Please permit me to grouse for a moment.  I don’t get to do it much in real life these days since I haven’t told many people about our miscarriage.

Last weekend was our university’s commencement ceremony.  One of my research students just finished his bachelor’s degree and is staying on in my research group to write a masters thesis next year.  So, he graduated this year, but he’ll also graduate next year (assuming all goes well).  He’s a nice kid, came in as a transfer student from a big state school after his sophomore year, switched majors from English to physics at the same time, and then proceeded to complete the entire physics major in two years!  He’s had some hiccups, and his research skills need work (which is why I’m glad he’s staying for a masters), but it’s extremely impressive that he did what he did.  He’s also just a really nice kid, who works really, really hard, and so despite some of my frustrations with his lack of research progress, I very much enjoy working with him.  I was really looking forward to meeting his family this week and telling them how great it’s been to have him in my research group and how glad I am that he’s staying for another year.

But his dad.  OMG.

To set the scene a little: One of my colleagues (who has three kids) traditionally brings his kids to watch commencement from a beautiful grassy hill overlooking the ceremony, right near our building, which makes a convenient meet-up point for our majors to come visit after the ceremony.  This year I decided to bring my son and join him — it allowed me to participate in commencement and congratulate our students without giving up weekend time with my son, and my son had a blast playing with my colleague’s kids on the hill during the ceremony (or mostly watching them in awe and trying to steal their baseball when they weren’t looking).

So, after the ceremony, my student wanders up with his dad.  I get to congratulate my student, beam, and lay it on thick with his family — I really love getting to talk up my students to their parents, especially students that I genuinely enjoy like this one.  It’s a win-win feel-good situation.  Then his dad stayed to chat while I was supervising my son’s shenanigans with the big kids.  The following conversation ensued:

Him: How old is your son now?

Me: 15 months

Him: So, are you going to have another one?

Me (inwardly rolling my eyes): We’ll see!

Him: No, but really, do you WANT more?  Are you planning on it?

Me (through gritted teeth): We’ll see!

He actually seemed like he was going to push the subject(!) so I excused myself and scooped up my son.

How clueless are people?  And why, WHY would you ever think it was OK to interrogate your kid’s professor about her reproductive plans?!  This one of the few times that I felt that bringing up our losses would have been not only socially awkward but… unprofessional.  I mean, there were times when I had to discuss the loss of our daughter with colleagues, since it affected a lot of my professional life as well as my personal life.  But… a student’s parent?  And a week after a miscarriage?  Seriously?  Argh.

Several people have asked me about my reproductive plans since our miscarriage (which was only TWO WEEKS AGO), but this one has just been gnawing at me.  I’m so angry about it.  Oh, I won’t hold it against the student… if people held my dad against me I’d never have gotten anywhere in life.  But I might just try to avoid one-on-one conversations with his dad next spring.  And I also want to vent on my blog.  Check that one off the list!

Anyway.  Things here have settled down a bit.  I did have one freak-out this week… I had some pelvic pressure, pain, and fever, but I also had a terrible respiratory infection of some sort from my son that might have accounted for the fever, so I didn’t know what exactly was going on but I was so afraid that I was getting another pelvic infection.  The doctor was great, saw me right away, did a repeat ultrasound, redrew my HCGs, and assured me that the fever is probably unrelated.  Turns out I have a medium-size ovarian cyst, which she said can be common during pregnancy or after a miscarriage and is most likely responsible for the pelvic pressure and pain.  I had a cyst during my first pregnancy with my daughter as well, so I think it’s just something my body does in (doomed) pregnancies, maybe?  Anyway, I am mostly reassured and only feeling a little sheepish for having another freak-out around this miserable pregnancy.  I think it’s just that with everything I’ve been through I really don’t trust my body anymore.  With my first pregnancy, I was a pretty laid-back pregnant lady, but look where it got me — not only did my daughter die, which was unavoidable but nevertheless made me question every little risk I took in that pregnancy, but when I didn’t push about getting symptoms addressed after I delivered her, I wound up with retained products, hemorrhaging, and an infection that damaged my fallopian tubes.  I am just so done with the laid-back approach and am glad that they are investigating my worries comprehensively.  Hopefully this is really the end of it now!


