Tag Archives: loss

The lady at the restaurant

8 Jul

We went out for dinner last night.  Q has been on call and much of his day was spent dealing with some mess while typing away on his laptop. I worked for hours in the garden, pulling weeds and even planting some new things.  So after he was finally done working and I was cleaned up, we decided cooking was not an option, so we went out.

We ate at a nice neighborhood restaurant.  We got a table outside and enjoyed our drinks while we waited for our food. The food was fabulous, by the way.  All of it was lovely until the hostess sat a family of four right next to us.  Like 2 feet away from us.   Cute kids, normal looking parents, but let me declare, THE MOST ANNOYING MOTHER IN THE WORLD.

Okay,  I know.  I’m in no state to be judging parents.  Just the fact that parents ARE parents is a sore spot for me right now.  But I am sure that even in a more normal and serene state of mind, this woman would have made me bonkers.  For those of you who know me in person, you know that fake mother voice I put on, right?  With the midwest accent and I say things like “Oh!  You better not be doin’ the marijuana, Billy!”  That voice.  It’s a lot like Kitty from That 70’s Show, except so much worse.

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Anyway, that’s how this woman spoke.  And one of her kids was WAY too young to be in a kind of nice restaurant.  He needed to be at Red Robin or something.  He hated everything and yelled and was overall really annoying.  And the husband was silent.   I tried to ignore and look away, but we couldn’t help but hear her lecture her small children on how they HAVE to have full body wet suits on their upcoming trip to Hawaii because without them, they’ll get too cold.

Anyway.  Yes, she was annoying but it wasn’t like she was hitting her kids in front of us or anything.  She was just annoying.  Kind of funny that just a few hours after posting about letting go of resentment, I dealt with just that.  Resentment. Lots of it.  I mean, I’m sure I’d be an annoying mom in a lot of ways.  But I’d be a cool mom too.  I couldn’t help but think of one of the many teens I’ve worked with who said “You’d be the cool mom, like really fun but strict at the same time.”  It was a huge compliment and at the time, I hoped someday that would be true.  Now I feel so discouraged and dark that I can’t help but just be pissed at the world that the annoying lady with the ugly sandals and a desire to cover her children in neoprene while vacationing in a tropical paradise, that SHE gets to have these cute healthy kids.  And also, that I have to hear her crap when I’m trying to enjoy my dinner and fill my babyless abdominal area with a fancy glass of Pinot. No!  I can’t enjoy it!  I have to hear her shrill voice saying “That’s not nice!”…  “Oh but the aquarium was fun!”…. “But you liked alfredo sauce last time!  It’s the creamy kind!”

Angry cat

Yeah so that’s me.  Angry.  Bitter.  Same old stuff.

I feel rather crazy some minutes, some hours, some days.  Truthfully I am a bit afraid that I’m going to stay like this forever.  Really,  know I won’t and this moodiness and grumpiness and sharp bursts of anger are all part of the process.  But I’m still scared that I’ll be the grumpy cat forever.  My humor is getting darker and darker, I’m bitter about so many things right now, and I even listened to TWO Nine Inch Nails albums today.  What is that?!  I haven’t done such a thing since I was an angsty seventeen year old.

This is the tough thing with loss- we are crazy when we lose something.  It is hard as hell and it hurts.  Loss comes with a lot of hard to feel emotions- sadness and anger and guilt… we feel it drag us down but at the same time we’re changing and adjusting to the absence of what we once had and what we once loved.  Evolving in that way is hard but the alternative is to not evolve.  I don’t understand how I couldn’t change after going through a miscarriage, so then I’d have to be living in a world of denial.   The desire to avoid all of these emotions is understandable because it is not fun to feel this way.  But this is the way through it and I just gotta keep going.  Every so often, I get a glimpse of how this awful time will make me a stronger person.  It may even help me to better serve others.  But most of all, I’m just doing whatever I can to get through it.  That’s really the main reason I write here, I’m just trying to deal with it.

“Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue.  Realize the strength.  Move on.”  -Henry Rollins

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Okay, Henry.  I’ll try.

How to talk about a miscarriage

4 Jul

“A miscarriage is a natural and common event.  All told, probably more women have lost a child from this world than haven’t.  Most don’t mention it, and they go on from day to day as if it hadn’t happened, so people imagine a woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had.
But ask her sometime: how old would your child be now?  And she’ll know.”

-Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams.

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Right after my miscarriage I found this blog, Things People Said After My Miscarriage.  It is funny, kind of bitter and all rings very true. Like me, the author dealt with the double whammy of  miscarriage and fertility issues.  If you’ve had a miscarriage or you’re trying to talk to someone who has, please go check it out!  The only thing I don’t like about it is that she only posted for a while on it, because I wanted to read more and more.  I hope it means she went on to have a baby and worry about things like diapers and daycare.  I would like to have those worries someday too.

It’s interesting how different people respond to this kind of loss.  It has made me think a lot about how I’ve responded in the past when my loved ones had a loss, whether it was a miscarriage or a death in the family or something else.  Loss is hard.  It is uncomfortable to talk about and it feels like the elephant in the room.  You don’t know what to say.  You don’t want to upset the person.  God forbid you make them cry.

The thing is, you just don’t know what to say about miscarriage because we’re not given any scripts for it.  For so long, miscarriage was suffered through silently.  No one talked about it.  My hope is that this is changing and will continue to change.  It seems wrong that it is a taboo topic and that women should be quiet about it.  So now when people are starting to talk about it more, what do you say?

Here are some suggestions I have, based on my own experience.  The blog I posted above has some great suggestions too.

What to do/ say when someone you care about has a miscarriage:

Say something. Even if you say “I don’t know what to say”, say something.  Say “I’m sorry” or “I’ve been thinking of you” or “Wow this sucks”.  The timing may be off and it may be awkward, but it means a lot just to have the loss acknowledged.  It sucks to feel like you have to bring it up all the time.  Chances are, everyone’s sitting there thinking about it anyway, especially if it was a recent loss.

It’s no one’s fault/ it’s not your fault.   Of all things people said to me, this was the most comforting, just simply “It’s not your fault”.  The nurses and doctors are clearly well trained and used to this, because everyone in my Ob-gyn office said this and it really, really helped.  They reminded me that it happens for various reasons, but not because I did anything wrong.  This helped because sometimes I worried about the kombucha I drank one day (I didn’t know about the trace alcohol!) or that weekend when I didn’t know I was pregnant yet and I sat in the hot tub for hours and drank wine.

Make some concrete plans.  Many people offered to bring things, or to get together.  That was really nice, but I seem to benefit most from someone forcing me to make concrete plans, like “what night next week can you come over for dinner?” or “how about tomorrow?” Truth is, sometimes I just sit in my pj’s and cry or watch a marathon of stupid shows on netflix and the whole idea of making plans seems overwhelming.  It helps to have someone take the lead a bit more.

Don’t try to make it better.  My husband is the pro at saying things to try to make things seem more positive.  I love this about him, but after my miscarriage, it was NOT what I needed.  After a while I just told him “This sucks and nothing will change that.  I just need time to deal with it and you probably do too”.  I’m sure it was harsh of me to say that, but I was very upset about the comments like “at least you can get pregnant” and “you can try again” and things like that.  Nope, it just sucks.  Sucks, sucks, sucks, sucky sucks.  I know people mean well when they say such things, but it is hard.

Don’t tell me statistics.  Miscarriage is very common.  My doctor told me that one out of four pregnancies will end in miscarriage and that at my age, it is more like one in three.  I know it happens and it could very well happen again.  One woman who wrote to me pointed out that she felt she was being ridiculous when she felt so heartbroken by her miscarriage, if they are so common then why does it hurt so much?  While it is common to go through such a thing, it doesn’t make the pain any less.  Minimizing someone’s pain only invalidates them, it doesn’t help them to feel better.  It is also common for people to get sick and well, we all know that there is no escaping death.  I certainly wouldn’t tell someone who just lost a loved one “You know, every one dies someday” or “One out of 3 people get cancer”.  Come on, that’s messed up.  I’m fine getting that information from my doctor, but it really doesn’t help me to feel less crazy or less like a sad-wombed loser to hear that so many others have gone through this, it just makes it feel more awful that other people go through it so often, and yet we never talk about it.

