Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sad, still.

Every time I think about writing something here, I tell myself that I should wait until I have something happier to say. Who wants to read that you're still upset that you can't get pregnant? That somehow, nearly a year later, you're still reeling from a miscarriage at only six weeks along? Do you know how many people have it infinitely worse than you do? Do yo have any idea how many people would give their right arm to have your life?

And so a month goes by--more, even--and the blog sits neglected, because I can't manage to pull the words of happiness out of my brain and get them onto the screen.

* * * * *

Like seemingly every thirty-something woman in America, I watched season two of Downton Abbey earlier this year. Between swooning and then fretting over Bates and Anna, rooting for Mary, and rolling my eyes at Thomas, a brief exchange of dialogue punched me in the gut:

Will you be happy?

I have no right to be unhappy, which is almost the same.

I have no right to be unhappy. This is exactly how I feel. There's this voice in my head positively screaming at me to buck up, count my blessings, and move the hell on with life already. 
Arwen talked the other day about failing to give herself credit for handling difficult things, because there's always someone else out there who has it worse. She's always willing to give me a gentle reminder--as did A'Dell, last night--that the things I'm dealing with actually are hard, and that it's okay to cut myself some slack and just be sad.

It's one thing, of course, to acknowledge that one's sadness is legitimate, and I feel like I'm making progress on that front. Yes, life with one child is infinitely preferable to life with no children. Yes, a miscarriage at six weeks isn't as devastating as a second- or third-trimester miscarriage, or a stillbirth, or the death of a born child.** But infertility and miscarriage are heavy burdens, nonetheless, and it's acceptable--understandable, even--to grieve.  

Still, it's another thing, a harder thing, to find a way through the grief and back to a place of joy. This is where I have to admit that I need some help, and that gratitude lists and mental pep talks aren't going to cut it. Why does it feel like such a failing to seek for myself the kind of help that I'd recommend to anyone I love? 

Part of it may be that I manage to get through my life just fine. My son is well cared-for. My refrigerator is stocked. Dinner gets made. Laundry gets done. My house is clean (enough). I get up and get showered and put on makeup and decent clothes, and I'd venture to guess that no one who saw me out in public would suspect anything was amiss. It's just that I feel like I'm wearing this heavy blanket of sadness. I actually feel it, the weight of it pressing down on my shoulders, my arms, the top of my head. Tears well up in my eyes without warning, in unguarded moments when I get too quiet. David will call me from work and ask how I am, and too often I have to tell him I have the "can't help-its," our shorthand for feeling sucker-punched on what should by all accounts be a perfectly fine day.

I guess there's a part of me that thinks people who really need help are those who can't get up off the couch, or who can't enjoy their children, or who in some obvious, external way are completely falling apart. I don't know that I'd ever be one of those people. What I do know is that if I were a person who loved me--and shouldn't I be?--I'd tell myself to get some professional help.

Seems like good advice.

** Devastating in comparison from an emotional perspective. Of course I believe, as a moral matter, that all life is sacred from the moment of conception. 


Jessica said...

I'm so sorry, Lauren.

I recently fell into a deep funk/depression due to hormones and it was all I could do to get through the day. Honestly, I couldn't figure out why there was any point to life at all. I went through the motions wondering why "I have no right to be unhappy" didn't mean I was actually happy and if I'd EVER enjoy life again. I wish I'd gotten some professional help. I hope things improve for you.

little miss mel said...

Oh Lauren, I am so sorry for your continued journey. Miscarriage is awfully hard to overcome. I still think of mine often.

I found great comfort in therapy for multiple reasons and believe having someone to work through this grief with could be so beneficial.

Knowing you've got some place to go on a weekly basis helps you collect your thoughts and constructively work through them and hopefully feel better again.


anne said...

Prayers abounding. It is hard to get out of that place of sadness, I know. With you in spirit!

priest's wife said...

I hear you! We lost a 20-weeker in utero baby between child 2 and 3- but it was hard to let myself grieve because my sister lost her first daughter at 5 months... but it is still sad

not that you asked for fertility advice....I can't help myself- when you feel stronger- ask a doc for a progesterone script. I was on progesterone and heparin at day 7 with the last 2 pregnancies to stay pregnant- prayers for you!

