How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love the Bomb, Part 1

I took a pregnancy test on the morning of May 14th, my husband’s birthday. I’d had a feeling about it and I thought it would be a nice surprise. Good morning, here’s your coffee, Happy Birthday, here’s a stick I peed on. It’s got a baby in it.

I got back into bed and we both kind of looked at it, our faces lopsided with a jumbly, inchoate collision of mixed emotions. It wasn’t as happy a surprise as I’d imagined. We were both instantly filled with dread. Hope and excitement and joy, but mostly dread. Because we were not born yesterday.

I told him then that this was the last one. I couldn’t do it it anymore. If this one didn’t take, I was done. I asked him to remind me of that if needed, noting that I was at that time sound of mind and body but after a miscarriage all bets are generally off. I start wanting to get pregnant again almost instantly. My body whines and whistles with emptiness, a great soughing wind of grief and void through a collapsing ruin. It is extremely difficult, if not functionally impossible, not to go directly to “maybe next time”. And I knew, in my sound-of-mind-and-body state, that I did not want there to be a next time.

The next weeks passed in relative calm. We are so good at this now. David went on tour and we both settled into the wait, the interminable linoleum muzak-flooded waiting room of the first 15 weeks. We had two good strong heartbeat ultrasounds, but I wasn’t going to get excited. I occupied a bland, vanilla-beige landscape in which I repeatedly assured people that I felt “very mindful” and “very grounded”. It was more or less true. I’d have to say it was probably less mindful than flatline, but it worked. When I expressed doubts or fears one of my closest friends urged me to “stay positive”, and I replied that I couldn’t do “positive” but I was doing an ok job staying out of “negative”. Positive wasn’t a safe place for me. There’s hope in positive, and in hope lies terror and helplessness and the manic negation of everything you believe you know about the way the world works, for you at least. Positive was treacherous territory. Neutral was perfect, and I was a master at neutral.

And when I saw the blood at 11 weeks, alone in the bathroom in an empty house at 11:30 at night, I threw my head back and scrunched my eyes shut groaning, “No no no no no no no…” and knew that it was over.

But I was not surprised.

In the middle-of-the-night ER waiting room I pulled my sweater down over my bare legs and curled up on the couch, the rocketing thrum of my heart playing counterpoint to the grim, weirdly calming certainty of the ache in my back, the increasing cramps. Soon, at least, there would be an answer, and whatever mad little cockeyed optimist bullshit voices that kept piping up in my head would be blasted quiet, and I could get on with things. Whatever that meant.

When they took me back I craned my neck to see the screen from my prone position on the table, every optical nerve straining to find the outline – yes, there it is – stretching and pushing my sight to find that flicker, that precious shimmering butterfly that would mean – please please oh please – this little life still held tight.

I looked and looked and looked till my eyes hurt, and then in a flash I realized: I didn’t have to look anymore. I didn’t have to try to find a flicker of hope on that unfeeling screen. No amount of straining or stretching or searching would matter now. I didn’t have to keep hoping or even staying neutral. I didn’t have to keep wrenching open a space for an impossible possibility. It was ok to let go.

I turned my head and surrendered to a bottomless relief.

Grief and relief, flowing in equal measures around the dead husk of my hope like a felled tree in a fast-running river.

As I drove home, sobbing on the phone to that same close friend who was the only one blessedly awake at 2am, the most pressing thing on my mind was avoiding The Bitterness. The rage, the resentment, the hatred of all Normal People who trot about being all fertile at you while you shrink into weird, twisted shapes, ragged and grating like bone on bone. The alienation, the irrefutable feeling that you are of a different, inferior species; a mule, a chimera. Oh god, it is the worst injury of all the injuries childlessness can deal out. It is acid, nuclear waste, seeping poisonous and inescapable through the veins and eating a swathe of desolation around you that acts like a moat, cutting you off from love and joy and progress and life. I had fought it for 5 years, sometimes winning battles but never the war. I didn’t want to go back there. I could not go back there.

