Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Taking a page from Julia's book

Julia over at I Won't Fear Love wrote an amazing post celebrating her blogaversary in which she describes her attempts to participate in what she calls "The Reverse Pain Olympics".

The Pain Olympics is, allegedly, some sort of an odd game (and not a particularly fun one, from the sounds of things) in which participants compete to determine who has the most miserable, sorrow-riddled, horrible story. There appears to be some sort of point accumulation system, and the person with the largest number, and hence the most unimaginable amount of pain, wins.

Wins what, exactly, I don't know. Bragging rights, I suppose. Although one has to wonder what kind of person would want to win a competition in which the prize is the ability to brag about how pitiful and pitiable you are.

Not my cup of tea.

And not Julia's either. She has suffered. Oh how she has suffered, giving birth to a stillborn son whom she never saw breathe, blink or smile. But she is steadfastly refusing to fall victim to the pity game, and she always has. Instead, she opts to recognize that what happened was unfathomably horrific, and then make a concerted effort to see that, impossibly it would seem, things could have been worse.

She's not denying her pain or downplaying her grief and sorrow - or the loss of her son. She's just trying to cope with it by seeing the good too.

And I like this idea very, very much. I'm guilty of participating in my own quiet Pain Olympics. Not with other people and not for points, but I have caught myself wallowing in the death and destruction around me with just a little too much reckless abandon. Feeling desperately sorry for myself. Gnashing my teeth and crying "woe is me!"

Sometimes I really do think that's necessary and unavoidable. You have to allow yourself to feel your pain in order to process it properly and make it something you control instead of the other way around.

But there are days when I know I'm enjoying my pity party just a little too much. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. It's easy to become complacent and give in to the temptation to feel dreadfully sorry for yourself, especially when it feels like the world seems to take great delight in kicking you when you're down. But the thing is, I worry that it's not a far leap to becoming the kind of person who expects everyone else to do the same. All the time.

And I can't have that. I can't.

So, following Julia's lead, I'm going to try to focus on the good.

Like the fact that I was able to get pregnant at all, and that I had the joy of carrying my beautiful boy to term. That I felt him move and poke and wiggle inside me. That he was a healthy and perfectly cheeky little monkey. That I felt him live.

And there's the fact that I didn't die. That I survived the hemorrhaging during the C-section and the septicemia after that.

That I was able to announce four pregnancies to our family and friends and bring joy and hope to their lives, even though it was brief.

That for a little while I carried twins that I conceived while we were on a "break" from the clinic - twins we made without any help at all.

That I didn't die during the D&C when I hemorrhaged again. And that although I came very close, I didn't faint or throw up the delicious blueberry bagel My Beloved was finally able to bring to me 9 hours after the surgery when they determined I wouldn't need a repeat D&C.

Not fainting and not throwing up rock.

I am not yet completely insane.

I am not yet completely bereft of hope.

I am surrounded by love.

I am surrounded by support.

I am still here to finish whatever it was I came here to do.

And I am a mother.


Kristen said...

Oh Kristin - I'm finally coming out of the cyberspace closet and posting on your blog - I've been following your blog since I met you on the TTC board years (and what seems like a lifetime) ago. Back then I posted under 'carolina800' and I distinctly remembering you providing a very supportive post in response to the one I wrote titled 'wondering if I'll ever be a mommy.' You may not remember it, but I do - and your kind words touched my heart.

Funny how a 'stranger' from so long ago has remained in my memory moreso than many friends who have come and gone since that time.

Those were hard days - and you've had so many more hard ones that followed, many more than any one person should endure.

I've hesitated posting until now - because in some weird way I feel like a hypocrite because I've gone on to have children - with losses along the way as well. (You can read about it in my newly established blog - I think my profile links it here?)

But through it all, I want you to know that you inspire me - you've handled yourself with beauty and grace, and more often than not, your words have moved me.

I am especially moved by this recent post - because I find that I am one to wallow in self-pity - I tend to look at the sorrows and losses of the past several years - and not focus on the joys.

Thank you for reminding me to look at the love and joy around me - and feel the grief - but not let it overwhelm me.

- Kristen

Ruby said...

"And I am a mother." I love that.

Julia said...

Thank you for your kind words.

I do think some of the original posts on the Pain Olympics used the point scale as a tongue in cheek thing to remind everyone to chill out, that pain is pain. But there was undoubtedly the whole "look at me" mood in some parts of the internets at the time.

I hope it is ok to say that I hope that you will yet get to not only be a mother, which you very much are, but that you will also get to do all the things conventionally thought of as what mothers do.