Thursday, August 10, 2006

I seem to have been misunderstood

And maybe that comes from burying my lead (bad journalism student, bad girl). Or maybe it's because I didn't explain very well what I was trying to say.

"But believing to the exclusion of all fear..." (or at least trying to believe to the exclusion of all fear)

That is the type of person who gets to me. The person who dismisses the bad things. The person who refuses to face the very real possibilities.

For example...

When you talk to a mommy-to-be who has never suffered a loss...she doesn't want to hear it can happen to her and her baby.

When you talk to a mommy-to-be who has suffered a loss...she doesn't want to hear that it can happen AGAIN to her and her new baby.

There are things that are considered...what's the word?...taboo. You just DON'T talk about them. And I am shocked at that. I would think, that by suffering one loss, we would (as a species) be more open to the possibilities and the conversation. But we're not. We're just as guilty of trying to remain deliberately naive as those women who have never suffered a loss.

"I don't want to talk about it."

What's so different saying it now than when you said it way back when? And interestingly enough, we do a hell of a lot of throwing stones at those women for their attitudes (at least I do...and I know a couple other people who do).

I'm just saying maybe I need to reevaluate my position on the naivete issue. Because no matter where you are on your journey to mommy-hood, there is always a certain level deliberate ignorance. Maybe I need to lighten up on those who have never been (and hopefully never will) be in my shoes.
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Edited to add: Whoever said, "Fake it until you make it..." Doesn't that presume that you WILL make it? Is that a helpful coping mechanism for those who may never make it? Or does it make it worse with the feelings of failure, etc? Because I really think it made it worse for me.
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Edited to add: This conversation really has two points in time to consider. The decision to TTC again and the pregnancy stage. I think we're talking about two very different situations when we distinguish the two. When you're pregnant, you get through however you can. But when you're trying to conceive is when I think you should really face the issue head on. Ask yourself how you would deal with another loss.

For instance, right now, there is no way I could get pregnant again. Another loss would land me in the looney bin. I'm comfortable enough considering that and making the decision. A LOT of women I have talked to do not even think about it. They just think that getting pregnant again as soon as possible will magically "fix" everything. And that is dangerous, in my opinion.

12 comments:

deadbabymama said...

There always has to be some denial/naivete/deliberate ignorance in most aspects of life or we'd never get out of bed! Life requires risk and part of risk-taking is figuring out how to deal with the bad stuff that could happen; most of us do this by denying it.

I think the reason I throw stones at other mothers in happy-happy-lala land is because I stand before them as living proof of the exact opposite and they ignore me in their need to continue to be in denial. People who don't do this, people who can acknowledge my pain and their own fear, I have respect for. But people who are about to have kids who deny fear, or only acknowledge fear about siily things like sleepless nights and finding the right stroller, I can't understand. Having babies is normal and natural but it isn't always easy; there are big risks and people who deny those risks in the face of people who haved lived through the worst of them piss me off.

Hedda said...

I don't understand how someone who has suffered a loss could go through another pregnancy thinking it couldn't happen again. I spent my second pregnancy in fear. I know women who have had miscarriages who have lived in fear the entire pregnancy. I know that most women who have suffered losses will never have an innocent pregnancy again.

I don't think that it is the fact that the women don't think it could happen again. I think they just don't want to talk about it. It's scary.

Catherine said...

I think the reason I throw stones at other mothers in happy-happy-lala land is because I stand before them as living proof of the exact opposite and they ignore me in their need to continue to be in denial.

And that's me too...but I also find myself (my own experience here...not trying to generalize too much) standing before women who have had one loss and they are saying, "THAT won't happen to me." It's virtually the same thing.

R said...

Here is the list of things anyone in my family could die of:

a car wreck today
inoperable brain tumor
die randomly in their sleep
die of old age
food poisoning
etc., etc., etc.

I know these things could happen, but I'm not going to focus on them. Like Kate said, I don't know that focusing on them and imaging the eventual demise of a member of my family does my mental well-being any good.

My great aunt lost twins at 7 months, then a healthy baby, then a son at 6 months, healthy baby, daughter at 8 months. I don't know how she got out of bed, how she's as joyful as she is. There is hurt and pain, but she's still enjoying life. She's amazing.

