Let's Talk About It


There are some topics that are taboo, off limits for conversation, so I'm told.  You know, topics like religion, politics, or illness; topics that are likely to make people uncomfortable.  When my dad was dying of cancer, people would want to know how he was doing, but did not want to hear the truth: the D word.  They wanted to hear the triumphant and hope-filled "he's winning the fight; he's kicking cancer's ass".  

Friend: "How's your dad doing?"

Me: "Not well, I think he's going to die."

Friend: "Oh don't say that, he's a fighter and miracles happen. He's winning!"

I got the sense they were doing it for me, as if I were a delicate flower that would be destroyed under the weight of truth.  Or maybe they weren't ready to confront the uncomfortable truth themselves.  But I'm someone who copes with discomfort by rolling around in it and smearing it all over my face.  I need to talk about it.  I'm someone who loves nothing more than to get into a heated discussion about religion (just ask my Catholic mother) or politics, or to talk honestly about illness and death.  Not because I can change anyone's mind or reality, but because I find value in these sometimes painful exchanges.  Every time I broach a potentially forbidden topic with someone, there is potential for growth and healing, and I think it's worth it.

So, all that being said, I'm here to share a taboo-esque experience that Jay and I recently had.  Brace yourself, it may make you uncomfortable, but it's important for me to able to talk about this in an open and public way.  This is how I can "roll around in it".

Jay (my husband and best friend) and I have been married for over ten years.  We have wanted children from the start, but have been actively trying on and off for eight years.  Turns out we're not the kind of couple to get pregnant with ease (damn those years of birth control!).  We worked with a fertility specialist and after several rounds of tests, it was determined that there was no physiological reason for our inability to conceive.  Our diagnosis was "unspecified infertility", and our "treatment" option was for me to pop a magic pill that would help to regulate my cycle.  No thanks.

Well, it wasn't a firm "no thanks" on my behalf, it was a "let me change my diet, and approach regulating my cycle (if that's even the issue) from a natural perspective".  I wanted six months to prove to myself that I could change things (whatever the thing was) and conceive naturally.  It's ridiculous to some, but it was important to me.  So I changed my diet, lost some weight, and it didn't work.  I asked for one more month.  One more.

Then we got pregnant!  We got our positive result in November and proceeded to live in the most blissful and joyous pocket of our lives.  We were in total shock, and over the moon excited.  I mean, cannot-control-our-joy kind of excited.   We were having a baby, a BABY!!!  Do you know what it's like to want something so badly for so long, while everyone around you gets it as you are denied it month after month, year after year, and then finally get it??  It's like... I don't have the words.  It was our holiday miracle.  

We planned how to tell our families at Christmas (we made them ornaments that said things like "Grandma to be 2013!)", we hung an "Expectant Parents" ornament on our Christmas tree, we bought all of the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" books, we fully embraced our role as parents to be.  The truth is, our identities changed during those weeks, and we became who we had wanted to be for years: Parents to-be! 

But then, it all came to an abrupt and devastating end on the morning of 12/12/12, when I woke up to blood rather than pregnancy symptoms.  While everyone else was posting witty comments on Facebook about what they were doing at 12:12pm on 12/12/12, I was in the Emergency Room, losing our baby.  The ER doctor told me in a very matter-of-fact way that my uterus was empty and that there was "no evidence of a viable pregnancy".  I didn't know what to make of those words, didn't know where to file them.  No evidence?  Had I made this pregnancy up?  Faked the urine and blood tests?  Did my desperation and hope create that second line on the pregnancy test?    

No.  It was real.  But it was over.  How could it be over??

We were overwhelmed with shock and grief, even though we knew the chance of miscarriage was significant.  It felt (still feels) so cruel to have had our baby (finally!) dangled in front of us only to be grabbed away, like a warm embrace in a hot tub wrapped in a blanket followed by a slap in the face.  We didn't know who to be anymore, or how to be.  The kicker though, was that my sister-in-law gave birth 24 hours later, and our family rightfully so celebrated the birth of a new child while we were grieving the loss of ours.  Such heartbreaking and bittersweet irony.  It was salt in the wounds, and we didn't have anywhere to direct our anger and hurt.  We just hurt, bad.  But boy did we drink and eat our sorrows away.  Thank you tequila and chocolate chip cookies!  You're no baby, but you sure are the next best thing.  

As the days passed and we began to tell people, we were struck by how many other people had lost pregnancies and who had suffered similar losses.  Who knew?  I felt comforted by this knowledge, but also kinda pissed off because NO ONE TALKS ABOUT MISCARRIAGE!  It's taboo, apparently.  Pfft.  I know people don't talk about it because it's personal and private business, but I also know that couples would feel a lot less isolated in their grief if people talked about and normalized the loss of their pregnancies.  It is devastating.  It's not because of something you did wrong.  It is normal (my doctor told me that 50% of conceptions result in miscarriage).  It's okay to grieve for way longer than the outside world deems appropriate.  

What we lost was not just a cluster of cells.  It (she, that's what I felt) had a heartbeat and changed who were were, if even temporarily.  She represented our future, and now I have an empty womb.  But... I also have hope for what lies ahead in 2013.  Despite our loss, I ca't help but focus on the fact that we got pregnant.  That is huge, and something we hope to replicate in the coming days/weeks/months.  

So that's how our 2012 is ending.  We are mourning, healing, and hoping.  We also place our loss in the greater context of others' losses, particularly the families who lost children in the Sandy Hook tragedy and who lost homes and/or lives during hurricane Sandy.  All in all, 2012 has been difficult for many.  There have been high points, but there have also been significant low points.  This was mine, ours.  What's been yours?  Please, talk about your losses, your anger, your taboo topics in the comments.  Let's roll around it and smear it on our faces together.  Let's talk about it.  

Happy New Year, friends.  To hope.  Cheers.