10 thoughts on “Grrrrrraduation

  1. knalani

    Ugh! That is terrible!! I find those meetings with the parents to be so awkward already. I usually hide in a corner with some other introverted colleagues. 😉 But I’ve NEVER heard anything like that. Professionalism aside, that sounds like someone who deserves to have you drop a shit on their day. Bless you for having the strength to hold it in! ❤

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Ha! I’d totally hang out with you in the introvert corner if I had the chance. One of my colleagues recently described us (in the context of being a group of science professors) as “outgoing introverts” and I think that’s exactly right. 🙂 I never would have dreamed that I’d wind up in a job where I have to stand in front of dozens of people and talk every day, but here I am!

      And yeah, I just couldn’t believe that this came from the parent of a student. I mean, my students’ parents do tend to be more… familiar with me than I’m comfortable with (and I think than their kids are comfortable with), probably because I’m still so much younger than they are (and because I look even younger than I am) — they meet me and I clearly fall into the “whippersnapper” category and they say all sorts of things. But this really took the cake. I’m glad you haven’t had to deal with anything like this at your university yet!

  2. margen

    The things people say. It makes me angry too; it’s not just terribly rude, it also feels quite patronizing that people think it’s acceptable to intrude in such way.

    I hear you on being proactive, especially after everything you’ve been through. It seems like your doctor is cautious and considerate, and hopefully you will feel completely well soon.

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Yes, exactly — it felt so patronizing. Like, “Oh, I’m this old guy with two college-age kids, and therefore I will interrogate you about your childbearing plans.” I almost get the sense that if I *had* told him about our losses, he would have mansplained pregnancy loss and infertility to me too…

      I think I can safely say that I’m feeling completely well at this point, thank you. I really do think that freak-out was my last, and after they repeated my HCGs it was reassuring that mine were almost back down to zero (18, when they had been 2300-something at last test). Hopefully this is really the end of it.

  3. jwhitworth7

    So odd! I’m sorry you had to deal with that. I’ve never understood why people feel asking about things like that is appropriate in any setting. I hope you don’t have to deal with any more interactions like that.

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Thanks… I’ve been safe from these interactions for at least the last week and a half… helps that I’ve mostly been in my office trying to write papers and proposals, so not a lot of awkward social events that provide opportunity for reproductive conversations!

      I hope you’ve been recovering and bonding as a family. I just can’t wait to see more pictures of Olivia and Luke together! I hope that the transition to being a family of four has been going as smoothly as possible and that you’re starting to recover from your surgery. What an amazing time of life, but I’m sure it’s challenging too!

  4. hopingforatakehome

    What an inconsiderate and downright pushy encounter. I’m sorry you had to go through that conversation at all, but particularly so soon after your miscarriage. Sometimes when people don’t seem to be getting the hint, or are so invasive, i have this horrible urge to just blurt out the truth and see where the chips fall. I never do this, but the thought is always there.

    1. lyra211 Post author

      It was totally pushy. He seemed like a nice guy, and I’m sure he would have been horrified if I’d told him that he was interrogating me about my reproductive plans right after a miscarriage, but it still just made me so mad. (His son is a little socially clueless too… I suppose it runs in the family.) Somehow I’ve managed to avoid blurting out about my losses when I’m mad at someone… I’d hate to use the memory of my daughter and my latest pregnancy for vindictive purposes. When I do share, it’s mostly for purposes of connection or education. I’m going to try to keep it that way. Something to live up to, at least. 🙂

    1. lyra211 Post author

      Seriously! I’m practically a stranger to him! All he knows is that I supervise his son’s physics research! People are so weird. Especially middle-aged men, I think. Oh, and toddlers, who are just certifiably insane in a lot of different ways. 🙂


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