She had to be positive for her pregnancies. I don't think that's very unlike people saying, "That can't happen to me." If they have an IQ of 50 they know it COULD happen to them; but the prospect of it is too scary. And what can you do about it? Nothing. So you have to be positive and just enjoy it.

Likewise for this pregnancy. I am pregnant today, and looking forward to feeling the first movement. I have to take it one day at a time, and enjoy it. Or else I'm consumed with worry and fear and I miss out on life.

I refuse to do that. Refuse.

Catherine said...

But my question is...how is that any different from those women who have never been through what you have? It's not, in my book.

And your list of examples leaves out the one difference. Would you be so blind to the dangers out there if you had experienced a car wreck, inoperable brain tumor, random death in sleep, death of old age, food poisoning, etc., etc., etc. You would at LEAST modify your behavior and your decision-making to consider those as more realistic possibilities, wouldn't you? I know I would. We learn from our experience. I was in a car accident...it has made me a more cautious driver in the manner in which I approach driving. Pregnancy (or at least the decision to GET pregnant) is no different in my book.

R said...

Ok, I see what you're saying. Yes, the naivete does get to me, too. I know there were people who thought I must have done something wrong to have two kids with such birth defects. That still bothers me, but I know in my heart I did nothing, and it was not within my control. I think that's the hardest part for me... "Well, it must have been something she did!" Nope, took my prenatal vitamins every day, didn't allow myself within 10 feet of alcohol, etc., etc...

Sarah said...

Being a person with one loss and currently able to TTC I feel like I have a rather simple (but not easy) decision to make. I can choose to never try to have a child again. I can live the rest of my life with Kate as my only child (or only biological child if I adopt). Or I can choose to TTC and try to have another biological child. Making that decision includes the realization that any day I am pregnant my baby might die. I have to accept that risk in making the decision to TTC. Talking about it everyday would probably push me over the edge of insanity/depression/needing medication, but it doesn’t mean I won’t talk about it some and think about it often. And in thinking about another loss, I also think about what my emotional reaction would be. And it isn’t always pretty, but I’m still willing to risk it. I don’t know if I would be able to continue to TTC if I had another late loss.

I think this is always a personal decision based on how each individual deals with grief. I recently (yesterday or Tuesday) read a post on someone’s blog who had just had their 6th miscarriage. The woman talked about how after her third miscarriage she and her husband decided that if they got up to the point of having five miscarriages then they would stop trying to have a biological child and would adopt. But when she got to that point (the fifth miscarriage) she couldn’t go through with submitting the paperwork to start the adoption process. Now that she has had a sixth miscarriage she feels ready to be done with trying to have a biological child and has enthusiastically started the adoption process.

I think everyone has a different line about where they are willing to continue to hope that ‘next time’ will be ok. And it’s ok that everyone has a different line. A friend’s sister had at least 8 (I can’t remember she had 11 miscarriages and 3 live children, or 11 pregnancies total) miscarriages on her road to have three living children. And was told after the 5th or 6th that she would never be able to have children. I don’t know if I could have kept trying, but she felt like she had to.

Sometimes the drive to get pregnant again, for me, is sort of a beacon. Sometimes I think that if I can eventually have a living child I will have a little bit of something (happiness/joy/hope) returned to me that is missing now. And I do realize that getting pregnant does not mean I will get that mythical living child, but right now it still feels like the path I need to take.

Aurelia said...

Catherine, I'm glad you clarified your post; the reason I commented before was because I am worried you sound depressed. Not without ample reason, but still very sad, and I'm concerned.
For example, I'm the person who wrote about "Fake it til you make it" as a therapy technique, not saying you should do it, but citing it as one thing people do. But "make it" doesn't mean have a live baby. It means finding some sort of inner resource that lets you function without running into the street screaming with grief and rage. We can only do that for so long and then we have to keep living. Maybe not getting pregnant again, right away or ever, but living nonetheless. I have been told by five different doctors that I will NEVER have a live baby beyond the two I have. And three others who have said I can have one. I have to choose who to believe and how to cope. I can be depressed and angry, and I WAS for a very long time, or I can try to make something of my life as it is, imperfect and messy. The place where I could speak to pregnant women about how they coped during their next pregnancies, was at my support group, PBSO. I actually made a rule with myself, that I could only talk about my fear with those women, and my therapist and my doctors. Not at work, yes, very delicately in front of my DSs, and not in social situations, at least while pregnant. And while TTC, same rule, always with safe people I knew would be understanding and not say boneheaded things. It ran through my head constantly, and I think it does for every woman, forever.

