Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's dark in here

I was wandering through blogland last night catching up on blogs I haven't read in a long time (shame on me), and reading the news that I've missed while I've been quietly keeping to myself.

And, of course, there is pregnancy news - in a few blogs. Which somehow still always surprises me, as though I think since I'm still broken everyone else must be too.

But clearly this is not the case. In fact, in some cases these are second generation pregnancies - babies that have come after babies that came after a loss.

I'm so far behind. If I ran at the speed of light it feels like I'd still forever be so far behind, shackled to my infertility and dragging my busted uterus behind me.

Anyway, I stumbled across a blogger who is newly pregnant via a surrogate, and something interesting happened in my tiny little brain.

"That's okay then", I reasoned, "she's still broken too." It's fine for someone to be expecting a baby, apparently, as long as they aren't actually the one carrying it. Because that would make them whole and capable and fertile - all the things I'm not.

I'm not totally sure what this line of thinking says about me, but I'm pretty sure it's nothing good.

It all makes me wonder what it is about losing a child and dealing with infertility that makes it so hard to be happy for others who make it past the agonizing limbo of childlessness, or infertility after a loss.

I hate that I feel this way. I hate that time hasn't eased the feelings of sorrow and jealousy when someone else - even someone who has struggled - finds themselves pregnant.

It's so ugly. It's so unbearably ugly to think that I should feel anything other than complete joy and happiness for someone whose dream has come true when I know how bright and beautiful that dream is - and what devastation and havoc losing it wreaks.

And yet last night I found myself comforted that someone had to resort to surrogacy.

It's so unfathomably ugly that I'm even ashamed to write it (and, frankly, have no idea why I'm admitting it). But there it is. It seems that I have let go of none of the bitterness.

Maybe it's not surprising given the decrepit state of my own fertility, my advancing age, my reluctance to have "just one more" surgery to fix what allegedly ails me.

The trail of death and destruction in my wake.

Maybe it's normal to still feel this way. It probably is. But it doesn't change the fact that it makes me feel small and ugly and horrible.

Lest one be forced to surmise that there isn't one single ounce of goodness left in my battered soul, I should clarify that I do manage to feel joy for others. I do. But the bitterness is always following right on its heels. Not towards those who are pregnant, exactly, but more at the universe, at God, at fate - at whatever seems to be preventing me from finding my happy ending.

I just want my happy ending too

And seeing others get it reminds me of how much I want it. And how far I am from having it. And how close I once was. Four times.

I read about how healing it is to have a baby after a loss, and I rage against the universe for denying me that chance to heal. I read about how apparently you can't know the true depths of your sorrow until you hold another child of your own, and I rage against the universe for denying me the chance to complete my grieving process (although I also bristle at the suggestion that if I never have another child my sorrow is somehow less than someone who has gone on to have another baby - because I'm pretty sure that just ain't the case).

Today at Mass I watched an old lady gazing at someone's child the way old ladies do, with that serene, loving half-smile. And as I watched her, I realized that I will never be that old lady. I will never, ever be able to look at children with the simplicity of thought that many people do, a blissful smile playing on my lips. Other people's children will always remind me of my loss and my agony - of my own missing children. Even if one day I have another child.

But especially if I don't.

And I'm not at all happy that this bitterness seems to be planning to dog me for the rest of my life.


AnnaMarie said...

What honest writing.

I often feel similarly - and once a grief blog turns into an expecting a baby blog I start to skim instead of read every word. Then I feel upset that people (even the entire world!) are moving on without me. This is entirely selfish, but wouldn't it be nice if we could all be expecting together! But everyone is on their own life path and mine seems to be circling a memorial garden right now, around and around.

I think it is a very good sign that you feel joy for others along with bitterness. It is normal to feel what you are relaying and I encourage you to accept it as such and not pass any judgments on yourself for emotionally reacting in this way (easier said than done!).

I'm sorry I can't think of anything helpful to say. This is such a complicated and sad issue. Just know that you are in my thoughts.

Rosepetal said...


