The ramblings of a freelance writer, novelist and avid reader.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Difficult Conversation

No excuses. I haven’t been in the mood or frame of mind to blog at all recently. Obviously I’m getting around that obstacle and moving into a place where I need to vent through writing.
And here’s the thing:  Everyone has something to say; but writers also need to be heard. It’s a compelling force of nature—the words remain inside my brain for only so long before they are propelled out through my finger tips (and sometimes tears) onto this blank canvas. So here are my words, my truths, my own self splashed across the page.

Hard Truths

There are things that no one talks about. At least not loudly—and I’m not sure why. Yes, absolutely personal.  And yes, possibly that’s why the talking stops. But still, so many people go through the same experiences and people aren’t saying a thing. So here it is: In the past four months I’ve had two miscarriages. I guess that means we’ve moved onto deciding to have kids; but then again, neither pregnancy was planned at all. I’m not sure we’re going to try again either.

And here’s the other thing:  At least half the women in the world have gone through it; so why aren’t we talking? It is a very lonely experience; and I don’t get that. Because there is a difference between lonely and personal, but I feel society has made it a taboo subject. That makes me angry.

I’m right there with you all; I’ve not talked about it a whole lot. And when I do talk about it, it tends to be with my male friends and family members. That, I really don’t get. This is a decidedly female only affliction, but I’ve had the hardest time getting my voice to sound when I’m talking to a female friend about it. What the hell is wrong with me? I’ve seriously contemplated how very ‘un-feminist’ I am. Where’s my sister solidarity? I mean we are the only gender of our species that can go through this, right?

Well, no. In fact my husband would disagree with that comment. We may be the only gender to feel the pain of our uterus shrinking back to normal size and hormone levels dropping suddenly and drastically. We may be the only ones to feel the indignity of the tiny little operating table, the arm and leg straps, and waking up to an emptiness that goes beyond anything we’ve ever felt. But we aren’t the only gender to go through the loss. And maybe it’s because I’ve always had more male friends than female ones, but for me, the men are much more willing to talk about it. And not just the, “I’ve been there” speech I’ve received from most women I talk to about miscarriage.

No, my male friends says things like,

“We went through that, and it was rough but then I realized the wonderful, great kids we do have wouldn’t be here if we’d stayed pregnant before.”

Or, “Keep trying, you’re going to be great parents because you’re great people.”

Or, “I’m so sorry. I don’t know why it keeps happening but you’re so strong and amazing.”

Yes, have I mentioned:  I have great friends.

I’m quite positive I wouldn’t—and won’t, in the future—be any better. If I have to say anything, I’m sure I’ll come up with the, “I’ve been there” speech too. Much like any loss, I get tongue-tied and awkward and only ever think: “THAT BLOWS!” Well, because it really, really does.

My Own Self

Possibly the greatest thing about being in the midst of my 30s is the fact that I know exactly who I am. I’m not angsty or searching to become someone; I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m not saying this makes miscarriage easy or reactions different; but I’m not still wondering what it would be like to have kids or not have kids. I’m also old enough to realize I won’t completely get it until I’m holding my own child. More like I’m OK if I don’t ever completely get it. Yes, my relationship with my husband will be different if we have kids then it would be if we don’t; but I’m fine with that knowledge too. Both relationships will be strong and caring and that’s all I’ve ever wanted from a life partner situation.

Who am I? Where does self discovery lead?

Mostly, I’m just me; a strong woman who cries a little more than she’d like to—one who has a passion for writing, life and friendship. I’m a person who is more willing to work a part-time job-hobby I’m not totally invested in so I have time to enjoy my life, write what I want to, and cherry pick freelance projects I’m interested in.

Although I don’t always sound like it—I am a feminist. Maybe just not in the strictest sense of the word; I want women to feel good about themselves. I want women to be empowered. If that’s Bratz dolls, make-up and Twilight, so be it. That’s not who I am; I’m more yoga, jewelry and Harry Potter. But if I’m thrilled a little boy wants to express himself by wearing a princess costume, then I’m thrilled when a little girl does the same thing.

Eleanor Roosevelt had it right, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

I write YA novels with female protagonists because I want every girl out there to know she is important, that she has self worth. In my world Jane Eyre, Anne Shirley, Buffy Summers and Hermione Granger are all worthy role models.

I do have more male friends than female ones. I do like a good cozy mystery where sometimes the guy gets the girl. I tend to like more male tennis players than female tennis players; I think their matches are more exciting to watch. I really enjoy Doctor Who. And for some reason all of these facts were making me re-think my ideas on feminism. Throw in my reactions to miscarriage and I’ve had to sit down and re-evaluate my character. I’ve discovered my own worst enemy is my inner-voice disagreeing with the simple facts laid before it. But, wow; that’s dumb.

Idiosyncrasies Abound. But Hey, That’s Just Me.

When you go through something like miscarriage, there’s always a shock factor. I don’t mean you’re shocked that bad things can happen to you; I mean you are shocked by your reaction to some part of the experience. Mind-blowing, soul-changing, unexplainable shock. I think we’ve established my strong support system of friends and family. So please prepare yourself for the shock I got when returning to the part-time job-hobby after miscarriage number 1. I spent two days at home dealing with it. I talked to friends and discussed everything with Chris, and although I was sad, it was mostly just a very surreal experience. I was barely pregnant. I took a test one day and then a few days later I started bleeding. It was quite clear what was going on—a conversation with my doctor confirmed my fears. It might hit harder for women who are actively trying to conceive; those who go through the ovulation kits and timed intercourse. In that case, a positive pregnancy test and then obviously not a pregnancy would send me over the edge. But we weren’t trying. And like I said, the experience was mostly surreal. In fact, if I didn’t take a test, I wouldn’t know I was pregnant at all—just a little late. I was in a good place when I returned to work.


In fact, I was a crazy basket case who almost ran out the door screaming. This was a strange place to be: at work in tears with crazy, roller-coaster hormones flat lining quickly and suddenly. No one at work knew, for obvious reasons. My options were very few. I ran into the operations manager’s office and slammed the door. The man was brilliant. I mean, honestly, my respect for the guy and his position soared. I’ve worked in operations; I get the babysitting and just the general go-to-ness of the job. But now I’m beginning to understand why they get paid so much.

My reaction at the part-time job-hobby was, by far, the most shocking part of this entire experience. I don’t think about the job-hobby much; it’s the place I go to get insurance, to pay my mortgage, to buy food and clothes so that I can have a career as a writer. It was the littlest of all the evils and yes, most writers have a part time job. Successful writers who publish still need them. And mine pays a decent salary and comes with a pension and 401K besides the health benefits. It’s why I’m still there. It’s also why I was SO very shocked. This place I go to in the morning 4 or 5 days a week—this place I don’t think on, with people I don’t think on—was the very place I got the support and comfort I needed on a meltdown day that was unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced.

And then I got home and realized, yet again, that my support system appears to be made up mostly of men…I’ve been living a four month long emotional, physical and logical roller-coaster ride.  

Easy Truths

I’m just about written out now. There’s probably a lot more to say, but I no longer need to say it. I am humbled by the entire experience. I’m humbled by my reactions, by my own journey through these rather dark days, and mostly by the support out there once we all do start talking about it. I thank every single person—from the ultrasound tech who burst into tears when there was clearly no heartbeat to my mom, who had 4 or 5 miscarriages of her own and told me how much I needed to share the experience with others. Mostly I’m humbled by all of you who did share your own stories—man, woman or child—“I’ve been there” turns out to be a comforting conversation starter.