Tag Archives: miscarriage

Fractured

I would be a long way away from this episode if I was going to blog the episodes chronologically in order. But I feel as though this is an important part of who I am and what I’ve been going through, and how I got to where I am. So I will dispense with order and chronology and just go ahead and skip to the end.

My lovely new friend, Christian Janeway and I have had to clarify on twitter that we are not the same person, just two ex-fundies who had a similar idea.

It’s true.

But Christian Janeway went on to say that whereas she chose her Janeway character and blog to catalogue her exit from complementarian theology around marriage, and I had embraced mine and later decided to become egalitarian.

That’s not quite the case, and I’ll attempt to explain why. Firstly, the dichotomy between completarian and egalitarian marriage is not quite as polarised in the UK as it is in the US. Certainly, conservative churches would lean towards complementarianism where more liberal churches would lean towards egalitarianism, it is not such a big issue over here as it is over there.

My Chakotay is not a religious man, and as far as he would be concerned, we have an egalitarian marriage. I happen to have stayed at home and adopted a more traditional role but not because he asked me to or because he forced me to (far from it). It was more a case of falling into it when children came along, but also additionally – because I had put myself under such very conservative teaching again as a young wife and mother – I forced myself into this role. I actually gave up my degree to follow him in his job. He would never have asked it of me, but I unselfishly submitted! (And I’m sure he never knew anything about it, just assumed it was what I wanted).

Even the homeschooling, when it came along was not for any conservative or religious reasons – my eldest child seemed to have mental and emotional issues (which we thought at the outset might be ADHD and have turned out to be Asperger’s), which made learning at home seem to be the best option. But of course that was the route back into fundamentalism for me.

Fifteen-twenty years later, I can see that forcing myself into a role for which I did not have adequate emotional resources or any outside support has done damage both to me and possibly to my children on many levels, including mental and emotional and academic. But whether going to school would have helped is debatable – my eldest child’s worst trauma actually happened at school when he went in aged 16 to complete his exam year, and I know that a lot of his Aspie friends who did go to school are now in the same position as he is – out of work and isolated.

Looking at my facebook memories around this time, I see that 7 years ago I was planning to leave Chakotay for various reasons, which perhaps I will look at another day, but one of the biggest reasons was his Vulcan inability to communicate and show affection. All these years later, I realise that I probably chose him precisely because he was undemonstrative and not somebody who either felt intensely or would be threatening to me. He does have a temper actually which has exploded on occasion, but really he is very much the gentle man. I may talk about my ex another time, as that was quite a different relationship.

I mention the episode ‘Fractured’ because, not long after our difficulties, I got pregnant with twins (which I was overjoyed about), but later miscarried them at 14 weeks in October 2010, and straight afterwards I was verbally attacked by a couple I knew who had just had a baby. Needless to say, being kicked so cruelly when I was at my lowest ebb was traumatic and impactful to my self-confidence etc. Chakotay’s response was to move us hundreds of miles away out of the city to the most remote place he could find. (Our New Earth)

My response, odd though it may be, was to write but I did it by multiplying my accounts on Twitter and Facebook and WordPress. I ended up with 4 separate facebook accounts, 10 Twitter accounts and 15 sites on WordPress. Yep. Each account had a different name and a different theme. I felt as though it was indicative of my state of mind, as though I myself had fractured into a million pieces.

As some of you will know, I was assaulted by a group of young men in a pub last weekend. It was not a very serious assault, thankfully. Having spoken to the police, it transpires that there was no CCTV and so I shudder to think what could have happened.

But it does reinforce for me the idea that once you have a trauma – especially if it is a childhood trauma – it becomes compounded and almost invites new trauma. I have, over the years, attracted a string of abusive friends (and abusive churches), and I have often joked that I must have a target invisibly tattooed on my forehead that tells potentional abusers “Look, I’m vulnerable! Give me a good old kicking!”

I was actually privileged on Sunday to preach and lead my first service at my current church (which happens to be a Salvation Army). I preached on the goodness and faithfulness of God. I feel as though I have so, so much to say, but this was the topic that impressed itself on my heart.

