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Real Life

11 Jun

One day, toward the end of a conversation I was having with the painter David Salle in his studio, on White Street, he looked at me and said, “Has this every happened to you? Have you ever thought that your real life hasn’t begun yet?”

“I think I know what you mean.”

“You know–soon. Soon you’ll start your real life.”

–Janet Malcolm, “Forty-One False Starts”

This.  This is my life.  I don’t even know what I can add to this.

Found on The Happiness Project blog.

You have to be so much better than you ever thought you could be

7 Jun

Stupid Stork wrote a post about infertiles in film and reminded me of a movie I had blocked out of my memory: Away We Go starring Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski.  I watched this movie right after I lost the baby.  I think.  I don’t really remember.  I know I watched it but I can’t remember when.  All I know is that when I watched a scene she posted on her blog, I had this feeling.  It was a feeling like “once upon a time this broke my heart into a million pieces and made me feel like dying.”  This feeling usually happens when I remember things that happened either while I was pregnant or after we lost him.  That’s not really the point of the story, though.

The point is that the part of the movie she posted on her blog was my favorite then and it’s my favorite now.  It’s when they visit their friends in Montreal who have a bunch of adopted kids and this seemingly awesome life.  Before they even walk into their house, they are awed by it. They have this gorgeous house, they are grown-ups (compared to how Maya and John’s characters feel about their lives) and obviously have it together.  They walk into the house and are greeted with a Sound of Music sing-a-long and the happy chaos of a big happy family.  They then go out for an awesome night on the town that makes it seem like this couple has everything they could ever want to be happy.  After a lot of drinking, they go out to grab a bite to eat and the guy (played by Chris Messina, who I also love) says this about parenting:

It’s all those good things you have in you. The love, the wisdom, the generosity, the selflessness, the patience. The patience! At 3 A.M. when everyone’s awake because Ibrahim is sick and he can’t find the bathroom and he’s just puked all over Katia’s bed. Patience when you blink, when you blink,  and it’s 5:30 and it’s time to get up again and you know you’re going to be tired all day, all week, all your fucking life. And you’re thinking what happened to Greece? What happened to swimming naked off the coast of Greece? And you have to be willing to make the family out of whatever you have.

Then his wife (played by Melanie Lynskey, who I also love so I think I just love everyone in this movie) says the title of this post.

You have to be so much better than you ever thought you could be.

She’s talking about parenting but she’s talking about so much more.  Later on, it is revealed that she has just recently had her fifth miscarriage.  That seemingly perfect life is not so perfect after all and they don’t have everything they’ve ever wanted.  Maybe I’m reading way too much into this but I feel like when she says that, she’s not just talking about being a parent this huge family she has created through adoption.  I feel like she is also talking about being a parent to those five babies that she lost.

Later on, her husband says:

I know she loves all those kids like, like they were her own blood. But, I wonder if we’ve been selfish. People like us we wait till our thirties and then we’re surprised when the babies aren’t so easy to make anymore and then every day another million fourteen-year-olds get pregnant without trying. It’s a terrible feeling, this helpless, man. You just watch these babies grow and then fade. You don’t know if you’re supposed to name them, or bury them, or… I’m sorry.

You have to be so much better than you ever thought you could be to watch those babies grow and fade.  You have to be so much better than you ever thought you could be to name those babies and bury them and to not want to shake those fourteen-year-olds and to not beat yourself up for waiting until what you thought would be the right time.  Most of all, you have to be so much stronger than  you ever imagined to try again.  I always get upset when people call me strong.  I tell people I’m not strong and that I’m just moving forward because it’s the only thing I can do.  But I’m wrong.  I am strong.  We all are.  Despite the loss, we move forward.  Even if you’ve never been pregnant, every failed cycle is a loss. My friend calls them misconceptions.  She’s right.  A loss is called a miscarriage but there isn’t a word to describe the loss of that hope of a baby month after month and year after year.  There should be a word for that.

