Pinched

I have been, as you do, tooling about online, reading various blogs, and message boards, all about infertility and miscarriage. I think I’m hunting for people like me – not just people who have had similar experiences to me, but people who’ve dealt (and/or failed to deal) with their crap-shoot in the way I have. (There are, alas, far too many people who’ve had similar experiences to me).

I come away from these sessions feeling profoundly uncomfortable.

One huge thing that bothers me, and should bother every Right-Thinking Human, is just how many people get the ‘aren’t you over it yet?’ response from friends and family, sometimes mere weeks after they’ve lost the pregnancy. Weeks. Who in hell is over it in weeks? Functional, maybe, but ‘over it’? For the record, I had my first miscarriage almost exactly three years ago and I am not ‘over it’. I had my most recent miscarriage (chemical, pitiful) in February, and I am perfectly functional, thank you, and in fact most people don’t know I even was pregnant for, oh, 0.2 of a second. But I am not ‘over it’. I am angry and frustrated and sad and bitter and anxious about it instead. So there.

I’m not expecting to ever be ‘over it’. I am hoping that as time goes on, the memories will be bitter-sweet and more and more infrequent, causing a sad, wry little smile and a sigh rather than a strong desire to head-butt my way through a dry-stone wall, snarling, miserable sulking, carbohydrate overdoses and even, sometimes, weeping. But ‘over it’? A concept that could only come from the cluelessly unempathic.

[Digression: I’ve noticed this is not just an infertility/RPL thing. Oh no. For example, even people who’ve lost their spouse/life-partner find that after a heartlessly arbitrary length of time (six months, a year, two years), the General Public expect them to have ‘got over’ that, too. Oh, yeah, fucking right. You’ve lost the person you vowed to spend your entire life with. That’ll only take 12 months to spackle over. Bah. Listen, world, it takes the rest of your life. You don’t get over it. You learn to live with it. You learn to live despite it. You can have a great, fun, lovely, rest-of-your-life, but you will never, ever ‘get over it’ and be whoever the fuck you were before you lost your Other Half. That’s why we cutesily call them ‘other halves’. Conclusion, people suck. Or, if I’m being less foul-tempered about it all, most people aren’t that good at empathy.]

So, there’s that, to make me uncomfortable. We who have lost know it sucks. Those who haven’t are so often so freakin’ clueless. And considering how common miscarriage is (one in four pregnancies? Maybe many more, but women don’t always notice chemicals), this is not only sucktastic but bizarre. Not only bizarre, but used as another weapon to beat up the grieving. ‘Oh, it’s really common, you know. Why aren’t you over it yet?’.

Death is really common. 100% of us are going to die. Should we stop holding funerals, because, hey, it happens to everyone, so what’s the big deal? I bet you flinched at the thought. Quite. Common does not now and never bloody has equalled ‘easy’, or ‘painless’, or ‘worth ignoring and/or being a tosser about’.

Miscarriage is common. It hurts like hell and changes you forever. Just how much the hurt and how big the change of course depends on circumstance and how much love and support you get. But, like hell and forever.

And the other thing, and this is just me being my normal weirdlet self, that bothers me immensely, is that so many people tell friends and family. They expect (and deserve. And should get) love and support, and are (quite rightly) bitterly hurt when their F&Fs act like royal turds or are as supportive as wet string.

But they tell people.

After my first miscarriage, I stopped telling people when I got pregnant, and I only told them I’d miscarried if it made me too unwell to join in with plans or make trips. My mother is still at least one miscarriage short of the actual total. And she’s stopped telling my sisters, my aunts, what’s going on, so they are, ooh, four or five miscarriages adrift of the total. My Dad thinks I may just about have had two. My boss knows about four of them, because I took time off work for those, what with blood tests and hospitals and the wailing. My In-Laws, well, H manages their information situation, but I think they know about three or four of them.

Basically, we’re operating on a ‘need to know’ policy, which mostly runs ‘seriously, you don’t need to know’. We did it in self-defence, because our families (and some friends) were a bit sucky and unsupportive the first time, and completely sucky and unsupportive the second time, and have been massively sucky and unsupportive to the point of offensive arseholery since.

As time has trampled relentlessly on, I find myself wanting to tell people. I want, actually, to tell people that I am having an epic tantrum about it all, and will be locked in my bedroom until further notice. That it sucks, and I have had enough of dissembling my way through life so as not to cause social awkwardness. I would very much like to cause as awkward a scene as possible. Why don’t I let myself? Given that I know that my family (and some friends) will be embarrassed and unsupportive and will do their damndest to ignore/change/dismiss the subject as quickly as possible, what have I got to lose? I mean, hell, some family think I am ‘dwelling on it all’ too much as it is. I should show them what really dwelling on it looks like.

And then they can dismiss me as a flaming nut-job and I can dismiss them as heartless arseholes and we can all get on with our lives sans awkward.

I wish I’d flailed about more in public from the very beginning. The problem with wearing a stiff upper lip is that people assume it’s the natural shape of your face. I don’t know how to back down and flail now, in the face of everyone’s assumption that I am, actually, just fine thank you and no I don’t really want to talk about it. My God, the pressure such an assumption can put on you to comply with it.

