Tag Archives: babyloss

Aversion Therapy

aversion

I wrote this post once already, but the evil internet ate it up and it disappeared without a trace, so instead of the beautifully crafted original post, you’ll have to make do with what I can cobble back together from my memory.

A few weeks ago, my mother and brother came to visit us from that London, and on the Saturday they wanted to go to the cinema and the only thing that seemed remotely worth watching was Bridget Jones’ Baby, so we went to see that.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

Well this isn’t a review. In a nutshell, it’s a perfectly good and funny film (although I have to say it scandalised my mother! I forgot how rude and sweary Bridget Jones was!) But it is a stupidly inappropriate film for anybody who has recently had any kind of baby loss! I should have realised that, but I guess I felt ok – until the part in the film where Bridget goes for her (first) ultrasound scan, from which point, I was a complete wreck. I managed to contain my emotion outwardly until I got home and promptly locked myself in the bathroom and bawled my eyes out.

I told my little tale of woe to my Recurrent Miscarriage group, and lots of people said they wouldn’t even consider going to see it, one lady wanted to see but couldn’t face it and another watched it like I did and had a good cry afterwards, but she said she was glad she watched it anyway. I wish I hadn’t seen it.

On another note (but somehow related – I couldn’t tell you how my train of thought connected the two), I decided to take a proper break from facebook (it’s all baby photos and happy boasting announcements that make me want to vomit – maybe that’s the connection) and I noticed that an old friend, somebody I had known for years and with whom I had shared life’s traumas and troubles over and over – not just mine, but hers (she was evicted at the same time we were, she has a child with a chronic health condition that took ages to diagnose, as I do etc) had unfriended and blocked me, and not only on facebook but on Twitter as well (all my accounts!)

I was really ticked off because it seemed so petty. But apparently we had had what amounted to a fundamental disagreement.

I don’t actually remember exactly what she had posted but it was something along the lines that Trans people being allowed to choose the appropriate toilet for themselves was an outrage to public decency and a danger to all God-fearing girls.  As I recall, I tried to explain to her that being Trans was a little bit more complex than she probably realised. But she was so determined that she was right that she started making very unkind and wrongheaded personal judgments about one of my children (who happens to identify as Trans) and obviously that was not acceptable. I presume that she deleted me as soon as she realised I wasn’t prepared to let her do that.

Whatever.

Well. I’m prepared to say “good riddance” – that sort of ignorant attitude is not really what I want to surround myself (or my children) with.

But it hurts, to be judged, and to be summarily cut off in that way. And of course it worries me that these kind of attitudes are so prevalent, and I hope that my children can be safe and un-persecuted, whatever their personal choices that don’t hurt anybody else.

So just for the record I thought I would clarify some points about being Trans. I hope I’m not misrepresenting anybody, this is just my take on it all, as a parent.

  1. Being Trans – having gender dysphoria – is not a sin.
  2. Being Trans – identifying with a gender other than your birth gender – is not the same thing as being attracted to or having sexual relations with another person of the same birth gender. That can be the case, but it’s a separate issue. Still not a sin, even if you’re conservative enough to believe that all same-gender relations are inevitably sinful, with no exceptions.
  3. Being Trans does not automatically mean having a sex-change. (And frankly, having a sex-change is not necessarily a sin either!) ed.: I’m wondering what circumstances would make it a sin, actually?!
  4. Being Trans inevitably includes a range of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, fear and confusion. Please don’t add to it. Just be kind! Always.
  5. Being Trans is often seen in teenagers associated with Asperger’s Syndrome (in my own child’s case, gender just does not quite ‘compute’, and the whole idea of any kind of sex is disgusting). Not a sin.
  6. Trans people are not known for violence. The argument that allowing M to F Trans people use female toilets would lead to more rape or attacks on female children would seem to be deeply flawed on so many levels, and wholly without basis. The kind of people who desire to make those sorts of attacks are going to do it anyway, regardless of the law.
  7. Gender identity and sexuality are actually a little bit complex. Not the simple black and white, fixed boxes you might assume. It’s not just a matter of physical gender – it’s genetics, it’s hormones, it’s mental, it’s culture. It’s complicated. Take a step back before you jump in and condemn.
  8. And finally, who the (((bleep))) are you to judge? Get that plank out of your eye, people!

