Archives For Support

I wanted to have a baby and still leave the house and still see my friends and still do everything I did before the baby.

So I did.

I had the baby. She stayed in NICU for 4 days, then she came home, and the whirlwind began.

Family came to the house to stay and help us out.

Extra people in the house means extra cleaning, extra bed-making, extra sheet-washing, extra food-buying, extra food-making, extra communication and doesn’t allow for a routine to be built as a family; because each new family member that arrived to help arrived with different methods of communication, different areas of helping out (some walked the dog; some did dishes; some loved baby snuggles on the couch), and each week was different.

And that was so great and so wonderful and so nice and we are eternally grateful for the army of family that arrived week after week to help out- but all those extra things are one more extra thing on top of the original thing- which is navigating how to all of a sudden snap your fingers and become someone’s Mom.

So I was managing all those house guests.

And trying to be nice. And friendly. And polite.

To everyone that came through my door.

With throbbing nerve pain resounding through my clitoris, a newborn baby squawlering on my hip, and running on three hours of sleep.

I wanted to please everyone. Be a nice mom. A mom that had it all together, never lost her temper, was never demanding or bitchy, pleased everyone and had a perfect home.

Also in those first six weeks were a plethora of necessary appointments.

Between Sadie and I, we had weekly appointments at: the midwife’s, the obstetrician’s, the chiropractor’s, Calgary Lab Services for lithium testing, the psychiatrist for mental health check-in’s, and the family doctor’s. They weren’t all in one week, but it usually worked out to be about 4 out of home appointments per week- with a revolving door of guests in my home, throbbing nerve pain resounding through my clitoris, a newborn baby screaming on my hip, and running on three hours of sleep.

So I bundled the baby and I up and went to all those appointments.

I wanted to do it all.

I had made the decision to stay for the first 6 weeks with the family doctor’s clinic that had supported me throughout my pregnancy. The catch was- they were located in Canmore, where I had moved from at 34 weeks pregnant, and now the drive to see the doctor was an hour and 15 minutes away.

My reasons for this were twofold- Canmore had been my home, and as such, my core group of girlfriends that had been with me through all the stages of my pregnancy was still located out there and if I drove out there, I could pop in and visit them- and also, I wanted the doctors and nurses who had been so kind to me during those first 34 weeks to see the fruits of my labor.

So three (or even four times- I can’t remember), I bundled up my very newborn baby and drove an hour and 15 minutes one way to go to Canmore.

One of the times I was there, I popped into my old workplace and surprised one of my closest friends with her first Sadie-hug as she had yet to come out to Crossfield to see us and I thought she might like that.

That day was a hard day for us; Sadie, Ryan and I were all exhausted, in a rush, sick of spending all our day stuck in the jeep and rushing around like chickens with our heads cut off- but I demanded that we stop at my old workplace to give that friend a nice surprise.

I wanted to be the cool mom. I wanted to do it all.

The other three or four times I went out to Canmore, I would always visit my old friends at my old workplace, or send out a group message saying ‘Hey, Sadie and I will be in town this Friday- does anyone want to hang out?’. If the answer was no, I tried to invite them for fun events in my new neck of the woods. Boozy Stampede party? Group sleepover at my house after?

I wanted to be a cool mom. I wanted to be a good friend. I wanted to do it all.

This week- it all kind of hit me at once.

I had a friend come over to help me at my house for the week because my husband was away for work again. Because, oh yes, in the midst of all this- my husband took a new job wherein which he is pretty much gone for the first 6 weeks of his new job training, so that’s been fun…

I’m not a diva- I’m not a princess- I need to make it clear here that I don’t have a revolving door of people coming to stay with me because I’m demanding or selfish or incapable of operating as a mother of a newborn-

I have a revolving door of people coming to stay with me because I have bipolar type 1. And as someone with bipolar type 1, I have a medically necessary requirement to sleep at least 5 hours straight for at least every 1 in 3 nights, or for lack of a better word, I will go psycho and need to be committed to a mental hospital for 14-30 days.

