By Heather O.
I got pregnant for the second time when my son was just 15 months old. My second child was due around my son’s second birthday. And when I say “around”, I mean the same week, possibly even the same day. It made me kind of dizzy to think of having two birthdays in one week, and if they actually shared the same day, what would I do then? Between trips to the toilet to puke my guts out all day, I thought about the birthday conundrum quite a bit.
I don’t talk or blog much about my miscarriages anymore, only because, well, put simply, it doesn’t hurt as much as it did. My last miscarriage was almost 8 years ago–Dec 4, 2004 (I won’t go into how I know the exact date. Just know that it involved a choir concert and gratitude that blood washes out of a black polyester choir dress). My family doesn’t look like I thought it would, but I’ve come to terms with that (mostly). I feel really blessed to have the children I do, and I’m no longer living in the tunnel of pain that I occupied for the years 2004-2006, where everything hurt. My peace is hard won for sure, but also time does have a way of dampening things, softening the memory of the sharper edges. It doesn’t always work out that way, I know, but still, I think time is a great gift (and sort of a cruel trick designed to propagate the species. If women remembered all the horrible things about having a newborn, we’d never want more. Instead we just remember the peach soft heads and the snuggles and the sighs. Tricksy, I tell you what.).
Anyway, I was having a FB conversation with the friend I mentioned earlier (the kind you leave for a day, then come back to, and then she’s written more, so you write more, but she’s not online right then, so you leave it for a day, etc, etc. We’re super awesome communicators in this information age, after all), you know, the one who relinquished her daughter for adoption. Her youngest daughter just turned two, and for my friend, it’s a little bit bittersweet, only because she never got to celebrate any birthdays with her first daughter. But she feels guilty for feeling sad on her youngest daughter’s birthday, for taking time on a day that should be about her darling, exquisite 2 year old and not about a daughter lost.
I told her, briefly, about losing my second pregnancy, and how every year, every single year, I pause on my son’s birthday and imagine, just for one minute, what it would be like to have another little boy, just 2 years younger than J, running around hyped up on too much ice-cream and cake. And I already explained about how I’m pretty much moved on, but on that day I take a second and let the sorrow of disappointment seep in. I indulge in the sadness of what might have been. For one small minute.
So I told my friend that I gave her permission to be sad for a moment. But just for one moment, because there are too many moments of happiness that could be missed.
She responded thoughtfully and with love, and about my miscarriages simply expressed how sorry she was that I had to go through that, and that she didn’t really know what else to say.
Her “sorry” felt really, really, really good.
I blogged yesterday about the importance of language over at Segullah , and how angry I was at language that I felt was overly dramatic about a person’s trial. There are lots of great comments over there, so I encourage you to pop over and read it when you have a second. But in the midst of my storm of irritation over somebody carelessly using exaggerated language, I had this friend whose language was picture perfect, even as she admitted she had nothing of particular value to say other than, “Hey, lady, that really sucks.”
And maybe that’s the secret to comfort. We don’t need offer reasons why, we don’t need to try and make people feel better, and we don’t ever ever EVER need to say, “Don’t you feel like this is all just making you a better person?” because I can personally guarantee that will make the person you are talking to want to punch you in the throat. You might be trying to be nice, you might even be right, but if you value your trachea, just don’t.
What we need in our lives are people who can put their arms around us and say, ‘Hey, lady, that really sucks.” Because if somebody else thinks it sucks, too, then it means we aren’t quite so crazy, and that the difficulty isn’t just in our heads, and it makes our burdens feel just a teensy bit lighter.
I’m still trying to work out how this fits into my rant about people overdramatizing their trials and me having absolutely no patience for that, since I know that in light of that conversation, this conversation kinds of smacks a little hypocritical, or, at the very least, inconsistent. What can I say, I’m a shameless flip flopper. Just be glad I’ve never run for office.