Most dreaded post ever

So I was all set to write about how, when I wrote about my “perfectly ordinary” day on Tuesday, I just wrote about the day.  That is, I completely forgot to philosophize, or tie it back to my personal demons, or to even mention (as I had originally planned) that these are the kind of boring blog entries I would probably write if I didn’t have those annoying demons in the first place.  Which is all just another sign of progress, right?  To actually pass a day that resembles that parallel universe: life without miscarriage, without divorce, without regret?

Sigh.  And then…  And then today.

I’ve never been as apprehensive about posting something as I am about posting this.  Not even when I first started writing and had to tell my story from the beginning, including that horrible moment when I told Doug, “Of course there’ll be a baby.”  Not even when I wrote that letter to Monica – my last-ditch attempt at getting back one of the most dynamic friendships of my life – and wondered whether she would read it, whether she even thinks our friendship is worth saving.  Not even when I came clean about my most embarrassing moment, like, ever.

The story I’m about to tell may be smaller than those stories, but it involves an awkwardly painful interaction with a coworker, whom I consider a friend, who reads this blog and who is therefore probably going to read every word I write tonight.  And that’s the part that makes me nervous – that I won’t be able to explain myself well enough, that I’ll hurt her feelings, that I’ll somehow offend her or start an argument I don’t want to have.

But I can’t not write about it.  Because it’s important.

I walked into the breakroom today, looking for free food and free coffee and a spot on the couch for ten minutes.  My friend was in there with another coworker, and no sooner had I walked into the room than she turned to him and said, “Did you hear that [some mutual friend of theirs] had her baby?”

I sat down on the couch between them, which means that when my friend passed the guy her phone so he could see a picture of said baby, she passed it right across me.

“I didn’t know that,” the guy said.  “She was just in here last week.  But she didn’t have the baby yet.”

“No, last week she was huge.  I mean, she was so big, she looked like she was having twins.  I guess she just blew up at about 28 weeks…”

At this point, I’d had about enough, so I did what I normally do when someone’s pregnancy talk is making me uncomfortable.  I calmly got up and left the room.

Then I thought better of the “calmly” part, so I slammed the door on my way out.

Here’s the thing: she reads my blog.  I just couldn’t believe someone who knows so much about me would start a conversation about some pregnant chick in front of me.  And yeah, maybe she wasn’t thinking about it – maybe not everyone is as obsessed with my feelings as I am?  But this girl is generally pretty sensitive, empathetic, and emotionally charged.

She confronted me later to ask if she’d upset me, and I admitted that she had.  She claimed they’d already been talking about the baby before I entered the room, and even though I didn’t believe that, I can’t prove it either.  And then she said, “My friend had a baby.  I’m excited for her.  I’d do the same for you, if you had a baby.”  And then she said, “I’m not going to censor myself for you.”

I didn’t really say anything.  We were on the sales floor, with the customers, and I didn’t want to get into this in front of them – and I also felt put on the spot, and kind of stupid.  I told her it was okay and waved her away.  Then I spent the next five minutes staring into an open case of sliced cheese, wondering how it was going to get itself onto the shelf, because I was emotionally frozen and about to cry.

I walked into the back room, and stood there, just inside the double doors, trying to compose myself.  And suddenly my friend burst through the doors and hugged me, and said something akin to an apology.  (I don’t remember exactly what.)

“But I thought you were getting better,” she said.  “I thought you were embracing it.”

She makes a good point.  I have accepted – maybe even embraced – my role as a miscarriage survivor and my place in the infertility community.  I have accepted – maybe even embraced – the fact that I will forever be someone who is sensitive to people’s pregnancies and pregnancy stories (that goes for both failed and healthy pregnancies).  Which, to me, means I won’t ever be as happy for, excited about, and awed by someone’s pregnancy/new baby as maybe I would have been, had I never miscarried.  I’ll do my best, sure, but I’ll always have those other feelings thrown into the mix as well.

And I really hope my friends and my family can understand that about me.  It’s not personal.  I’m not begrudging anyone their happiness.  But I am asking them to censor themselves – just a little – for my sake.

