A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mama Told Me There Shouldn't Be Days Like This Anymore; or, When's It Too Much?

Last night, my mother and I had another one of our unproductive conversations about the miscarriage. They happen like clockwork, once a month, and it's always the same scenario-- her offering well-meant advice that completely invalidates the feelings I've experienced in the last 5 months, and me responding with (I admit) rather hysterical distress.

This one started off because I mentioned that I'm definitely NOT going to spend Mother's Day at my in-laws with the new nieces this year, and followed that up by saying that I really don't want to go out to brunch or do much of anything and I'd rather not spend time thinking about it.

My mom got her panties in a wad over that and told me I should be grateful to have a mother and should think about people other than myself. Which I could have expected. She's always offended when we don't make a huge deal out of Mother's Day, even as she tries to act like she's above it and doesn't care (and for the record, I have taken my mom out to brunch in the city the last three years, alone, because I was the only sister living close to home. Now two of my younger sisters live in the area). But I honestly don't think it's asking so much to be spared thinking about a holiday that makes me so sad!

The Mother's Day issue aside, we launched into a variation on the same conversation we've had multiple times in the past, except my mom was more explicit than ever about telling me she thinks I'm dealing with things the wrong way. She said I'm turning this into a "negative" experience instead of trying to see the "positive" sides of it; she told me I seem to have a "chip on my shoulder" about other people's pregnancies/babies and she doesn't like to see it; she said I never seem "cheerful" any more; I don't seem like myself; I should feel grateful for all the good things in my life; and she thinks I have something chemically wrong with my brain as a result of the miscarriage hormones and I should talk to my gynecologist about it, rather than my therapist. She also thinks I need to find a support group (in real life, the internet doesn't count because there are so many "weirdos" on it) of women who are dealing with this "productively" instead of ranting about their bad luck like "a bunch of NOW feminists who blame men for all their problems" (yeah, I don't know where that last bit came from, either).

She also brought a bunch of people she knows who had a miscarriage (her new friend from her bible group; our close family friend; my cousin) and claimed that none of them have the depressed, despairing attitude about their miscarriages that I have. My mom loves to bring up comparative examples, so she's done this already many times before. And my objections are always the same: a) all of those people have gone on to have other children (sometimes as many as three or four!) so their situations are rather different from mine; b) some of those miscarriages were 25 years ago; c) my mom has no idea how those people actually felt or handled this when it happened to them. All she knows are the stories they tell years after the fact.

She fundamentally doesn't understand what this is like. And I know she's worried about me, I know she loves me, and I know it hurts her to see me upset. But is this something else I have to feel bad about fucking up? I can't get pregnant, I can't stay pregnant, and now I apparently I can't even deal with no longer being pregnant the way I should.

The other really frustrating this is that I'm trying to do all the things she says I'm not! I'm trying to feel grateful. I'm trying to believe that good will come of this experience. I'm trying to be a more compassionate, kind person as a result of this. I'm trying to use this time to strengthen my marriage. I'm trying to redevote myself to my schoolwork. I'm trying to not be jealous or envious or angry.

I'm also really fucking sad a lot of the time.

We "made up" and it was fine. But this is just further confirmation of the fact that people in my life are tired of hearing about it. My friends (with few and rare exceptions) don't ask me how I'm doing any more. My mom and mother-in-law do, but it's because they're not-so-secretly hoping I'm going to say "Great! Life's never been better! I'm walkin' on sunshine, whoa-hoah!" (which I know by the way they are SO FREAKING DELIGHTED when I do anything that denotes "moving on").

Even I'm tired of being depressed. I never wanted to be Oh Woe Is Me Miscarriage Girl. That wasn't on my bucket list. But this isn't the SATs and I can't make myself get over grief by pulling a few all-nighters. What more can I actually do?

It's all confirmation of the brilliant post at Knocked Up, Knocked Down on "When to 'Get Over' Your Baby Loss." Yup, two months sounds about right.