I don't know if it's possible to get rid of every last drop of bitterness. I think it's normal - an outlet which prevents you from exploding. But you are one of the most wholesome and beautiful (I mean inner-wise although outer-wise is true too!) I read in deadbabyland. A little bitterness doesn't take that away.

Even though I am now one of those to have been lucky enough to have had a living sub baby, I had feelings in the same vein when my SIL's brother and his wife had their first baby last week. I'm always a bit surprised, and a bit jealous and a bit bitter when the first pregnancy ends up producing a live baby.

I wish you would get this happy ending too. I wish it with all my heart.

Polka Dot said...

I have no idea how you did it, but you put into words exactly the things I'm afraid to say out loud.

niobe said...

I dunno. I think you would pretty much have to be superhuman to feel nothing but unadulterated joy for others who, even if they've suffered, seem to be on the verge of achieving something you so desparately want for yourself.

I know I still (still!) feel that kind of bitterness, especially when someone is expecting twins.

I've pretty much stopped expecting myself to get over it.

(and, if it's any comfort, it makes me feel so much better and less guilty about my own good fortune to hear that the surrogacy part of it might make it sting a little less for others)

Melissa said...

Ok, I think you are totally normal. I felt a small sense of satisfaction when I read Laila Ali's birth plan didn't go "as planned". I thought she was so arrogant to talk about her birth plan. Ever since losing my son I get so irritated to hear people's "birth plans". I just silently think about how much they do not know....

katherine said...

Thank you for writing this. You so clearly express your emotions. It helps those of us who want to understand what that hurt is like. It helps me know I'm not alone when I'm not completely happy for a friend who is pregnant--because I don't know if that will ever be me again. I want to be completely happy, but I'm not. That's the honest, ugly truth.

ladywithasong said...

I think it is perfectly natural to be relieved to know you aren't 'the only one'. I mean, isn't that what blogland is kind of about?

You know I have my own struggles and believe me, there is no joy in knowing another person is suffering as I am, but there is comfort, there is relief, there is not feeling like 'the only one'.

Big hugs, my dear friend.

B said...

Apparantly, there is this story in Aristotle or somewhere else ancient about a town.

It was a beautiful town, and the townspeople lived happily within it. There was one problem though, at night, while everyone was asleep, someone or something was going through the town causing destruction.

No-one could figure out who or what this was. They would just wake up each morning with another piece of their beautiful town in rubble on the ground.

The leaders set about looking for an answer to this mystery to no avail. Eventually however, a man came to the town and said that he could rid them of this problem, but he would have to drain the lake. At the muddy depths of the lake, they found a giant, who, rose from the lake each night and destroyed.

Once faced however, he was able to be put to good use in rebuilding.

Excuse the bad retelling, I know I have lost both poetic and metaphorical significance in this shoddy job. It is meant as a metaphor for aggression.

But when I heard it, I knew that I had seen the giantess at the bottom of my lake. She has a lot of red hair and green green eyes.

And I have yet to put Her to some useful force, and I resent this horrendous experience which, on top of everything else, has drained my lake and forced me to stare at The Ugly in the muddy depths....

You won't always be like this. And however you stare at a baby when you are 80, it won't be with the same eyes that you do it now.

Julia said...

I can't pretend to know what it's like for you. I don't even know if you want to hear from me these days given that I got the live baby, and so recently. But I just wanted to say that I am with the others-- it would be surprising if you didn't have these feelings. To fight so hard and for so long, and then to watch those who joined the club so much later just pass you by... that has to hurt, horribly. And I am sorry for that, and sorrier still that my own good fortune would add to your pain.

I guess I can also fess up, and hope that it would help. I was at a kid birthday party yesterday to which Monkey was invited. And I have to say that I was annoyed by the number of babies there, a whole bunch of them 1st pregnancy babies. I felt this weird pressure to pretend that I belong (which, of course, means that I do not feel like I belong). I still didn't want to look at anyone else's baby, to say how cute they are or whatever. I didn't want to discuss sleep schedules or eating habits or anything else.