Wednesday, March 23, 2011

family and gratitude (and shmaltz)

today i am feeling very grateful.

i know, i always get all emotional as soon as i hit the 2ww, but today i'm feeling especially emo. it's tempting when you're dealing with loss and infertility to focus on everything that gets taken from you, to get this laser hypersensitivity on everything that has gone terribly wrong. but today i can't help but feel like things are on an upswing.

for a long time i kept our fertility struggles private. no one knew we were trying and we liked it that way. slowly but surely as we started to crumble under all this pressure we started reaching out more and more. after my second chemical pregnancy i couldn't stop crying. i felt so defeated and i had no idea what was going on. my mom knew i was depressed but couldn't figure out why. one afternoon she asked me if i needed to go to Whole Foods (we're both organics and vitamin junkies so going to whole foods is a pretty expensive event for us). i was covered in stress hives for weeks after that loss. i finally had to take steroids to get them to clear up. i remember exactly how i told her about the losses. we were looking at vitamins and i reached for some of that money-suck "natural" progesterone cream and she asked me why i was interested in that, it was for menopause not hives. and i just said it, "i keep having these weird pregnancies that go away." she was quiet for a minute and then said, "it's pricey, let me get it for you."

i still cry when i think about it.

that's just how my mom is. we're not very emotion sharing people. we rely very heavily on nuance and intuition. after i told me mom i managed to tell my sister. then i managed to talk to my friends. then i managed to see a doctor and tell him what was going on. it was a trickle down affect.

it's tempting for me to say, "no one understands" because really, no one in my circle of friends really does understand. they have no frame of reference for this. but they try. my huge irish-catholic-constant-baby-having family tries very hard to understand all of this. my older sister even said to me after my last miscarriage "i feel very stupid talking to you about this because i have five children and i have no idea what all these hormones are" (i'd been explaining progesterone deficiency and failure to implant and lagging hCG levels). it meant a lot to me that she admitted that.

i found out a few days ago that my little sister told all of our aquaintances about our loss and told them not to bring it up unless we did. without us asking her, without any provocation. she just went into the toystore we love and the cafe i get coffee from and when they asked how i was and how they hadn't seen me much in my pregnancy she told them. i'd been avoiding these places since november because i couldn't bear the thought of facing them.

whenever people in the Miscarriage Support group i frequent on babycenter ask about how they can possibly face "untelling" everyone i always give the same advice: lean on your family and friends. let them do the dirty work. they are mourning too and trying very hard to figure out how to help you (often in misguided ways), so give them this job. send them to all your local hangouts and places where people recognize you. tell them to spread the word. lean on them.

yesterday my inlaws sent us a picture of the garden they're working on for our baby. they'd mentioned after the miscarriage that they planted a holly tree for us and in my fog i'd kind of discounted it. there was so much drama going on and i was so depressed and angry. i knew they were grieving too, but i couldn't see anything outside of myself. and when my mother-in-law called me crying i was enraged that she felt she could intrude on my grief. i'm not proud of it. so yesterday they sent us a picture of the garden. it's spring and things are starting to come up and grow. a bad storm downed a couple of trees around there and they hired a carpenter to make them into chairs.

i feel so overwhelmed knowing there's a place for our babies. and the tree they planted is a holly which means it stays green year round. it was important to them that there be something that would bloom and grow even in winter. in the midst of all the snow and starkness our tree would stand like a constant reminder that even as things were desolete, something was growing and alive and blooming. and even as a mighty oak tree was knocked down, we can still make something beautiful out of it- something comforting, a place to rest. they live in another state, so we don't see it very often, but the thought that it's there and growing is very comforting.


  1. Your post was very honest and enlightening. It made me wonder whether or not I should actually work at dispelling my MIL's belief of "infertility treatments cause birth defects and stupid babies" and slowly get her to understand. I have a few friends who "get it" but since my parent's are getting divorced my mom has ditched us and I feel like I'm missing that female figure. I'm glad your family is so understanding, and the holly tree idea is beautiful. Keeping you in my thoughts=)

  2. Over ICLW - and gentle hugs for your losses - losing my babies was the hardest thing I have ever had to face and it still break my heart to think of anyone else going through that kind of pain. I did make it out the other side - I do have my little family now which feels incredibly special - you never take anything for granted, but it took a long, long time. But for them - I would do it all again.

    Stay strong and stay in the fight - the photo of the holly tree was just beautiful and I loved the sentiment behind it xxxxxxxxxxxx

  3. I appreciate your honesty when you speak about grief and how you felt that your mother in law intruded on your grief. I hope you continue to heal and can make it to see your babies garden soon.

    ICLW 149

  4. Grace- your post made me very emotional (not helping the matter is I am like 8dpo). Thanks for posting your honest feelings. I agree, no one in my fam/friends that knows, gets it (at all). I am grateful for you ladies which make me feel like I am not alone and not (totally) insane. :)

    What a gorgeous garden and the thought that they did that for you, hubs and your angles is truly special and sweet (My Mom still does not even know we were pregnant).

  5. I agree with you, it does get easier when you let some people in on what you're going through. It may mean you have to put up with really stupid comments and questions, but you can't blame people for lack of support if you never let them know you needed it. And you never know whose completely unexpected sensitivity will surprise you. One of my good friends, who is not married or even remotely thinking about children, and who was one of the few who knew about the IVF cycle, sent us flowers out of the blue a couple weeks after the failed IVF. I burst into tears as soon as I saw the card because I was so moved that someone who cannot fathom what we're going through can empathize anyway.

  6. @mommy-in-waiting: what helps me (and believe me, despite this post, my family and friends DO say a lot fo stupid insensitive things) is to try and ignore what they're actually saying and look underneathe it for the intention. not for their sake, but for your own comfort. thus when your mom says "infertility treatments cause miscarriage" you can choose to hear "you've been through so much already, i worry so much about your limited options." see how that works? it sucks, but it really seriously has helped me. like when my mom said to me "maybe there's some lesson to be learned in all this" i chose to hear "i have no idea what to say to comfort you, and i realize everything i can offer is idiotic." i really believe that people don't want to hurt us, they just have no idea what to say/do. try it, it has seriously helped me to see their intention under the stupid things they do. good luck!

  7. @Kate: thank you so much. it's always helpful to hear that the light outside the tunnel is worth the loooong fight it takes to get out there. congratulations on your family

    @Aub: thank you so much. we're thinking of making a trip down there in the summer.

    @Laurel: it's a hard decision to make when trying to figure out if you should tell anyone. on the one hand they will say mornonic misguided things, but on the other hand they'll occationally give you these little gems that make it worth it. for us, it seems the more people we tell, the lighter our burden feels. it's very weird and i didn't expect it, but it's true. I hope you guys are hanging in there. do what's right for you, hon!

    @C: i know, right? it's the weirdest thing. the person who was the most helpful and sensitive during our loss was my friend who is not married, no desire for kids... i was *so* surprised that she was the one who really came through for us: calling and sending flowers. it was so sweet. people can surprise you.

  8. thanks for the great post. It helps me on my journey to know that other people really relate to how I'm feeling and what I've gone through. My family tries to understand but no friends/family that I know personally have had to deal with infertility. so thanks for sharing!