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11 Responses to Most dreaded post ever

  1. slcurwin says:

    That’s valid. If someone knows what we’ve been through they should also know that we have a different reaction to this. I’m not telling people to not talk about things in front of me, but there is a different way that my friends and family will talk with me when they are being sensative vs just talking like they have no idea whats going on in my head.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m going to push back. There’s a difference between asking people to be sensitive to your situation and asking people to “censor themselves” for you. Even “just a little.” It’s like the difference between asking people not to speak loudly vs. asking them not to speak at all. What you gain emotionally in the short-term you lose in integrity and maturity in the long run by asking other people to cater to your unique suffering. They can’t, anyway. Make the choice to hear/see life for exactly what it is around you, to feel the unbearable pain that can come with it, to own it, and deal with it. Nothing anyone else can say or do (or not do or say) is as powerful as that choice for healing. I’m so sorry that things like that can still hurt so much.

    • mommyodyssey says:

      I’m sorry – but I completely disagree. It’s one thing if this co-worker wasn’t a person Marie considered a friend. Not to mention that this woman reads her blog. This is not an issue of Marie not dealing with her emotions, nor integrity or maturity. This is an issue of respect and friendship.
      Healing happens, and it’s obviously happening for Marie – but that does not mean that things aren’t raw for her. And she has every right to expect her friends to understand that. As a person who has suffered from PTSD as a result of two miscarriages, I can tell you – I’m a mature sensitive person, I’ve never asked any of my friends to censor themselves – and yet miraculously – because they are my friends and they know what I’ve been through, they do it around me without me asking them to. Because they love me. Because they are sensitive to my emotions.
      When my best friend found out a month ago that she was going to be an aunt, she was incredibly happy. She wanted to share the news with me. And she did – sensitively. She censored her joy for me. And I loved her for it. And merely that act for me was healing. It made me feel cared for, and as a result I encouraged her joy. The fact that she acknowledged my pain was enough for me not to feel it – if that makes any sense. It’s not a question of me censoring her. It’s a question of her, as my friend, acknowledging my pain and loss. I’m actually quite appalled that you would mark Marie’s reaction as immature on any level. We MC survivors feel what we feel.
      I’ll give you a non-pregnancy metaphor to illustrate this point: imagine that you were a marathon runner, and one day you lost a leg. You can “heal” and process the situation for years. But I promise you that even 20 years after the fact you would still feel a pang of pain and regret while watching a marathon. Having a miscarriage is no different. We heal. We process. But still – we have lost something beyond just “the potential for a baby”.
      Having a miscarriage means that we have lost something precious – the innocence and joy that comes with pregnancy. I will never be a glowing, happy mommy-to-be. Never. Every pregnancy I have in my life will always be filled with fear, dread, and grief for those that didn’t happen. So when I see a happy, smiley, pregnant woman – I hurt. I hurt for my lost innocence. I hurt for the fact that I only had one precious month when I felt that way – during my first pregnancy. I know that unending joy. And I know that I will never ever feel it again. No matter how much I heal – the pang of guilt and sadness I feel when I see that innocence that I’ve lost – it will always be there. My scar is just as real and raw as a person who has lost a limb. I can heal, I can do my best to feel better about it. But the scar will always be there – because I lost an important part of motherhood. I lost the joy of pregnancy. The miraculous joy. Now my experience will forever be the opposite: fear, worry, guilt. This is my reality. And just like marie – I have a reasonable expectation from my friends to understand that reality.
      Marie – first, you are brave to share this story so openly.
      Second – Well, I love you lots, you know that. And I think that friend realized what she had done by giving you that hug. She probably won’t do it again. But even if she does – it seems to me that knowing you – you’ll probably let it slide – again. I can tell you’re not angry with her – just sad for yourself – and I’m proud of you for how far you’ve come. *hugs*

    • Elphaba says:

      a) If you’re going to criticize someone’s thoughts, emotions and feelings, then please have the courage to at least leave your name. Nothing is more unimpressive than a coward who hides behing anonymity.

      b) I’m going to echo a lot of what Mo said. She’s her friend. If your friends can’t be the ones to show compassion and understanding then who will? Miscarriage survivors and women experiencing infertility already go through so much misunderstanding from strangers, the least we want is some empathy from those who care about us.