Despite the failed cycles, the miscarriages, the stillbirths, we move forward.  We conceive again.  We adopt.  We choose to live a life without children.  We try to make our families out of whatever we have, whether it’s our biology or adoption or just making a family out of the two of you. We feel like we don’t have a choice so it doesn’t mean anything.   That’s wrong.  First of all, we do have a choice.  We could crumble, fall apart and never get out of bed again.  We don’t.  (And when we do, we realize we can’t do it forever.) Second of all, moving forward requires every bit of strength we have.  We open ourselves up to a world of loss again and again in the hopes of building a better life for ourselves, no matter which way we decide to resolve our infertility.

I have been beating myself up lately about taking so long with the adoption process.  I feel like we have dragged our feet every step of the way.  We have taken our sweet time with everything and I feel like people are judging us because we should be on the books already.  I feel like if I really wanted a baby badly enough, I’d be done already.  A couple that was in a class with us already has a baby!  I feel like I have failed already.

But it is HARD, people.  It is so hard.  Once we are on the books, we are opening ourselves up again.  There is the possibility of more loss out there.  Yes, if we stick with the wait, we will have a baby at the end.  In between now and then, we could still lose, though.  We could be scammed.  We could have a birth mother choose us and change her mind.  She can change her mind before the birth, after the birth, or after we take the baby home.  We can have a birth father decide to parent.  There is so much that can happen between now and our happy ending.  It’s really freaking hard and it’s really freaking scary.

So, I am being strong.  I am putting myself out there and it might hurt.  Our profile is nearly done.  Soon,we will officially be a waiting family and that is going to require me to be so much better than I ever thought I could be.  I’m going to have to stop being so hard on myself because there’s already enough stress involved in moving forward and I’m going to need my strength.

PS I don’t know why but I can’t put the video in here so here’s a link. 

Stop labeling

20 May

I can be changed by what happens to me. I refuse to be reduced by it. – Maya Angelou

At my infertility support group, someone labeled herself as defective because she’s comes to the end of the road of her fertility treatments and has only losses to show for it and no live baby.  It broke my heart to hear her say that about herself because I don’t see her as defective.  And yet, I see myself as defective.  It took 8 IUIs to get me pregnant.  Then once I did get pregnant, my body revolted.  It went full on crazy.  My baby was healthy and fine but my body gave up.

It’s funny how we see ourselves.  I doubt that this woman would ever call me defective.  Yet, she has no problem labeling herself. I would never ever describe someone else as defective, especially not based on their ability to carry a child. When it comes to me, though, I can very easily label myself a failure.

It’s so easy to judge yourself.  It’s so easy to blame yourself.  It’s extremely difficult to rise above.  But we have to try.

The things people say

17 May

Sometimes, it feels that after infertility, it seems that people try to explain why they deserve their pregnancy so much.  “I’ve been suffering for two years and it sucked big time so I deserve this pregnancy.  And because I had it so hard, I deserve for it go smoothly.”   What bothers me about that is that it implies that the ones who aren’t pregnant after three or four years, didn’t deserve it enough.  The ones that lose their babies don’t deserve them as much apparently .  It means that to them, I don’t deserve it.  I’ve been waiting for nearly six years and they only waited two.  So they must be a better person or more deserving of a baby.  That’s simply not the case.  It’s luck and it’s random.  If everyone that got pregnant did so because they “deserved” it, there would be no unwanted babies out there.

Someone in my support group had a successful IVF and she said she was feeling good and had no morning sickness.  She said it was because “God knew how much she suffered to get a baby, so he was making it easy on her.”  I didn’t say anything. I was too stunned.  Because what does that say about me?  I didn’t suffer enough trying to get pregnant so God threw in a good dose of morning sickness and pre-eclampsia and a baby death just so I would get the full suffering experience?
It’s like the saying that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.  A comic, Tig Notaro, talked about that after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and her mother died.  She was saying how the angels were standing back and saying, “God, what are you doing? You’re out of your mind.”  And God says, “No, no, no.  I really think she can handle this … Just trust me on this.  She can handle this.”  That’s insane.  Are you saying that if I was weak and crumbled at the thought of any stress, God wouldn’t put this on me?  You’re basically telling me that this is my fault.  You’re telling me that because I’m so strong, God is really piling it on there because I can take it.  The weak woman who wouldn’t be able to stand her baby dying:  that’s the woman who gets her baby.
It’s all just luck of the draw.  I know that we’re taught to believe that good things come to those who wait and good people get rewarded while bad people get punished.  It’s just not true.  Crappy thing happen to good people.  Good people lose loved ones, they get sick, they lose their jobs.  It’s not because of anything they did. It’s just the way life goes.  Anyone that tells you otherwise is either very lucky or just in the pre-crisis part of their life.
People don’t mean anything by it.  They just say things.  Things spill out of their mouth because they don’t know what to say next.  They don’t know how these things can hurt.