Is it a coincidence that I was sexually assaulted the very next day? I don’t know. I don’t really know what to think about spiritual warfare, the devil, hell and spiritual things like that generally. The Pentecostal in me is yelling! Are you kidding?! Of course there’s no co-incidence! This was a spiritual attack, to remind me in no uncertain terms that I’m ‘just’ a woman, and probably shouldn’t be preaching. And that message is coming straight from the pit of hell!

The Anglican in me however, a rather more rational, composed creature, can see that it really is probably more a case of having that deep seated vulnerability and unconsciously communicating it (body language? hormones/ pheromones?) as I go through life. The abusers are probably no more consciously aware of it than I am. I just need to learn, somehow, how to protect myself and communicate confidence.

Is it healthy to continue in this fractured state or is there some way to re-integrate and become a whole person again? I don’t know. (I am probably going to delete at least 2 of the facebook accounts, if that helps!) Who do I want to be? Can I be homemaker and writer and preacher?

Chakotay has told me on many occasions that I have freedom, I just don’t take advantage of it. My prison is of my own making. Part of me, certainly, really wants to be a ‘homemaker’ – The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie still look like the ideal life to me. But I’m not very good at it, and actually I think that my trauma comes into play there too. I’m just a little bit dysfunctional.

I’m part of a group on Facebook called ‘Radical Homemakers‘ – a group of (mostly UK) women who have purposely chosen the domesticated life for various reasons, but who are also committed feminists, determined to smash the Patriarchy from home. I do wonder how I got to 40 without realising or understanding what Patriarchy is or how damaging it can be. But I suspect that it probably has something to do with the nature of the debate in the UK. Whether we realise it or not, the churches here are deeply influenced by American theology, but when it is communicated over here, it tends to be more subtle. We don’t even notice it.

What is the way forward? In the episode, they have to inject the bio-neural gel packs with a chroniton-infused serum to take every part of the ship back to the point of the original trauma.

In real life? I think that means going back and facing all those demons, bringing them out into the light to see what they’re made of, and finally defeating them. Obviously it’s a little bit more complex than that, but I think that is the gist of it. I suspect that, if childhood sexual abuse had been involved – which thankfully it wasn’t, it would be a different matter and I don’t know enough about that to know how that can be overcome. But for me, untangling my background of spiritual and church abuse and dysfunctional family is the only way I can be made whole. Will it make me a better homemaker? I don’t know.

I’d like to thank you now, for putting your doubts aside and helping me to put mine aside as well. Good luck to each of you.

LLAP

Kathryn

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Unravelled

​I found this poem in my facebook memories for today, and had to look it up to discover where it was from. I liked it so I thought I would share it. 

The book was probably the best one I had on pregnancy loss because it was offering art as therapy rather than just commiserating about the loss. As it turned out, the art form I chose was writing (and my first attempt at NaNoWriMo was an unexpectedly intensely personal piece of fiction that I haven’t been able to even go back and edit because it was so raw, but getting it out helped me I’m sure). 

I like this poem because, while it is heart-rending and painful, it is more beautiful than dark. I hope you enjoy it.

After three months
of silent stitching

what finger let slip

what growing row of cells

unravelled, loosing life and

leaving the lap empty?

– Olson Binder, 1993

Quoted in Grief Unseen, Healing Pregnancy Loss through the Arts by Laura Seftel

The Best Laid Plans…

I know it couldnt be further from husband’s mind, but after this most recent unexpected pregnancy and miscarriage I had hoped than once we were in our own home finally we would be able to start the adoption process again.

But two weeks before we were due to move house, my mother had an emotional crisis and was showing such severe signs of confusion and possible dementia that it was decided she would have to move in with us.

So there goes our ‘spare’ bedroom. Mum has actually been much better in the six weeks she’s been with us, so the plan is to make this a permanent arrangement.

Maybe it was just never meant to be. Every time our situation was starting to look promising, another hurdle would be thrown up in our way.

And now of course, I’m 45 so even if I could get on top of my health issues (I’m currently being investigated for Cushing’s and Diabetes Insipidus, all relating back to a head injury I had back in 1983) it would be too late for babies.

I keep thinking that I should just give up making plans and just let life wash over me and take it as it comes. Just shrug my shoulders and accept that whatever will be will be.

