A personal essay...
By Audreyanna Garrett
At 30 years of age, life had already become foreseeable to me. I used my early twenties to prepare me for the predictability of my 30’s, that which is often referred to as “security”. So I felt certain of my future. So much so, that I embraced the idea that security yields complacency (the oxymoron of uncertainty).
The most inconsistency I’d encountered up to this point in my life (age 30), was forgetting to pay bills, rearranging schedules for doctors appointments and trying to find a new apartment. So for the most part, after the age 25, my life was easy, predictable and carefree.
I was prepared for anything. I saved as much money as I could, because after all money was the answer for all things uncertain. At least that’s what this culture lead me to believe. So unfortunately I believed in my savings account. I just knew it would ultimately help me take on any uncertainty to come. Subsequently, I failed to consider the idea that money would never be able to help me manage the challenges of emotional turmoil. Therefore, I thought I could take on the world, because accounts were full and the checks were continuously rolling in.
As a contractor for an international oil and gas company, I made pretty great pay. I didn’t need benefits because I could afford to pay out of pocket as needed. I had everything figured out, well that was until January 1, 2015 at precisely 9:25 AM. On this day I got called into the Executive Vice President’s office. Now getting called to see the Executive Vice President is like getting summons over the PA system as a child to the Principle’s office.And as calm as I projected to be, I allowed the stares and low whispers of my peers to cause panic to creep inside of me. So without knowing the end result, I begin to anticipate what could be. And that uncertainty fully consumed me before I took my seat.
While the conversation was short, hearing that my employer loved my work, needs my position, but can’t afford to keep me, is bittersweet.
“We would like to thank you for your continued professionalism and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. Here is a 2 week payout to assist you with your immediate financial needs…”
In today’s economy, what could I possibly do with two weeks of pay? When I had bills of my own and stood to acquire the bills occasionally from some of the members of my family.
But, given the circumstances I didn’t fret. I had 3 college degrees (two masters) and over seven years of experience to fall back on. Getting a new job for me would be a breeze.
And because I didn’t anticipate having an issue gaining other employment, I took a few weeks off to decompress from the stresses brought on by the former. But unfortunately eight weeks later I was still unemployed and forced to accept that in eight months, I would become a mother…
Now, talk about a hard pill to swallow. Being single and unemployed is manageable. But being pregnant and unemployed for me was unfathomable.
This was going to be my first child. So imagine my disappointment being pregnant and unable to provide. Especially when I thought I’d have it all planned out. I anticipated having college funds ready and day cares sorted out. But now I understood what people were talking about, when they said “your never ready for a child”. I can assure you they were right, as I certainly was NOT!
When I reached my third month of pregnancy, my apartment lease was soon to expire, and over half of my funds depleted due to paying for prenatal care. I was now forced to research other options for medical care. I couldn't let my child suffer for my inability to find work, so I enrolled in the Texas medicaid plan.
Had I known that Texas would generously pay for one hundred percent of all my medical bills, I would have kept the money I saved and enrolled as soon as possible. Nonetheless, grateful that my medical expenses would now be covered and my services and doctors unchanged, I was forced address the soon approaching moving day. So I decided that moving back home with my mother was my only alternative…
As month four of pregnancy and approximately month 6 of unemployment arrived, I completely relinquished my efforts to seek employment. I soon realized that I was a great candidate until I walked into an interview with the potential employer, who was forced to consider that I would only be able to give them three months of solid work before FMLA initiated. So I began to focus solely on preparing my life to welcome my baby boy. But little did I know, my preparations would soon cease as life had one additional curve ball for me.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was so vivid to me, like one would recall his/her favorite vacation or most memorable birthday celebration. At roughly 3:00 AM I began cramping. Being that this was my first pregnancy I didn’t know what to expect, so I tried to bear it.
I woke up that next morning, ate breakfast as usual. But noticed that there was still no change in pain. Again uncertain of all the symptoms, I ate lunch and got back in bed for the day.
But into the evening I began to worry that after several hours of repeated cramping and it seemed to be uncommon. Fear of uncertainty kicked in. So I turned to google while awaiting my doctor to return my call.
Unwilling to accept the world wide web diagnoses, I clung to my doctor’s words that everything should be fine. I took some tylenol and tried to remain calm. But shortly after the doctor’s reassuring call, approximately 2 hours later, I began bleeding uncontrollably. I quickly realized that what I believed was simple cramping, was actual contractions. This was now an emergency situation.
I was rushed to the hospital consumed with pain, hope and fear. I couldn’t help but pray silently that my baby would be ok. That was the only thing I wanted to be, certain that he would be happy and healthy.
After a couple hours in labor, I was actually getting ready to deliver a baby naturally for the first time in my life. My emotions were high and the pain was unimaginable. But to my surprise, the pain severely minimized the moment I held my son in my arms for the very first time.
“Ms. Garrett, we will give you 15 minutes,” is what the nurses told me. I remember thinking only 15 minutes. I guess that’s so as not to establish an attachment.
Sounds crazy right? They must not have been thinking clearly. My child was apart of me, so we had established and maintained a bond already, for 20 weeks. So those 15 minutes, felt like two. But since I was unable to challenge the rules, I had to hold on to those 15 minutes as long as I could.
The doctor finally told me that because I was only 20 weeks pregnant, there was nothing they could do to save him. Which meant, to me, there was nothing I could do to save him. A helpless mother, in inexplicable distress and hopelessness. I basically experienced joy and sorrow within 15 minutes…
The pain of that loss is indescribable. The realization of what is was inconceivable. How do you began to process that pain? How can you embrace a reality you did not anticipate? Those are the questions I am faced with everyday.
Needless to say I was unprepared to handle such emotional strain. And now life had me in a very dark place. The only moral to my story is that I am taking it day by day. To lose your job, your home and child in 24 months is more than anyone can take. But I now openly acknowledge that no one in this life can anticipate, predicting uncertainty. Because we will never be able to properly prepare ourselves for the unexpected. We must live life, constantly prepared to adjust accordingly…