…so don’t even bother asking me to.
Wow! The plan for this week’s blog post was SO different than what it has become. I guess I can just save that one for a later time.
So let’s back up a second. Yesterday I downloaded Resolve.org‘s Listen Up toolkit for this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week. It’s next month, April 23-29…the 29th is my birthday. After I downloaded the toolkit, I created an album on my personal Facebook profile and added all the photos to it. A little while later, I was “gently” asked to maybe not focus so much on infertility because it may make some people a little uncomfortable.
So after I calmly removed myself from the conversation…telling them to forget my name and blocking them is “calm”, right?!…I sat and stewed for a while.
Infertility is a disease. Just like cancer, diabetes, heart disease. Why do we welcome and encourage awareness for those things, and ask people with infertility to sit a corner and stay quiet?
When a friend is going through a divorce, what do we tell them? We tell them we’re here for them. We tell them to talk about it. We tell them it’s natural to grieve the loss of the relationship, the loss of the future. We tell them it’s not healthy to keep all those emotions bottled up. We tell them we are their friends and that’s what friends are for.
Why do I not get that same level of understanding?! And the…well, I’ve never experienced infertility and that’s why I’m uncomfortable with it…is kind of lame. I’ve never been through a divorce. I still don’t tell my friends who are going through a divorce to leave me out of those conversations. I’ve never had cancer…I still talk to my friends while they are going through chemo.
My husband lost his mother more than 20 years ago, I lost my father less than 5 years ago. Him knowing what it’s like to lose a parent didn’t make his hugs to me more comforting. It didn’t make his presence by my side more important. Just like my arms, when he lost his father a year and a half ago, weren’t a place of solace because I knew what it was like to lose a daddy. All that mattered was that we were there for one another, we were by each other’s side, when we needed support. We didn’t have to understand in order to comfort.
Because when you’re going through something difficult, all that matters is that you are surrounded by people who love you. They don’t have to know what to say, what you’re feeling, what journey lies ahead of you. They just need to support you through it.
I talk about infertility, because so many people don’t even know what it is. There’s this idea that if you want to get pregnant and you don’t get pregnant that very first month you try, it’s infertility. Or that infertility can be “fixed” by simply getting a massage to help you relax or a different kind of underwear. (By the way…don’t talk to your friends about their spouse’s underwear. You want to talk about uncomfortable.)
Not talking about it, doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t make it less painful. It doesn’t. And while you may be more comfortable not hearing about it, someone you love is still suffering alone.
1 in 8…that’s how many people suffer through infertility. 1 in 8 have a disease that’s not contagious, but no one wants to be “around” it. Can you imagine how isolating that can be?
My life is a messy kind of happiness. It is full of loss, full of cuss words, full of hospital stays & surgeries. It is financial worries, broken plans, and plants I can’t always keep alive. It’s full of love, full of faith, full of hope. It’s fur baby snuggles through out the night, a marriage working on it’s second decade, it’s Christmas tree lights hung year round. It’s kisses followed by death threats and some times death threats followed by kisses. It’s beautifully crazy. It’s not easy, but it is amazing.
It’s not fair to ask me to share only the happy. To only share the inconsequential. If I can share when a recipe goes right, or when flowers are randomly brought home…why shouldn’t I share when I have a bad day trying to conceive a child? It’s not fair to only be a friend during the good times.
Yes, infertility can be uncomfortable for those that are blessed enough to never face it head on. But that level of comfor comes at the expense of someone you love. And being silent about infertility makes me uncomfortable. And I’m not willing to do that.
Ok, so maybe limiting it to just moms and non loss moms is a bit of an understatement. I think a more appropriate title might be “What Loss Parents Wished Everyone Who Has Ever Been Lucky Enough To Never Experience A Loss Understand…And What They Wish A Few Fellow Loss Parents Would Too”. But, for the sake of available space, I’ll stick with what I’ve got.