I spent the next 4 days with my sister and her family. They are busy and full of doing, which was lovely to be around. So they rocketed around doing all they do and let me come in and out of involvement as I needed so that I was never alone but never overwhelmed. I grieved with my husband over Skype, my poor husband who was out there in Nowheresville without any of the resources that were gathering around me like an immune response. I tried to tell him about the relief that burrowed in the heart of the grief, how we could maybe start to actually move forward on some of the dreams we put on hold while we waited helplessly to see if an apathetic universe would do us a fucking solid and let us make a baby. Buy a house? Live abroad? Adopt? Go to Burning Man? Probably not that last one, because we are too old for drugs and we like toilets, but you get the picture. We could do anything. Anything. Anything would be better than nothing. And we could act now, do, now that the years of paralysis and waiting were over.

When I went in for the D&C the clinic let me bring my weird stumpy hobbit dog Frodo for comfort and support. It’s hard to be sad around him. He’s just so absurd. I briefly went agro on a protester outside the clinic who simperingly asked me if I needed any “help”, while standing next to a giant photo of a dead fetus. “NO I DO NOT NEED YOUR HELP I AM HERE BECAUSE MY BABY IS DEAD AND THESE PEOPLE RIGHT HERE ARE HELPING ME WITH THAT SO STOP TALKING TO ME OR I WILL SCREAM YOUR FACE OFF.” That was pretty much the gist of it anyway. Frodo was aggressively stumpy and funny-looking at her. A woman bringing her daughter in through the same door behind me muttered, “Well said!” as we were buzzed into the lobby.

I got home after recuperating in the bustling bosom of my family and the house looked exactly as it did the morning after the ER. The clothes I had worn to the hospital and numbly stripped off the tomb of my body lay where I had dropped them on the floor next to the bed. The room that would have been the baby’s still collected dust in the same state of limbo-imposed storage-locker disarray. The dishes I had been in the middle of washing when I went to go pee and saw the blood were still in the sink. Everything was frozen in time, a chilled and perfectly preserved despair.

I entered the house and was overrun with The Bitterness.

The story of how I survived, and maybe not won but definitely waged a successful diplomatic campaign to end, the war, can be read here.

Also, here is a picture of my absurd stumpy hobbit dog Frodo. My husband took the picture. It is awesome.

 

Frumps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

154 thoughts on “How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love the Bomb, Part 1

  1. I love your dog and how amazing to have her with you for your DNC. Mine is less stompy. But loyal and kind and deeply, soul touchingly comforting when I went through my past two doc’s.

    • Yeah, he’s kind of a superstar. He didn’t come in to the surgery room with me, cause ew. You really don’t want dog hair floating around in there. But he was waiting for me as soon as I could walk and stuck by me like glue. He works with me in my private practice – I work a lot with adult survivors of childhood trauma, and folks can get pretty overwhelmed when recounting traumatic memories. As it turns out, lab-coated type people have determined that petting an animal lowers blood pressure, which is a great way to arrest the autonomic stress response that blows up when a PTSD trigger happens. So he basically just lies on the couch looking funny and getting pet. He’s pretty talented at that.

  2. A. says:

    I read this while vehemently nodding – yes, oh, yep, just like that, mm-hmm – and occasionally laughing inappropriately because somehow you pulled off a few jokes on the subject?

  3. Kelci says:

    Ugh, lord. Maybe this is weird, (if I’m already thinking that, it’s definitely weird, right?) but I thought, before, maybe you could be my anonymous, internet-makes-it-true love, and now I’ve officially decided; I love you. Take that as you will.

    (Before you call the police, I have no idea where you are or what your real name is, so you’re still safe. I’m in Utah. Based on the fact that you used “fuck,” I’m going to safely assume we’re several states apart, anyways.)

