facing fear

One week until the next ultrasound when we will be able to tell if there is normal growth. We should get a better look at everything, we hope. After that, another week until I see my doctor again. And I’ve got a growing list of questions.

I’ll write more about sharing the news with friends and family. Seems there is endless fodder for new posts on that. One interesting thing though is how ready and able some people are to dismiss very real risks, concerns and fears I’m facing.

It’s not unlike how people express platitudes when someone dies. I’m thinking of all the inane and ignorant comments people make, often trying to “fix” the problem to make themselves feel better, when they fail to appreciate that there is no “fixing” to be done. Or the way in which people expect someone to “move on” past their grief, when they don’t understand that the only way out is through. Grief isn’t something you can just turn off. It becomes a part of you. You don’t just dismiss it; you develop a relationship with it.

But loss and grief, they make people uncomfortable. So does fear, and things we can’t control. So they try to pretend that these things don’t exist. They try to control that which we cannot control.

I realize there is great value in not stressing about my fears and concerns. I need to channel my energy in more positive ways right now. When I start to think about what could go wrong, I try really hard to just breathe into it and remember that I have no control. I don’t know how this is going to go. I can’t know the outcome. Worrying won’t do me any good; it will likely only cause harm.

I’m reminded of two things. One is something my grief counselor told me long ago, as I was preparing for my last round of treatment and anticipating the end of our fertility journey, all while still resolving my grief over losing our only son. Encouraging me to let go of negativity to prepare for whatever came next, she asked me to tell myself something like this: “I am open to the best possible outcome” and “I am ready for our child to join us.” At the time I thought it was sort of hokey. But it was actually quite powerful. In a sense, these became like mantras, reminding me to set aside the negativity, to transform it and welcome goodness as an option. Another is something old time blogger Getupgrrl said a while back, before she stopped blogging: “Nothing bad has happened yet” (or NBHHY) (and thanks to my IRL blogger friend for reminding me of this; you know who you are). And it’s true. All kinds of horrible things could happen. But in this pregnancy, amazingly so, nothing bad has happened yet.

Don’t think for a second that I’m not overanalyzing every time I feel any twinge or pain, or every single time I go to the bathroom, hell, every morning I wake up. But I take a deep breath. I am comforted by the lack of signs indicating otherwise. I am comforted by feeling movement. I’m feeling grateful for every day that passes without cause for concern. So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised, astounded even. Truly one day at a time here, one moment even.

Still, I have a really hard time with people who dismiss that fear is unwarranted. People who are fortunate enough not to know better. People who think you’re fine once you make it past the first trimester. People who have never had to worry about losing a baby, or an unhealthy baby, or bleeding out during childbirth. People who have only experienced a healthy natural normal average typical pregnancy.

Nothing about this has been normal or typical or average. I think maybe only us infertiles and baby lost mamas and other truly compassionate souls can understand.

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~ by luna on July 12, 2011.

27 Responses to “facing fear”

  1. Oh, I hear you! My hubby is no longer on speaking terms with his sister because she always dismisses any worries/fears (or anything serious actually) as “it doesn’t matter – just be happy” – last summer he was so fed up with it that he told her. Then she yelled at him for a while (she’s quite good at that) and threw a lot of stuff at him that apparently he’d done wrong over the past couple of years. Fun stuff… When my mom got ill last year and died four months later she also had some horrible comments that it was all for the better and actually good that I didn’t live around the corner from my mom because now when I was visiting I spent more quality time with her. All BS.

    Regarding NBHHY – “Mr Thompson and Me” wrote a beautiful post about it a few days ago: http://mrthompsonandme.blogspot.com/2011/07/releasing-hug.html

    I hope next week’s ultrasound will bring you good news. You’re in my thoughts.

  2. I really think IF gives us a whole different perspective on things. We know how easily pregnancy can be lost, so our innocence is gone. My pregnancy was actually fairly normal. Well mostly normal. And I do not think Hubby and I truly relaxed until we hit viability, at about 25 weeks.

    I think it is normal for IF-ers to be scared and worried during our pregnancy, especially when we know what we are up against.

  3. Thinking of you, dearest Luna, as you breathe into those moments of fear.

  4. I was never an enormous fan of “NBHHY” because, um, something really fucking horrible happened, which is why I was where I was. But that’s me. I really thought with a subsequent pregnancy I’d be hiding under the bed or a complete sobbing basket case and I was neither. I think I not only opened myself to the possibility that it could work, but that I had managed before when it didn’t and could likely do so again. In either event, I felt pretty well prepared.

    Curious to know how others in your life are dealing with the news! I think people need to inoculate themselves in order to get through their own shit by telling themselves that your situation is different somehow, when really, not so much. It’s all a crapshoot.

    Happy to fear for you if it frees you up to go for a walk and not think about anything.

