There's a new tiny member of our family. It wasn't something we were planning on. It was more of a spontaneous falling in love and subsequent adoption. A friend of a friend was looking for good homes for a litter of kittens and we went "just to look" (famous last words). Fast forward to finding myself the caretaker of the teeniest ball of fur who follows me like glue around the house and wants to snuggle endlessly. We didn't purposely do the kitten adoption thing to fill any kind of depressing hole in our collective heart, although I'd be lying if I said that nurturing a little-bitty creature doesn't feel good after the year we've had. We actually didn't really make the connection between our reproductively challenged adventures and this until we were driving home with her swaddled in a blanket. At that moment Chris and I burst into laughter because it became hilariously impossible to avoid the "coming home from the hospital" comparison. It is pretty funny to hear myself and Chris engage in conversations over the last couple days that could just as easily apply to a tiny person as to a tiny kitten. I'm seeing parenting styles emerge and actually finding the whole thing to be really fascinating and heartwarming. I didn't put this level of thought into it before we brought her home, but now that she's here I'm learning a lot (and not just that its next to impossible to empty a dishwasher when a kitten is obsessed with laying on top of your feet at all times). There isn't much more to say about the matter, but to let you know that my journey forward, to my surprise, includes a kitten named Munchie.
Today is going to be a short post because there are times in this process (and in life in general) where you don't know what to say. I've been honest about pretty much every other aspect of the journey and I want to be honest about this too. There are times when finding a fresh perspective just isn't easy.
In this two week stretch leading up to my surgery and would-be due date I'm feeling adrift (which is a nice way to say I've been a total mess of a zombie on the inside). I partially want to be coddled and partially want to be left alone. I partially want to talk because that's usually what makes me feel better, but I also don't want to (slash don't know how to) talk about it. The hermit lifestyle is seeming oddly appealing. This week is filled with pre-operative appointments. That means a lot of sitting in waiting rooms with medical record forms that require me to fill out : Number of pregnancies : 1. Number of live births: 0 (yeah, ok, I get it, thank you for hitting that point home, Universe). Yesterday I stared down at that very line and couldn't tell if I wanted to laugh or cry or just use the paper to throw away my gum. I honestly couldn't tell if I was bored by it or still freshly tormented by it.
I think we're allowed to have these moments. There are still so many in betweens and unknowns and things that can't be controlled that having it all sorted internally seems like a whole lot to ask. I was going to skip writing altogether this week, but I decided against that because I do want to say this : if you are out there not knowing how to put your finger on how you're feeling (no matter what happens to be going on in your life), I get that. I am working on giving myself a break. I am working on telling myself that there is no time limit on figuring it all out. I'm working on remembering that being lost is a crucial part of being found. I hope you can do that too.
Over the weekend I was lucky enough to have a little escape with a dear girlfriend in her hometown by the sea. While there, I got to meet some of her family who were also in town. They were lovely and we had a great time getting to know each other. I felt instantly comfortable with them. As we chatted they asked how long I'd been married and about my job. Someone asked, "So are you guys planning on kids soon?" Dun dun dunnnnn. There was The Question. A question that has become unbelievably loaded for me this year. I've gone through phases with it. I'm in a relationship with it. It's my dearest hope and greatest enemy. It's nothing and everything.
There was a time that question made me want to burst into tears. There was a time it made me extremely anxious. There was a time it made me angry. Now it does none of those things, but it still makes me squirm slightly only because I struggle with the right way to answer at this point in my journey. How do I answer honestly, while not making the asker uncomfortable? How do share without over-sharing? How do I keep the conversation casual, without glazing over and disrespecting the deep hurt I'm still lugging around? So I said : "Yes, we definitely want to, but we've had a bit of a bumpy road in that area". I figured, that gives enough that they could inquire more if they wanted to, but if they were uncomfortable we could just leave it at that. One of the moms present offered a tip she used when she was having trouble conceiving. I could tell the miscarriage drift hadn't quite been caught and that was totally fine. Then there were some questions about how long we'd been trying and it started to feel weirdly disingenuous not to clarify. I figure, it is part of my mission to be open about this stuff anyway, so I shared (in as breezy a tone as possible where this topic is concerned) that the problem hadn't been getting pregnant as much as staying pregnant. This time it was met with understanding and was responded to in as kind a way as I could have possibly hoped for. As has been shown to me over and over during this experience, warm openness is 99.9% of the time met with warm openness in return no matter how potentially uncomfortable the subject matter. Despite any slight awkwardness, I am so completely grateful for every person that shows interest in an open dialogue about something that is so easily and often brushed under the rug.
This experience got me thinking about The Question. It got me thinking about how we talk about this stuff and the self-imposed timelines and restrictions we put on it.
One of the first follow up questions that is often asked when I share about my miscarriage is : "Oh, was this recent?" When I say it was six months ago I wonder what that means to the asker. What does it mean to me? Does that mean I should be over it by now? Is the time to talk about it drawing to a close? Do I get some sort of extension because I still have so many unresolved reproductive medical issues? Of course anyone would say, there is no "right answer" to how long to mourn or how long to talk about it, but sometimes there is a certain undeniable internal pressure to "be okay" and to make it feel okay for others too. I guess the best we can hope to do is answer The Question in a manner that is consistent with where we are in our journey and not to judge that place. Maybe the answer is as simple as the truth. I can't control if I make someone else a little uncomfortable with the truth of what is going on with me and if I shy away from the topic I miss an opportunity to normalize the larger conversation about miscarriage. I think if we find ways to share from an honest and comfortable place, then others will pick up on that energy and everybody will benefit. I mean, I'm not saying you shouldn't also read a room before launching into a charming miscarriage anecdote (thats not a thing), but if the asker seems interested, then there is no reason to be embarrassed to share the reality of the situation. Answering the questions that get thrown our way after miscarriage without that pesky added layer of shame seems like an important step in the quest Ever Forward. It sends the message to others, and more importantly to ourselves, that life can move forward and feel normal despite experiencing something traumatic.
What ways have you found to answer potentially tricky questions about miscarriage, infertility, or otherwise?
Leave your suggestions in the comment section if you have ideas--i'm sure they'd benefit everyone who reads!!
Be a part of The Ever Forward Movement!
lover of life. celebrator of everything. drama therapist. wife. friend. picking up the pieces. finding creative ways to put them back together.
© Rebecca Elkin-Young and theEverForward.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rebecca Elkin-Young and TheEverForward.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.