    Ready to hear more about this peaceful point you’ve reached and just how you did it. I (and much of the world) could use the guidance. xx

    • Ha, that made my day. I was all, “Look, look, I think I have a fangirl!” I am so glad that you find value in the blog. Can you not say fuck at all in Utah? Not even, like, in soundproof bunkers?

  4. Julie says:

    Wow, that paragraph about The Bitterness is the single best description I have ever read to describe how it feels to go through this nightmare. Wow! I’m so sorry that you are going through this. I’m glad that you have come to some sense of peace recently. I’d love to know how that’s done.

  5. Katy says:

    You are a beautiful writer. My rat terrier was my comfort through my miscarriages. I wish I could have taken her into the hospital during my second one, but she was there for me after in the recuperation. I understand the limbo and that alien feeling with the normal fertile people. They mean well, but we don’t understand the exact same language. I’ve been thinking lately about how much I understand mortality differently now since I carried death within me. I think you might understand that. Thank you for writing. I will be following this blog, definitely.

    • I absolutely understand that. It’s kind of a mind-blower. Thank you for the opportunity to sit with that for a moment.

      Also, get your dog a vest. They’re available online. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that if you say you need a service or support animal you get to have it with you, and also that it is against the law for anyone to ask you why you need a service or support animal, so it’s pretty much a win win. If you want extra backup and you happen to be seeing a therapist, have them write a letter that you can carry around with you saying that you require a support animal to help with anxiety and depression, or any other mental health diagnoses you might be enjoying at the moment. I would humbly submit that recurrent pregnancy loss is its own world of mental illness, so you’re not even making it up.

  6. I am sorry you and your husband are going through this. Your dog cracks me up. Hang in there.

  7. I’m not sure how articulate or clever this comment will be, what with me bawling soundlessly as I’ve not in quite some time, remembering my own losses, my own D&C… but thank you for sharing. It hurts to know I’m not the only one…but it’s oddly good not to be alone.

    • You are not alone, and that is both beautiful and terrible. Thank you for reading. I got sucked into your incredible writing just now and I am honored that you were moved by mine. Really, you’re awesome. (Wow, talk about an articulate and clever comment. 😛 )

      • Such a kind reply, many thanks.  I’m at this moment trying to put words to our first loss and it doesn’t feel at all incredible.  Decidedly not awesome.  But October 15th being pregnancy loss awareness day, it seems the right thing to do.  Well, ‘right’ if I distill the world into that black and white binary system of the normal…  Aw well. Here’s to the complexity of life and trying (and failing) to make life – and to your fabulous writing, which I’ll be enjoying in the in-between.

  8. openminded45 says:

    My most heartfelt sorrow to you.It’s a hard thing when death comes to the unborn. Perhaps, its for a reason perhaps not. I can see it would tear any woman assunder, but i can’t trully understand that being a man. Yet, my deepest sympathies and i hope the scar of it heals as best as your spirit can muster, God speed.

    • I am so very stoked that you, being a man, took the time to read this. We need more men listening in these conversations, and more men speaking about their own experience too. My husband has had far less support and space to talk about this than I have, and I think that sucks. So thank you for reading, thank you for commenting, and if you know a dude who is going through this, give him a big hug and tell him you want to hear how he’s going. Much love!

  9. Beautiful. So very beautiful. Grace & Peace to you as you heal.

  10. I’m so sorry for your loss. For a parent of an unborn child, there is nothing worse than seeing all the dreams that you had envisioned for your child to shatter.

    Its horrible and no one should go through it.

    However, I did enjoy reading your post and managed a couple laughs early in the morning.

    Your writing style is impeccable and it is fun to read.

