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.