Depression, you big old jerk

3 Jul

My husband and I went on a camping trip just a few days after my miscarriage.  We figured that a few nights of fresh air by the ocean would do us some good.  Plus, we adore our ridiculous dogs and they really put on shows of special silliness at the beach.  But after just a few hours at our camp spot and just a couple of walks on the beach, we realized that our dog Radar was very bloated and sick.  To give a bit of history, Radar had a pretty major and shockingly expensive stomach surgery as a puppy so we are hyper aware of his stomach and all things that go in and out of it (yes, you dog owners know what I mean).  So seeing him bloated like Cool Hand Luke and actually hearing his tummy gurgling caused some concern.  It was a Sunday on the coast, and we worried that we’d have to go to Aberdeen, Kurt Cobain’s crusty home town, to find medical care for our pup.  So we drove all the way back home.  Yep.  We did.

I felt pretty intensely that if something happened to Radar I. would. not. deal.  I’m not sure what that means, maybe that I’d get in bed and not get out for days, or I’d have crying and screaming fits for weeks on end.  Whatever my overblown and dramatic reaction, I just knew that if my little pup fell apart that I would fall apart right with him.  I told my husband “I just don’t have the capacity to deal with it.  Plus, I need him.”  Q is a good man, most would be offended by my close relationship with Radar, preferring that I cuddle in his manly arms instead of with some stinky dog that just came in from rolling around in the dirt.  Radar’s a good boy, he’s sweet and he’s blind.  He’s attached to me and follows my voice around.  He laid around in bed with me after my surgery and licked the tears off of my face.  He was a huge comfort at that time and  besides, he’s been the object of my maternal energies for several years.  If I can’t have a real baby, I sure can’t lose my dog baby.

Radar at the beach

Radar at the beach

Now I feel guilty and should add that I TOTALLY LOVE MY OTHER DOG TOO!  She’s a total badass and really strong and pretty.  She’s well trained and extremely friendly.  She is a great cuddler and I love torturing her by flying our kite, which makes her jump like a dolphin.  She’s really smart and is an excellent guard dog.  I love her too, see?!

Sleepy Sasha after a long day at the beach

Sleepy Sasha after a long day at the beach

Okay, now that I have that out of my system.  Radar was fine, by the way.  He drank too much saltwater like a dummy.  He was fine after he peed all over the vet hospital and several vet technicians at 10 at night, for which we paid several hundred dollars.  Ah, life.

So after that a few other stressful things happened, regular ol’ life stresses, that caused me to just crumple.  At one point, I was laying in bed with my head under the blanket.  I said to my husband “I can’t do it.  I hate my life. It sucks.” and sounded much like the teenagers I spend hours of each week counseling.  Luckily, I soon got out of bed and we got on with it and spent the day doing enjoyable things (lately this has involved a lot of gardening and drinking wine).  But I know the symptoms and I know how they creep up- the apathy, the doubts, the defeating thoughts.  Ah, depression.  There you are, you big old jerk.

I researched anti-depressants and then talked to my therapist about not wanting to be depressed.  I’ve seen my therapist for over a year, mainly for general support since I work in the same field and like to keep myself on track emotionally. She reminded me that it’s only been 3 weeks and said “see how it feels in 3 months”.  I told her what I’ve been doing to take care of myself including trying to exercise, cutting out most processed foods and sugars, and talking to friends and loved ones.  Also I’ve been planning a big trip for this winter and making plans to move offices.  I’m actually focusing on some things I’ve wanted to do for a long time which feels kind of good.  I don’t think I will actually become full-blown depressed, but I can easily grasp how it can happen.  It’s a bit dramatic, but it’s kind of like I’m standing on the beach watching a huge wave coming in.  I can easily see myself getting trapped under it, and then all the damage it will do to everything around me: my marriage, my relationships, my career and my health.  I need to remember that the best way to let that wave wreak its havoc is to avoid the pain I’m experiencing.  Instead, by feeling it and dealing with it, I’m a lot more likely to get through this intact.