    Sending my love to you

    Best wishes,
    Nurfatma

    • Thanks for stopping by. Laughs early in the morning are hard to come by, so I’m very pleased to have provided some. 😉 Btw, I stopped by your blog and read your latest post – I can’t figure out Twitter to save my life. I assumed it was because I am old and ossified in the brain, but apparently young springy brains have a rough time with it also. Thanks for making me feel less crusty. 😛

      • Hahahhaa thanks for reading my blog. You’re welcome, btw. I’d rather use Snapchat than Twitter even though Snaps don’t last more than 24 hours. I really don’t like the 140 characters limit on Twitter. Glad my incompetence in handling Twitter made you feel better

  11. Mamabear Chronicles says:

    My deepest condolences, my dear. But I am happy in seeing you working to come to peace about it all. I am familiar with the effort of trying and my heart goes out to you. Love to you and yours! I so look forward to reading about your adventures. ❤

    • Thanks so much for stopping by. I read a few of your posts and have decided that everyone needs a Mamabear like you to be fierce for them. You need to start a Rent-a-Mamabear company for those of us who are lacking.

  12. hjc2015 says:

    This is a cool BLOG

  13. I feel you. Been there too. Very well said….

  14. carmoo says:

    It’s true that ” there’s hope in positive, and in hope lies terror & helplessness”.
    Btw..U r awesome! ^^ *hugs*

  15. forevertheodd1 says:

    I am sorry, I know the feeling of watching so many walk around with bellies or strollers. I was told last year that I would be unable to get pregnant and I cried. I feel like I’m less of a woman because I can’t do the one thing that women are great at. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Aw, mama. I’m sorry to hear that. I want to say that lots of people have been told they can’t and then they do, but I know from experience that sometimes people telling you to keep hoping feels as much like shit as sitting with hopelessness, because it totally invalidates your experience and makes you feel invisible and unheard. So fuck that. I absolutely hear you about feeling like less of a woman. It is the worst. The one thing that ever pulled me out of that feeling was when I was complaining about it on FB and a very amazing trans woman friend of mine commented that she really understood what that felt like, and I was so blown away by her patience with my cis-normative kavetching and the lovely way she joined me with compassion rather than telling me off, which must have been extremely tempting, that I kind of woke up to myself and found a little gratitude. Some days are better than others. My love and my heart are with you. Keep breathing.

  16. That dog is soooo cute!! I wish he was mine!

    • He is pretty rad. He works with me in my psychotherapy practice – I work a lot with trauma and he just hangs out next to folks looking stumpy and absorbing their pain. They kind of smoosh him and fuck with his ears when they’re feeling overwhelmed with recounting their trauma, and he just takes it. He’s like a living breathing worry bead. Bringing the weird stumpy medicine to the people since 2014.

  17. jenja says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  18. warpedintentions says:

    So happy I stumbled upon this : )

  19. fachrifaul says:

    Awesome blog..

  20. Though I would love to tell you how I feel your pain but that will be a lie. I am one of those ungrateful-to-God-for-being-able-to-create-life ladies, not that I know whether or not I can create life, but reading your blog actually made me feel embarrassed for being ungrateful. I hope you find enough strength to deal with this loss. I am a believer of “when one door closes….” philosophy and I am sure in near future you will realise this all happened for a reason. P.S. You have an adorable dog. I too have 6 dogs at my parents house and I absolutely adore all of them.

    • I do have an adorable dog, and for that I am grateful every day. 😉 Gratitude is never wasted. There’s a great tradition in both Buddhism and Christianity (and possibly other religions but I haven’t specifically encountered it in others) of using suffering as a vehicle to express gratitude for what we have. A very dear friend of mine who is a devout Christian (and appears to love me even though I am a godless heathen) is regularly saying things like, “Thank you Jesus for the pain in my joints which reminds me that I have hands to do your work” or similar. In Buddhism they talk about suffering as opportunity to observe and learn from pain in meditation. Up until recently I was definitely not in a place to be able to appreciate or be grateful for what we’ve been through, but I’m getting there. Closer every day. Thanks for stopping by!

  21. cuteness at its peak. 🙂

  22. I generally pass on reading long paragraphs and descriptions… But your story made the reader to keep flowing the way want them to.

