Friday, May 05, 2006

Silent connections

So many times we touch other people's lives and don't even realize it. We bump into one another online or "in real life" and don't imagine the impact that we might have on someone and their way of thinking.

I used to belong to a Due in June 2005 message board, a place where women gathered online to share stories, questions, concerns, and joys. I wasn't extremely active, but I THOUGHT I had made a friend or two. When Alex died I heard from one or two, but they quickly faded into the background when they eventually delivered their healthy bundles of joy and got on with the business of being mommies. I always wish them well...but I was also a little bit sad that they so easily forgot me.

So I lurked on their board before they went private to keep up with them, without intruding on their happy safe place where they talked mommy-talk. Call it a sadistic obsession...watching their babies that should be like mine...grow and learn new things and fill their lives with such happiness. I couldn't help myself. And I was surprised to find that occasionally, someone would remember me...maybe not my name, but at least mine and Alex's story. It was often in the context of, "I wonder what happened to...?" But after a while their board went private and I haven't been able to lurk and see what's going on with them. Not hearing anything from any of them, I assumed that I was forgotten.

Then two weeks ago I was lurking on the Due in September 2006 message board and saw this post by another mom who happened to be on the first board with me...

Is anyone else getting scared...

That one of us will have a late loss? We had 3 lovely ladies lose their baby girls at between 22 and 24 weeks on my June board. Plus also one beautiful boy stillborn at 36 weeks

Every time I start to get excited at how far along we are all getting, I then worry that we aren't far enough. I think until we are all over the 26/28 week mark then I will start to breathe a bit more easily, but I'm worried that it will happen to one of us as well. Especially with so many of our September Mummies on bed rest already, it's really starting to hit home.

There it black and white...someone still remembered us.

I don't know what it was, but there was something about that moment that made me think about all the silence...all the women out there who suffer in silence and hide away from other women...afraid to make themselves known for fear people will judge them. I thought to myself, "Now here is a perfect opportunity to change open up the communication and stop hiding." (Like I said, I think I need a super-hero cape some days.) So I sent her an email...

I would ask if you remember me...but I see that you at least remember my story of having lost my son at 36 weeks last year, and I should say thank you for remembering Alex (what we named him) in such a nice way. I know a stillbirth can shake everyone to their very core and it is hard to be blissfully naive after it happens to you (or near you). But it makes me smile to read how you referred to him. Thank you.'re probably wondering why I'm even aware of your post. see...I've been lurking because I am pregnant again...and due in September. How's that for a coincidence? I don't post, only lurk, because I don't want to make people uncomfortable with my story. Plus, I often find it difficult to relate to a lot of the conversations. But I lurk and read and wish everyone all the best.

I smiled to read that you were expecting again as well. I can't believe that you're going to have two under two! You deserve a medal for that!

Anyway...I just wanted to reassure you in some small way. Do your kick counts and speak to your doctor if you EVER feel like something "isn't right." With that, you shouldn't have to worry about a late loss.

Hugs and best wishes to you!

I thought it was a decent email. Nothing judgmental...acknowledging how special her thought was to me...not too creepy (I've been spying on you for no reason other than morbid curiosity).

And two weeks went by with no response and the self-doubt crept back in. What was I thinking?!?! I should just learn from other people and keep quiet. Nobody wants to talk to me...nobody wants my bad luck to rub off on them.

And I almost blogged about it yesterday. It would have been a not-so-nice blog post about the silence surrounding preganncy loss, as this and another situation or two have caused me to harbor some anger and resentment at other women (both those who have never suffered a loss and those who HAVE suffered a loss...curious topic to explore another time).

But something stopped me from posting.

And today, while lurking on the DIS board again, I came across this response, from the same woman I had sent the email, to someone's inquiry about a seemingly "missing" member.

I remember her user name, but not her sig or any other details. She could be lurking, or something may have happened - not everyone feels comfortable coming on here and sharing bad news and prefer to slip out un-noticed.

I know there is one lurker here, who sent me a lovely email (sorry I haven't replied yet!), who's just not comfortable with posting right now. There's bound to be others too.

I had assumed too much about this woman. My own insecurities had gotten the better of me and I had filled in motives and intentions where there were none. Instead of thinking this woman was simply busy with life (she does, after all, have TWO toddlers and is pregnant), I jumped to the conclusion that she was deliberately ignoring me...choosing to silence my voice for her own comfort.

So now I'm left wondering how much of the silent grief theory is put upon me by the people in my life and how much is actually the result of internalized mistakes that I have made. How many times have I ASSUMED how people must feel about me? How many times have I hidden away because it was too uncomfortable for ME to step out of my shell and face the truth? Sure, some of it has been legitimate based on the insensitive remarks and reactions of other people. But some of it clearly is merely a creation of my own psyche.

Maybe it started out as a protection mechanism. Those initial insensitive remarks and reactions by others REALLY much so that you think you might die if you have to hear another. And whether we like it or not, after a while you do become more capable to handle address the issues head-on. But the old protection mechanisms are hard to shake off. They have become comfortable cloaks to keep me safe. Or so I thought before today.

Maybe the protective cloak is actually shielding me from some very good people who would be very positive influences in my life. Do I really want to sift out the bad with such a wide net that it excludes the good as well? I will run the risk of the insensitive. But I AM better equipped to handle them now. I know what I want to say because I have the advantage of having heard all the stupid comments and given them much thought over the past year.

Like I said...So many times we touch other people's lives and don't even realize it.

Maybe it's time to start paying attention and filling up the silence. (somebody pass me my super-hero cape)


kate said...

**hands over cape** Glad you can go wear it for awhile...

You are right though, i had this sort of experience too. I am glad she was sweet about your email (and it is a very lovely email, not creepy at all) and that you were wrong about her intentions!

Sometimes, though, we have to protect our be aware of that...

R said...

Wow, Catherine.

Tendersoul said...

I have always wondered about the silence. As someone who once experienced infertility, I kind of understood my own silence, because I always felt "faulty" in some way, as though people would think I was somehow broken. I still feel that way, oddly enough.

My experience is entirely different from yours. I think of you and others I know. Maybe sometimes I should say it out loud, but I always worry that I'll be the one to say the wrong thing (I'm good at that, by the way). I'm the person you want to kick in the shin (putting it nicely) when good people say stupid things.

And you're right about others touching our lives. I spent my entire pregnancy in fear and I read the blogs of those who have been through the worst, because you all are the strongest people I have EVER encountered, whether you realize it or not.

Fear not, for you already have a cape.

Jill said...

You not only deserve the cape but to find dignity on wearing your undies on the outside too.

That's how excellent you are.

Your email was lovely and although it shouldn't fall to those who have been so badly hurt, your encouragement of her empathy will most certainly make a difference to people. Just her response will have made others think about being more open and filling that silence.

Up, up and away for you my friend:)

Laura said...

Great post! I'm going to take it to heart and try to work on this, too.

TNChick said...

I just lost the need for them and felt like I was only wanted for sepcific reasons and not to build friendships. I feel like people love to spy - I'll never understand why but thats OK. LOL

I want to talk to you.
I want to continue to be your friend.

with or without your cape! :)