  1. I am so, so, SO sorry to hear all of this. People who haven't been through it, in most cases I've experienced, can't relate at all. And I think that even those who have been through it and then are blessed with other children forget the pain, or at least push it to the back of their mind (like I've heard women do with the pain of child birth...they only remember the end result and the "good" things).

    The thing that gets me about people who say things about how we need to be happy and how we shouldn't have a chip on our shoulder---do they honestly think we WANT to feel that way? Do they think it's easier for us to have negative feelings towards the people we love and the joy they're experiencing? It absolutely isn't, it's just how it is. It's a coping mechanism, or a reaction, or jealousy...I don't really know, but it's not something that I can control, and I'm sure you're the same way. And then there's the guilt that comes after for having those feelings.

    And all of these issues sure as hell don't do my stress level any favors, which seems to perpetuate the BFN trend. I'm so sorry. I hope things get better. And just so you know? This internet "weirdo" is here to listen whenever you need me. :)

  2. i don't think anyone who hasn't experienced what you're going through, really understands. they may want to, or try to, but at the end of the day, they don't really get it. my dh says the same thing your mom does about getting 'help'. dh is up my a$$ about going to a therapist. i have nothing against therapy, i just don't think i need it. i handle my $hit by talking to my sisters and more recently, blogging is really helping me. dh thinks that me talking to a bunch of *crazies* on the internet (no offense to all of you, as he has lumped me in the same category) is not doing a lick of help, altho i must strongly disagree. he says i need to talk to *real* people about this. if YOU all aren't real, then i dunno who i AM supposed to talk to this stuff about. he only talks to his therapist, and in my opinion, talking to ppl who aren't in the same boat is what's 'not real'. i'd love dh to talk to his friends about all this, but i'm losing that battle.

    anyways, to get back on point. you're going about this YOUR way. there's no wrong way. the situation is $hit, and that's the bottom line. some ppl cope by going to church more. others go the way of denial ... you're dealing as best you can. *hang in there*.

    ps - my mom has been going to a lot of church retreats lately, and i have priests writing me notes that they are *praying for me and dh*. my mom is telling every church-going person who will listen, that we can't get pregnant, and to please pray for us. god help me, indeed. the world now knows my problems.

  3. Gah. I'm so sorry. People haven't been through it really don't understand what it's like. Mother's Day is incredibly hard and I'm sorry your Mom can't see that. i was definitely planning to hide out this year as I know I would been able to have stand everyone celebrating my SIL being the mother of her two babies while I sat there feeling empty, defeated and just sad. There is no reason for you to go through that pain.

    As sienna said, there's no right way of healing from a miscarriage and there's no amount of time that you are to "get over it." Just do what you're doing, keep coping, keep trying to make strides, seeing your therapist, etc. You're doing all that you can do and that's all anyone can ask of you.

    Thinking of you and hang in there, girl. Hugs.

  4. Oh Secret Sloper, this hurts my heart. Of course you want to be the happy-go-lucky person your Mom wants you to be. Of course you don't WANT to feel sad and depressed and hurting and resentful. (((hugs)))

    I agree with the other commenters that there is no "timeline" for recovery from m/c. There is no right or wrong way to feel or behave. You are doing the VERY BEST that you can and that's all you can ask of yourself. It's so maddening and hurtful when people who haven't suffered like we have tell you how you SHOULD be. It's not okay. But it will always happen, and you have to look out for YOU.

    And to that end: Please stick to your guns on Mother's Day. This process is hard enough without enduring a day filled with babies and a celebration of motherhood. My heart goes out to you.

  5. ARGH, I just wrote a super long comment and my computer crapped out. To summarize, there's nothing worse than feeling that funk, and to add in feeling badly because you feel bad, because people around you just want you to be happy. I've totally had that conversation with my mom, maybe someone should consider writing a book for moms of IFers. Because I know she only meant the best, because she loves me and just wants me to be happy, but her repeatedly dimissing my feelings of sadness and grief just made me feel even worse. Like I was being a baby or something, and should just get it over it. She finally saw me break down one time, and I think that is when she finally understood this wasn't a quick fix, and I wasn't going to get happy overnight.