    I am too young to understand what you have gone through but somehow, I am really able to figure out what exactly you felt. The feeling,vividly described for the very first time “relief and grief flowing in equal measures” is the exact meaning of “letting go”.

    Also, at the end, everything seems to have fallen correctly for us- right in place.

    I hope you have the most amazing life ahead.
    Much love😘

    • I knoooooowwwww….. I am way too wordy. I’m always irrationally grateful that anyone would want to get to the end of the post. So thank you for wading through. And I hope that you don’t have to understand infertility and pregnancy loss, but if you do, I am very happy to tell you that many many MANY more people are talking about it now that when we first started this mad ride. I didn’t know any women who’d miscarried – or I didn’t know that I knew any women who’d miscarried. It turned out when I started talking about it publicly that I knew a LOT of women who’d miscarried, they just never felt like they were allowed to talk about it. So I’m hopeful that younger women will have far more resources and support than we did.

      Beautiful images and poetry, btw.

      • Ya I hope so too…and seriously it is gonna be a bad month or a year…not a bad life…I know u know it too…
        And also..thank alot for going through my poetry…😊🙏

  23. naomi says:

    My deepest condolences.. I know it is very hard. I hope the best is coming soon for you. Never lose hope. It is nice to see you coming peace with how it was.
    This is my first time reading your blog. But I get the sense that you are a warrior.

    Your dog is so cute! I don’t have dogs; but always wanted one. Lucky you have him. He seems cheerful happy dog.

    This post is fascinatingly written.

  24. It’s very hard to know exactly what to say. All I can think is you’re an amazing person sharing such deep sadness. Life throws some really bad crap at the nicest people. Sending you huge hugs xxoo

    • Thanks, mama. I took a swing by your site and it looks like you have had some A-one champion-level crap thrown your way as well. You are using your grief and rage in the most sacred, loving way, and for that I give you most high respect. Keep truckin. So will I.

  25. You are such a great writer! Your story was so inspiring

  26. As someone who has been TTCing for years and years i think i get it. I often think not seeing the plus sign at all must be better than seeing it and then miscarrying. I think i would lose my mind. I’m blown away by your courage. *cyberhugs*
    Ps I have 2 wonderfully bonkers cats who help me through each TTC cycle. I talk to them and i swear they understand.

    • I don’t know which is better – we tend to do this weird comparison of suffering where we go “Ok, my pain is painful but HER pain is off the hook.” Or, alternatively, “Bitchplz. You don’t even know pain.” I have done both, sometimes in the same breath. Either way sort of cuts us off from one another and makes us even more isolated, and there is PLENTY of isolation in TTC as it is. We all lose our minds in this madness, in ways subtle and quiet and technicolor clamorous. I’m sending love to you in your struggle, mama. That’s what gets us through.

      That and furpeople.

    • Also, hey, I just checked out your blog and saw that you are in Ireland. That is my favorite place on earth. I spent time there as a teen and fell in love with everything. I finally made it back there last summer but had to leave early because I had a miscarriage. That was an adventure. But I would give anything to go back. Please gather up a big lungful of that special ambient aroma of turf fire, cows and green growing things that is the unique hallmark of that country for me.

  27. My mom had a stillbirth before me. She never told me, and I didn’t find out until a family member opened their big mouth when I was 12. I’m the replacement for a baby that didn’t make it. I even have her name. I almost didn’t make it either but here I am. It might not seem like a good idea but if the doc says you should keep trying, maybe you should. My mom did. It paid off for her – awful little loving terrorist that I am in her life. Best of luck! Keep your head up.

    • Wow, that is a lot to grow up with, my friend. Talk about pressure. I hope you’ve been able to talk that shit out. As for continuing to try, no doctor has ever told us not to and there are no obvious reasons for the miscarriages, but I’ve had 8 of them (that’s 5 missed miscarriages and 3 chemical pregnancies) and I’m pretty well done and dusted at this point. It’s a quality of life issue, really. But I’m glad your mom kept at it because here you are, in all your love-terrorism and perfection.

