December 20, 2011 · filed under (in)fertility, grief, life

coal in your stocking

I was browsing a friend’s work website the other day. She runs a marine biology lab so I was pretty out of my element, but I’m always impressed and interested in what my friends do at work, especially something so radically different from my DC life.

It was maybe 30 seconds before I came across the word hypoxia. The only place I’ve seen that word before is on the autopsy. The likely cause of death. Not enough oxygen. Hypoxia.

I couldn’t read another word.

•••••

I’m pretty sure I come across as “normal” to most people. I go out to eat, go to happy hour, I laugh and joke and wear mascara and make fun of the Kardashians. But sometimes I’m just plain faking it. This is how pretty much every conversation goes in my head, if not in actuality:

Someone: Hey, how are you?

Me: Oh, hi. I’m [depressed]. How are you?

Someone: I’m good, too! What’s new?

Me: I’ve been keeping pretty busy [crying my face off]. You?

Someone: Tell me about it, this time of year is so busy with all the holiday parties and things to do! What are you doing for Christmas?

Me: I have plans to [feel sorry for myself. I might not get out of bed.]

Someone: That sounds great – let’s try to meet up one night.

Me: Totally. I’d love to [sit around and cry and talk about sad and unfair shit] together.

Someone: Cool, I’ll call you.

•••••

Merry Christmas to me! I just bought $561 worth of fertility drugs.

FA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA.

•••••

So I went to two support groups.

The first one was an infertility group. About eight or so women, all very nice, all with their own stories. One had 4 failed IVFs. Another was about to embark on her first RE appointment. Another was using a surrogate. I was probably somewhere in the middle in terms of infertility timeline and interventions.

But I was the only one with a dead baby.

So I went to pregnancy and infant loss support group. Again, about eight women, all very warm, all with different sad stories. One woman lost one of her twins, another lost a son at full term in a car accident. Another lost her son at three weeks old. Another lost her twins at 22 weeks gestation.

But I was the only one without any living children.

I just don’t know if I should go back, to either or to both.


20 Comments

  1. Kandi
    December 21, 2011 8:26 am

    My soon-to-be father-in-law went to a grief counseling thing at a local hospital after he lost his wife. It was for general loss and the people he met there all had different stories. Maybe you could check out something like that?

  2. K
    December 21, 2011 9:05 am

    Oh, Janet. This made me cry. I know about this. But I mostly know about the secret conversations in one’s head while trying to appear…normal.

  3. J.A. from Amsterdam
    December 21, 2011 10:23 am

    there must be a quote somewhere about… the fact that grief is alienating but also binding? Also… something about humanity and recognizing what we have in common with each other as opposed to what makes us different or keeps us apart…?

    Thinking of you.

  4. isabel
    December 21, 2011 10:49 am

    Janet, I’m very impressed to hear that you went to two support groups. I think it’s amazing that such a service is out there and I think it’s double amazing that you are strong and brave enough to attend.

    While the conversations in your head might seem like a secret, you aren’t the only one having them. I like J.A.’s comment. We do tend to feel so alone when in reality there are others suffering like we are.

    I hope you have as merry of a Christmas as you can.

  5. Liz
    December 21, 2011 10:58 am

    I don’t know if the second support group would make me feel better or worse. I wonder if seeing a therapist one-on-one would be any different?

    I had some periods of depression where I would have conversations like that too. But I credit the faking it and the need to at least appear normal to helping me get through the day. Or at least, out of the house. Even if it was pure torture doing so.

    But you know what made me happy about this post? That you’re ready to try again. Yeah it’s really dang expensive, but I’m glad you’re doing it.

  6. Michelle
    December 21, 2011 11:27 am

    Janet, I have no idea what you are going through, and honestly, I hope that I never do. But, just know that you are doing the best that you can. And, the glossed over conversations are perfectly normal. We all do them…whether it’s because we have lost a child, parent, sibling, or just because things aren’t as great at home as we want people to believe they are. You are doing remarkably well (in my never having met you except from reading your blog opinion). You will never get over the loss of Miller because he was absolutely part of year. It doesn’t help that this time of year can generally suck no matter what. I’m wishing you peace as you enter into 2012.

  7. Michelle
    December 21, 2011 11:27 am

    ***part of you….not year…man, I need some coffee or something!

  8. Kristin
    December 21, 2011 11:53 am

    I can’t even begin to understand all you’re going thru, but I am very happy that you’re putting it out there. If not for anyone, but yourself.
    I would say to continue to go to both support groups. I am sure that some (if not all) of the other women feel that they are the “only one that …. ” Part of the greatness of a support group is not only that you all share a common denominator, but that you all are different and are able to share your differences so that you can get perspective from someone else’s experiences. I bet your presence at those groups help the other women just as much as it can help you.
    I wish you a Merry Christmas. I pray that you can find peace someday, somehow. You’ll never be over it or move on or anything like that, but I just hope that you’ll find peace in your heart.

  9. heidikins
    December 21, 2011 1:44 pm

    I’ve never been to an official support group, but I think that finding one–whether group-like in nature or you and a therapist in the same room in nature–is a really really brave step. And I certainly hope that you can find something that will help you in some way.

