Thursday, October 13, 2011
It's a Pity Party, and I'm Invited.
How much did I lose on my journey to start a family? Is that even something quantifiable? Sometimes, when I think about it all, I get so overwhelmed, so I'm going to spill some of it here to let it loose and begin to work on letting it go. Because self-pity is not my style, truly. It just doesn't suit me, nor does it honor my son. What I lost... -My first pregnancy ended in a completely unexpected early loss (I had no idea you could have a miscarriage without any symptoms of bleeding, cramping, etc…) -Months of my life out of grieving and trying to recover from the blow of my miscarriage. -Months of my life trying to conceive again (wherein I felt a profound sense of loss every single time my period showed when I just wanted a positive pregnancy test). -The happiness of just being *pregnant* because I was terrified of bleeding and miscarrying again. -The joy of having an ultrasound because at the first one and every single one thereafter I was terrified there would be no heartbeat. -The joy of a “normal” pregnancy, because with twins I was high risk and had to worry times two, even though I was already worried more than your average pregnant mom before ever hearing the words, “There’s two in there!” -The excitement of finding out their genders, because I was convinced something would be very wrong with one or both of them or that they would see my cervix shortening prematurely which would indicate I could very well lose them both. -Feeling “normal” and “functional” at work because I couldn’t move around like I needed to or focus on any task in front of me. -Not being judged by others, as suddenly people were criticizing me (sometimes openly, sometimes behind my back) for being so cautious and being a “worry wort” (clearly not understanding the psychology of pregnancy after a loss!), “oversensitive”, “living in the past”, and/or “a pregnant diva”, all because I wanted what was best for my babies and was willing to sacrifice whatever might make them safer and healthier. (Apparently I was expected to climb two flights of stairs up to fifteen times a day while in the third trimester with twins without going into a panic about preterm labor.) -The joy of a “normal’ pregnancy and feeling like being pregnant with twins was very literally a subculture in and of itself that none of my friends (other than other twin moms online) understood. -The ability to talk lightly about my due date with people who would ask, because “Well my due date is 12/31/10…But twins come early, so it could really be any day now” (followed by looks of shock and horror that I would say something so NEGATIVE when I was just stating what I had been told hundreds of times by various medical sources…Again, with the twin thing being its own subculture that many people do NOT understand…) -The ability to freely purchase all the baby things I wanted / needed, because I would somehow “jinx” things the way I must have jinxed them before when I bought a few things and ended up miscarrying. -The ability to work until my water broke, as I had fully intended when we planned to have a baby. -The freedom to not do seven weeks of bedrest wherein I turned into a complete and total hermit and felt completely disconnected from my friends who mostly did not visit nor make a point to support me during one of the most trying times of my life. (Bedresters are their own subculture as well…)I had the joy of hearing "Oh just ENJOY this time! It's like a vacation! You just wait until those two little babies are here...You will be sorry you didn't just relax and enjoy all the peace and quiet of not working and having bedrest!!!" -The freedom to drive places, eat out at restaurants, go shopping, get a breath of fresh air while taking a brisk walk, amongst many other things so that I could do bedrest in hopes of ensuring the health of my children. -The luxury of asking my husband to go out and get me peach frozen yogurt and rub my back, because he was too freaking busy taking over the care of the entire household, chores, and meals, while I was on full bedrest. -Feeling closer to my husband through the pregnancy instead of feeling like I was a burden because of my lack of mobility. -My privacy, as I pretty much lived on the couch in our family room for a month and a half. I lost all of that and then some. I did it all and then some, to bring my twins into the world whole and healthy, and then one died anyway. Meanwhile, surrounding me were women who were very careless with their pregnancies, women who even blatantly ignored doctors’ orders and seemed to flaunt it in front of me, who all (thankfully) delivered live, healthy, breathing babies despite their complete ignorance and carelessness. Ten months post-loss, I get to read an article about a woman who ran a marathon without any regard to how dangerous it could be if she tripped and fell on her stomach while pregnant. She and the baby were (thankfully) just fine. She even got fame for it. I also get to read articles about women who seek no prenatal care at all and birth living, breathing, healthy babies only to kill them out of complete negligence or intentional murder. What do I get? I get eight months of “I’m so proud of you!”s followed by a lifetime of “I’m so sorry!”s and people pitying me, hoping that babyloss isn’t “catching”, trying to avoid eye contact as they pass me, and secretly judging me STILL. Judging me for how I acted during my pregnancy, judging me for how I handled everything, judging me for going back to work “SO quickly!!!”, judging me for leaving my daughter with loving family members while I go back to work, judging me for wanting to acknowledge that I am a twin mother, judging me for recognizing that I will always have a son, judging me for connecting with other babylossmamas, and secretly blaming me for the death of my son. Because healthy women under thirty years old who do bedrest and follow all the doctor’s orders just don’t end up with dead babies. So clearly, OBVIOUSLY, I must have done something wrong. They tell themselves this, because it helps them sleep better at night; it protects their Faith, and it eases their fears that a horrible tragedy like mine could happen to them. For the record, I am not bitter about my bedrest. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I believed in it, and I was happy to do it, but I won't deny that it was very trying. What I do resent is thinking that all of that would equal a happy outcome, because I really did, and this loss just completely blindsided me. ALL of this, when you look at the entire picture, was / is incredibly traumatizing to me, and I don’t think I fully understand the psychological or emotional impacts of it all on my heart, my mind, my identity, my life. I don’t even feel I have recovered from the miscarriage, let alone all that followed, and the feeling like I could NEVER do enough for my babies…and then one died anyway. I am just trying to process all of this and what it means in terms of who I am and how the pregnancy, not just the outcome, but how all I endured during the pregnancy in and of itself has profoundly changed me. I sometimes think those are the things I struggle with in terms of PTSD even moreso than the loss, just the everyday mental torment of never feeling I was ever doing enough for my twins. All the books I read that said how much sleep I should get, how much water I should drink, how many calories I should consume, only for me to vomit daily and feel I was failing my babies daily, even though they grew right on track and were healthy at every single checkup. I tried so hard to do everything right. It consumed almost all my thoughts and was my identity for the eight and a half months I carried them. Bringing them home safe meant more to me than anything in this world. It was my greatest challenge, and my greatest blessing, even with how difficult it was on me mentally, physically, and emotionally. How can I not feel I failed? How can I not feel everyone is disappointed in me? How do I ever reconcile that in my mind and in my heart? I would sacrifice everything all over again if it meant he could be here with me. I would lay on a freaking couch every second of every day for an entire year, for an entire decade, if it meant Elias could come back to me. I would give up my job, my social life, my favorite restaurants, every holiday there ever was, every shopping trip, walk in the park, and family outing. I would endure just about anything. I would give my own life. But I can’t. Instead, I have to live without him. Live without him, and live with knowing (in the logical part of my mind) that I did everything I could and then some, while others are careless and for whatever reason get rewarded for their carelessness. The loss of my son. The loss of the unique parenting experience that is raising twins. The loss of my daughter’s same aged brother. The loss of my faith in prayer, in a God that intervenes, and in a God that is looking out for me and my family. The loss of my understanding of the world. The loss of believing there is any sense of logic, reason, or order to this world. The loss of my world as I knew it. What else must I lose? Friends who don’t want to be reminded that horrible things sometimes happen to good people? People being proud of me, because how can you be proud of a woman who couldn’t keep her baby alive? My marriage? My self esteem? My self worth? My identity? My morality? Who knows where the loss will end, if ever, for me. It’s a pity party, and I’m invited. I’ve gone from being a member in the subculture of being pregnant with twins and feeling misunderstood, to the subculture of being a bedrester and feeling judged, to the subculture of being a babylossmama and feeling ostracized by society. I’ll never, ever, ever be “normal”. And during my next pregnancy, whenever that may be, I will still be cheated. Cheated out of the joy of a blissful, ignorant, naïve pregnancy that most women get to experience. Cheated out of thinking a positive pregnancy test means I will have a live, breathing, healthy baby at the end. Cheated out of thinking that a full anatomy scan that shows everything is fine means I will have a live, breathing, healthy baby at the end. Cheated out of thinking that once we are “viable” we will have a live, breathing, healthy baby at the end. Cheated out of thinking that once we are past the danger zone for prematurity we will have a live, breathing, healthy baby at the end. Cheated out of thinking that once we are at term we will have a live, breathing, healthy baby at the end. Cheated out of thinking that multiple ultrasounds and non-stress tests and biophysical profiles that all turn out with normal results equal a live, breathing, healthy baby at the end. Cheated out of the excitement that ensues when a “blissful, ignorant, naïve” woman’s water breaks. Cheated out of the excitement of packing a hospital bag with cute fuzzy socks and granola bars and coming home outfits and assuming that all will be peachy keen. Cheated out of assuming that babies don’t die and that God is on my side so nothing will happen to me or my child. Cheated out of hanging around the hospital chomping on ice chips and asking for my sister to get my chapstick and a tabloid for me to flip through to pass the time. Cheated out of having my husband hold one of my legs while my mother holds the other and I deliver a live, breathing, healthy baby at the end. Cheated out of even thinking that a planned c-section will ensure a live, breathing, healthy baby at the end. Cheated, robbed, and ripped off. From the joy of pregnancy, birth, a hosptial stay, and the “afterglow”. There will always be one missing. Two missing, to be exact.And I don't know if my mind and heart will heal from being battered so. And yet, the baby to come, the baby we are yet to conceive, the baby we aren’t even thinking about trying to conceive yet…Would not even have the potential to come into our lives had Elias lived. So will I love that child that much more because of it? Will I learn to resent that child because of it? I think I will just miss my son, no matter what, and I will love my future child(ren), no matter what. But what I’m hoping is that all this loss is over with, someday, somehow. What I hope for is the ability to overcome these feelings of loss, to some degree. To learn to enjoy pregnancy by embracing my utter lack of control over the outcome, which I was never able to do last time, or the last two times, to be exact. To recognize that the end result is that I have a family, and even if my road to that end result is a rocky and terrifying one, I am lucky to have a family at all in a world where some women only experience infertility, loss, and no living children. To recognize that I have delivered a living child, and I mother a living child, and her name is Evelyn, and she is the most beautiful baby girl I have ever seen, and no one can take that mothering away from me. Not today, not ever, no matter what. To recognize that even though Elias died, our hearts in that hospital were so full of love for him…That the pain of his loss sprung from how much love we had, and still have, and nobody can take that love away. To recognize that I am still a mother to twins, and I still have a son, and no one can take that away from me, and it’s part of who I am, forever. To recognize that Elias is always with me. Always. He may just be my spirit guide, a butterfly flying free, a star in the sky leading me to live better. To recognize that there were joyful moments with our daughter in that hospital, and during my c-section, when the doctors held her up for me to see, I knew I would live.