You ruined everything

16 May

Jonathan Coulton is a geek singer-songwriter that my husband really likes.  I started listening to some of his songs because my husband had them on and they are pretty funny and catchy.  My husband burned me a CD so I could listen to songs in my car and there is one that I always always skip.  

I was fine,
I pulled my self together
Just in time,
To throw my self away
Once my perfect world was gone I knew,
You ruined everything in the nicest way

You should know,
How great things were before you
Even so,
They’re better still today
Now I can’t think who I was before
You ruined everything in the nicest way

It’s about having your first child.   This song always makes me cry.  It didn’t used to. I could listen and tune it out for the most part.   We saw him in concert about a year ago.  He sang this song and as soon as it started, I burst into tears.  I was having a great time and the tears came out of nowhere.  I buried my face in my husband’s chest and sobbed.  Thank God it was loud and dark and so no one really noticed.  If they did, they were kind enough to pretend that sobbing in the middle of a show where everyone was laughing and singing along was perfectly normal.

That CD is in my husband’s car and so I haven’t heard it in a while so I haven’t had to quickly push the skip button while driving.  Today though, the song popped into my head.   Out of nowhere, I started humming it.  And while it didn’t make me sob like it once did, it did hurt my heart.  

I can’t wait for life to be ruined. 

Depression

14 May

Back in October of 2011, Allie Brosh at Hyperbole and a Half wrote an amazing post about depression.  Did all of you read it?  She very recently posted a follow-up to that depression post and it was also amazing.  It made me cry so hard because it reminded me so much of things I felt and it was so true and so right and so dead on, even though I didn’t experience all the things that she did.

In her first depression post, there is this one part where she is yelling at herself for crying.  She asks herself why she’s crying because people have diseases and are dying and all that’s happened to her is that she tore the spout on her chocolate milk.  But that’s the thing about depression.  There’s no logic.  It doesn’t matter what’s going on with you or with other people, it hurts.  She also thinks, “maybe I’ll go outside today” and then decides she can’t because she hates herself too much.  It sounds insane, but it’s true.  You just kind of give up.  It doesn’t matter that you logically know that you should do something. You just can’t.

In her second post, she talks about people trying to help her but them not understand and offering the wrong kinds of solutions.  And finally, she talks about being suicidal.  The most real part is where she writes: “No, see I don’t necessarily want to kill myself.  I just want to become dead somehow.”  Oh. Wow.  How I can relate.  I never wanted to commit suicide.  That was too active.  It would hurt too many people.  Instead, I just wanted to not wake up.  Every night I would cry and pray and pray that God would just let me die so I didn’t have to bear the grief anymore.   She says there’s no good way you can tell someone you’re suicidal.  I completely agree.  I couldn’t even tell my husband.  Any time I hinted at it, it upset him so much.  I didn’t want to break his heart. I wanted help. I couldn’t ask for help without breaking his heart though.

Eventually, those feelings passed for me.  With the help of meds and therapy and support groups and friends and a new job, I felt more in control of my life and I started to feel better.  There was no defining moment for me.  There was nothing that marked the change from depressed to less depressed.  One day was just a little less horrible than the next.  Reading her posts makes me realize how far I’ve come.  They make me relive those feelings and I am so grateful that I’m no longer in that place.

I was wrong

10 May

I was so very wrong.

I just received a card from my in-laws that says “Thinking of you as you remember your child on Mother’s Day.”

I have no idea where my mother-in-law found it.  I have no idea what prompted her to buy it because I don’t think they recognized Mother’s Day for me last year.  (Although last year at this time, I was in a fog so maybe they did and I forgot?) She’s definitely not web savvy enough to have found this blog, read my rant about cards and recognize that it was me writing it.

Whatever it was that prompted this, I’m so grateful that someone remembered me on Mother’s Day.