I googled “miscarriage and depression” and found this article  from Psychology Today.  It points out that women who have had miscarriages are at high risk for depression, especially if they have had depression before (yes) and if depression runs in the family (boom).  The recommendations for getting through it include supportive counseling and then simply letting time pass.  When I read that, I thought “what, that’s it?!”  Feeling very sad and hopeless, common symptoms of depression, makes sense after losing a pregnancy.  It certainly doesn’t help that the loss is one that’s traditionally been deal with privately so it feels very isolating and even shaming.  But if the symptoms last for a long time and/or they begin to interfere with relationships and work, then it could be time to get more help.  It is a comfort to know that with time, I’ll most likely start to feel better.  I can already see how much better I am doing after just a few weeks.  For a while, I couldn’t handle being alone without becoming completely overwhelmed.  Now I’m back to kind of my old self, where I like being alone and don’t feel stressed out by it.

We get a lot of feedback about how crying, sadness, and grief are things that should be hidden, but that really only makes it worse.  I hope everyone out there can find the support they need for this kind of loss, whether it is through a trusted friend, a counselor, an online forum, or other things.  I’m grateful for therapists.  It is the field in which I chose to work but I’ve noticed that my therapist friends and my own therapist have been immensely comforting during this time.  It is so helpful to be reminded that it is okay to feel sad and to cry, even in severe and unattractive (snotty) ways.  I know all of these things, but somehow when I’m on the other side of it, it can be easy to forget.

Life after miscarriage

2 Jul

I’m in my mid-thirties.  Due to career ambitions and other practical, responsible reasons we waited a long time to try to start a family.  It’s a lot like that movie, Idiocracy, a film of pure genius that is quoted regularly in our household. (“Brawndo!  It’s got what plants crave!”)

Just like the smart couple in that movie, we waited a long time (too long? ) and ran into some issues getting pregnant.  To spare you too many boring and embarrassing details, we hit the mark that results in the label INFERTILITY.  I didn’t want to go on freaky hormonal treatments due to my hippie dippy ways and my long history of issues with hormonal birth control.  Instead I tried acupuncture and Chinese herbs and after a few months of regular treatments, I became pregnant.  We were overjoyed.  I felt sick and grumpy and nearly fell asleep at work on several occasions.  I had strange food cravings and even stranger aversions (broccoli has never seemed so gross).  But it was awesome.  I was SO excited.  Writing all of this out is really starting to feel like TMI and I am wincing at the screen, but I’m determined to write all of this out for those of you out there who might be going through the same thing, or something similar, or you care for someone who has had this kind of loss.

At 8 weeks, I had my first ultrasound and saw a little bean with a heartbeat.  It was one of the very coolest moments ever.  I’d often go to sleep thinking about that little baby growing inside.  I’d send him nice thoughts and imagine what it would be like as he continued his growth.  While I feel very connected to various family members and friends and also to my pets, that kind of connection was very special and like nothing I’ve encountered before.  I can’t really explain it, but I imagine that everyone out there who has grown a little baby knows exactly what I mean.

At 13 weeks, we went in for another ultrasound.  My husband Q wasn’t around for the first one so it would be his first time seeing the baby.  Since I’m at the dreaded and ancient age of 35, this ultrasound was at a different clinic and served as part of a screening for various genetic nightmares and heartbreaks that could occur.  Needless to say, I was a ball of nerves and nearly jumping out of my skin.