Years ago (actually straight after I lost my twins), a friend suggested I get myself a puppy. At the time I thought it was a really insensitive thing to say. But now, after 13 years of empty arms, secondary infertility and multiple recurrent miscarriages, I would settle for a teddy bear.

A New Chapter

Star date: 68812.441019787

We moved into a new home at the weekend, to fairer pastures hopefully. The house needs work, and there’s unexpected issues with the electricity but it’s a lovely big space and I’m really looking forward to getting settled here.
As you can see, we only have a small garden – nothing like the rolling expanse of New Earth in the Delta Quadrant (a girl can dream, can’t she?!) – so any ‘homesteading’ will have to be on a modest scale but I’m hoping to be able to get a little vegetable growing in there.

It’s a lot more rural than it looks – apart from the few houses around us, we’re about ten miles away from anything. So i still feel a little bit like a pioneer/ prairie girl which is kind of what I was looking for. An isolated farm would have been nicer but this is better than we could have hoped for in reality so I am more than happy.

And I’m really excited to have a kitchen that I can happily and comfortably cook in now – I can’t wait to get baking! I’m still waiting for my books which have been in storage all the time we were renting. But I’m a dab hand at improvising now – a little of this, a little of that!

Kes is out in the kitchen right now whipping up some scrambled eggs for the troops while I write my log, and the boys are tending the fire (a real, open log fire, so Chakotay is loving it!)

Finally, I may have mentioned the intermittent time-space portal which allows us to communicate with Earth on occasion? Last week we had a surprise visit from my mother who is now too elderly to look after herself, so it looks like that may be a permanent visit. 

We’ve put ‘Nanna’ in what would have been the baby’s room. It feels like the final twist of the knife, but I will just have to put on my Captain’s hat and suck it up. She is family, after all.

LLAP

Kathryn x

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.

Hope and Grief

I suppose I had better get this out of the way.

Without putting too fine a point on it, I am no longer pregnant.

It has been a week now and although grief has a nasty way of winding you when you least expect it, coming over you in unexpected waves as it does, I think I am starting to see light at the end of the long dark tunnel and I hope I can look forward to some better days soon.

We hadn’t planned this pregnancy at all – we had given up a long time ago (although I never stopped being broody and wishing for more babies) but I had more or less come to terms with the fact that, at 45, more babies weren’t very likely.

This was my 6th loss too, which seems far more than my ‘fair share’.

Anyway. I need to fold up all my hopes and dreams and plans of babies and young children and lay them back in the ‘hope chest’ and lock it away for now.

Plan B?

I’m not ready to think about that yet.

Shiva: Death, mourning and hope in Jewish Tradition

ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, דיין האמת
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam, dayan ha-emet.
“Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, the Just Judge.”
After 4 years of trying, hoping and praying since my last loss, and 13 years in total, and finally after giving up completely, I was unexpectedly blessed with pregnancy again.

Sadly this pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 10 weeks, my 6th loss in total.

There are no funerals for miscarriages, no burials. No family get-together, no ‘sitting Shiva’ together. It is a special kind of grief, more lonely and perhaps harder to navigate than any other type of grief, because in our culture pregnancy loss is still taboo, something we still can’t quite face or discuss openly, and thus the sufferer is largely without comfort or understanding.

The traditional period of mourning in Jewish Tradition is 7 days (thus ‘Shiva’, related to the word 7). But the reality is that grief doesn’t follow a neat progression and cannot possibly be restrained within a 7 day period.

The loss of a child isn’t ‘just’ the loss of a baby right at that moment, but the loss of all the hopes and dreams – the loss of that child’s whole life – years and decades and life events that we thought was ahead of them. And even if a mother is graced with another child, this kind of loss changes you, and you always carry that little bit of sadness with you. You never ‘get over’ loss of a child.

I thought I had completely given up and resigned myself to not having any more babies, to ending my family on a loss. Now though of course, I find old wounds re-opened and longings renewed.

But for now, I mourn. 

Mourner’s kaddish
Jewish perspective on miscarriage and stillbirth
Mourning a Jewish miscarriage 
Jewish Prayer after miscarriage or stillbirth

Red Herrings 

In May we started the process of buying a flat. It was beautiful and big, but it had no garden or parking, no garage or storage, and it would have necessitated moving towns amongst other things. It seemed like a good idea at the time – it was a nice town that we all liked and we already had friends there.

