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Congratulations, you found me!
Thanks to the generosity of Her Bad Mother, I can finally do this post. I’ve wanted to write it for a long time but haven’t because of certain people that I don’t want to read it. The secret lair to the rescue. It may seem all a bit too ‘cloak and dagger’ but what can I say? I’m a control freak.
There are some warnings to this post.
1) This post is sad and involves death of loved ones. If you happen to be pregnant and, like me, cannot tolerate any mention of death of loved ones while pregnant, leave now.
2) There is a risk that I will get all ‘circle of life’, so if that is only marginally more tolerable for you than death of loved ones, leave now.
3) To tell this story I must mention women’s biology If you can’t handle mention of bleeding etc., leave now.
4) I’m going to write freely, which means swearing. Don’t like it? Fuck off – er, I mean, leave now.
Last year I spent most of my year doing two things. Mourning and preparing for a new life. Well, see, that already is not true. I should have been doing both, but in reality I wasn’t. See, I thought preparing for new life – getting pregnant and building a baby – could prevent/mask/override any mourning I needed to do. Um, no.
Early last year I found out I was pregnant. At 7 weeks, I had an ultrasound and was told that, well, OK, my pregnancy was viable but – and I quote – don’t tell anyone you’re pregnant. Fuck. I knew what that meant; I was most likely going to lose the pregnancy. And although no one at the clinic, or my doctor’s office, or even my husband was willing to speculate on what we would all find out for certain in a week or so, I certainly was. I speculated all the way home. “I’m going to lose this baby. Sometime over the next few days, my baby is going to die inside of me. No baby! Yes, yes, I know I can try again, but this one, the one I have in me now, my first, the one I’ve been dreaming about, is going to die. DIE.“
Initiate disaster coping; emotional lockdown.
“Power through it. Happens all the time. Lots of women go through it, simply try again. I – we – will try again. Get back on that horse, no scrapes and bruises, you’re alright.” I convinced myself that I could deal, "no big whoop – a total bummer, yes, but you know, not a disaster. Its not as if anyone di –" oh wait…All I wanted was to be behind my own front door so I could regroup. But the day would not leave me alone. Waiting for me at home was a message from one of my dearest friends informing me that one of my other dearest friends had killed himself.
Lockdown, LOCK! DOWN!
Now I have to stop here to explain the lockdown. One of my most predominant traits is that I have a very delayed reaction to bad/stressful/difficult circumstances. It is a mixed blessing. For example, if you ever find yourself in a shit storm, I’m the person you want watching your back. I have a denial/non-self-reflective reflex that prevents me from buckling under pressure. I think rather than feel. I detach to the extreme. I lockdown. But as I said, it’s fucked up. How else would explain how, on a day when someone finds out that they had lost one of their best friends and was probably going to lose their pregnancy, that they could go to a job interview and land the job. Seriously. That’s fucked up.
The following week, it was confirmed that I lost the baby. I opted to take Oxytocin at home to finish the miscarriage. Here we go again: “Power through it. Happens all the time. Lots of women go through it, simply try again. I – we – will try again. Get back on that horse, no scrapes and bruises, you’re alright.” I played it down so much that my husband actually went back to work from the hospital while I went home alone to start the process. (BTW, do not - DO NOT – do this alone. So fucked up. I felt like I was having a botched abortion. The painkillers were not strong enough and I was emotionally fucked and…well, DO NOT do this alone.) Fucked, fucked up.
I bled for three weeks. It was a daily reminder of my miscarriage and, because of the association of that first day, a reminder, too, of my friend’s death. We were so far from Vancouver and from our other friends that my husband and I didn’t know how to deal with his suicide, or with whom. We have great friends here in Toronto and they were wonderfully supportive and sympathetic but we were apart from everyone else that was grieving and I needed them to show me how.
Three fucking tough weeks. But finally it ended.
Then, one week later, more bleeding. Hurray, my period! We can start trying again. But after a night of restlessness and bad cramps, the worst thing. Turns out my miscarriage was incomplete. It was like having another one. This one, so much less bloody, but more gory than anything I could have ever imagined. So so so fucked up. Oh, and did I mention this day was Mother’s Day? A cosmic fuck you if ever there was one. And what did I do when this happened? Did I shrivel up into a ball on the bathroom floor like I felt like doing? Like I would have been totally entitled to do given the circumstances? No. I assured my husband that I was fine and we had friends over for dinner. Say it with me: fucked up!
The whole time - even through a seemingly appropriate amount of tears and sharing of feelings with friends and my husband – I never really let anyone in. I knew my husband was patiently waiting, and I love him for that, but as the scope of my loss continued to expand, I became more and more fearful of ever letting it out. I was scared shitless.
But it had to come out. I needed to move on. We decided to go home to Vancouver to say goodbye to our friend. It was the best decision. Seeing our friends and being able to be with them at a special memorial up in the interior of BC, was a truly special experience. My husband and I spent most of the time crying our eyes out. When we weren’t doing that, we were getting’ busy under the stairs of a friends house in her makeshift guest room. And as we said goodbye to our friend, in his favourite place on the planet, I got pregnant. Resolution on so many levels!
I still have a hard time dealing with the miscarriage. Partly because I tried so hard to convince myself it was no big deal, just a common casualty of pregnancy. But three things have helped me acknowledge how heavy miscarriage is and that helped me get over it. First: all health care workers referred to my second pregnancy as just that: my second pregnancy. Each time they did, they prevented me from telling myself that that first one didn’t really count, it was only a few weeks after all…it did count, and I couldn’t ignore that. Secondly, a colleague revealed to me that she had lost a child during birth and when she subsequently got pregnant she suffered a miscarriage. She said that for her, the pain was the same. Now, I have a hard time believing that, but regardless, it did, again, help validate my first pregnancy, allowing me to accept the amount of grief I was carrying around. Lastly, the birth of my son has helped me most of all.
I cannot help but think that everything happened like it should have. That for whatever reasons, I – we – were meant to get pregnant back in BC, as we said goodbye to our friend and that everything lead us there. All I know is, we now have the most beautiful son and that is all I need to know.
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