That is all.

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Open to Life

I had a dream last night that I was at a Christian large family conference somewhere (and as far as I know, there is no such thing). The room was filled with pregnant women, mothers with babes in arms and prams and pushchairs, and the speaker was talking about how the church needs to value children and families, and we should all be ‘open to life’.

Meanwhile, I was standing at the back, and although I was in the same room, it was as though there were a glass barrier between me and the rest of the room. I could hear the speaker, and the sound of the mothers and their babies, but I was screaming and crying and flailing my arms about trying to get somebody to pay me attention, but nobody could hear me.

screaming

Well I guess I may need therapy! lol!

Co-incidentally, I had a phone call out of the blue from the midwife. It was odd because I had left a message with the surgery months ago asking about a miscarriage / babyloss support group – there isn’t one here, and I miss the fellowship of the groups I used to go to.

The midwife confirmed that she’s not aware of anything near here, so she gave me some numbers and suggested that I might like to try and set something up. There is a need for support, and there is nothing on offer for at least an hour in any direction. (The same is true for most things of course, and is just one of the issues of living in a very rural & isolated place.)

My grief comes in waves – it is becoming a longer and longer time ago, but when the waves hit, it is just as raw as ever. I don’t think it ever goes away, and I am not looking for something to make it do that. But I do think that sharing burdens lightens them, makes them easier to carry, and I think that sometimes the best way to help yourself is to step up and help other people through the same thing.

Going back to the dream, churches are variable obviously and have different ideas and different emphases, but I have been involved with groups that place a lot of emphasis on children as a blessing, with the linked idea that a large family is a reward for being a good and faithful Christian (and the flip side of that being that loss or lack of children must therefore be the result of sin or failure as a Christian – I reject that notion, by the way, and I think that the large family advocates haven’t thought through this logical flip-side).

I think there can be also be an emphasis in any church on ‘happy families’ which can be excluding to people who struggle with singleness, infertility, miscarriage and babyloss, as well as to families who struggle with children with behavioural issues, which could include families of adopted children who have been through trauma. We definitely need to learn to be more sensitive and inclusive of people who hurt.

With Adoption Sunday coming up on 2nd November, hopefully churches will get a brief window into the fact that not all families are happy or healthy, and be introduced to the idea that as Christians, we should be open to life from a different source, and that the whole church community needs to get on board to pray for, support and bless the families of looked after and adopted children.

The congregation I am part of is around 90% retired, so I don’t expect there will be many offers to actually go in for adoption, but hopefully it will be my chance to tell my church community that, if we do go ahead and adopt, I will be relying on their support and prayers to carry us through.

Taking this from Home for Good‘s Adoption Sunday Pack and service outline, I’d like to leave you with the following questions:

  • Is God calling some of us here to step forward as foster carers or adopters?
  • Is God calling us, as his family – the church, to do more to support families that foster and adopt?
  • Is God calling us to use our voice, our influence, our prayers and our money to make sure every child that needs one has a home?

The adoption Sunday Pack, if you would like to make use of it in your church, can be downloaded as a pdf file here.

Expectations

Every now and then, a turn of events or set of circumstances, or even a few words will jump up unexpectedly and knock you sideways.

I’ve had a few of those – my Dad’s death after I thought I had convinced him to live, the moment I saw my house after our tenants had completely trashed it, and the moment I knew my twins were dead.

My other miscarriages were all around the 8-10 week mark, discovered at the 12 week scan to have passed away silently a few weeks before.

But I carried my twins to 14 weeks. At the 12 week scan it was clear that they had ‘just’ died. I had felt a lot of pain a few days prior to the scan, but had subsequently felt movement so I assumed everything was ok. (In later pregnancies, you feel the ‘quickening’ much earlier than first pregnancies.) I knew before the scan that it was twins because I felt so much movement.

But it wasn’t ok. My twins were suffering from Twin-to-Twin Transfusion syndrome – a not uncommon complication of identical twin pregnancies. Some survive with intervention, many do not.

I refused to have the D&C, (Dilation and Curettage) or the EPRC (Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception) that they so tastefully call it now, and which the sonographer tactlessly suggested I have right away, preferring to let nature take its course.

