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The Fourth Cut is the Deepest
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I mentioned in an earlier post that we had really struggled to come to terms with our fourth miscarriage.
I don’t know why.
Every loss is hard.
Obviously, none of them are easy to take.
But I think I had somehow managed to convince myself that time that everything would be fine, and it wasn’t going to happen again (it’s not as if I get to escape the shitty pregnancy symptoms and I usually see our babies’ heartbeats on the screen before they pass, so they are very real to me. It’s not like I can just pretend that they were never there. Every time you see a heartbeat it gives you just a sliver of hope that everything might be OK).
But I was wrong, and we experienced the devastating loss of a fourth miscarriage.
After the fourth loss, I started to notice different emotional responses and reactions within myself that I hadn’t noticed before.
I mean, I had heard other women say that they couldn’t stand to be around pregnant ladies or attend baby showers after 1 miscarriage. I had experienced 3, and still didn’t distance myself from those sorts of things and couldn’t really understand why ladies who experienced miscarriage couldn’t just be happy for those who have successful pregnancies.
But this time was different.
Maybe we all just have different tolerance levels to each other? Maybe we don’t all experience every stage of grief during each grieving process? (btw the theories of grief out there tend to change over time, but my understanding is that you can experience different stages including shock & denial, pain & guilt, anger & bargaining, depression, reflection, loneliness, and then some sort of semblance of feeling ‘better’ while developing your construction of your ‘new normal’ eventually leading to acceptance… although you can chop and change through these stages and you don’t necessarily move through them in a set order).
Anyway, this time around, I found it a lot harder than I had in the past to be around pregnant ladies and newborns (that’s not to say it wasn’t hard before, I just seemed to have found a lot more strength to face difficult situations in the past).
I think I had this theory that each time you experience grief, it gets a little easier to manage. Kind of like, you practice going through the emotions and eventually you’re like “I got this” and you know what to expect.
Which is why I think my experience this time really threw me.
I didn’t even know I was having trouble until it hit me out of nowhere.
I had been OK to talk about my miscarriages, so I thought I was doing alright.
I hadn’t even noticed that I had started changing up my habits – I got pretty good at avoiding people who were pregnant or had newborns. I even learned what times of day to avoid the shops, so I wouldn’t run into pregnant ladies or Mums.
I pretty much avoided them like the plague.
If I was in a situation where pregnant ladies or Mum’s or Dad’s with newborns were present, I would avoid eye contact and limit my conversations, making some sort of excuse to get away from the situation as soon as I could.
I was getting really good at it.
Until I was suddenly thrown into a situation where I just couldn’t handle it anymore, and there was no way I could get out of it.
I was at a function. A formal sit-down type scenario with assigned seats where I didn’t really know anyone.
It was just my luck that my assigned seat was smack bang opposite a lady who was in the later stages of pregnancy.
Of course, I had to make small talk, so in this scenario, there was no way in hell I was going to be able to:
a) Avoid looking at a pregnant lady all night
b) Avoid talking about pregnancy or newborns
c) Make an excuse to leave
I tried my best to talk about topics that had nothing to do with pregnancy or kids. When the topics were raised (as they naturally would be in this scenario) I was polite enough and then changed the subject as quickly as I could.
I took every opportunity I could to make excuses to leave my seat… with the obvious option being to go to the bar.
How do people deal with situations they aren’t comfortable with, but can’t possibly get out of??
Apparently, my go-to is to drink copious amounts of champagne in the hopes it will dull the pain.
And it did.
For a few hours at least.
Until I was super, super, super drunk… and couldn’t help but think how fucking unlucky I was to be the one person to sit across from the pregnant lady all night, which of course led me into a crazy spiral of thinking “why me?” and “this isn’t fair” and “why do all those people out there who don’t even want kids get to have them and I’m just over here dealing with this shit” (I’m not talking about that lady as she was lovely and I’m sure desperately wants and cares for her children, this is the ramblings of a drunk grieving person we’re talking about) until I found myself crying like a crazy drunk person in the ladies room at the end of the night.
I think I actually held it together pretty well, considering. The function was well and truly over by the time my craziness presented itself, I didn’t share any of my thoughts with said pregnant lady (or anyone else thank goodness!) so I consider myself lucky that no-one really had to witness my crazy breakdown (apart from my husband, and well… he already knows I’m crazy, so that’s cool).
But it still bothered me that I would react in such a way that I never have before.
I think I know what the problem was.
It took me a while to figure it out. At first, I thought it was being around pregnant ladies and newborns.
But then I realised that I can be around them if I need to be (seriously, I have friends and relatives who are pregnant and have newborns, and I manage being around them just fine).
The problem was the total lack of control I had over the situation.
In the past when I’ve been going somewhere that I know there will be pregnant ladies or newborns, I set myself up for it. I tell myself about how I’m happy for them and how my shitty situation has nothing to do with their happy one and I repeat that to myself over and over again until I’m ready to face the situation.
And I can deal with that.
This time, I wasn’t prepared, it just came out of nowhere, and I couldn’t escape it, nor could I prepare myself for it.
I couldn’t help but think that although I know things probably aren’t going to change any time soon, I wish there was some way to let people know you don’t want to be in a situation such as this.
Why can’t you say “Hey, I can’t sit opposite a pregnant lady, coz you know, my last 4 babies died” or when someone asks you if you have kids (which I was asked 3 times just this last freaking week by the way) that you can’t just say “I’ve actually had 4 miscarriages” and that not be a totally inappropriate response.
I’m not sharing this story to make anyone feel bad, I’m just hoping that other ladies who have experienced this know they aren’t the only ones who go bat-shit crazy from time to time and to (hopefully) one day make a change so that it would be totally acceptable to say “hey event organisers, I’m allergic to pregnancy, so make sure that’s not on my menu 😉”
As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
P.S. This didn’t happen recently, it was a while ago, it just took me a while to get up the courage to talk about it.
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2 Replies to “The Fourth Cut is the Deepest”
Dom, you most probably don’t remember me, I’m a friend of your mums /dads from when you where a baby. I’ve never had children because of blocked tubes. I had 1 miscarriage very early (25). It never gets easier to bear, but you do learn to deal with it. You must give your self permission to feel like you do it only natural and your allowed to freak out occasionally you need to or you don’t cope at all. 40 was the Magic age for me. I got to the point where I couldn’t think of anything worse than having a baby at that age. Mothers Days will always hurt though.
Thanks for getting in touch. I am sorry you have been through this too. Things certainly do get better with time but I am sure there will always be some days that are harder than others xxx