Tag Archive | miscarriage

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.

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.

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.

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. 😀

 

Disturbing Dreams

Warning for possibly inappropriate content, depending on your sensibilities…

I had two dreams last night, both of which included disturbing content, but on reflection I think I will share them anyway.

In the first dream, I was visiting with a family that I knew in childhood. There were three boys, all much older than me, I’m guessing the oldest was at least 15 years older than me. But I was on the verge of teenage and ‘fancied’ them all. «Blush»!

The dad was a bit of a tyrant, did a lot of shouting and thought he was right about everything, and he was telling us the very strict itinerary for our days out on this holiday, and then he sent us all to bed, and everybody had to be immediately silent.

The next day, we boarded a coach, and I sat at the back with the eldest of the boys… and secretly had sex on the seat at the back of the bus while his dad sat at the front and thought everything was under control.

«Blush»

In the second dream, I found that my period had started, and I was stranded without a pad or even panties, but bizarrely I had a towel, so stuffed that between my legs and started walking to find somewhere to stay.

I came across a commune where I was invited to come in and stay, but I had to sign some paperwork which I signed without reading.

Inside, I was looking for a room, knocking on doors, climbing flights of stairs, walking down corridors, but I couldn’t find anywhere.

And then there was a crash, and apparently some dangerous people had broken in – nobody knew whether they had guns or what – and somebody opened a hatch and invited me to hide there with them…. I still hadn’t sorted out my problem, but we had sex anyway.

«Blush»

So… A couple of things here. I’m much more attracted to my childhood friend than I realised? No! (Hope he’s not reading as I think it would be easy to identify himself! Lol!)

Firstly, the period thing – as a miscarriage/ babyloss survivor who still wants babies, every monthly period feels like another loss, and given my age and my state of health, it’s really very unlikely I would have any more babies. I can give mental assent to that, but emotionally I haven’t accepted it at all and to be honest I don’t know how to ‘move on’.

Secondly, the sex. Well, you know, I like sex as much as the next girl. But sometimes I feel a little bit obsessed and insatiable, and I suspect that it’s not just having a big sex-drive, but rather that it’s a symptom of neurological disorder which makes me wonder if hypersexuality commonly occurs with ME (or MS even?). I know that it can be a feature of Bi-polar disorder, which I have previously mentioned (as I said, I don’t think I have anything like full-blown Bi-polar, but it’s in the family and I suspect I have Bi-polar tendencies). But it can also occur as a result of brain trauma or injurt, or as a result of degenerative neurological disease.

How do you know if your sex-drive is ‘normal’? Apparently the American psychiatric establishment won’t classify hypersexuality as a disorder because that would be prejudiced against people who enjoy sexuality outside the norm. But surely if it becomes problematic, that’s enough to say it is disordered.

What about hypo-sexuality? At what point does low sex drive become an issue? (Perhaps if you’re married to somebody with hypersexuality?)

And, as a society, can we still not talk about this without getting silly, or attracting loonies? Really hoping that I don’t get spam comments now, but anyway. There it is.

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.