Thursday, 4 July 2013

I'll never be able to imagine what that feels like

(WARNING: This post is pretty much unadulterated bitterness and bile, prompted by a rather self-absorbed meltdown today [in turn prompted by an innocent-enough email exchange], and hammered out here in the blogoverse on the basis of the better-out-than-in principle. If you've passed by today in search of more beautiful holiday snaps, or a nice, wholesome recipe or something, well...I apologize. If, on the other hand, like me you're having a particularly bitter infertile kind of day, stuck alone with your darkest, ugliest thoughts... well, far be it from me to offer any kind of validation, but feel free to stay and read on. I'm mixing the stiff drinks right now.)

Something I think will never stop stinging, whenever I encounter it: the way everyone else is so damned exuberantly confident as they face down pregnancy and parenthood...

'We are eight weeks pregnant!' 'We are expecting our first child in February!'

(Eight weeks?? I'd be terrified to ever again announce a pregnancy until...well, essentially the child is here and screaming. We don't ever indulge in any sense of expectancy anymore, except perhaps as it pertains to heartache and disappointment).

I wish they wouldn't be quite so cavalier, especially when they are aware of our own history. And yet here's the thing: other peoples' assured sense that everything is simple and easy and a pregnancy unequivocally results in a healthy-baby-nine-months-later is almost always rewarded with the very scenario their casual confidence imagines. I have to keep reminding myself that we fall on the distant margins of the statistics, the dark side of the moon.

('Less than 5 percent of women have two consecutive miscarriages, and only 1 percent have three or more consecutive miscarriages'. Thank you, Mayo Clinic, for using my miserable stats to reassure other parents about their odds, thereby pointing out to me what a freak I actually am. [I am the 1%. So special.] Actually, I guess the world does a pretty good job of reminding me just how not normal we are, with painful frequency. On my better days I probably just do an okay job of blocking that out. Lalalala I can't hear you!)

And then most of all, it stings that anyone else's justified joyful excitement over something so pure and beautiful is a source of pain and rage and just-please-shut-the-fuck-up-about-your-eight-week-pregnancy-and-plans-for-the-nursery mindset for me.

(Though at this point, I'm not sure what's worse: all that confident, babyiscoming! bravado, or the avoidant, furtive, whispered, poor-woman-I-don't-know-how-I'd-cope pity.)

I hate it that all this has turned me into such a shit head.

I hate it that one of the first things I think when I hear these kinds of happy announcements is:
Don't you know how long and hard some people have to struggle to get there?

I hate it that one of the second things I scream internally think is:
Don't you know that unborn babies die?!

In these misanthropic moments of self-pity, I kind of hate everyone, but I think I hate myself most of all.

Just...fuck.


Among the less commonly discussed side effects.  Source

32 comments:

  1. YES! My brother actually announced that his wife was expecting ON FACEBOOK at around 8 weeks... even my Mom thought he shouldn't have... of course everything turned out great for them, and I am happy for them... but still..

    I was having a bad day yesterday too. You and I always blog about positive thoughts and I think it is good to let out the bad stuff once in a while. Thanks for sharing and I hope you are feeling better soon.

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    1. Thanks for understanding - and being there - when I just need to let it all hang out! I really believe I can develop a better, deeper appreciation for the positive when I also allow myself to feel the crappy.

      It's really hard for me to fathom people like that, and sharing on facebook of all places...I think even before my losses, I wasn't comfortable with that kind of approach. I guess I envy their blissful ignorance in one way, but at the same time, it just seems to be an attitude of taking-things-for-granted, and I truly believe that (as I said above), you won't value and enjoy the depths of the gifts you've been given with this attitude, if everything comes easy. I'm sorry you had to deal with that in your family (I know something about that too).

      Better days ahead for both of us, my friend!

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  2. I'll never understand the kind of blissful ignorance that allows someone to share the news of a pregnancy that early, but I will always, always envy it. Let it all out, girl.

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    1. In one way I do (envy it), but (and maybe this is just me searching for a silver lining) I also feel like we'll really, truly cherish those gifts of tiny life once we get there. I don't *want* to take anything for granted. Thanks for listening and making me feel like less of an asshat.

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  3. I cringe with every early announcement. I said to my husband the other day that I am so glad we allowed ourselves our (quiet) blissful joy the day I got my BFP because now after the miscarriage I think I will have a hard time not being terrified when I get another BFP. It's so sad that it steals our joy and so frustrating when the world around us is pregnant. I have (sucessfully) avoided both my SIL's pregnant bellies for the past 2 months. Sorry you are having a hard time. XOXOXO

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    1. I think that's it; for us it's something so precious and mysterious and yes, fragile, that I would just want the quiet, secret joy you describe should I be lucky enough again. I am so sorry for your loss, and that you have to face (or avoid) very pregnant family members on top of that pain. I know how hard it is; both my sister and sil were pregnant at the same time as my first pregnancy, and truth be told, I was so grateful to be living in another country.