    Goodness, honey, I wish there was something more I could do. Sending lots of hugs and love your way.

    xox

  10. alison
    December 21, 2011 3:39 pm

    I was thinking that 1:1 counseling or a grief group that is for people enduring grief of any kind might be better…

    I don’t usually like to tell other people that I’m praying for them because it kind of seems like an invasion of your privacy or something. But today, I’m praying for you. I hope you can feel some joy!

  11. Nic
    December 21, 2011 4:13 pm

    Oh Janet.
    Reaching out to support groups is awesome. I’m sorry you still felt alone there, though I am certain that each woman in that room felt just as alone in her grief as you did. I know it doesn’t help, but I think that’s the nature of grief and the attendant depression: it is so isolating and so suffocating.

    I think you should go back to the loss support group and share that feeling of isolation because they will understand. Or they will come as close to understanding as anyone outside of you and your husband can.

    I read an article on NPR a few weeks ago about HIMYM and the optimism of inevitability that’s at the heart of the show. That phrase, “optimism of inevitability”, really stuck with me. I just like it. I mean, things do turn out okay in the end, right? Just sit and be optimistic! But, that skips the parts of the journey that really matter, the parts that include tears and difficult situations that aren’t wrapped up with neat, tidy bows at the end of 30 minutes. The real stuff.

    You are trudging through a lot. The silent conversations in your head? Uh, you get gold stars for not crying your face off during said conversations. There’s no end to grief, no point where you can finish the process. But each day, each hard, hard day, you do get one day closer to the inevitable, to the joys and to be able to feel those joys with your whole heart. You’re doing amazingly well, even if it doesn’t feel like it at all.

  12. Jane
    December 21, 2011 9:29 pm

    I totally commend you for reaching out to a support group. And you need to find a group that you feel right in. My only experience with a support group was Al-anon. And the reasons I was there were soooo different than others, and I didn’t go again. But I’m still glad I did go. And a part of me wishes I would have tried another group or gone back (because it’s not always the same people). I may still. who knows, because a part of me knows that someone in a group somewhere, may have a story really similar to mine. ANd just because my days aren’t consumed with needing support any more, doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments or situations where I don’t wish I had it.

    You do what you need to do to get through each day or even an hour. Faking it or support groups. Or crawling under the covers for a week or month. it’s a process. And not a process to forget or a process to make it stop hurting. You need time to figure it out because everything is going to be different. Take care of yourself! I hope you enjoy your quiet Christmas.

  13. Zandria
    December 21, 2011 9:38 pm

    Thinking of you. I’d like to see you whenever you feel up to it, and talk about whatever you want to talk about (or not). Big hugs to you, my dear.

  14. Brooke
    December 22, 2011 10:58 am

    I clicked to your blog from some other blog, and I just wanted to say how sorry I am about the loss of your sweet boy Miller. Support groups are hard. I went to one a couple of months after losing my baby girl and just felt uncomfortable. Then I went back a few months later and met a couple of people who seemed “normal” and like people I could imagine wanting to be friends with even if we didn’t have this terrible connection of loss. This month I met up with a few friends from group and just had dinner with them instead of going to the regular group. So I just say, take your time, but give maybe give either/both groups a chance again in the future. The crappy thing about grief support groups is that you won’t always be the newest member.

  15. Anna
    December 22, 2011 8:30 pm

    I think I must seem very normal to people too. If only people knew that I cry on my way to work and cry the whole way home and that’s the only way that I keep myself together during the work day.

    As for the support groups, I know what you mean. I only go to an infertility one and while it helps sometimes it makes me feel so alone. All those women still have hope for another baby and I’m moving onto adoption. Two of the women at the last meeting were actually pregnant by IVF and I was happy for them but oh so jealous.

  16. Alissa
    December 23, 2011 12:37 am

    That is exactly how I feel when I am out with people and they are carrying on like life is grand. I get asked ‘how are you?’ or ‘what are you doing for Christmas’ a few times a day and I have been SO close to saying…” I suck, thanks for asking” and “this christmas blows and the only thing I want in my stocking are my babies (they’ll fit)”.

    I haven’t gone back to my support group because they all had living children. Someone to love and distract them…I do not. So I get trying to reach out but not being able to really connect.

    MissC

  17. Renee
    December 23, 2011 11:55 am

    I love you….

  18. Jen
    December 23, 2011 11:58 am

    oh Janet. My heart is heavy for you right now. I hate that you’re struggling. Hugs.

  19. redpenmamapgh
    December 27, 2011 1:20 pm

    Two (I’ll try to make them quick) thoughts: 1. That conversation you have IRL/in your head? TOTALLY NORMAL. In my experience, I was (am?) real with the people it was safe to be real with (not a big number of people), and with everyone else I was [appropriate]. 2. Support groups: I would encourage you to go one more time to each. If you don’t feel it, you don’t, and that’s all right. I went a couple of times to compassionate friends, but I did much better in individual therapy and in on-line groups.

    ** sending good thoughts and hugs **

  20. terra
    December 28, 2011 3:55 pm

    I can’t relate to your loss, but in my own life I had a very close friend commit suicide when we were both 16 and I felt like I seemed fine to outsiders and partly like I was living a lie on the outside while my interior self was in absolute shambles. It’s such a weird feeling, the games we play in social situations keeping up the semblance of okay-ness, even whe it’s not okay.

    Anyway, I’m not sure I’ve got a real point other to say that I kind of know that feeling, even if out situations are different, and that you’ve been in my thoughts a lot lately. (hugs)