Grief Bacon

Gentle Readers, my period appears to be turning up a day early (I say ‘appears’. It hasn’t appeared. I have had cramps for 24 hours, I feel sick, my bowel has done its trademark premenstrual panic-and-empty routine, I feel so very grim I’ve called in sick, and yet? Not even spotting. But anyway), so I am in a sort of heap in the living-room with the Olympics on in the background (there appear to be… horses? What happened to the swimming?).

I haven’t been posting very much recently out of a giant, swamping feeling of anxst. And I am very, very bored of telling you all about my anxst. The whole infertility/RPL/borked innards saga has been pretty much nothing but anxst for six years (seven, really, but six blogged), and as well as being bloody unpleasant to live through, it is so fucking boring now. And this is not one of those excellent-reading heart-warming IF/RPL/Borkage stories that canters through high drama diagnoses and treatments and losses and! Finally! The Take-Home Baby! in two or three years, giving everyone a lovely story-arc with weeping-happy-tears resolution, crucially, before everyone gets royally sick of the whole thing and wanders off to find a blog less wall-to-wall tedium and frustration.

*Musical interlude in which we play May a concerto on the world’s tiniest violin*

However, my trousers are getting tight and I daren’t weigh myself, because I have been dealing with the Unspeakable Anxst Du Jour by eating rather more than I think is wise. The Germans, who have a splendid way with a compound noun, call this kind of ensquidgerey Kummerspeck, or grief-bacon, the weight you put on because you are comfort-eating your way through a crisis. (This, and ‘shark week’ for the days taken over by menstruating, are my new favourite terms. Oh, the infinite ways in which the raw, sarcastic, redolent-of-pain-and-blood ‘shark week’ is preferable to the twee, coy, tea-cosiness of ‘Aunt Flo’).

For the sake of my favourite jeans and my dignity in attempting to sit down therein, I shall now vent anxst all over this blog-post. You have been warned.

Your mileage may vary, but for me personally, the best way to be told of a friend/relation’s pregnancy is emphatically not by ultrasound photo on FuckBucket. If the announcer is not particularly close to me and has no clue as to my woes, or, perhaps, not much of a clue and is a clueless clot from the clue-free shopping channel anyway, I’ll let it pass. I might even say ‘congratulations’ (note lack of exclamation mark).

If, however, said person knows me, loves and is loved by me, knows my woes, and still thinks I can learn this alongside every twerp dick and hairball she went to primary school with, well, I get a twitch in my eyelid, is what I get. No, I don’t want a phone-call, either, though I appreciate the personal touch there, and will tough it out. Email me. Or write me a letter. I don’t need eighteen paragraphs of ‘I’m so sorry, I know this is so hard for you, I feel so guilty,’ either, because I don’t like being Bitter McTwisted the Kill-Joy Queen. A simple ‘Dear May, I am pregnant! Just thought I’d let you know before I start babbling about it on FuckBucket. Baby is due on [whenever]. Thinking of you, Much love, Friend-With-A-Clue’. Then I can have my ‘happy for you, sad for me’ moment in dignified privacy before emailing back ‘WHEEEEEEE! CONGRATULATIONS! SO MANY HUGS!’.

The real knife-in-ribs twist is, this friend answered the long, loving, concerned-all-for-her-and-her-toddler letter (with re-cap of our own medical disasters as shortest paragraph in said letter, and done in a ‘just to let you know our news’ way and NOT a ‘where were you, you unsupportive bitch?’ way) I wrote to her to restart our friendship with a brief ‘that was a lovely letter and I was really moved. In touch soon’. And then ignore me for months. While I, you know, had surgery and shit. And then, 24 hours before the Grand FuckBucket Announcement, email me a link to a completely unrelated funny and add ‘we should catch up soon’ at the bottom of that. Oh, hell, no, we should not catch up. She gets three kids (yes, twins. Ultrasound of naturally conceived twins) in the same time I get, what, three? Four? miscarriages. She can’t face me. She offers no support or love or even so much as a ‘how did the surgery go’? I think, right now, we will ‘catch up’ approximately as and when I become the Chief Rabbi of the British Isles.

Meanwhile, because we can’t do naturally conceived twins in a Surprise! ‘oh, goodness, I don’t know how we’ll cope!’ way *hiss*, we have to decide whether we want to blow an entire fucking house-deposit’s worth on, not a baby, but the mere chance of being allowed to buy a metaphorical lottery ticket for a baby.

H is still deeply pissed off with his job, by the way, and therefore is rather distant and preoccupied and also rather given to comfort-eating, which is getting a bit mutual-enabling. As have my gluten-free baking experiments – oh dear, if cake is good, we’ll eat it. Who knew?