Diane said...

You put this all so beautifully. We are all here to listen and read, sad or happy. Whatever YOU need. This is your space, after all. I'm glad you're reaching out, and I hope you'll continue to do so. Hugs.

Elizabeth said...

I can only tell you that I felt this way for a long long time, that surely REAL depression was something MUCH worse than what I had. It was people who couldn't get out of bed or who could't eat or who had kitchen full of trash or SOMETHING OTHER THAN ME. And then when I did get help and I did feel better? I knew that no one should feel the way I did when I was "not that bad."
Your reasons for feeling sad do not need to be justified. You are sad. You should not have to feel this way. There are people who can help.

And I am so sorry that you are going through this. I just am so so so sorry. I often think of something my mother tells me all the time, when she says "comparisons are odious." Because other people have it hard does not mean that these are not hard things that have happened to you. They happened to you and they were and are awful and I am so sorry.

I have never had a miscarriage but I have things in my life I will always be sad about. However from my own experience, I can tell you that when "the sads" become that physical weight (I often think of it as sand filling me) that it is a sign, for me, that I need to have more help.

I am thinking of you. If there is anything I can do, please let me know. I promise you though, I PROMISE, it can be so much better than this. It can, and it will be. You just have to take those first few steps.

Erica said...

I look back on times in my life where I was depressed. I wish I would have gotten help because I can see the difference now that things are good. If you even think MAYBE you might need help, why not just give it a try?
I am sorry about the miscarriage and infertility. I was thinking that today when I wrote about trying to get pregnant and how it has so many ups and downs. I only tried for 5 months last time and it was difficult, I can see how that sounds really insensitive to people who try longer and I hope I don't sound like a jerk.
Hang in there. Your life looks pretty great from here so I hope you can get back to a place where you are enjoying yourself.

Salome Ellen said...

Oh, yes. You give great advice and help to my daughters, and if I needed advice I would take yours in a minute. Praying that you will be able to take your own!
(On the off chance you didn't know: when Arwen was in HS I had a major go-round with anxiety/panic disorder. It will be so wonderful when -- with help -- that sand starts to drain away and you can fly again.

melissity said...

I'm so sorry you're struggling. Miscarriage is a very difficult thing--everyone grieves differently, so there's no right or wrong way to feel a month or a year or many years later, and who's to say that remembering it should completely stop being painful at ANY given time? Some people may get over it more easily, some people may take longer to heal, and others may need professional help--and all of those things are okay.

I have two healthy, beautiful boys and a third on the way. But I've also had three miscarriages (two between #1 and #2, and a third before this baby) and I haven't forgotten how devastating it was each time. I wish I had some words of wisdom but all I can do is send my prayers that you can find peace somehow--not to forget the miscarriage or stop hurting completely, but to be able to live more fully again in a way that honors the baby you lost.

Tracy said...

I want to read when you're still upset. It helps me know what to pray for you. I don't know you all that well of course, other than through your blog, but I can identify with what you're saying here. So many times I don't write because "who want to read that..." nor do I want people to think that those words are representative of all that is in my life.

I don't know how helpful these words will be, but I am going to try and put some down anyway. I don't know what you are going through in particular, though I remember how I felt in somewhat similar circumstances. Infertility has been a thorn in my life, and one that I tell myself wasn't as bad as others - which is so much of a lie. It was MY thorn, my struggle, and it was important to God too.

It was hard to deal with it more in some ways after I had my firstborn. After all, I had him. And I loved him (and still do). I am blessed by having him. But that didn't mean that I didn't pray and hope and deal with something very hard - the desire for another child is just as much of an unquenchable fire, I think. And now I knew so well what I was missing.

Anyway, I say all this to say that I will be praying more for you - and have some idea of more specific intentions for you - grace, peace, even happiness, and because I'm hopeful for you and because He says to ask! - another child as well.

Nic (NotPerfect) said...

Oh Lauren, I'm sorry things are hard. Arwen and A'Dell are right, you need to give yourself credit for that.

When Nate skins his knee (he will), you won't say to him, "people have their legs amputated every day so you can't cry over a skinned knee." No, you know that he is happy and whole and loved and healthy, yes, but his knee also hurts and you will address that hurt at that time. A hurt still hurts.