      Saying “deal with it” demonstrates that you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. The pain of miscarriage is the most exquisite, most raw, most shocking thing a person goes through. Until you’ve been there, you can’t possibly understand the depth of the pain that goes on. Having a miscarriage is about so much more than losing a baby. It’s about losing an entire future.

      No matter how much any of us “heals” from this–other women’s pregnancies will hurt. That is simply the nature of this beast. No matter how far along we are in our journeys, it will always cause pain.

      c) Marie, I’m so sorry you had to hear that from your friend. I can say with unequivocal certainty that it’s so much easier when people take a moment and consider that your feelings are still raw. The whole world doesn’t need to censor itself, but our friends certainly can make that small concession. As they like to say “I’d do the same for you.”

  3. Josey says:

    Marie, you have amazing friends. 🙂

    Maybe your co-worker messed up yesterday, but it sounds like she’s at least trying to understand what the proper amount of censoring is in this situation -both as a friend and non-ALI blog reader. That’s the hardest thing about being part of the ALI community – if you (thankfully) aren’t, I truly don’t think you will EVER be able to completely understand how all-encompassing… how far-reaching the pain of m/c and IF can be.

    @Anonymous – I ditto the commenters above – if you’re going to criticize and say things like “deal with it” – have the guts to PUT YOUR NAME with it. How cowardly.

    Back to Marie – I’m so proud of your other commenter friends for how they responded… both to your pain in this post and to people who don’t bother to leave their names. We’re here for you!

  4. Marie says:

    Thanks, ladies.

    Did I not finish my thought again? I wanted to be clear that after my friend came back and hugged me, my desire to cry was completely gone. And when she was telling me she thought I’d embraced it, and that she just wanted to be happy for her other friend, I wasn’t angry at her but sad for me because I want so badly to feel those things too and know I never truly will. So basically, what Mo said. But I think that she gets it – I hope that she gets it – and I agree with Josey that she’s at least trying to understand. And sometimes that’s all we can ask for.

    And then we had a kickass night working bread together.

  5. Dawn says:

    After I read this, the word “censor” really struck me. I thought it would be unfair of me to ask a friend to censor themselves, but then I realized that a good friend wouldn’t need to be asked. A good friend will just know. After reading the rest of the post, I was so glad to read that she awknowleged that her actions may have hurt you and that it was because she thought you were doing “better” that she didn’t realize the impact. Then I thought about when I found out I was pregnant with Lilly and how I thought about not telling you. But I decided that just being upfront and honest with you was the best choice. I wanted you to be a part my babies lives and I just wasn’t going to give you an out. At that point though, I didn’t fully know the extent of your pain. So, I hope that now I have been more sensitive and aware with you and I so look forward to being with you as you bring a baby of your own into this world.

    I must just point one thing out in regards to the comment made by MommyOdyssey…
    I might be taking this a little out of context but the quote is “Now my experience will forever be the opposite: fear, worry, guilt. This is my reality.” It made me think that there is a belief that every (non-miscarriage survivor) pregnant woman is worry free and glowing all the time….

    I have never experienced a miscarriage and I know I can never fully understand the horrible tragedy that it is. I have however been scarred by a scare. Six weeks into my pregnancy with my son ( 1 week after we found out and told everyone), I began bleeding. We were at lunch ( we’ve been back to this restaurant about 3 times since and each time I walk up the stairs past the bathroom, I shudder and remember that horrible day) and called the doctor and then spent 8 long hours waiting at the ER. During that time I was convinced that our baby was gone and I was so dehydrated from crying that they had to give me an IV. Eventually, we were lucky enough to see that our baby was still there and I was just one of the fluke bleeders in pregnancy. With both pregnancies, I worried every.single.minute.of.every.single.day. The worry doesn’t end with, will I get pregnant? The worry will continue to Did the baby kick today? Will the umbilical cord be wrapped around tha babies neck? ( I was convinced this was my fate with Lilly… I had regular night terrors during my pregnancy with her) Will the baby’s birth be okay? Will they flourish? Will they have autism? Will they walk? Will they get kidnapped? I know i’m getting crazy here. But my point is that there is always fear, worry & guilt. Whether you are trying to become a mom, or whether you are a mom.