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  4. I'll never get that certainty, that naivety, either. I am that 1%, and while I have my son now I still get bitter and have moments of self pity. IT SUCKS to go through a loss, and to find yourself in that 1%... it just really really sucks. (*HUGS*)

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    1. Totally sucks, more than I ever thought possible. And I hate it that those little things throw me over the edge when I do so well most of the time of just soldiering on. But I guess you're right, some moments of self-pity and bitterness are 'normal' (whatever can be called normal about our experiences), and I am sure it does not change with one healthy pregnancy; each baby is a distinct little life, each pregnancy it's own set of hopes and fears. Thanks for the hugs, they were really needed yesterday.

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  5. Hugs and hugs and hugs. I wish I had a magic wand to make it all good. I hope you feel better now... (and it is so unfair, and ignorant too. As a side note in Mexico it is considered a bad omen to announce a pregnancy before 12 weeks).

    Here's an article that points at what you are talking about:

    "We are not women who will ever experience that radiance that is supposed to accompany pregnancy. Instead, there is a dark cloud which casts a shadow over our pregnancies. One which eclipses the excitement, pride, and joy of impending motherhood. The confidence, innocence and bliss that other women experience will never be our story."

    "Pregnancy losses or difficulty conceiving often lead women to mistrust their body, and view it as defective. The minute the pregnancy is detected, elation and excitement are eclipsed by worry even if there are no indications that anything is amiss."

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    1. My Grandmother (who grew up in Poland) had the same beliefs about announcing pregnancy, and in many of the countries where I've worked there are similar taboos, including not even naming a child for the first year, simply because people in those parts of the world are no strangers to loss and grief. It does get hard being confronted with the opposite, and I do sometimes feel like shaking people who seem so oblivious to their own good fortune, which they seem to think is just coming to them.

      That article puts it perfectly; how can we ever trust our bodies, after being told by messages all around us in society and growing up that this is what we are 'made to do', but that some of us simply can't? Our most basic functions, well...don't function. It sucks and it's so random and unfair.

      Thank you for the hugs my dear, they were so felt and so needed yesterday. Mostly I can accept that there will always be people who have an easier time, and always some of us who get an unfair, raw deal and there is nothing anyone can do to change it...But on those bad days like yesterday, I just really want to tear or smash something, and it really helped to be able to do that figuratively here, and have people who 'got it'.

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  6. You have voiced thoughts that I struggle with every day. When my sister announced her pregnancy just a few days after her positive pregnancy test (Who does that?? Everyone, it seems), I had a terrible thought--I was mad because I knew she wouldn't lose it. I knew everything would be normal and easy for her, just like it always is. "What are you saying, that you wanted your sister to lose her baby??" you might ask in horror. I would say, "No, no, no, of course not" in my grown-up, reasonable voice, but a tiny, ugly, honest little piece of my heart would have to admit in a quiet voice "yes." Yes, I wanted her to know my pain. To be sorry for her cockiness, her braggadocio. I wanted the universe to teach her a lesson like it taught me. But I knew, just knew, that it wouldn't.

    Infertility/loss has done some weird things to me. It has made me see a really dark side of myself that I would rather not know existed. But I also like to think it is doing some good things to me too, shaping my character in a way that only the most painful experiences can. "The normals," as I like to think of them, will never see the world in all its sharp contrast and blinding color as we have been forced to do. They live fuzzy, oblivious lives. We feel more, and that hurts, but the trade off is that we see more too. I know it's still a rotten deal, but that's the kind of thing I tell myself for comfort, and I really believe it's true.

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    1. Oh Annie, I so get you and one of the reasons (besides the cathartic benefits of a good old rant) that I decided to write that post in the moment was that I hoped it would make other women experiencing what I have feel a bit less alone, and less badly about themselves, as I have done reading the words of other women who have survived this before me.

      I get that honest little piece of your heart, and I thank you for sharing it. A wise women who had experienced loss once reminded me that, as ugly as it sounds, that desire to have others experience what we've gone through is not really about wanting to inflict pain on others, it's about wanting to feel less alone, wanting others to acknowledge that yes, it was small and you never saw it, but we lost something real and precious. We carried and lost LIFE. It's about wanting people to know and understand that kind of grieving, and the way it colours everything that comes after. If I am being truly honest, I must admit that while I think it *sounds* good, I cannot really utter the common phrase, 'I would never wish this on my worst enemy', because for all those reasons above, there was a small part of me too, that has thought the things you have.

      And I think you're right; we get more bad, but we get more good too, because we REALLY FEEL IT ALL. Hang in there lady.

