Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bumping into bellies

Every women except for me in Brooklyn is pregnant. Or at least that's how it seemed yesterday.

I went to an off-site meeting at one of our referral sources to talk about the dual diagnosis program, along with another counselor and my supervisor, who is five months pregnant. The referral source is forensic, which often means you have to go through a metal detector to get in. As my boss and I waited for the other counselor to shovel his change back into his pockets, I saw one of the clients, who looked like a toothpick with a hernia, as if the baby weight had trebled her original weight. How can I not hate a woman who is skinny and pregnant?

At the meeting -- which went very well, thank you very much; they're almost as excited about the program as I am -- was another enviably slender yet billowingly pregnant lady. While waiting for the car service to take us back to our office, I joked with my supervisor that I saw pregnant women everywhere I look.

"I know," she joked. "Not to mention LaShawn and Evita" -- two young counselors at the agency office where I used to work.

"I am surrounded by pregnancy!" I said. "Everywhere I look!"

"Maybe it's a message," she joked.

"I better be extra careful about birth control then," I said.

"Or not..." she added mischievously.

"Whoa," I said. "Russian engineers DO NOT have accidents like that!"

It did get me thinking. One thing I've emphasized to JV -- and myself, I guess -- is that while it would be nice to have a baby, it's not essential. I'm almost 40, and a lot of fertility interventions have deranging emotional effects on normal women. I can't see myself going through endless rounds of hormones, IVF, and all other invasive ways to induce a reluctant body to conceive. Not to mention the financial outlay.

Also, right now I'm utterly stretched to the limit with work. I really do like my job, but I really do hate the paperwork, and I recently realized that since I started at this location, I haven't had any time to coast -- I've been thrown one new thing after another after another. Which leaves me permanently feeling slightly less than competent, and always behind.

Maybe "coast" isn't the right word. But it's funny that about a year after starting this job, I was feeling pretty good about how well I was managing it. Then they named me dual diagnosis recovery program coordinator. Okay, a whole bunch of new skills to acquire and duties to balance. After a few months I felt almost comfortable -- and then they moved me to another office. Great, I can roll with that, I'll learn how to work with different populations and master another batch of bewildering paperwork. But then they invited me to work with the federal inmates, who make most of my clients look as meek and biddable as newborn kittens. They are the Mount Everest of substance abuse counseling.

One of the best ways to intervene with feelings of depression is to reinforce feelings of mastery and competence. Even though I've had amazing support and pretty good feedback since I switched offices, I think I've been scrambling so much (new paperwork, new procedures, new populations) that instead I feel completely bumbling and incompetent. Daylight savings and the resultant depressive effect on my mood only reinforced this; having surgery and getting sick also didn't help.

Thank Gd for the time change this past Sunday; if it hadn't been sunny and beautiful yesterday, I'm sure I would have left work after 11 hours (the meeting started three hours before my scheduled shift) feeling utterly miserable and drained, instead of just drained. And for the support I get from my colleagues and supervisor. But if I'm dancing as fast as I can to keep on top of things now, even assuming I develop greater mastery and familiarity, how on earth would I do all that with a baby, too? The reality of JV's situation is that I can't afford not to work if we get married.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry you are so worn out from work, but it sounds like you are accomplishing a lot.

    I wouldn't worry just yet re how you could handle a baby and work. I can tell you personally that it is a huge struggle, but it is possible. See how hectic things are when the time comes.

    As to hormones etc.--that is a very real concern. You might want to talk to a fertility specialist before closing that door. Alternatively, you could always adopt.

    In any case, hope you get to catch your breath soon.

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