    I hope I didn’t take this out of context… I know our experiences and perspectives are different….but I just wanted to share my thoughts.

    Love you sis!

    • mommyodyssey says:

      Hi Dawn,
      I totally get and respect what you’re saying. I’m sure there is always anxiety and guilt.
      But this is true, I think for people who have gone through scares like you have, or are close to someone who has lost a baby.
      I know so many women skipping worry-free through their pregnancy. Or maybe i just imagine they’re worry free.
      All I know is that I will never even have that option. And for me – that’s the biggest loss.
      I think all women lose a bit of their innocence once we become mothers. The thing that sucks about being an almost-mother is that we lose our innocence, without having a baby to hold in the process.
      Does that make any sense?
      Yes – I’m sure all pregnant women worry. But all pregnant women fantasize about their baby’s future, about their lives with their baby.
      The loss involved in miscarriage is that exactly – a whole future that just disappears.
      I know, for example, that the first trimester of my next pregnancy will be spent willing myself not to get attached. Willing myself not to fall in love, so that I don’t get my heart broken again.
      That’s the innocence I will miss out on. The innocence of allowing yourself to love your baby from the second it starts growing in you.
      And the saddest part is – that I know I will love the baby the second I know that it’s there. I just will not let myself feel it fully because losing 2 babies already made me shatter into a million little pieces, and I don’t think I could handle it again.
      I hope I’m not coming across as trying to guilt you or minimize your own worries or pain. They are just as legitimate.
      I just wanted to try to explain mine a bit better.
      thanks!

  6. Kira says:

    We all censor ourselves for certain people. The detail I go into in my theological discussions depends on whether I talking with a religious vs. non-religious person. The way I talk around my gay friends, racial minority friends etc is different because I am aware that certain words/topics/phrases may be taken differently by them. If I have an irritating/ironic day and say “F**k my life” around my friends, they get that I had a bad day but we will probably laugh a bit. If I said that in front of my grandmother she would probably be really offended and think that something seriously tragic happened. I have had two friends battle with cancer, and when they are facing the reality of their mortality, it would be in incredibly bad taste for me to say “Oh, shoot me now!” just because something annoying happened although I wouldn’t think twice around other friends.

    It’s about being sensitive and compassionate. Infertility is a MEDICAL condition. Treat it with the same respect as you would those dealing with any other life altering disease.

    That being said, I’ve had some incredibly insensitive things said to me. And if I don’t speak up and say that it upset me then they don’t know to change what they are saying or doing. And I try to point them to http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/for-family–friends/

  7. Saundra says:

    I have had my night ruined by insensitivity — insensitivity about far more trivial things.

    There was the night I met up with an old high school friend, only to have her wax nostalgic about dinner she’d had with my main circle from back in the day. I completely lost my appetite because I felt so excluded (we were all in the same tiny town, and they had dinner about a mile from where I was living then).

    These situations make most of us explode with analogies, so here’s mine: Exes. Not all of them, but there are a couple, right? You can be so over it, so past the life you thought you were going to have together. You can be happily settled into a new life with someone else. But I guarantee you any friend worth her weight in salt would NOT say “Did you hear [your ex] is…?” It’s a taboo to bring up past romances — why aren’t people as considerate about physical trauma? Physical trauma that you have been writing about, daily, for several months?

    Now, your coworker may have realized what she did was a bit beyond the pale and felt totally embarrassed about it afterward. In that situation, I like to just throw myself into humility and say straight-out, “Sorry, I feel like a jerk. That wasn’t cool.” I think other people like to cushion it with “…but this is what I was thinking when I said it.” To me, your friend’s “I thought you were healing!” remark read as patronizing, and it made me dislike her more. But honestly, it might have struck your ear differently, and it could have been by way of rationalization, not patronizing you.

    Also, Anonymous’s comment: I think that when we step up to be totally honest about something that is completely fucking with us, and we have transparency about it with our friends, then “compassion” (not “censoring” — that sounds cold!) should take place and we should definitely watch what we say. It’s the least I’d expect of any friend I have worth seeing more than once.

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