Recently I started a new Facebook group, Love Echoes Forever-TTC After Loss. The TTC journey after loss is so unique, that I thought a group that was centered around the emotional roller coaster was needed. One of the first questions that I asked the ladies who joined was…”What do you wish people understood the most about loss?” This blog post is dedicated to the remarkable women who answered the question & is about the 3 biggest topics brought up.
One of the biggest things I’ve noticed, and one that was mentioned in group as well, is one for everyone to understand…loss & non loss. I don’t understand why, but for some reason we live in a society where every thing is compared and measured and ranked. And while I am not one to agree with little leagues that don’t keep score, because life keeps score and it’s just as important to learn how to win as it is to learn how to lose…score keeping doesn’t always have a place in life. One loss is no less significant than the next. A loss at 5 weeks is no less of a loss than at 35 weeks. You still the lose the dreams of birthday cards, Christmas excitement, first words, first steps, first days of school…last days of schools. Hearing a heart beat, being able to determine gender does not…I repeat, DOES NOT change the fact that your entire world is turned upside down and wrong side out because in a moment you lose the entire dream of who that baby might have been. It amazed me when I lost my daddy how many people told me how sorry they were that I lost him at such a young age. I was 34 he was 2 days shy of 60. I was also told by a few people to basically get over it already since I was an adult…I was lucky I had the time with him. The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter at what age you lose a parent-the loss is never gonna be easy, it’s always be a hole in your heart, it’s going to change everything in your life. Losing a pregnancy is the same way. It doesn’t matter at what age, it’s a loss that will forever change your life. Regardless. A loss is a loss. So, let’s just make a pact now to not compare one to another in an attempt to make one worse or better. One is not lucky while one is unlucky. A loss is a loss…there is no scale.
Just like with anything lost, there is no replacement. It will never matter how many children you eventually go on to have & hold, there will always be a little piece missing. And it’s not that you aren’t appreciative and grateful for every single blessing that God has given you. No, in fact, you are probably more appreciative than anyone can possibly imagine. You know what you’ve lost and how precious and fragile what you have is because of that loss. But at the same time, you aren’t mourning because OPI discontinued a nail polish color that you really liked and no one is making that particular shade. You are mourning a child, your child. The best way I can think to describe it in a way that everyone can relate is when you lose a friend. Not necessarily due to death, just not in your life anymore. You know that friend that you had the late night chats with, the one who would laugh at the dumbest things with you? You will never replace them. You will always…even if you go on to find 10 other amazingly beautiful people who you are lucky enough to call a best friend in your life…you will ALWAYS look back to those memories of the friend that you once had. You will always miss the laughter they brought you, even though you have a ton of laughter in your life. You will always wish for that smile to shine on you one more time, even though you are surrounded by love. It’s not that you’re greedy, or unappreciative. You are not wanting ALL the smiles in the world…just the ones that have touched your life and are no longer there. And there will never be anyone to replace that friend, because there is no way to replace that person. There is simply someone else now who also shares a piece of your heart. So please understand that when it comes to children, whether rainbows (babies born after loss) or sunshines (babies born before loss), it will never matter how much laughter fills a house in the early morning hours…there is always going to be a little bit of a quietness that echoes because loss parents know there should be just a little bit more noise. And it’s not that they aren’t thankful for the noise they hear, they just know it should be a little louder.
