Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy loss’

Holiday Musings from an Infertile

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…If you’re not getting photo cards from all of your fertile friends.

What happened to sending a card with a tree on the front? We got five cards today and all five cards had pictures of our friends and their babies. Awesome. One after another, I opened them up and by the time I was done, I was in a miserable mood. So much for glad tidings and joy.

Though it’s seeming more impossible month by month…if we ever have children, I am thoroughly committed to not sending cards with pictures of them, or me for that matter. The practice of sending a photo card is something I’ve only witnessed from families with children and seeing them is another reminder that I’m not in the club.

In my experience, sending these cards is not something that childless couples do. I mean, I have never seen a photo card with a husband and wife. E-cards from JibJab where my head is superimposed over a character like Ralphie from the Christmas Story? Heck yes. But a photo card that comes in the mail? Um. No.

Can you just imagine me and my husband posing in front of the tree in matching sweaters and then mailing that to all of our closest family and friends? I can see an aunt opening that and shaking her head, “What a shame about these two…Harry, run this to the bedroom will you? I’ll have to write them a letter and see how they are. Did you see this picture of Karen and her kids? What cutie pies. Here. Put this on the fridge. I can’t wait to show the girls when they come over next week.”

And that’s how we couples who are trying to conceive live our lives. We end up in a place behind all our twenty and thirty-something sisters, brothers, cousins and friends who are having kids. All around us, those we love and care deeply about show off their growing families, their lives, their fertile accomplishments in Christmas cards, and ornaments, and homemade gifts from Toddler This and Toddler That while grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, and the “club” of mommies and daddies talk about how special Christmas morning is going to be.

And us? Those of us not in the club? Well, we pretend not to notice and we pretend not to care that everyone else is getting all the attention. We pretend that getting cards of our friends and their kids is not a reminder of what we don’t have. We pretend that we’re not dreading the family gathering where someone says “I’m surprised you don’t have a little one yet.” We pretend that seeing just two stockings hanging from the mantle is A-OK.

Ah yes. Tis the season for pretending. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write emails to my friends telling them I got their cards and the family looks simply beautiful.

Life After Miscarriage: Who is that in the mirror?

There are days — and thankfully fewer and far between — when I look at my reflection and I don’t know who is staring back at me. I’m surprised by how “normal” I look.  I don’t mean that to be funny; it’s just that if what appeared in the mirror was a reflection of what was going through my mind, or my heart, then it would be ashen, bruised, exhausted.

My best friend gave birth a week ago. I was looking through her pictures and saw life in her eyes, color in her cheeks and a joy that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on her face. It’s the kind of joy that’s in your eyes and in your soul. Unmistakable. More than just a smile. What’s funny about joy is that you can recognize it immediately. But pain—well that’s a different story.

That’s because pain hides behind a smile and behind, “I’m good.” Pain hides behind normal. Pain won’t show up in the mirror.

You can hide pain and you can fake joy. I’ve gotten pretty good at both. It’s an exhausting existence though. Also exhausting is the battle between joy and pain when they exist in the same space. When I look at my friend’s pictures, I am simultaneously caught in her joy and suffocating from pain. It leaves me craving and dreading. Thirsty and saturated. Full and starving.

I want to celebrate and love and at the same time it feels treacherously deceitful to my feelings.

I pick up the phone to call her because I want all the details and I want to hear how she is, and how the baby is. I want to gush and God, I miss her.  But every time I pick up the phone, I freeze. My heart skips a beat and I’m reminded of what was lost and I can’t breathe. Joy. Pain. Joy. Pain. Joy. Pain.

I will call…soon. But at this moment in time, this is how I show love and joy:

Welcome to the world Aiden James and my sincerest love and congratulations to your wonderful parents.

Life After Miscarriage: Houston, We Have a Problem – Again

My ovaries are holding my eggs hostage.  That’s what the doctor called to tell me last week. She didn’t say those exact words – that’s just my spin. What she actually said was, “Based on your blood work, it doesn’t look as if you are ovulating. I’d like for you to come in to talk about taking Clomid.”

I said, “Yeah. I figured as much. Twenty dollars, twenty ovulation predictors sticks, and lots of squatting over a cup with no positive result led me to the same conclusion.” OK, OK, I didn’t say those exact words, but that’s what I was thinking.

I have a routine down for dealing with bad news. It’s just happened so often during the past few months that I realized it’s an established protocol.

First, I call my mom. This is usually because I want to be dramatic and download. I spill a crescendo of conclusions, she (as a nurse) points out all the flaws in my logic and my misinterpretations of clinical possibilities (or impossibilities). I cry and ask her why she can’t just listen and validate my feelings. And then I hang up and call a girlfriend.