I dealt with a great deal of hurt guilt last summer. I had been laid off from my job and as far as situations go, it was ideal. I knew 3 months in advance. I was able to say goodbye. The company had arranged great transitional services. I had severance. I was able to cash out six weeks of vacation. I had COBRA. I wasn't in danger of losing my home, going without health insurance, and hell, I didn't really have to sacrifice any small luxuries. So yeah, ideal. I know I was blessed and lucky and spoiled beyond belief. And it was HARD. I cried a lot. It was regular rejection. It was a loss of self and who I thought I was supposed to be.

When it ended, my company hired me back to replace someone who was leaving for her dream job. I got a raise and promotion to what was actually my dream job within the company, that hadn't actually existed before. People around me joke that I took a four month paid vacation. And I did. Inside the company we joke about how I just moved desks.

It's funny, but it still gives me a pit in my stomach to think about. Those months were hard. The day where I got nine rejections? The day where I decided it wasn't financially responsible to sign a year-long lease on an apartment I loved? The nights I cried myself to sleep because I wasn't in control of anything and I had no clue what the future held for me? It was so painful. It IS so painful.

I did have professional help and it was truly a God-send. If you think you might want to go that route, I would encourage you to do that. In the meantime, though, don't be hard on yourself. Don't compare your internal struggles to the external appearances of others.

Have you heard of the book "I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy" by Angie Smith? It's her story of losing her daughter and finding joy around that. It's Christian, though not Catholic. I've followed her writings for years and she's very good. I don't have that one, but if you have a Kindle I can lend you her second book through that.

I will continue praying, Lauren. tonight is my last night of the Untier of Knots Novena but I plan to ask Arwen for advice on another one to start (I really like the process of praying a Novena and I might be addicted) and I will include you in it, for both pregnancy and peace in your heart.

maggie said...

I'm really sorry, Lauren. Really truly horribly sorry. Praying for you.

maggie said...
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HereWeGoAJen said...

I think it is okay to grieve forever for a miscarriage. My first miscarriage was almost five years ago and it still hurts. I lost a son at seventeen weeks a year ago today and I don't really think that one hurts more than the other. A bit fresher perhaps, but grief over a much wanted baby is grief.

A'Dell said...

It's just so CRAPPY. All of it. The whole thing. It sucks and I hated going through it and I hate watching people I love go through it and one of my greatest fears is that my daughters will have the same dark days that I did on the topic.

The simplicity and complexity are overwhelming. It's reasonable and normal to want these things and goshdarnit, IT IS SO FREAKING UNFAIR it is physically painful.


Sarah in Ottawa said...

You are so awesome and wonderful and brave, both in writing this an in your plans to seek help. You are so, so loved and we all hope that your sadness becomes more manageable soon. xoxo

Dr. Maureen said...

I'm sorry you're so sad, Lauren. I pretty much agree with everyone else here: There's no shame in grieving or feeling sad because you're having a hard time conceiving. Of course you are! Of course you do! I'm glad you are considering getting some help. I've struggled with hormonally-related depression, and it's no way to live.

Ashley said...

I'll keep you in my prayers too. I second your advice. You'd be surprised how much it helps to just talk to someone who isn't impacted by what you say like friends or family would be. My only recommendation would be to find someone who shares your values/beliefs, if possible (try checking catholictherapists.com).

Elsha said...

My heart aches for you, Lauren. Miscarriage is awful, and I can only imagine that miscarriage after infertility is so much more devastating.

You guys continue to be in my prayers.

Branwen said...

Having never experienced infertility or miscarriage, I can only imagine what it is like to deal with either and both seem like such a heavy load! Your advice to yourself seems very wise. Praying for you!

claire said...

I'm so sorry for what you're going through. Miscarriage is excrutiating, and it's even worse when it's followed by unresolved infertility. I definitely have an underlying depression related to this (I was never able to carry to term, but adopted a beautiful newborn baby boy 4 years ago, and he will likely be my only one). Every day it hurts that my baby days are probably behind me, but because my son is growing up way too fast, I try to let that motivate me to enjoy every minute with him. So far the joy he brings me outweighs the depression. But if that ever changes, I would definitely seek help.