Pregnancy and infant loss seems to still be such a taboo thing to talk about it. It’s treated in 3 ways, it seems. Like it shouldn’t be brought up because it will cause too much pain or uncomfortableness for the asker, or like we are contagious and should “it” be brought up we will somehow give it to you, or just completely open conversations when support is needed. I really wish it was always the latter. Loss is a part of life. We can’t avoid it. And sadly, people seem so ready to give support and understanding for just about any type of loss…just not pregnancy and infant loss. And that makes it that much more isolating. Because people are afraid of upsetting a loss parent, they don’t always ask how they’re doing. Because it’s something that isn’t commonly talked about, people aren’t sure how to approach the subject of an angel. It’s so easy for people to imagine how hard it is to cope with that type of loss, they are worried that by asking about the loss, they will bring up horrible memories and a ton of pain. And sometimes…not gonna lie…it absolutely will. BUT, that’s not unlike asking how anyone is doing after a loss of any kind. Not every conversation is going to be a sad one. Just today, on our way from a day out, the hubby and I talked about how similar I was to my daddy when it came to driving…and that led to stories, which led to happy memories. A few weeks ago we were talking about how much I miss him and that led to tears. But the fact that I had someone to talk to and support me through both sides of the spectrum was what I needed. And when I’m in a particularly vulnerable place and I think talking about my losses will just absolutely push me over the edge, I don’t talk about them. So please, if you know a loss parent…don’t be afraid of mentioning what they’ve gone through, of asking how they’re doing, of asking about what it’s like and if they need support or just love through it. Regardless of how long ago it happened. It helps to know that we aren’t the only ones who remember our babies existed, however briefly.
It’s just a start, I know…but, sometimes just a little understanding can make a world of difference.
I know I’ve shared this before, not on this blog…but on an old one. But the feeling behind this never changes. This was a note I did on Facebook a couple of years ago.
“Last October when Adrian Peterson’s son died from injuries sustained by an alleged assualt from his mother and her boyfriend…and I say alleged because I don’t know what the final outcome is, at the moment I think it’s still just charges…the entire football community became a support system. There were cards, prayers, hugs, outrage, and shoulders for the football player to lean on. Before games there were questions about how he was coping, how he was carrying on with his life, dedications of games in the young boy’s honor.
What a lot of people never realized was that Adrian Peterson had only recently learned the child existed. The first time he ever saw this little boy was after he was on life support in the hospital a couple of days after the attack. He was not a part of this child’s life and this child was not a part of his life. And when people would mention that in comments on different news stories, they were…rightfully so…villified by others leaving comments of support. People who said that this man was merely mourning the idea of this little boy, the idea of the man he would become, the idea of birthdays, graduations, marriage, and kids were belittled for their lack of sympathy and compassion. So what if it was the idea that was being mourned? It was a loss through no fault of Adrian’s and he had every right to cry over and grieve the things he was never going to have.
So why am I any different? Why is a woman who has suffered a miscarraige not given the same understanding, compassion, and support.
This is what I know…
…I know that from the second I found out I was pregnant, I thought of myself as a mother. I was actually excited about middle of the night feedings, nights spent soothing a coughing baby in the bathroom with the shower going. I embraced every part of what life as a mother was going to be. I teased with the hubby about being able to say, “Just wait until your father gets home” and how I needed to start preparing myself prenatally for the eventual “I hate you” screams that all toddlers, pre-teens, and teenagers are so quick to shout. I didn’t have rose colored glasses on when I thought about being a mother…I just thought about being a mother.
A handful of miscarriages, and coming up on what should be my 12th year hearing “Happy Mother’s Day”, I find myself a ball of tears with very little understanding and compassion from “society”. I say it that way because, of course, my friends and family who know that I’ve lost babies are my rocks. But, in general, I am not considered a mother by most people, even though in my heart I feel like I am…just to babies that are no longer with me. When people learn that I’ve had multiple miscarriages, I get a lot of lost looks…some just don’t know what to say. Others, I wish, should not say anything. I’ve heard a lot of things like, “Well, at least you won’t have to raise a sick child”, and, “At least you didn’t lose a real baby”.
This is what I know…
…I know that my babies were real enough to have a heartbeat. I know that they were real enough to change what I ate, drank, kept down, thought about, and shopped for. I know that while not all pregnancies are lost because there was something was wrong with the baby, no challenge or birth defect was worth me not wanting them. I know that I would have done anything, including laying down my own life, to get them here safely, to make sure that they had the best life possible.
Tomorrow, not unlike today or yesterday, I will mourn the idea of my children. The birthdays, the first days of school, the attitudes they would most likely have come by honestly, the everything that I don’t get to have through no fault of my own.
