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!!