And then there’s Olympics. You can’t have missed them. The last time they were on was the summer just after my first miscarriage, and I was grieving and angry and wondering if I’d be able to get on with the trying-to-get-pregnant any time soon. As I said then, on the subject of waiting to TTC:

No, the main reason they don’t want you TTC-ing at once is, apparantly, a) so you can take a month to ‘finish grieving’ and therefore not have a full-blown nervous break-down during the first trimester, and b) so they can accurately date your pregnancy from the date of your last period. To which I say a) finish? I was supposed to finish this already? But I’ve got enough left here to keep me going until the London Olympics, and b) how amazingly thick does a doctor or midwife have to be to assume the date of the last menstrual period means jack for a good 20% of the women they are going to see? No, wait, flash-backs to the Early Pregnancy Unit From Hell, don’t answer that.

And here we are at the London Olympics and, oh, God, nobody tell poor May-in-2008 what happened next or she really will have a full-blown nervous break-down.

I don’t think I mentioned it on the blog ever, but I found it in my old-fashioned paper diary (I’ve kept a sporadic diary since I was 8) – When I was first pregnant I had a lovely little fantasy of sitting watching the Beijing Olympics and feeling my baby move for the first time, and being able to tell her in 2012 that we watched (well, were in the room for) the 2008 Olympics together and she did somersaults along with the Olympians. And then I lost her. And all her tiny embryonic siblings since. And it’s finally 2012 and the Olympics are on again and I’m still not pregnant and another dream has died and I keep weeping whenever an athlete wins or loses or just, you know, turns up and represents. We’re all here again and all those embryos aren’t.

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26 responses to “Grief Bacon

  • bionicbrooklynite

    Oh, darling May. I am so sorry. I am glad you have steadfast H by your side, but it is not right that you don’t have small Paikea snuggling between you, clapping for the divers and the horses and the bouncing boys.

    I wish, not for the first time, that I had a magic wand.

  • Mo

    I am so sorry you’re feeling like this. And sorry about the bfn. I related to every word you wrote here. And thank you for writing it in a way that made me lol. Xoxo

  • longdistanceinfertility@gmail.com

    I am so sorry. The Olympics have an awful way of reminding of the passage of time. And that is always tinged with regret.

  • Twangy

    Grief bacon is fantastically apt. And shark week – I adopt them both into my lexicon.

    Though I am sad that you have need of such complex nouns.

    Many hugs, May.

  • thalia

    love the german words but hurting for you for the bloody awful anniversary and JUST HOW LONG this has been going on. Sucks.

  • a

    Well, the only thing that doesn’t make me sad here is shark week. That is fabulous. I heartily approve (and I know how you were waiting for my approval)

    Friends who say “we have to catch up” simply mean “I’m too busy to actually be a friend to you, but I’d like to keep you on hand in case I need you,” don’t they? Or is that just my cynical interpretation?

    Measuring time in any way related to pregnancy loss is fraught. I hope by the winter olympics you have a resolution of some sort – to all these things.

  • Teuchter

    I’m so sad for you.
    If the Good Fairy give me three wishes anytime soon, the first one’ll be for you and H xx

  • korechronicles

    I am so using the grief-bacon…it’s brilliant. And what a shame I am no longer a candidate for shark week because I would have really taken on that one like a shot as well. So clever, those Germans, just don’t mention the war.

    You have both been dragged through the spiky briar patch in both directions several times a year for the whole four years since the last Vast Sporting Marathon…you make those weepy elite athletes look like try hards. The pain they feel both physical and emotional is about passion and challenge and their attempts to achieve measurable goals.Your pain is physical, emotional and psychological and even though your goal is a measurable one, the grief of losing those tiny embryos, made from the genetic combination of each of your long family ancestries and all the human potential invested in that one unique individual that is your child…well, a gold medal is an irrelevant bauble in comparison. And you are of tougher stuff.

    You can only continue to slash your way through the briars, we cannot imagine what you endure or change the outcome, no matter the wishing and hoping. But I’d like to think we can continue to virtually clean up the bleeding wounds, make you tea, pour you a gin (or offer up a tea with gin), listen to you whinge, pat your back, provide the kleenex and encourage you to take that one more step that might change everything.

    And at least you have not written any blog posts with made up Bob Dylan quotes.

  • Jenny F. Scientist, PhD

    GRIEF BACON! At least on me it always goes to the haunches, too.

    Persons not wishing to participate in the angst will always have the remedy of the little “X” in the top right corner. Works miracles, that one does.

    I don’t have anything else profound to say. The Olympics, for totally separate reasons, are very WTF for me… people do these things for FUN? What is WRONG with them?

  • Womb For Improvement

    Email is my preferred way of being told too. At least having kicked the (fuck) bucket to the curb I don’t get blindsided by other announcements but twitter has started to fill that gap. Yay (arse).

    Totally get what you mean about the narrative arc not arcing as they should feel like the pair of us are heading up into the stratosphere.

  • Jo.