The girlfriend is great for validating the emotion.  She will eventually get to logic and talk me off the ledge, but first, she wholeheartedly encourages the drama because she knows that to try to talk logic to a woman who is hormonal and unpredictable will do no good. She offers to come over and break dishes with me and knows that when I say, “No, don’t worry about it,” she can tread lightly on to the terrain of sense and sensibility.  By the time I hang up, I’m ready to call my husband.

These are usually very short conversations because to try to explain how my ovaries and other girly bits are not functioning without a diagram and hand motions is pointless. We agree to talk at home later and hang up to return to our normally scheduled work programming as if nothing has happened.

All up, this takes about 26 minutes of phone time and is entirely necessary for me to go on functioning. From connecting with people who have experienced what I have, I can confidently say that behind every woman coping with and healing from a pregnancy loss is a strong cast of characters. They are the people who answer the phone, endure verbal abuse, sympathize and empathize, and simply show up when it matters.

I am so grateful to my supporting cast because they have carried me.  To them, I say: Thank You for dancing in my ballet of grief and hope. You are the best in my worst of times.

Life After Miscarriage: One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

For as many steps as I’ve taken toward moving on, there are still days where I feel like I’m caught in quicksand.

No matter how much I work, or how many weekend trips I plan, or how many runs I do in the morning, no matter how much I fill my day planner, I cannot escape the miscarriage. I’ve tried my best to fill my life with work, and friends, and church, and books, and magazines, and exercise. I’ve tried not to leave any room for grief. But somehow, it keeps finding its way in.

If I’m quiet for one moment, I slip into a daydream where I imagine myself six months pregnant or decorating a nursery.  I catch myself imagining my husband rolling over in the morning and kissing my big belly, whispering to our son or daughter.

I fall into pockets of sadness in the mundane moments of my life – just today, in the simplest act of wiping down the sink after rinsing dishes.  I had to turn away from my husband because I didn’t want him to see the tears in my eyes.  I know he could sense something was wrong but there’s nothing I can say that will help him, or anyone understand.

Questions After Miscarriage: Where Do I Find Support?

Between social mediums like Facebook and Twitter and websites like Craigslist and MeetUp, connecting with people who have similar interests and experiences has never been easier. Don’t believe me? Head on over to Meetup.com and try this experiment. Search for “working moms.” There are more than 3000 groups worldwide that meet under that topic. Now try “stay at home moms.” More than 4000 groups meeting!

Try this same experiment with “pregnancy loss” and you’ll likely receive the same message I did: “Sorry, no matches found for ‘pregnancy loss’ within 100 miles of your zip code.” Well I’ll be darned.

Not having luck with finding local support groups, I decided to head to a bookstore to look for books about coping with pregnancy loss.

The woman at the service desk in Barnes and Noble looked nice enough and I thought I could trust her with my secret so I said, “I’m looking for books about miscarriage.” I waited for her to grimace or flinch under the weight of that awful word. I had imagined her look of pity. Instead, I got nothing. I might as well have asked her where I could find the dictionary section.

She led me to the back, far corner of the bookstore. I followed her thinking, “How appropriate. A corner where I can browse through my tears for the perfect book on how to cope with the loss of my unborn child.”

The section also had books about other taboo subjects like menopause and anxiety. We were able to find exactly one book. One. “Really?” I asked. “There’s no other section? Maybe near the family planning area?” She offered to go check the inventory while I stood there and scoured the shelf thinking maybe she missed it.

For all of the information on conception and pregnancy, there is a fraction of information available on the topic of miscarriage. A search for pregnancy books on Amazon yielded nearly 24,000 results. A search for miscarriage books yielded 901.

The woman came back and said, “I can order one for you.” I declined.

At home I logged into my local library website, something I was avoiding because I have overdue fines from the prenatal yoga DVDs I checked out and was late returning. The library carried a small selection of books (more than I thought they would considering it’s not a well-funded or large library). “Oh good,” I thought, clicking on the first title.

“Due on May 13,” flashed on the screen.

“What? Whaaaat?” I clicked on the next title. “Due on May 13.” The third title: “Due on May 13.”

The library had 3 books and they were checked out! There was a woman, somewhere in my locality, who had checked out these books. Where is she? Who is she? Will she be my friend?

Desperate for a connection, to hear from other women who have been through this experience, I continue to search for local support groups and to lurk on online pregnancy loss boards. I have what seems like thousands of questions. When? What did you do? How long did you? What did your doctor say? What were your HCG levels? How long did it take you to? How did you? Who did you? What did she say? What about?

I don’t know where I’ll find my answers, or my comfort for that matter. It just seems that I shouldn’t have to look so hard.