The dust settled after our second consecutive loss and I found myself facing feelings I didn’t know, or maybe didn’t want to recognize, were there. So I cried, a lot, feeling those feelings and ate some feelings too (sidenote: I might never be able to eat Fruity Pebbles without thinking of pregnancy loss again – a worthy, sugary sacrifice), and then picked up my phone.
I called my doctor’s office and asked to schedule an appointment with my former therapist. “Are you a current patient?” the receptionist questioned of me. I hesitated because I stopped seeing the psychologist years ago, not because I avoided her but because I simply grew out of the need for appointments at the time. But I fought depression in the past and I know the warning signs of the beast. See also: I’ve been through a lot in the last eight months. I answered a confident, “Sure,” as I recited my birth date and last name, like I still belonged there. About 30 seconds of silence later the voice came back with, “Well I guess you are an existing patient because you’ve been here before, but your last appointment was in 2008.” Here I am thinking how easy it would be to hang up the phone and they want to argue semantics with me? I pushed the truth a little and said I was allowed to come back whenever. Because honestly what therapist would deny a patient wanting to return for treatment?! And almost too perfectly and afternoon appointment in the near future, her “first available,” became my first return appointment.
I wanted to hug my therapist when I first saw her again and tell her how good it was to see her, except it was far from good which landed me back in her basement office. Still, she welcomed me in and after a two minute catch up (I’m Jewish! I’m married! I’m still teaching and oh yeah, I lost two back-to-back pregnancies and had two surgical procedures to remove the non-developing embryos my body refused to give up) we launched into my feelings.
But it felt so good to be heard, to receive validation, and to confront so many emotions with an unbiased third party support source. I am confronting, fighting, welcoming, and processing:
Entitlement - I have a huge need to be pregnant after two losses, a desire I can’t explain fully. Try having something so wonderful and then having it disappear on top of having to work for it all over again. It just plain sucks. And so to justify my losses I come up with feelings of righteousness. I eat right (mostly, save those Fruity Pebbles and holiday goodies), have a healthy body-mass-index, and sure I could actually do more yoga, but I am by no means “unhealthy.” There is no part of my body that can’t support a pregnancy. I should be pregnant, or have a baby or two by now. Also I teach! I understand children for a living. Doesn’t that make me a prime candidate for motherhood? This feeling of entitlement is two fold: positive in that it can help me feel better about “one day” – but at the same time it eats away at me. What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I make this happen? When will it be my turn? We are working on cutting myself some slack.
Control – Because I work hard and often feel success, the lack of control in this particular situation strikes me down. I am doing everything I can, and that is all I can do. The rest I leave up to timing, and above all G-d.
Grief – Loss is hard, at any state. Everyone processes it differently. For me, this sadness tends to color the rest of my world. I allow the grief into all aspects of my life and while it has a place, it can’t take over. As the Sesame Street song goes, “It’s alright to cry, crying gets the sad out of you.” It is okay to be sad, frustrated, mad, and overwhelmed. But I need to be easy on myself and allow myself to find happiness.
Resentment – Oh my, if you are pregnant and in my life right now I need to apologize for my distance. I just can’t, with your luck and your health and your belly. Jealousy ties into this one, and I acknowledge that. Please know I do feel happiness for any pregnant woman, especially my friends, it just reminds me wholeheartedly of my sadness. I nod to that grief and I remind myself that we all have our struggles, as you may as well. But if you complain to me about your condition I will keep my distance further, because I do need to protect myself. And I have certified word that is okay to do. However most pregnant ladies in my life are understanding and I deeply appreciate that gesture. Please know I’m trying to appreciate you and what you have, as well.
Moving forward, to cope and to feel empowered we made a mantra, or affirmation, for myself. You may see it scrawled out on a Post-It note in my world or hear me muttering it to myself, regularly. It’s important for me to remember these words and to believe them: I have a plan. I am taking action.
Because we will have our family, just on a different timeline and with our own personal struggles.
And all these feelings are simply feelings, allowed to come and go. But more importantly, they are feelings I can overcome.