This is what I know…
…I am a mother. And I know that my friends and family have that understanding as well. I also know that because they love me and don’t want to hurt me, most will not say anything to me tomorrow about Mother’s Day. I know that it is a hard subject to talk about and that they hurt for me. But I know that, for me at least, not talking about it, not acknowleding that I held life, hurts as well.
I’m not asking for people to treat me with caution…saying “with kid’s gloves” seemed a little heavy handed…just treat me like anyone else who mourns. Some days are gonna be better than others, some days are gonna be bad, some days are gonna be awesome, and some days are gonna be the stuff of country songs and AA meetings. You don’t have to sheild me from your baby news, you don’t have to hide your mommy miletones out of worry for me. Yes, I might cry…but, it’s out of love and joy for you even if it’s mixed with a little sad for me. Ok, so maybe sometimes it’s more like a lot of sad for me and a little bit of joy and love for you. But that’s part of the process, the coping, the learning to live past the loss.
So there it is…that’s what I know. I’m not wanting pity, just a little understanding…and maybe for advertisers to realize that not every damn thing should be billed as or for Mother’s Day…but mainly the understanding. Understanding that I am a mother, just different from the norm. “
As you can tell, this was written for Mother’s Day. And I know we’re still like two months out. But, there was just something calling out for me to share this now. (Sorry the spacing is a little weird, it’s a copy & paste job from my original Facebook note.)
I hate to admit it, but the truth is, I’m jealous. Not by nature. I’m secure enough in life to not let the actions or accomplishments of others take away from my happiness…in all aspects of my life. Save one that is.
It never seems to matter how much I like someone, or love them. They could be my best friend, a relative, a fellow baby loss mom, or a fellow TTC’er. When I see a pregnancy announcement or the pictures of newborns, I absolutely hate myself. Because as much as I want to be happy for them, my first thought is anything but.
Ok, here’s how it normally goes in my mind:
What the hell makes them so lucky?!
Wow! That was bitchy!
But seriously?! What makes them so fucking deserving over me?!
(if it’s not their first child)
Seriously?! Another one?! I just want one!
You know that’s a lie. You’d be happy with one, but you want several.
Why can’t I just be happy for them?!
Yup, I become a jealous, hateful, bitch. I immediately dive into totally picking apart someone I’m suppose to care simply because they have something I don’t. Something I would die for.
I mean, if was just a scarf…a visit to Amazon could fix it. But it’s not. It’s a baby. And Amazon doesn’t sell those. I know, I checked.
I absolutely hate myself every time I have to use the, “I don’t want to see this”, option on Facebook. Especially when it’s a fellow BLM or TTC sister. I know their struggles, it should warn my heart for them. I should see hope for myself in their joy! I should be a decent person…but I’m not.
Instead, I become a jealous bitch.
It’s not what I want. In fact, it’s the furthest from it. I want to be the kind of person who is nothing but happy, instead of the girl who fakes being nothing but happy. Because, it’s not like I’m not happy for them. I am! I just become so sad for myself. I feel like I keep wishing on someone else’s star.
Hi, my name is Monique and I’m a jealous bitch.
So, what do you do when the green-eyed monster creeps in? Yeah, I have no clue. My best guess…fake it ’till you make it! Tell them you’re happy for them. Because, you really are-even if it’s not the only emotion you feel. You smile, more to prove to yourself that you can, through the pain. But the most important thing…at least for me…is to stay mindful that one day, *fingers crossed*, it will be you gushing and someone else needing a little bit of shielding & understanding.
Because the truth is, being jealous doesn’t make you a bad person. I know it makes us feel like we are, but that feeling is wrong. It’s something everyone deals with. And that’s actually the hardest part for me. To know, and fully embrace, that it’s completely normal to feel like this. That most people, especially the ones who have been trying for so long, have all felt it…have been through it. And even it’s not related to baby fever, everybody knows what the feeling of jealousy is. Because it is part of being human.
So with that being said…yup, I’m human. And that means that my life is beautifully imperfect. And all I can do is take one day at a time. So, if you’re jel, come sit next to me…we’ll get through it together.