Turns out my nervousness was fitting.  Instead of the ultrasound technician showing me exciting things, she just pointed out the two sides of my uterus (snore) and then asked me to go to the bathroom “so we could see more”.  I had too pee so badly that I didn’t even question that.  By the way, making someone who is pregnant wait for a long time for an ultrasound is really mean, as you’re supposed to arrive with a full bladder.

The rest unfolded like a nightmare.  After I happily emptied my bladder I returned to the room where Q and I waited for a few silent minutes.  The technician returned with the doctor, who told me that she saw some “really concerning” things including that the baby had no heartbeat and hadn’t grown past 8 weeks.  Um, yeah, I still think “concerning” wasn’t quite the right word to use there, doc.   This was compounded by the fact that this isn’t my normal doctor’s office and they didn’t seem to have any of my information about how far along I should have been.  They didn’t tell me anything more  and said I could follow up with my regular doctor.  In retrospect, that seems pretty weird.  The technician left me with a giant box of wipes that were essentially giant kleenexes.  I imagine they are for wiping that ultrasound goo off of your belly, but for me they were for full face sobbing and snotting.  I was kind of a basket case.

We found the back way out of that horrible building full of happy pregnant women.  (Curse them!)  I told my husband that I’m never trying to get pregnant again, that I can’t deal with it and it is too sad.  I dreaded the idea of more medical appointments, more disappointing and stupid periods and more bitterness about everyone in the world having babies all over the place.  Even at the time I realized that was a bit silly to close up my womb since I had about 5 minutes of processing what had just happened.

I got home and called one of my closest friends who had a miscarriage several years ago.  We had  a talk that was helpful but very painful.  It was immensely comforting that she knew exactly what I was going through, although heartbreaking because I hate it that other people have been through something this awful.  She advised me, strongly, to get off the phone and call my doctor’s office and demand to be seen immediately.  She also recommended, based on her own experience and of other women she’s known, to get a D&C rather than wait to miscarry or take those pills that force you to miscarry.  I did just that and by 9 am the next morning, I was sobbing in the doctor’s office while they scheduled a surgery for me that evening.  I could have had it that morning, but I’d eaten a damn banana prior to my appointment so I had to hang out ALL DAY and wait to digest it so I could go in for surgery.  So I spent the whole day not drinking, not eating and cursing that stupid banana.

It has been 3 weeks since my surgery.  My body is starting to feel more normal and I’m sleeping well again.  I cry a lot.  I’ve find a lot of comfort in talking to other women who have had miscarriages because they know what it is like.  I can look directly at children again, strangely for the first week or so after the miscarriage I could not even do that because it was too painful.  My husband and I are talking a lot about different things and we planned a trip to Mexico for this winter, the same time the baby bean would have been born.  I have no idea if we’ll keep trying to get pregnant, or if we’ll let Idiocracy happen (haha, ugh, really it isn’t like we’re THAT smart).  Besides, my doctor recommended waiting a few months to let my body heal so we have time to figure it out.

Basically, the whole deal sucks.  We were preparing to be parents.  I was thinking of colors to paint the walls of the spare bedroom and my mom and I were talking about cribs.  We’d picked out baby names.  I ate lots of ice cream.  We passed the 12 week mark so we told all of our friends and family.  Then the next day, it was all over and everything changed.  That shift in mentality has been one of the hardest things and I don’t think I’ll ever really be the same because of it.  For just a few months, I really did feel like a mother and then I had to say goodbye to all of that hope.  It’s the saddest thing I’ve ever had to do.

In my internet searches I found some helpful blogs about miscarriages, but not too many.  Many of them were written by very serious bloggers who went on to have kids so their miscarriage seems like a blip in the craziness of their depicted lives of daycare and diapers.  I just don’t have the objectiveness to allow that kind of wide view and would like to write just about miscarriages, especially for those who miscarried during their first pregnancy.  I’ve written blogs before and usually life happens and I forget to update them.  I imagine someday that will happen to this one, which means I will have moved forward as much as one can with loss.  But for now, here I am.