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11 responses to “Pinched

  • Allison

    This is so brilliantly on-point that I don’t know where to begin. So, I’ll just say this: Kudos, and it really fucking sucks that this sort of post should ever come about – ever.

  • katyboo1

    And the irony is that you, with all your legitimate pain and anger and grief are behaving with so much more empathy towards those people who are hurting you because of their lack of empathy, and they can’t even see it. Gah. Let rip girl, you deserve it. There is no time limit on grief, and it’s not a bloody competition. It just hurts like hell and makes you sad and that’s that. Unfortunately.xx

  • arminta

    You hit the nail on the head, there is no getting over it. There is no going back. You develop a new normal, and you learn to live with the pain.

    People suck at dealing with other people’s grief. I went through the same kind of cycle, we told people about a couple then didn’t for 4 then started telling again. I felt the same way, I wanted people to be uncomfortable, I wanted to make them acknowledge my grief. They were the people who were supposed to care, after all. It all sucks cold donkey balls. I’m sorry you are going through it.

  • a

    Bring back the Victorian year of mourning, I say! Then people know! You can have a stiff upper lip, or flail about like a madwoman, and if you’re in your mourning colors, people will just understand. They can steer clear or comfort you, as they feel comfortable.

    I don’t tell people anything anyway, and I hated telling of a pregnancy and then having to untell. Not even because of anything anyone said – just because of the way I am (I’d rather have no response than insincere ones).

    There is no getting over it…

  • May ProblemUterus

    I agree with the above. Tell away, my dear, and let’s hope people surprise you. I wish I had been more open back at the beginning.

  • kylie

    I don’t know if it is lack of empathy but rather lack of understanding. Our societty has made death the taboo topic. We can discuss sex, drugs and whatever else, swear in public, and sext but we CANNOT talk about death.
    It’s funny, but we look back at Victorian prudery and mock, but they acknowledged that death exists, and created a process by which it was ok to mourn and where people had set roles with which to respond. I think we have lost that and it is a pity.

    I’ve only had the one miscarriage (and bugger all else) but I still remember. After the fun (not) part of telling my mum (on mother’s day) I figured that it was easier to tell than not. I may not feel the same after two or three- but on the whole people were sympathetic- although I haven’t tested the “aren’t you over it?” response much.

    I will say that until recently I had had little interaction with death and greiving- most of my extended family live in another country and have so all my life. Apart from one or two that I can remember as a child, there were no deaths in the family close to me and my immediate family is healthy. This means that until recently I had no understanding of greiving for someone close. I have never been to a funeral (weird but true). I don’t think my experience is entirely abnormal. This menas that despite the fact that death is quite common, there are people out there who genuinly haven’t had that experience. And it is hard to imagine.

  • manapan

    To hell with them all. It’s time for your well-deserved nervous breakdown. Maybe when they ask why and you hit them with the sum of it all they’ll be nice. And if not you can just plain hit them, being you’re in the middle of a nervous breakdown and all. (((hugs)))

  • katie

    I think most of the immediate family know about most of our miscarriages but that’s because the first pregnancy happened fairly quickly and failed at a point when we had already started to tell people (because we didn’t know about blighted ovum, or were naive, or something). It’s harder, I think, when you spend ages getting pregnant the first time (as with you, and several of our friends) – not being pregnant can mean you don’t want to have children, can mean you haven’t started trying yet, or can mean you have tried very hard but not succeeded – but those are all things you don’t make public.

    We found that once you’ve made a pregnancy or a miscarriage public, then people will at least assume you are still trying, and we did also find it easier to tell people about the later miscarriages (though mainly my mother and my employer, and good friends).

  • Womb For Improvement

    I think the reason many people assume you’ll get over it is because precisely because miscarriage is so common. As a result lots of folk know people who’ve had a miscarriage and then gone on, very quickly, to have a child. As a result the grieving process is subsumed by the excitement of a new pregnancy and therefore, the assumption is that the miscarriage was easy to get over. And maybe for some people it is, but I am sure countless others still mourn their lost child whilst getting on with the all consuming task of caring for their living one. To all appearances they’ve ‘moved on’. Thereby giving people from the outside the chance to assume it is something that is relatively easy to get over.

    But what I have found, when I tell people about IVF the best way is to tell them the reaction I expect from them as I do it. (I usually roll my eyes and say something like “it is quite difficult telling people ’cause I’ve had some bizarre comments – like people telling me that I should just go on holiday, which as YOU’LL appreciate after four years of trying clearly isn’t the problem …”)

  • kylie

    I will also say that the best response came from my (in)fertility doctor. Going through my history the miscarriage issue came up and pretty much said it doesn’t matter how many you have after, those ones are always mourned, and are still in your mind. Which now that I think about it was pretty sensitive- considering his otherwise odd sense of humor

  • Betty M

    You are so right. Arseholery is not confined to miscarriage. My sibling lost a spouse to a nasty drawn out cancer. Friends and good ones who did good things in the hideous times seem to a man think that 2 years is enough for getting over it. Not so. And same with m/c. Despite having the kids now I still mourn the ones who didn’t make it. Not very much now but still it changed me forever. I voted with a no tell and therefore no disappointment with others’ reaction approach with all of them. I am now much more candid but know I can only be so now I know I’m not going To go through any more. I probably would have done better to vent. Sodding stiff upper lips.

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