    In any case I think you should just focus on you, do whatever you need to get there and in your own time. If you need to skip Mother's day, then do it. Only you know when you're ready, and try not to worry about others expectations of when you should get there. Thinking of you huh, hang in there!!

  6. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: THERE IS NO MAGIC FINISH LINE. Anybody who says otherwise is an unfeeling and thoughtless baboon's ass. (Have you seen those things?) Your mama don't get it, girl. Plain and simple.

    There are some cardinal rules in social work, one of which is "begin where the client is." That means, join with you in your feelings of loss, acknowledge them, honor them. That does not mean confine you to some unfounded social construct about what is an appropriate length or amount to grieve. You will determine when this is resolved and what that resolution looks like--only you. And you shouldn't be made to feel inferior or crazy in the meantime. I wish more people would "begin" where their loved on is.

    Honey, this SO AIN'T HORMONAL. To even minimize your feelings to something like brain chemicals (which sometimes is the case, but doesn't seem so in yours) is to believe that there is some kind of quick, simple fix to grief and loss. It's way more complex that that, and you are doing the hard work in therapy. You *are* advocating for your own wellness and peace everytime you go to counseling. You're not going for the hell of it; you're going because you have a goal in this: to not feel miserable or sad or isolated every GD day.

    You've got a powerful (intermittently crazy ;) sisterhood here abiding this with you. Hang in there. No matter what it feels like, you ARE moving forward...inch by inch. We see it.

  7. She's wrong. You are right. You are not crazy.

    Thankfully my Mom was understanding about my grief and mourning and how long I needed to do both and how strong they were. But other family members were not.

    Please don't give in or be guilted to do so.

    There are 360-some other days of the year you can go out to eat with Mom and send her flowers. Remind HER of that.

    Wuv you, honey.

  8. This weirdo, man-blaming NOW member thinks your mother is completely WRONG! Wow, were there any hurtful things she didn't manage to squeeze in there? I mean, I didn't really have any concept of how devastating it is to miscarry until I found myself in the midst of IF, but I would never have said such things to anyone. And mothers are supposed to be all unconditionally supportive, too! Anyway, I'm sorry she did a number on you like that.

  9. Oh honey, I am so sorry. Everytime I talk to my mom on the phone she says "I can tell you feel better, I just hear it in your voice." Really?? Cause I don't. I think they just so desperately want their kids to be happy and will say anything to try to make us happy. Your feelings/emotions are not something you need to feel bad about at all!!

  10. I agree with Maureen that mothers (or at least SOME of our mothers) have this desperate, irrational need for us to be happy. It reflects on them, in their minds, I guess. They are so desperate for us to be happy that they are willing to sacrifice understanding and caring and good old mother-daughter bonding in order to achieve it... Sigh. I know EXACTLY what you are talking about, and I wish that I didn't.

    Everything you say here totally reinforces my decision to NOT tell my mom about any of our reproductive problems. My 'happiness' is just too important to her...

    Is it possible for you to start just pretending that you are over it? It sucks, I know, but WE'RE here for you, and here you can deal with it here in your own damn time. OR, I guess you could see it through with your mom until she comes around to seeing it your way. Maybe you could talk to some of these old friends about their 25-years-ago miscarriages?

    It just absolutely SUCKS that your mom needs to think that you're somehow wrong to feel this way... when in fact you are SO RIGHT and so normal in your emotions!!!

  11. I'm sorry you guys are butting heads like this. You're absolutely right, your mom has no idea how those "examples" felt/dealt right after their miscarriages. And I do resent being (indirectly) called a weirdo.