      • Yeah, it was. My biological father once told me he thinks she would have made a better daughter. Go figure…

        8 is a lot. I can’t imagine how that begins to feel over time. Anyone would feel discouraged. I hope it works out for you soon though, or that you find an alternative that makes you and hubby happy.

        Best of luck!

  28. Harbans says:

    Moving one. Thanks sharing. God bless you all. :)) Regards

  29. bloggeray says:

    Brilliantly written. The way you have described your feelings of hopelessness and despair and how difficult it is to feel normal and sane in such circumstances is just artful. And to be able to laugh off despair, in between, just superb. You are a rock.you will come through

    • Many thanks to you. I started this as a therapeutic exercise to stay sane through infertility treatments three years ago, and it has been a truly amazing experience to connect with so many people. Thanks for stopping by!

  30. Sandeeva says:

    Nice one! I laughed hard a few times lol. Cute dog too.

  31. fda4 says:

    Stay strong 🙂

  32. Queen D says:

    Beautiful, poignant post. Sending lots of love and strength to you.

  33. aweber29 says:

    My first Dnc was 4 years ago december. It changed my marriage. Things were hard. I grieved and was bitter. We almost gave up on each other. But things are looking up and when the time is right we will try again. Sorry for your loss.

    • Big love and strength going your way. This shit can rip a relationship to pieces, it’s true. Are you in a city where there are reproductive trauma-specific couples therapists? I might be able to help you find one. It’s sooooooooo important to reconnect and communicate after a loss. Best of luck to you both.

      • aweber29 says:

        Thank you. He’s undergoing counseling now because of ptsd from war and other things. I should get counseling but over time I’ve come to terms. We are planning to do marriage counseling also.

      • It is really helpful to have someone who has special experience with relationship issues around infertility and pregnancy loss. They are really unique and not everyone is sensitive to them. If you’re looking for a marriage counselor who specializes you can go to the Psychology Today Therapist Finder tool and put “infertility”, “pregnancy loss” or “miscarriage” in the search box. And even though you’ve come to terms, you still deserve someone to talk to about what you’ve experienced. For reals.

  34. infrasequence says:

    Hey dont lose hope ….My teacher concieved for the first time after 8 and a half years of marriage ,hang in there dont lose hope because surprises pop when youre not looking for .So divert your mind but keep trying.

  35. That’s something to read. And you brought tears in my eyes, that shows how good you are at writing. 🙂

  36. jessicamimi says:

    I am genuinely new in this blog world and reading works from people like you is such a great inspiration

  37. Thanks for sharing your story.. I can imagine how hard it has been to get pregnant and miscarry.. I know how hard it is to just, not get pregnant. Animals sure do help though right?! I wish you guys all the best

  38. jmpod says:

    Your decision to stop now is one of amazing courage. Truly – I’ve had a few close friends endure the hardship of this same story and I know from them: courage sucks sometimes. But all of us are with you. I sincerely hope you can feel the strength and warmth of our support when you feel unsure of the way forward into that brave new world.

  39. amykhiangte says:

    I like your post.. pointlessstyleblog.wordpress.com

  40. I so know how you feel. I had a miscarriage too and now after I got diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31 I got told that having a baby now shouldn’t be a question anymore so we were thinking about “anything”, too. You kind of know it’s not going to happen but you still hope and hope and hope. Wishing you all the best! I got a little rabbit by the way 😊🐰💞

  41. jjbrother says:

    Reblogged this on James Lalthudik Changsan and commented:
    Ddd

  42. jjbrother says:

    OMG

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  44. Manisha says:

    Beautifully written👏

    F.R.I.E.N.D.S | thepinkpages92
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  45. Thanks for sharing your story with us. People claim things happen for a reason, but I’m not always sure. Glad you have a good man and a good dog to help you through, I know how meaningful they can be.

    -Ophelia
    https://thoughtswithdildo.wordpress.com/

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