It sucks, and it’s embarrassing (even though that’s dumb to feel, because its not like I asked for bipolar- its just a shitty life card I’ve been dealt)- but it sucks and it’s embarrassing to need these people in my home as an otherwise capable grownass woman of 33 years of age. It sucks to have to beg people to come stay with me so I don’t go crazy.

So my friend came to stay with me this week and I was trying be nice, and polite, and perfect, and happy, and not demanding, and not bitchy, and not short-tempered.

And I failed.

Four days into her stay, I yelled at her to move her stuff away from my child’s closet doors so I could put my child’s laundry away.

A fight ensued; I ran away into my bedroom, shut the door and cried, and my friend left my home shortly thereafter.

I spent the whole rest of the day crying intermittently while trying to get shit done, like clean the house and feed myself and my child.

The fight with my friend made me so upset that I started thinking of some other friends with whom I had recently fallen out of touch, so I reached out to them by text and basically said ‘Hey, have I done something wrong? I don’t hear from you anymore and it makes me sad.’

And within four hours, the two friends basically wrote back what I feared they might, which was something along the lines of ‘this relationship is one-sided’ and ‘you’ve changed, so you’re not worth my time anymore.’

And I bawled my eyes out.

I had tried so hard. I drove out to Canmore 3-4 times in the first 7 weeks of my baby’s life. I had texted. I had tried to make plans. I had tried to maintain those friendships. I had wanted to do it all, and to do it all well.

Be a Mom. Be a Cool Mom. Not let it change me. Have a clean home. Have a Perfect home. Have people over. Entertain them. Feed them delicious meals fresh out of my oven. Be fun. Be gracious to those who came to stay in my home. Maintain all my old relationships. Keep my head up.

And yesterday was my final straw.

Who am I kidding??? I can barely f*cking meet my Own basic needs on the daily- why am I power cleaning the house and whipping homemade meals out of the oven for guests when all I ate yesterday was a chocolate bar and a bag of corn chips I found stuffed in my couch???

Why am I trying to be gracious to those who enter my home and know that they are here to help me sleep- why can’t I just tell them my life is a mess, I am exhausted and I need them to shut up so I can go the Eff to sleep?

Why am I driving multiple times over hell’s half acre to try and maintain friendships with people that haven’t come to see me or my daughter once since my baby was born?

Why am I trying to hard to be the Cool Mom and to please Everyone Else??

So I’m done.

The Cool Mom is dead. I did away with her yesterday.

Whoever doesn’t like me now that I’m just a boring old Mom can continue not liking me- and I’m no longer going to shed tears for those losses.

I’m going to lean into my loving husband, tuck my child into my armpit and gaze at her big blue eyes, and hunker down in my beautiful home.

As my Mom always says: “You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Only some people, some of the time.”

I’m going to start trying to live that way, and letting it be okay to not be okay.

XO, Em

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A friend wrote me the other day to thank me for posting brave things on this blog. We had a lengthy discussion about abortion afterward. We both agreed that we were ‘pro-life personally and pro-choice politically’.

There’s a lot of debate going on about abortion these days, as some American states are trying to strip those rights from women’s bodies and women all over social media are fired up about it. I LOVE when women get fired up.

But I am not a politician. I have zero desire to start a political debate with this post.But I do have a huge, burning desire to get women talking about their own experiences with abortion.

Same as anything human rights related, I believe the more we talk about our personal experiences, the more we can affect positive change. If we keep hiding these realities that women go through, we increase the stigma around them- and even worse, we continue to suffer in silence, believing we are alone. I don’t want that for any woman.

So here’s my story.

I had my abortion September 1, 2005 at the Peter Lougheed Hospital in Calgary at the age of 19. The fetus was 7 weeks, 4 days.