I needed more than an afternoon to process this reality – that the babies I had waited and prayed and longed for so much for seven years were not going to be mine.

I delivered my babies at home – two perfectly formed tiny little girls, Rachel and Leah.

Rachel was much larger than Leah, having been receiving more blood and nutrients in the twin-to-twin transfusion process. But they were both perfectly formed and still.

Fast forward two more years, and I am now over 40, and I conceive again, a surprise ‘last chance’ baby.

But I lost this ‘rainbow’ baby too.

Grief in our society is not really tolerated. It is swept away and hidden in the same way that death is quickly swept away and hidden. If you are grieving for more than a month, or three months at the outside, you can expect to be offered anti-depressants. The idea that you would be in ‘mourning’ for the traditional year or more is frankly unconscionable today.

But I am still grieving 3 and 4 years later, and that is normal and natural. I am grieving for the babies that I lost but I am also grieving for the lost future I thought I would have. Life may look bright, but it’s not the shade of brightness I had envisaged.

As much as I would still love to have another baby, the chances now are pretty much down to zero – unless God decides to intervene.

Can you imagine how it feels to end your family on recurrent loss? Do you think it matters if you have another child or two, or six or ten?

I still, after all this time, have to – for my own sanity and equilibrium – avoid pregnant women and babies (and especially twins) at all cost.

Babyloss mums, it should be noted, routinely ‘hide’ friends on facebook who announce pregnancies or post baby photos.

It is a necessity, because until some healing has taken place, it is a gaping, weeping wound that won’t heal over, and which is easily re-opened.

I knew that my friend’s wife was expecting a baby and was due around this time. I’ve known him for almost 30 years, and her for around 20. I decided I would be brave and have a look, only to find that she had ‘unfriended’ and ‘blocked’ me on facebook. I sent a message to my friend, and he announced their joy and I wished them well. I thought I was very brave, facing my fears, but now I dearly wish I hadn’t.

I then received messages from my friend telling me that his wife had blocked me because she was disgusted that I hadn’t ‘liked’ or commented on her facebook page during her pregnancy. It was apparently a ‘difficult pregnancy’ and she had to ‘dig deep’ to get through it.

How ‘deep’ do you think you need to ‘dig’ when your babies die?

She was apparently very disappointed in me and had “expected more” of me after being friends for so long.

Does it really need to be said that to expect a babyloss mum to support you through your pregnancy is wholly inappropriate and unreasonable?

Really?

I guess it does.

The conversations I’ve had with other babyloss mums tell me that I am not the only one who has received insensitive and thoughtless comments from unthinking friends who are unable to see past their own need.

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to ‘be there’ for my friend or his wife, but I was totally the wrong person to look to.

If you have a twisted ankle, you don’t go to somebody with a permanently broken back for help with walking. I know it’s not a perfect analogy, but it bears thinking about. Your twisted ankle will heal and you will walk again. I may never have that joy.

My 12 year old son heard me crying last night and asked why. I am so very grateful that I have surviving children. I am very blessed, I know that. But I have also lost five babies. As Rick Boyer said in his book on large families, ‘Yes, they’re all ours’,

“which of your children would you not mind losing?”

My young son’s reaction was so insightful, he said “it must feel like they’re teasing you.” I hadn’t thought about it that way, but yes it does a little bit. I know that there is probably no malice involved – it’s just insensitivity. From their perspective, her need for support is more important than my inability to give it. But from my perspective, they are flaunting their joy in the face of my grief.

The difficulties of a pregnancy that leads to a live birth are very, very different from the difficulties of a pregnancy that leads to a loss. They cannot be compared.

And you cannot expect sympathy for your pregnancy (or breastfeeding, or child-raising) difficulties from mothers who would give anything to experience those difficulties again for the chance of holding – and keeping – their baby.

I am sad to have lost my friend. I am sure he will make a good father. I wish them well. But even if there was no animosity towards me, I wouldn’t be able to be around them anymore. I truly wish it were possible, I would have loved to share their joy; but it isn’t possible. It’s just too raw and too painful, and sadly that is the reality for babyloss mums.

It’s cruel, it is an additional loss and grief on top of the original loss and grief.

Please try to understand that, and be grown up enough not to ‘block’ and punish them with insensitive words when they don’t live up to your expectations.