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  7. You know, I'd never wish these problems on others, or want them to spend their pregnancies in fear of unlikely outcomes. I don't want their pity. It would just be nice if they recognized -- in a very general way, beyond the context of infertility and baby loss -- the good fortune they've received. I wish they'd recognize how much of that good fortune is not the result of anything special they did (so please stop with the smug advice), and that not everyone gets so lucky.

    Attitudes of entitlement are annoying in any context. In this context, with all the grief and stress, it's no freaking wonder you're upset! I hope tomorrow is a better day.

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    1. Hope, you have really hit the nail RIGHT on the head with this. Yes! It's exactly that sense of entitlement, as though '*naturally* nothing bad will happen for ME', and the sense that they have somehow done something to deserve it. Then worse still, such people often don't even seem to cherish (because how could they? they don't think of it as anything special) the wonderful gifts they do receive. It would be really nice to think that people could have those insights about their good fortune, and the hardships of others who don't, without experiencing it themselves, but there are only a rare few who do. Because of course you're right; at the end of the day it is random good fortune and nothing more. No one is being punished, and no one is being rewarded, it's all a crap shoot.

      Thank you for articulating so clearly, and in a way so connected to other aspects of life, what has been bothering me.

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  8. It's so much better to let it out than keep it bottled up inside. I truly believe that.

    A few years ago I went to a rehearsal dinner. The bride was sitting at the table bragging about how she'd be ovulating on her honeymoon and planned to come back pregnant. I was understandably appalled (at the idea of it, and also at the crass way she announced it a table of people including her grandparents). I figured she'd be pregnant in a month, and for one split second I wished it would take her a few tries. You know, to see how it feels just a tiny bit.

    Well, the universe is weird because she's actually experiencing infertility and has been coming to ME for advice for the past few months. Never could have predicted that, and of course I feel awful for hoping she didn't get pregnant first try as she wanted. But it just goes to show that announcing shit like that can go wrong, even for the most seemingly fertile people. I wonder if she regrets announcing to the entire world her intentions of getting pregnant immediately now that it's been years with no luck.

    Sending you hugs. It's just not fair. And even when it is kind of fair, it's not fair at all.

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    1. Wow, that is quite a story, and it's true that you just never know how life will turn out. Of course I'm aware (oh, am I aware!) that it can all go wrong at *any* time - because hey, in my first pregnancy we passed that magical first trimester mark and look how that ended. I think it's all too easy for me to make the assumption that this is something that happens to us, and not other people, because I have never been 'fortunate' enough to have anyone in my real life circle of friends and family share experiences of loss/IF, and because we have just had such a string of crap luck. Thank you for the reminder that the 'it's all a crap shoot' principle applies universally. And for the hugs too!

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  9. Wish I could come over for some of those stiff drinks! I'm ok anytime to read the honest ramblings of a fellow 1%er about things I understand far too well.

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    1. I wish that too! I'm so sorry that you're in that crappy 1% too, but I'm grateful there is someone else willing to listen, who understands. Stop by for drinks anytime!

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  10. "In these misanthropic moments of self-pity, I kind of hate everyone, but I think I hate myself most of all"

    This feeling has been simmering in the back of my head for the past few weeks, and it's the most awful thing. It's bad enough hurting about losing a baby and not getting pregnant. It's even worse when you end up hating yourself over the way you're feeling about the whole situation. Emotionally it's a bit of a self fulfilling prophesy.

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    1. It can be such an awful thing, just stuck going around and around in your own thoughts. I'm sorry you're having to deal with any of this too. It usually helps me a little (eventually) to remember that feelings are just that - feelings, perfectly natural and understandable and common in our circumstances, and as such are neither good nor bad. It's what we do with them that really matters, I think. So I hope you can just allow yourself to feel them (I really do believe they're better out than in), and not beat yourself up about it.

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  11. The other day I went to my doctor and she said she's "concerned" that I'm not pregnant yet. (Well, duh!) She said in 2 months, she's going to prescribe Clomid and if that doesn't work she'll have to send me to an RE for more invasive testing and possibly a few rounds of IUI. She said IUI for someone my age works about 15% of the time...and all I could think is that this would be the one time I'm NOT part of the minority. And yet meanwhile everyone single one of my friends has managed to get pregnant naturally within 3 months, even my friend who is 12 years older than me. It really upsets me that they have no clue how lucky they are that they don't have to ride the rollercoaster of infertility and that they get to live in la-la land where BFPs=healthy babies in 9 months.

    You're not alone in feeling frustrated and angry... you're 100% entitled to feel this way after all you've been through. If it helps, I really do believe you'll have your rainbow someday. I just don't understand why the road has to be so long and bumpy. Prayers and hugs <3

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    1. Oh Catherine, I'm sorry that you're in this place too and have to deal with all those clueless idiots who just seem to get all the good luck without even realizing it. Thanks for your support, and for making me feel less alone.