I had the abortion because I was in second year of university; the baby was unplanned, I still lived in my Dad’s basement, and in order for a baby to work, I would have needed to feel 100% confident that my family would stand by me and help support me in my new life as a young mother still living in her parental home.

I did not have that support.

While acting as if the choice was mine to make, my family hinted fairly obviously that abortion was the only logical choice (“You’re going to ‘take care of it’, aren’t you?”). And my boyfriend at the time, while incredibly sweet and caring, said “I’ll stand by you, whatever you decide.”

To give a 19-year-old girl who just found out she was pregnant all the decision-making responsibility is too much. A girl in that situation needs options laid out for her. A professional. A therapist. Many different females’ points of view and advice. I didn’t have those things then.

So, at 19- on a family summer vacation, surrounded by male family members and no mother figures, and immersed in many sound bytes such as ‘surely she’ll ‘take care of it’ and ‘our family doesn’t ‘do’ teenage pregnancies’ …  I made the decision to terminate.

I had my abortion September 1, 2005 at the Peter Lougheed Hospital in Calgary at the age of 19. The fetus was 7 weeks, 4 days. The ultrasound tech did my ultrasound pre-dilation and curettage (D&C), which is common practice, (gotta make sure there’s still a fetus in there before you start the procedure), and I asked her if I could see the image of my baby before I was wheeled into the operating room.

I know in my bones and my soul and my heart and my everywhere that even at 19, scared shitless, already in a hospital gown about to wheeled into the operating room, that I 100% would have made the decision to keep the baby if she had have just let me look at it.
Once.
Just once.
I asked her if I could see the screen.
She said no.
I asked her again, a little more forcefully this time.
I was 19. 
I didn’t know how to advocate for myself very well yet at 19.
I’m a force to be reckoned with now, but at 19, I didn’t know how to Demand that this older woman show me MY OWN fetus that she was looking at, on her screen.
I was laying down on the bed. 
Her computer screen faced away from me. I couldn’t see it from that angle.
My baby’s image was on it.
The image that would have shown me its beating heart- she had it in front of her- I just needed her to swivel her screen so that I could see it.
She said no.

I still Hate that woman, to this day, for denying me the right to look at my OWN fetus before she turned off her computer and went to tell the doctors that I was ready.
When I asked her the third time in a now very sad and shaky little voice if I could please see it, she said: “There’s nothing there to see. If anything, it just looks like a gummy bear.”

(Side-note- by the grace of God, my first ultrasound for this little baby Sadie that lays sleeping beside me right now, was coincidentally, at Exactly 7 weeks and 4 days. 
My abortion ultrasound was on September 1, 2005.
My Sadie’s ultrasound was on August 28, 2018.
13 years later, I FINALLY got to see what my baby looked like at EXACTLY 7 weeks and 4 days-
And I BAWLED tears of joy when the ultrasound tech in Canmore said:
“Would you like to see its heartbeat?”
A 7-week, 4-day old fetus HAS a heartbeat, looks NOTHING like a gummy bear, and was and is just about the most magical, coolest damn thing Ryan and I have Ever seen.)

Sadie’s First Photo: 7 weeks, 4 days
Us after her first ultrasound and seeing her beating heart for the first time

Back to September 1, 2005.
That stupid woman wouldn’t let me look.
So she told the doctors I was ready.
They knocked me out.
They removed the fetus.
I woke up.
I was in pain.
I cried.
I put on a giant maxi pad.
My boyfriend at the time carefully and lovingly walked me to his vehicle.
We drove home in near silence.
I was in pain.
We went down to my basement bedroom at my father’s house.
The rest of the family was still on vacation.

It was just us.
In the basement, in the dark. 
Crying and sleeping.
I told him I thought it would take a week for me to heal.
(Haha. 19-year-old me. What a girl. It’s been 14 years and I’m still healing.)
University started September 8th that year.
So I gave myself 7 days to grieve.
We stayed in the dark. We cuddled. We napped. We watched movies. We didn’t go out. We didn’t tell our friends. We didn’t really talk about what we were doing or feeling. We grieved to the best of our young abilities.