    As one who is among the three or so of us for whom the arc is decidedly not behaving as it should, I feel for you. Being lapped once, twice, and thrice or more in our own Infertility Olympics is just as devastating as going home without a medal. Because, you know, it’s not for lack of TRYING. I so wish the Universe would get its head out of its ass and do the right thing for once. Big hugs to you and H, and pass the grief bacon. :-)

  • Dr Spouse

    I am familiar with grief bacon. Very familiar. (though currently have injured-back-and-can’t-work-out-how-to-be-healthy-except-by-running-see-injured-back bacon. And also slightly the-other-mums-are-breastfeeding-and-can eat-cake-bacon).

    I think I measure my hopes and dreams by work conferences which are either every two or every three years. They have a very long lead time so I’ve sometimes contemplated not applying “just in case”, but this year I missed one And I Do Not Care.

  • kylie

    Grief bacon- that is a phrase that there is use for.

    People can be idiots about this stuff. Even email sucks though- my baby sister emailed me the day I started bleeding after the last IVf. What you couldn’t pick any of the other days in 8 months?! or drop a hint? And since my money is all going to the baby making doctor, I can’t just leave the country next february.

    hugs and glasses of a non-allergen inducing alholoic substance

  • Denise

    Grief bacon… YESSS…. Even as a vegetarian, I can fully appreciate that. Ok, now I’ve decided that for me, it must be Grief facon (if you say it like ‘faking’ you’ll get it because it ‘s pretty lame on it’s own, like fake bacon? probably obvious)

  • Denise

    ps I forgot to add that even my own husband is tired of me being sad about my miscarriage in April. Pretty much after 2 weeks he told me to ‘stop talking about it.’ The best part was the surgery happened the day before my 37th birthday and the due date was our wedding anniversary! So I’m hoping that I’ll ‘forget all about it’ REALLY soon. (sarcasm)

    • Dr Spouse

      Oh Denise, I’m so sorry to hear about this, when you really need support.

    • May

      I am so sorry. The immense suckitude of the dates, on top of everything else. And I have no idea why some people can only cope with grief, their own and other people’s, by pretending frantically that it ISN’T HAPPENING, but it is so painfully unhelpful, and I am very much hoping that your husband gets a grip stat. If H had started telling me to ‘stop talking about it’ two weeks after my first miscarriage, I’d’ve thrown all his clothes into the street, I swear.

  • the misfit

    Found your blog on a link from Jo’s (I really should mine her blogroll as a source of blog reading that doesn’t infuriate me). On one of my (many, fruitless) strolls through blogland-by-way-of-google to find other bloggers who (a) had been ttc more than 24 months and (b) didn’t have any living children (in or ex utero), I ran into a brilliant blog post from someone I’d never read that had just the right combination of gritty reality and mature perspective. She wrote, “Infertility is the place where dreams go to die.” So I clicked to her most recent post and found out that since she wrote those words she had gotten pregnant and given birth to a child. Obviously I did not add her to my reader, but her poignant words have stuck with me; in all the hate-filled things I have said about IF, I have never captured it so absolutely or so well. And I am reminded of this when reading your post. I am so sorry for your losses, but I’m glad to have encountered you in blogland – one of an elite group of women who have endured more than the rest of our erstwhile cohort ever wanted to endure, or possibly could have endured. We’ve got a lot of ugly scars, but I think we’ve SURVIVED the shark attack where so many of the cheery mamas would just have been chum. For some reason, that thought makes me feel oddly cheerful.

    Hoping for happier days for you, very soon.

  • manapan

    I’ve been reading your blog since 2008. It was one of the first ones I found after my first miscarriage. It’s so incredibly unfair that you’re not on the other side of all this drama. Or at the very least, in the midst of the drama, but working on take-home baby number 2 or 3. I wish I could offer you something more than crappy hugs that aren’t even real.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    Late to the comment party, alas, but the great thing about that is that I get to read everyone else’s brillance. Robyn’s phraseology is lovely, as always: you have been dragged through the briar patch so very, very much indeed. And all *I* can think of is that dreadfully hackneyed quote of Churchill’s about being in hell.

    Oh, hell, no, indeed: you should not catch up with ex-friend. But I would very much like you to be Chief Rabbi – just for a day, and provided I can be a fly on the wall.

  • Kicked in the chest by a mule! | certainlydifferent

    [...] story.  And I am in the throws of ‘Shark week’ (a description i’ve stolen from  May’s post about Grief Bacon) so my emotions are all over the place, but I am now gasping for breath and fighting tears. Which [...]

  • Jodykat

    Thank you for ‘grief bacon’. I shall get into a sentence as soon as is womanly possible! Jody x

  • Lilian

    Shark week is such a great phrase. I will use it from now on. You should definitely be Chief Rabbi, but definitely not catch up with your ‘friend’. FB is rubbish for so many reasons…

    As always, my heart goes out to you and the other people I know who have to go through all these awful things that no one, least of all lovely people like yourself and H, should have to go through. Like bionicbrooklynite, I wish I had a magic wand (or something, anything) to make it all alright.

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