losses are so deep and painful. As a community we don’t do a good job at addressing all of those needs and the people who are suffering.
After having her youngest kids, 5 years ago, she was asked to speak about her losses. 5 years ago, the general public were beginning to speak about infertility but it wasn’t being discussed in the frum circles yet. Aimee was on Instagram and she saw that there were emerging accounts talking about infertility, but none of it was from a Jewish perspective. In the frum community, we don’t talk about things that are private.
People feel immense shame and stigma surrounding private matters.
On social media, you can passively get the support without making your story public by remaining anonymous, just to feel better. Aimee created “I was supposed to have a baby” in 2019, which is filling a void that was much needed in the Jewish community. When we think about infertility, we think it’s just affecting that couple, but the reality is that everyone around them is suffering. The goal of her page is 1) support- This includes virtual support groups, posts of people sharing their stories, and one on one meetings 2) knowledge- she is giving the rest of the community the tools to be able to support the people suffering and 3) collaboration- a way for anyone suffering to find the organizations that help throughout the process.
Aimee grew up knowing she wanted to be a pediatrician. As a pediatrician, when kids come to her, generally they get better. While in medical school, during her delivery room rotation, she began to follow the baby after the delivery to make sure everything was okay. Her attendant reminded her that her patient was the mother, not the baby. This confirmed to Aimee that she was born to work with children.
Aimee had her first child during residency. She took 6 months off to spend time with her baby and study for the boards. She worked for 8 years, as the attending pediatrician in a hospital in NYC for newborns, working in delivery rooms and in the nursery. Between her first and second child there was a gap of 3 and a half years. Aimee would go to work everyday to take care of other people’s babies while struggling to have a baby of her own. She went through some infertility treatments and this was when she suffered her first loss. Aimee believed that everything would be okay and continued to go to work everyday. Soon enough, she had a son and then another daughter. During her next pregnancy, she went to the doctor for a regular appointment at 16 weeks, and the baby had no heartbeat. That happened 3 more times in a row. The loss was devastating for her because each time the baby was completely healthy and there were no answers as to what was happening. At work, standing in the delivery room she almost lost it many times. After her third loss, she stopped working because she couldn’t handle it emotionally anymore.
Her bosses were very supportive when she told them what was going on. They slotted her in when she wanted to work and it just meant they had one less person to reach when there were holes in the schedule. She was very close to one of the nurses who was very supportive of her. Her close friends knew what was going on but it was hard for her to tell others. She was already 16 weeks pregnant during each of these losses, which meant that she was showing each time. For the last two that she lost, she barely told anyone that she was pregnant because she was so scared to say it out loud. She was so certain she would lose those babies also. Aimee created her page for her past self. The person that she was 8-12 years ago, going through this immense pain, would’ve loved an anonymous place to feel like people knew what she was going through.
A lot of the stigma in the Jewish community is because of shidduchim.
People like to talk and word travels fast about which family had a loss and which family is suffering from infertility. There are so many medical advances today though so it really doesn’t mean much. In the Jewish community, there is also immense privacy surrounding taharas hamishpacha. We don’t talk about sex, when we’re trying, or when we’re going to the mikvah… the infertility piece is rooted in this. People think it’s better to just bury the topic and forget about it. However, if you push away negative feelings and pretend they don’t exist, there are so many negative effects that can come about, such as physical and mental suffering. Of course there is a value in privacy and tznius, but there is also a communal need to support the people who are suffering. The Jewish community is a little bit behind on the conversations going on in the world.
Part of Judaism is questioning and talking to Hashem.
When hard things happen, Hashem is pushing you. For those of us in a lot of pain, it’s hard for us to just keep thinking it’s because Hashem loves me. After the fact, it’s easier to think this, but after losing a baby this is very hard. As a community, we have an obligation to meet people in their pain without giving them the lofty and spiritual explanations. Some people would say don’t stay stuck in your pain, but sometimes you have to feel that pain in order to cope.
Everyone’s coping skills are vastly different. Listening to yourself and hearing where you’re at is so important. If you’re not having a good day and you can take some time off doing something to take care of yourself, do it. Self-care doesn’t have to be getting a manicure; it’s about listening to yourself and feeling what you’re capable of at that moment. What helps nourish your soul? For Aimee, while going through her losses, distraction was the best thing for her. Every book, magazine, and TV show helped her push through. When she was ready to get out of bed, exercise really helped her, because she gained tons of weight during pregnancy. The physical exertion of getting out her anger and frustration was very therapeutic for her.
I blog on project proactive as well. Here is my most popular blog post- https://www.jproactive.com/post/gila-grief-journey.
Check out the YouTube Video here:
Gila Glassberg is a Master's level registered dietitian and a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. As a teenager, she was faced with constant diet talk, body shaming and obsessive guilt around food. She struggled with disordered eating. This is what propelled her into the field of nutrition. She uses a non-diet, weight-neutral approach called Intuitive Eating. She helps growth oriented women break out of chronic dieting, and regain clarity into what is really important to them.
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