But then I discovered that I was very unexpectedly pregnant and the lack of garden and parking suddenly seemed more problematic. The final decision not to go ahead was influenced by the fact that middle son felt very strongly indeed about changing schools (as in”I’d rather die!”) and daughter didn’t even get the place we had been assured was hers for the taking at Sixth Form in the same school.

So we said goodbye to the lovely big flat, with no clear vision of where to go or any obvious options other than staying in the housing association house that’s so unsuitable.

But then… I’m not pregnant anymore.

 I rather wish we had a move to look forward to, as the future is looking pretty bleak right now.

This was my 6th loss through miscarriage and since I’m 45 now, there’s no guarantee at all that there will be any more pregnancies or even any more conception (this baby was 4 long years in the making).

And so I’m beyond sad. I’m absolutely broken and bereft. I can’t see any light, only tunnel.

And the worst thing about all this is that we weren’t really trying to conceive anymore. We had given up. And I was more or less, reluctantly resigned to the idea that there wouldn’t be any more babies. 

But now? I can suddenly vividly remember the feeling I had after I lost my twins all those years ago – the feeling that I could more than understand the desperation of bereaved mothers who go on to steal other mothers’ babies. It becomes an all-consuming obsession to somehow obtain that which you cannot have.

Despite my determination to think positively, look for the good and find treasure in the darkness this year, all I can see now is darkness.

Was there any point in all this? Life seems to have a cruel and sick sense of humour. It seems to have been nothing but a red herring. But I don’t know anymore what I’m meant to be focusing on instead.

Surprise Pregnancy 

Well this is truly a big surprise!

After my youngest son Kim was born 13 years ago, I had a run of miscarriages including twins at 14 weeks and since then, 5 years of secondary infertility. I had assumed that I was not far away from menopause.

I wasn’t expecting to be a mom again. I really thought it was too late, that it was outside the realm of possibility.

But here we are!

Chakotay has told me that I mustn’t get my hopes up, and although I’m thrilled (and slightly terrified!) I dare not get excited.

So what has happened to suddenly increase my fertility so late in life? Two things have changed – 1) I gave up dairy and eggs in addition to meat, so I’m now eating a plant-based, vegan diet. And 2) My doctor put me on Metformin to help me lose weight. I haven’t actually lost any weight sadly but it may have corrected my hormonal imbalance just enough.

I know it’s too early to start thinking about names – there may not be a baby after all, it’s just too soon to know if this will be a successful pregnancy. But favourites in the Chakotay household so far are: Jean-Luc or Luke for a boy and Annika (as in Hanson – Seven’s human name) for a girl. I’m not sure though I might have to veto that one!

Wish me luck?

Your Desire Shall Be for your Husband

I have been contemplating my relationship with my husband recently. It is pretty good now overall but we have had our fair share of ups and downs, and for years I resented him – not because we had had miscarriages, of course that wasn’t his fault, but because he had decided, despite knowing that I desperately wanted another baby, to wait so long (7 years) between our last baby and trying again, by which time it was too late.

I think that probably I was too ill by the time we started trying again, although I didn’t realise until much later that that might have been a factor. (I read a couple of years ago that women with chronic conditions such as ME, Fibro, MS, PCOS etc. tend to experience miscarriage three times as often as healthy women) .

I have mentioned before that I am not yet at a point of acceptance, of being able to get some closure and say now we have finished building our family. But I have been thinking more and more lately about trying to work out for myself what the shape of my life should look like now going forward if there’s not going to be any babies in the picture. I’ll be 45 this year, so the chances now are next to zero – especially after 4 years of no conception at all (and obviously not using anything to prevent conception!) It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, but highly unlikely. I know that.

I remember once, before we started trying again in 2010, my husband asking me, “Why am I not enough for you?” That is to say, why do you need a baby as well? At the time I thought it was a ridiculous thing to say, the two things weren’t in the same category. But I wonder now whether there is something in it. What is it that makes women like me want babies, and keep wanting babies even with a big family? Well, as I’m sure I have mentioned before, I was raised on the Waltons / Little House on the Prairie as well as having family friends with a big family which seemed really idyllic which fed into the same fantasy. Large family life just seemed much more homely and loving and fulfilling than our quiet, standard small nuclear family. When I had my own family I knew which style I wanted to emulate, and it wasn’t what I had grown up with. But additionally, maybe also a kind of tender intimacy, feeling needed, having somebody to love and adore? (Come to that, why do most women not continually desire that?)

