Rituals – What are some things you do to remember your child/children?
We don’t really have any rituals as such, but we have bought these Christmas decorations to symbol our miscarriages. Each year bringing them out, and then putting them away hasn’t got any easier. I’m kinda wanting to ignore Christmas this year, but I’ll probably look out for a decoration in memory of our most recent loss to add to the collection. Maybe I will get a couple to remember our chemical pregnancies too….sometimes it feels like our CPs don’t count, but a therapist I was seeing did say they’re still losses & they’re valid, so maybe having something to remember them too will help.
Today – where are you right now in your grief?
Stuck, is probably how I’d describe where I am in my grief right now, looking for cracks in it, that small moments of slightly better, or even nice moments, might make it through……such as having coffee & delicious cake with a lovely friend.
“Who are they to you? Do they have a name? What is the meaning of their name?”
We had little nicknames for our last 2 pregnancies, and I wish we had a nickname for our other ones too now, while we didn’t really share these names with others, we still refer to them with each other. We hadn’t ever allowed ourselves to choose names….we were keeping that fun for further into the pregnancies, though we talked through a few names we liked. And it was only the most recent loss that we even found out the sex, that one was a boy. Finding that out really changed things, made the loss more real and tangible and painful. I’ve seen some people talk about the loss of their baby inspiring them to live life fully etc, but from what I can tell, those people already have children or go on to have children – not saying that’s easier just different. For me, remembering my babies is remembering all my lost dreams and hopes.
I don’t have a strong spiritual or religious belief system, or even really a belief in what happens after death, so don’t really think of them in heaven or watching over me etc, but occasionally I’ll see a monarch butterfly and wonder if it’s one of them visiting.
Hmm my purpose for giving this project a go, is to see if it’ll help me find away through this grief, I know it’s not just gonna disappear, & that I won’t return to who I was before fertility treatment, but if it can help to make carrying the grief a little lighter then that would be a start.
But when I think about the word purpose, I mostly think about how my life currently feels purposeless, like I’m a piece of flotsam bobbing around on the ocean. I constantly swing from feeling like healing/surviving requires too much energy (well, more than I’ve got), and wanting to create a F#@k Off plan B (which probably also accounts for the questioning/re-evaluating of my study/career plans that keeps happening). I haven’t really achieved the big dreams/goals I’ve had in the past, so I’m not overly hopeful that if I chose an IMPORTANT Plan B (that would show the world that I’m important, worthy, good enough….) that I’d achieve it….but having a dream/goal to work towards does give each day a sense of meaning which my life is currently lacking.
Well the sunrise here in New Zealand, wasn’t visible. But maybe the gloomy wet clouds is an apt reflection of my mood most of the time these days. In all honesty just getting out of bed is hard work most days, and sometimes it’s purely the promise of coffee that gets me up. So maybe this next photo is a more appropriate sunrise photo for me.
Yes, this was actually the coffee I drank this morning. I thought the floral arrangement was pretty sweet.
So I have decided to give CarlyMarie’s “Capture Your Grief” project a go this year. This project is run as part of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month. I don’t often speak publically about our losses (besides here where I am relatively anonymous), but I have vague thoughts of sharing our story more openly, rather than carrying it around like a shameful secret. Maybe participating in this project will help me open up more, maybe it won’t, maybe it’ll help me feel like I’m healing a bit, maybe it won’t. Feel free to join me with this project 😊
Above is the list of prompts for this month, and you can read more about these and the project itself here. Whether I complete every day we’ll have to wait and see! While I plan to take a photo for each prompt each day, the writing and posting may happen in multiple days all at once. No fixed plans, we’ll just see how it pans out along the way.
Curled into a ball
Wrapped up tight
Hiding from the world
Where I don’t belong.
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Nearly midnight, & I couldn’t get to sleep, when a vague attempt at poetry came to me, hastily emailed it to myself in the hope that by getting it out of my brain, I’d get to sleep. It didn’t help the sleep, but here are some words.
I keep wanting to write, but don’t know what to say…seems the feelings don’t change so much and I mostly feel like I’m just being negative all the time – & I know how tedious that can make reading! I even struggle to find the words to reply to your comments with I love reading & really appreciate.
Irony is I’d like to improve my writing, and maybe start writing for magazines or something (something thats not a university essay at least!)….but I don’t know what to write about (that would be good enough!).
I wanted to write a post for World Childlessness Week last week, but had a few too many feels, and didn’t think I could add anything to the conversation already happening. Currently feeling like I’m in some weird no mans land – not in Treatment world, because we don’t know if we’ll actually do any more treatment (and when each person in a couple is on a different page this is a really tricky, fragile uncertainty)….but because we haven’t reached a definitive agreement on doing no more treatment, I don’t feel like I fit in the childless world. When infertility leaves you feeling like you don’t fit in the world, feeling like you don’t fit in the infertility world too is not a great space to fit in. Humans always want to feel like they belong somewhere.
