Danny Boice here and I am the CEO of Trustify. We’ve already made this far in Chapter 3: The Voice and I hope you enjoyed yourself on reading our Journey to Trust book series. Then again, Jen Mellon, my wife and also the co-founder and president of Trustify, shares the sixth part of the story below.
The spring following the blue line, I traveled to San Antonio for the annual medical institute conference. I was halfway through my pregnancy, and I sat in the audience on rickety chairs while doctors talked about trauma in childhood and reactive attachment disorders. I thought I might adopt someday and wondered if I would need to know this. (The one thing I never imagined as I sat there, pregnant and married to Eli, is that I would one day marry a man would who would benefit from my knowledge of addressing childhood trauma).
Then, during a break, one of the Joint Council board members looked at my belly pointedly. “This is our second Executive Director to get pregnant. We’re never going to hire another female Executive Director.” (Yes! Seriously!) My jaw dropped, but nothing came out. That was young Jen, without the benefit and wisdom of years as a female leader. The co-CEO must have seen my face because he took my elbow and steered me aside. “Deep breaths. Just let it go.”
“Let it go!? This is illegal. She can’t make those comments, not in today’s day and age. That’s discrimination!” But I did let it go.
And I let it go when I found out the following month that my co-CEO made twice the amount that I did, doing virtually the same job as me but having fewer qualifications. Welcome to the working world, Jen. I was taking crash-course after crash-course in the challenges that even women in positions of power face.
Months later, when I started having contractions and Eli drove me to the hospital, I was sure I would return to work quickly. I was sure that everything would go as planned, that this part of the process would neatly follow my intentions. Then, as I sat in a hospital room with Eli, listening to beeps and the squeak of nurse’s shoes on the sterile-smelling floors, I sat under the papery sheets as the doctor told me I had preeclampsia.
“We’ll have to induce you,” he told me, peering over my chart, not pausing once to look at me directly.
“No, that can’t be right.” My stomach was round in front of me and I wanted the doctor to look me in the eye, to pause his scanning, to listen. “I haven’t been diagnosed with that. I want a non-medicated birth. Please, that’s important to me and I’ve already talked about this with my midwife.”
He didn’t listen to me. He didn’t double-check my charts when I asked. The nurses who came into my room didn’t listen either and didn’t look me in the eye as they put Pitocin in my IV. “Please,” I said, again. “I don’t want Pitocin unless you can prove my blood pressure is bad.” I watched their white uniforms swish by my bed, hour after hour, their actions more functional than friendly. Eli napped on the plastic mustard-colored chair beside my bed. And I felt the world tighten around me.
I wanted to throttle my husband, my partner, awake. I wanted to take my big belly and drive myself home. I wanted to take control of my situation, and I felt stuck. I was signed in and had the plastic armband on my wrist. I was a patient—a prisoner. The Good Girl who didn’t want to make a fuss and kept asking politely for the non-medicated birth she was promised annoyed the shit out of me. I was used to the Jen who was willing to go toe-to-toe with congress members to protect kids. But here in this hospital, I had no one else to fight for but myself, so I let them have their way. Can you believe that? Here, the Jen who was willing to travel halfway around the world to fulfill a shatter-proof intention to save an orphanage simply didn’t matter.
Resigned, I prayed that my baby would be safe.
On the day of Caroline’s birth, the doctor waited until Eli and my mom went for breakfast and then he broke my water, even when I asked him not to. I felt helpless, not wanting to make waves. I felt too young to firmly stand my ground. By the time Eli and my mother came back, sated with pancakes and coffee, my tears had dried and I was holding Caroline. Welcoming my oldest daughter into the world was one of the most beautiful moments of my life, but the way it went down ticked me off for years afterward.
In the weeks after giving birth, I bonded with her, changed her, napped with her, but I kept dreaming about my global babies too. The truth was that without my work, I had a hard time getting up. The world seemed to grey a bit, even when I held my beautiful daughter, things didn’t glow as brightly as they used to. There was nothing dramatic, just a subtle shift to a slower gear. Suddenly, my life didn’t seem to fit just right. My path felt altered—messed with. I’m adjusting to being a mom, I told myself. Give it time.
Watch out for the last part of Chapter 3 tomorrow!