      And, as wierd as it seems, even though I can't always summon very much hope for myself, it means a lot that you believe *for* me. I guess we'll never understand this long and bumpy road, but it sure helps to have company along the way. Hugs to you my friend.

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  12. First off, I'm glad to see this post. It means you got it out instead of allowing it to simmer and stew. So bravo! These type of posts are always hard to write as they tend to bring out sides of ourselves we don't particularly like.

    Here's the deal: Those 25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage (though we're beginning to learn that this may be a hell of a lot more common), most people blissfully assume it won't be them. Equally so, those who survive miscarriage/baby loss are encouraged to stuff the facts and feelings. Hence there's this encouragement for sharing pregnancy news as soon as possible so that one can get blissfully swept up in spending the next 9 months focusing (i.e. freaking out) about all the things one needs to buy for baby. The problem with being a part of this community is that we know better. We know the stats, the heart-breaking stories, the fear and the reality. We also know that there are some amazing people out there who will never become parents, despite them doing everything right. And that just sucks.

    I'll be honest: those that share and plan this early drive me a bit looney, but I also view it as their issue. Some people need to celebrate every aspect of a pregnancy because it helps them cope with what is to come. Others are truly believe that pregnancy = baby and refuse to believe anything bad could happen. Yes it's maddening, but once I realize that it's more about them than it is about me, I usually feel a bit better.

    Hang in there. Go let out that frustration and anger, doing what ever you need to do to get there. In the meantime, know that you're not alone in your feelings and that I continue to hope that you'll be holding your rainbow baby soon.

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    1. Thanks as always for your thoughful comment Cristy. I completely agree that there is a huge vested interest societally in rejecting the bad news stories and forcing everyone to embrace the rainbows and unicorns version of reproduction, and that mass consumption is a huge part of that. I think for me I have to not only acknowledge that people's attitudes are their own thing to worry about, but that my reactions to those are also about me and my experiences; giving yself permission to feel what I do, in a safe space, usually helps me see the big picture again. If I didn't have this space, and all of you, to allow me to vent the uglier aspects of this whole process, I'm sure I'd have multiple ulcers by now! So most of all thank you for sticking around and listening when I'm not that pleasant to 'be around' :)

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  13. Sending you hugs, it's not easy and it's not fair. I think the same when I hear of a pregnancy that early, and I will never take things for granted. It's amazing how many people do that. It stings the double because another pregnancy will probably be more fearful than filled with joy. And that sucks. Hang in there, let it all out whenever you need.

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    1. Thank you my friend. Your support and presence here is always so appreciated.

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  14. as always, I am so moved by your candor. those women with their early announcements - the easy cockiness, the self-assuredness, the bravado. it's kind of stupefying, really. mostly though, it's just not fair. and sometimes it just feels good to scream from the rooftops how effing unfair it is. we're all here for you and wishing for only good things to come. hugs.

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    1. Yes, it really does feel like a release. Thanks for listing to my roof screaming Sarah.

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  15. Ah, I've been there. I told my husband that our journey (one stillbirth and a miscarriage) has turned me into an asshole.

    Pregnancy announcements fill me with dread. I hate being in a room with a pregnant person. I can't go to children's birthday parties. What kind of asshole feels that way?

    I do change my mind about sharing news of the pregnancy if I ever do get pregnant again. The biggest part of me feels that we don't say anything until we actually have a live child. There's a small part, though, that thinks we just tell everyone the first day that we know, because if something happens, I want the world to know why I will be losing my mind.

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    1. This journey has turned me into an asshole. So succinct, so perfect, and so true. It sucks that either of us knows that bizarre state of mind. I'm sorry.

      With our second pregnancy, we told a very select few who we hoped would be able to provide some support if the worst happened. Which of course it did, and once again...well, let's just say I guess my expectations of people are always and forever too high.

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  16. I understand. I hate that I am consumed by envy when I hear about other people's pregnancies. I mourn the loss of my innocence about trusting that any future pregnancies I have will go to term. Miscarriage has shaped me very quickly, and I feel if I'm not careful, it will leave an ugly scar.

    Yes, better out than in. Our blogs are our safe places. Let it all hang out. I'm standing right beside you.

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    1. Thank you for standing here with me Lauren. That in itself is powerful stuff.

      These sorts of experiences *do* shape us very quickly, and very profoundly (well, some of us anyway). I definitely have ugly scars; like any other scars, they soften and grow pinker and more alive with bloodflow and the return of life as time passes. And you know what? When that happens, I am kind of proud of these battle scars. They remind me what I' made of, and how far I've come.

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