To start with it felt like the counsellor was of the belief that we shouldn’t keep trying and therefore kept asking me the hard questions, but I’ve since realised over more sessions that she takes turns asking both of us the tough questions. I suspect that we both ignore these questions in between sessions, hoping that either they’ll go away or that an answer will come to us without us having to face the question. I’m starting to feel that I’m probably gonna have to be brave and face these questions, and the fear of the future, in order to actually heal some and be able to live with what ever decision we make – but with how quickly panic starts to rise if I even slightly glance in the direction of those questions, I fear facing them head on will find me falling apart even more than I already have….and I don’t know how I’ll be able to keep going with everyday life, if I let that happen…..it’s like I need to find a large chunk of time with no commitments so that I’ll have time to put myself back together before I need to function again. And in the meantime til I find a chunk of time, I’ll just keep looking the other way and hoping the question will go away. Or maybe, I’m slowly putting myself back together after all our losses, in order to fall fully apart again….
I’ve always had a soft spot for other people’s kids and babies….I’ve been a babysitter since a young age, and then I trained & worked as a nanny…I’m the one who makes kids smile on a long haul flight…at friend & family gatherings I was the one that would play with the kids, or rock the babies to sleep to give their parents a break. My in-laws even called me the ‘baby whisperer’ at one stage (I always told them not to jinx me….thinking that by jinx it’d just mean I’d have an unsettled baby…not that I’d have no baby!). I’ve always found joy in babies – making them smile and giggle, or rocking them to sleep always left me happy & contented.
Slowly over the course of our IVF treatment, I stopped playing with other peoples babies and kids….it was too painful. I think subconsciously there were a few reasons I pulled back from the kids in my life…I think I was worried that by enjoying other peoples kids it must mean I didn’t want my own enough and that it would invalidate my own pain and losses, or that if other’s saw me playing with the kids they’d think I was coping with life better than I was and not realise the pain babies and kids can trigger…and maybe I was worried that not being able to have kids was a sign that I didn’t deserve to have any enjoyment from other kids too. Or maybe people would think I was some crazy lady who would steal their baby since I couldn’t have my own….
What ever story was taking over my brain, I avoided babies, I avoided conversations about babies and pregnancies, I even saw my nibing’s less than usual (though I was also really busy with Uni and surviving). Recently though a friend of mine had a baby….it was her 2nd (her first was through IVF so our friendship has managed to survive ok)….but I hadn’t held a baby since she had her first one (who is now 3)….yep thats how long I avoided babies for….I didn’t really feel I could keep avoiding them though and not see this baby so I went to visit a few weeks after she was born…..I was pretty apprehensive & anxious before visiting….I wasn’t even sure if I’d cope with holding the baby let alone being in the same room, so wasn’t sure if I’d actually take an opportunity to hold the baby. I kinda didn’t get a choice, my friend just handed her to me! I didn’t cry, I coped. I felt pretty awkward – wasn’t sure how to be interested in the baby the way I used to be, while coping with all the issues in my head. I survived. (even if it all caught up with me later in the day & I had a cry)
After that I kinda thought, maybe it was like exposure therapy….maybe I just needed to keep holding babies, and eventually I’d get comfortable again, and be able to play with babies again…maybe even I’d get to reclaim my joy again….Cos otherwise infertility has stolen yet another thing from me.
I used to be a bit of a kid magnet prior….they always seemed to like me….but I also seemed to lose this throughout IVF….recently a new friends 7yr old, who I’d thought was a bit cold to me, decided to draw me a picture & wanted to do my hair….so maybe this exposure therapy is working and I’m slowly being able to reclaim my place around other kids. I’m still struggling to work out how other peoples kids fit in my lives – part of me thinks maybe I become the aunty figure for all the kids in my life, and be the best aunty I know….maybe thats the way forward, just making the most of the kids that are around me….but then how do I balance that with the bittersweet pain I’m left with when these kids want their mums, or go home after a sleep over at Aunty’s, or after these kids have grown up and are too cool to spend time with their parents friend…..How do you reclaim joy without dishonouring the pain?
How do you cope with other peoples kids in your life?
Recently I was thinking that I’d started to feel (a little bit) better….better/ok is all relative though, so having been feeling pretty shitty for so long it doesn’t take much to feel like an improvement. How quickly our bars for ‘ok’ are reduced!
However, I also recognised that this was the time for some healing to occur, when there’s a tiny glimmer of emotional energy to process things. So we made an appointment with a grief counsellor, someone neither of us had seen so that we could have a clean slate to start healing as a couple, not just working through things individually – things had become a bit fragile with our relationship so strengthening our marriage is also important at this stage.
We had our first session yesterday. It was quite confronting, the therapist asked some hard questions – ones I at least struggled to answer. While logically I realise I need her to ask the tough questions so I can process and accept my feelings….emotionally it’s terrifying. Made me realise how much I’ve boxed my emotions up in order to feel less pain. Flip side is you feel less anything. But now her questions have started making gaps for feelings to escape. I’m not sure I really want to feel them even in order to find a way to start actually living again.
She also was surprised at the amount of treatment and loss we’d been through, and that I’m still wanting to keep going. While its obviously always been still there as a big possibility, I’d been ignoring the fact that it’s most likely we are still facing a childless life – grieving our baby boy was enough, I didn’t want to feel the feels of facing a childless life too. But now the therapist has started asking questions, that reality has been shoved in front of me again. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want that to be my future. The few thoughts I’ve had about it since yesterdays session has already started the feelings of panic and absolute terror welling up. Utter lack of control and powerlessness, overwhelming fear of the future. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to face these feelings full on, they seem to big for me to handle.
I learnt pretty young that life isn’t fair….but this, this losing a dream, is a whole other level of unfairness!