My husband had two sisters, so not a specially large or small family really and I don’t think he was fussed either way. But I do remember once discussing with him that I wanted ten children, and he actually agreed. I suspect now that he thought I was joking. (We have produced 9 in total though – including all our losses – so one more and I would let him off the hook!)

Obviously I have also had thoughts about having a career and started taking steps towards that, but there have been obstacles and it hasn’t happened so far. I have been toying with the idea of working but I think I am basically unemployable. I would be so unreliable with ME – most days I wake up in so much pain I can’t get up, and who would want to employ somebody who might need more sick days than work days? So I have begun to wonder about what sort of things I could do from home. But I would still be at home.

I’m not really convinced that I am cut out for housewifery. I may have the excuse of homeschooling and having the kids around all day and having lots of extra educational materials and books hanging around, but I do not keep a very tight ship. If burglars ever broke in, they might be forgiven for thinking they were too late and we had already been burgled. I wish we didn’t live in a mess but we do.

Perhaps if I were well enough I could take a bit more pride in the state of the place, try a bit harder to keep things ship-shape. But I don’t think I would find that very fulfilling, and sitting at home reading books all day for the most part does nag me with a twinge of guilt at times. So being at home without babies, now that my kids are nearing the end of their education, is beginning to feel a bit odd. What will I do when the children are grown and start to fly away?

I did start some serious writing projects, but I haven’t given them the time or effort to see if they could amount to anything yet. Too busy letting myself get distracted with blogging, although I have given facebook and twitter the boot recently and I have pleasantly surprised myself to find that I really wasn’t addicted at all. (It’s nice to be able to discover new things about yourself at a time when you’re beginning to feel old and staid and boring!)

Going back to my relationship with husband though, I have been thinking more about the necessity of adjusting to this different way of life as empty-nesters (actually I think it will be a long way off for us as youngest is still only 12 and eldest who is 20 seems to have no plans to leave to go somewhere he might need to cook and wash his own clothes). I know it’s not uncommon for some couples to grow apart and end up separating when the children are gone, but that is not something I want to happen to us.

I keep thinking about the phrase in Genesis in the Bible where God tells Eve, “Your desire shall be for your husband“. The context is that it is part of the ‘curse’ after the Fall, and I know that many anti-feminists interpret it to mean that part of the curse is that women desire power over their husbands. (Just as an aside, I posted a question about Christian feminism on a Christian forum recently, asking for reading recommendations, and wasn’t at all surprised to be told that the whole concept of Christian feminism was power-seeking and unChristian. Good grief.) Anyway, what was I saying?

Yep, I don’t honestly know what it means, what the relevance or significance might be to modern Christian women. Perhaps none at all. But I can’t stop thinking about the phrase somehow. I remember when we were first together, before we had children, he told me that he didn’t want me to let myself become dependent on him, because I was perfectly capable to look after myself. But inevitably, as a non-earning housewife and mother of course I did become dependent on him and I still am. I’m not actually too worried about that, as I don’t think it reflects my worth or capability, and I know that things can change in an instant – the universe turns on a pin, after all. There was a time when I went out to work and he stayed at home. It’s not inconceivable that the roles could reverse again. I might get well. (Pigs might fly, hopefully the former is more likely than the latter.)

But I would really just like to be satisfied. Content. With him. With our life as it is, without wanting or needing any babies, or a bigger house, or more money, or some great career or some other monumental success in my life. Is that lame? Or is it a reasonable way for a middle aged woman to think? Yuck! I hate that phrase, ‘middle-aged’. I’m just ‘mature’, right?! (Hahaha, who am I kidding!)

So we are back to gratefulness again. I am grateful. I am thankful. I have lots of good things in my life, and I am totally grateful that I do have such a good, faithful, long-suffering husband. He thinks I am crazy, but he still loves me, and thankfully he seems perfectly happy to accommodate my wish to keep quite a bit of baby-making practice going. 😀