And pregnant women aren't the only ones in denial, just to be clear. Doctors are convinced that most losses are inevitable, so they do nothing, that's why I emailed & begged you to find out why your son died, so you might have a chance to prevent it next time, maybe. Dead babies are a public health disaster society needs to talk about, and I as one little tiny person, phone reporters, write letters to the editor, phone MPs, & harass public figures to do research and provide funding. It may only amount to crap, but it's how I try to expand the conversation, not on an individual level, but on a global one. Lots of people read your blog, and the info seeps in, even if they can't talk about it to your face.
I know it hurts, I'm sorry people deny your reality. Please know, I'm not denying your truth, I'm just in a different place than you.

delphi said...

Catherine, as you know, I think that this is an excellent topic of conversation. I have thought about it a lot in the last 24 hours. As I sat musing about things, killing time, watching a re-run of Roseanne on TV, I realized that the topic of the show was on the same theme. There was a tornado blasting through their town. It was kind of a scary episode. At the end, Roseanne wanted Dan to tell her what he would have done if she died in the tornado. His answer to her was this (paraphrased) "There are some things you can never prepare for, no matter how hard you try. Even if you think you are prepared for them, you really don't know until you have to do it. And if you stop living your life by preparing for the worst, then what's the point."

I know that this is not what you are saying - always prepare for the worst. I would argue with Dan that you have to consider the worst or you are living blindly. But of course, it is too terrible to live in constant fear.

It's about balance, isn't it? Thank you for reminding us that it is so important to maintain the balance between "everything will be perfect" and "everything will be destroyed". Trying to find the middle ground is a good thing, in my mind.

Tendersoul said...

This is solely based on my own experiences and I won't pretend to understand yours. But in my experience, after years of infertility and then long eventual acceptance of that, I worried my entire pregnancy. I also knew the risk and miscarriage/still birth rate for women with my health conditions.

I hadn't even experienced a loss (that I acknowledged, at least), but my dear friend had. She blogged and I read all those who blogged with her. I lurked. I was scared. But I only said it out loud to a few people and probably in my blog a couple of times.

The fact remains, if you passed me on the street, you would have thought I was one of those naive and oblivious women. I WANTED to be one of them. I bought socks. Socks. That's it. I planned to wait until the last possible minute to buy the things I needed to buy. Alas, she came early and I hadn't bought anything! I kind of surprised myself. I am not usually unprepared, but in this case, I was afraid to be prepared.

Forgive me for the analogies, but for me, it's kind of like 9/11. We all know it happened, but none of us want to believe it will ever happen again, even though we know the threat is very real. I know parents die, but I deny that my own mother will ever be one of them.

I have a friend who believes you think something bad will happen it's just a thought, but if you say it out loud, you've "put it in the air" and it's going to happen.

I am often accused of thinking up the worst case scenario in different situations. Like, if I let my 14 year old step-daughter go to the mall with her friends, her friend will meet some guy in person that she met on the internet and he'll haul them both away and we'll never see them again. She calls me overprotective. Maybe so. But I also know I could never forgive myself if I let her go and something like that ever happened. Not to mention I've been there on a Friday night and I've seen the kids that hang out there and the trouble they get into.

So, in a way, I think of you as that overprotective guardian who wants to share the dangers that do exist, but doesn't really want it to happen to anyone else. At the same time, I don't think you want to be alone in it, either. Because frankly, I didn't want to be alone in my infertility pain, but that's how I felt. Does that make sense?

Jayne said...

Your comments about all the things that can go wrong have validated all the worry (and fear) I had while I was pregnant with my daughter. Thank you. Others completely dimissed my worries or even berated me for having them, telling me I should really enjoy that time, etc.

vixanne wigg said...

For some reason my computer wasn't updating and I thought you hadn't posted in several days...annoying. Anyway, I see what you're saying now. You're saying how can anyone make the decision to try to again without thinking about another loss, right--without acknowledging that it could happen? But do you really think anyone makes that decision without thinking about it? They may not want to talk about it. They may totally be in denial, but denial is just another coping mechanism.

I don't know. Maybe they're just idiots. :) You can lose a baby and still be an idiot, right?