  12. Gah, my mom and I had a lot of these conversations. She just never got it and loved to tell me how to deal with it. I just learned to talk to her about other things or just avoid talking to her when I couldn't.

  13. I am so sorry you had this hurtful conversation with your mom. Ouch. Having never gone through miscarriage, I can only begin to imagine the hurt that her comments caused you. I am sorry, but I agree with Egg and you definitely should stick to your guns about Mother's Day. It's hard enough to deal with infertility/loss on a day-to-day basis, not to mention the one day of the year that celebrates what we want most. (((hugs)))

  14. I am so sorry hon.

  15. I'm with Leslie here. I just manage to not tell anyone. My own mom had 2 miscarriages and I don't think she's over them. So, yeah 35 years later, she's got two wonderful daughters and she'd never say "get over it." I know moms mean well, but it's about you right now and that's okay. Your internet crazy friends (I AM CRAZY right NOW...dancing like I've got ants in my pants, looking for porn, and posting all sorts of rantical badical opinions with my other kooky pals) are here for you. I happen to think that you've collected quite a nice group of supportive and exceptionally smart women here, because you are one as well.

    Oh, and for the record, I have a real therapy group for RPL that I've gone to for 4 months. I find this whole blogging friend world way more productive and helpful. It's hard for civilians to understand what we've gone through. It does color your life in all kinds of ways and time really is the only thing that gives you some peace. You will know when you get there and no one can tell you to hurry up. In fact, I feel like that hurts more than it helps because you waste time feeling guilty about grieving instead of actually grieving.

    I wish I could say something better than "hang in there" more like "hold on to that raft, there's going to be a rescue shortly." Because, really, you are going to get much, much better.

  16. I hate that she can't understand the pain that you're in-- worse, I hate that you feel like she judges you for it.

    You have every right to feel the way you do-- the longing that you felt to be pregnant BEFORE you got pregnant, has to be intensely worse after a loss.

    You will be happy again & you will hold a baby in your arms, but in the meantime, it's ok to feel the way you do.

  17. Wow! I am so sorry. I know your mom was just trying to help. But you are totally right for being frustrated with the conversation. I am sorry that she wasn't very understanding.

    Going through a miscarriage is extremely hard. You lost your child and who's to say what the appropriate time of grief should be. You take the time that you need. We will never be over losing our child.

    And by the way, the "Weirdos" on the internet and been SO helpful for me. I am so thankful that I've been able to talk with people who understand and validate my thoughts and feelings. We're here for you too.

    Again, I'm so sorry for this. I really wish there was something I could do or say to take away the pain but I know there's not. ((hugs))

  18. I never wanted to tell my mom about my miscarriage because I knew she would make it all about her. But she was ranting about me not sorting through all my old stuff when I was home, which also happened to be while I was going through my miscarriage, and I finally broke down and told her why. And she immediately complained that I hadn't told her sooner, and even though I was completely breaking down, wanted me to acknowledge her grief at losing her grandchild--which I just really wasn't up to doing in that moment! Then she called me grandpa to tell him even though I had asked her not to tell anyone at all--I eventually shared this with most of my family but wanted to be able to chose who found out, and how and when.

    My point is, my mom doesn't get it either. And it sucks. And it's a constant struggle to deal with. And I'm sorry you aren't getting the support you need from your mom, either. Let me just say, you have every right to grieve, for as long as it takes. Honestly I don't think the loss of a child is something you ever truly get over. My miscarriage was two years ago and I still can't look at the ultrasound pictures without bursting into tears. It will always hurt, but eventually it will hurt less. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

    Also--Mother's Day made me miserable these past few years too. Such a painful reminder of what I didn't have, who I might never be. And then, our magical baby came to us last Mother's Day through the miracle of open adoption. And suddenly, it was a joyful occasion again. Avoid brunches and teatimes this year, but know that one day you'll enjoy celebrating it again. And it can all change in an instant.

    And, thank you so much for your kind quote on my blog!