Then university started back up, so I told my grief to stop.
Grief doesn’t work that way.
It’s not ‘convenient’. It doesn’t stop or start when you tell it to.
It just hides and comes back in other forms.

I went back to university.
I stopped talking to all my other friends.
I found it hard to give a single shit about so and so’s make-out sesh with Timmy that weekend, or how so and so’s manager at Chili’s was a real cow and wouldn’t let her have Saturday off for Kate’s party.
It’s not that their concerns didn’t ‘matter’- they very much did- it’s just that those were not the concerns I had rolling around in my head.
My concerns were: ‘what is the meaning of life?’ ‘Is there a God?’ ‘If there is- why do shitty things happen?’ ‘Am I bad person?’ ‘Did my baby have a soul yet? If it did, where did it go?’…
And when those are the questions in your head at 19, you find it hard to relate to your other girlfriends. 
So I found religion.
Religion was talking about those bigger questions.
Life. Death. Souls. God. 
Forgiveness.

It was then that I began my life’s chapter as an overzealous, newfound, born-again Christian. That phase lasted about a year and a half and there were some really good points to it, but I am no longer an overzealous born-again Christian. I am an Emily, who loves and believes in God as she always has, but no longer needs to love God and other people in a militant and accusatory way.

At the end of May 2005, 9 months after the abortion, I suddenly broke up with my amazing boyfriend who loved me very much because ‘Jesus told me to’; I told all my family members they were ‘going to Hell because they hadn’t accepted Jesus into their hearts’, and I stopped talking to all my closest friends except for one because ‘they were all sinners. That was the beginning of my first bipolar episode, but that’s a story for another time.

In that same year, post-abortion, I went back to university like I promised my family I would, and I went from a solid B student to a consistent 4.0 GPA. One of the Biggest reasons I terminated my pregnancy was because “Kreibergs don’t have teenage pregnancies” (My uncle’s words) and “Kreibergs go to postsecondary and become academics. We Kreibergs are a family of high-achieving academics” (My father’s words).

So in that post-abortion year, I held a 4.0 GPA with a full six-course per semester load, worked three jobs before, during and after school, broke up with my boyfriend and became an evangelical Christian. I moved out of the apartment that my wonderful boyfriend and I had recently moved into, and onto the couch of a dear friend of mine who had recently just become a born-again Christian as well. While she brought her questions about Jesus and faith to her Christian friends and family, I delved into books. I spoke to no one. I left the house never. I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks.

I spent all three months of that summer in a basement suite on a pullout couch that was now my bed, devouring every single book I could find on all the major religions of the world. I wanted to know about sin (when I killed my baby, had I committed one?), forgiveness (if there was a loving god, could even baby killers be forgiven?), faith (how to get it), love (what was it? Did I even know anymore?), and the afterlife (where had my baby’s soul gone and when could I get to meet him/her?).

To put it very bluntly- I went off the complete deep end.

Years later, in therapy, a therapist asked me if I thought I had Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS). According to Psychology Today, PASS is the “name that has been given to the psychological aftereffects of abortion, based on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”
https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/somatic-psychology/201010/post-abortion-stress-syndrome-pass-does-it-exist%3famp

There is much disagreement in the psychology community as to whether PASS actually exists-

To say that it does means that abortion is jarring enough to some women that it gets it own corresponding psychological term and treatment-
And to say that it doesn’t get its own psychological term and treatment is to negate the many traumatizing experiences of women like mine wherein which having an abortion was an incredibly damaging psychological experience.

Here’s what I have to say that is personal and not political about abortion trauma:

If anything that I have written about my abortion experience triggered a response in you, and you want to check out the signs and symptoms of PASS, the following is a link to a quiz on a really supportive online community where other women can go to safely discuss their post-abortion experiences.

https://www.afterabortion.com/quiz.html
XO, Em