    • I can plainly see why NBHHY would hold no weight with anyone in a similar situation as yours. I think for me all the horrible things happened before I had the chance to give birth.

      this time I think I’m so consumed by everything that could happen NOW or before I make it to term, that it’s hard for me to even carry the other anxiety about everything ELSE that could go wrong. oh, it’s there, but I feel like it is even further beyond my control, and well, first things first, you kwim?

      to think of how grounded and well prepared you felt the next time around? well that is more encouraging to me than you can imagine. thanks, tash.

  5. In so many situations, it’s easy for “normal” people to easily dismiss things which they can’t fathom happening, even when they’ve seen it happen before. It’s not real, because it hasn’t happened to *them.* I can’t fault them for that, and I try not to. The thing of it is that a simple admission of not knowing what to say is far better than just shooing it away, brushing it away from their faces as if it were a pesky fly that made them uncomfortable. Someone saying, “I can’t imagine all the twisted ways this must make you feel, but I’ll be here for you no matter what,” can make a world of difference.

    I like the idea of breathing into moments of fear. Ignoring fear never worked for me. I always felt like if I wasn’t giving it the respect of being properly cowed, it would slap me just to get my attention. So for me, admitting the fear of what was possible and then trying to divert the heft of my attention to all of what was *definitely* going right usually managed to strike the right balance of sanity/insanity. Of course, there were still days when I wanted to hide under the blankets….blah, blah…I think you have a healthy approach to the overall walking miracleness of this pregnancy. I, too, can’t wait to hear how various friends and family have reacted to the news.

    • thanks, kym. it’s a good reminder to try not to fault people for their ignorance (it is bliss, after all).

      but yes, denying it doesn’t work either. while I can try to strike that balance, I think it’s still hard to encounter those who can’t appreciate my reality to begin with. not because I’d ever wish it on anyone, but because they lack empathy or compassion or something that inhibits them from looking beyond their own experience or awareness.

  6. Ah, NBHHY is just the wisdom I needed to hear right now. It will become my mantra. Very wise. Will be thinking of you all week as you wait for the next bit of information about this little one.

  7. As a chronic worrier/anxiety suffer I enjoy these two quotes (which I’m paraphrasing here). The first is from Mark Twain: My life is full of terrible tragedies, most of which never happened. I’m not sure who the second is by and I’ve come across many incarnations of it. It’s basically, Worry doesn’t take strength from the sorrows of tomorrow, but only steals joy from the happiness of today. Again, I’m paraphrasing here but you get the gist. Both helped me a lot in the pregnancy after my loss. Maybe they can help you too.

    PS You have every right to be terrified, even if it isn’t terribly productive to do so.

  8. I know that people act the way you described, I guess I hoped the people closest to you would have seen what all you have gone thru with infertility and losing your son and get just a tiny bit more of understanding. Or maybe they are just scared as well and just want to be in denial of things that can go wrong. Sometimes tht seems easier for people, although I know pisses us off.
    Anyway Thinking of you daily and hoping you can find a few unstressed moments in the day. I don’t think I could, I remember when I finally got pregnant on my 4th IVF cycle and I would spot. I stressed all the time, I know its not good but I was so scared of losing the baby, I would show up at my Dr office without an appointment, but during the times when they scanned people in the morning because once a week wasn’t enough. Of course I lost him on Christmas day, and preceded to go to work at the pediatricains office everyday and then come home and refused to speak to anyone other then my husband and my parents. I was still appalled at the crap that was said to me by friends and family, but I guess they lucky for them just don’t get it.

  9. Your mail and Kymberli’s wise comment makes me understand why people are quick to tell you to move on or dismiss fears. My kid has special needs and I’ve often encountered this from other parents. Apart from therapists and the medical team the only ones who *truly* listen are moms of special needs kids. I just clam up these days when I see a neurotypical mom.

    It was the same story during my fertility battles and then the pregnancy.

  10. Oh almost forgot to wish you ALL the best for the next scan. I’m sure you are a ball of nerves now..

  11. I remember asking my husband with the first pregnancy “what if there isn’t a heartbeat?” and there wasn’t I remember ( a few short months agao) asking my husband “what if there isn’t a heartbeat” there was for a month and then there wasn’t and stupid me said “see I told you so” I was so hurt and so angry that people could just pass it off like it isn’t any big deal why worry. I dont’ know why I worry but it sucks becasue I was still right. I can’t be comforted by don’t worry, think good thoughts.
    I think good thoughts about you daily though and I honestly don’t know how you are dealing. YOu are doing a fantastic job from what I am reading.

  12. luna, I’m sorry I haven’t commented here yet, since your news. I am dealing with my stuff, but I am truly, cautiously, happy for you and M, Jaye, and the little one inside you, hoping that all continues to go well. I think you’re right, there is something about being infertile that makes you aware, that anything can change at any time. I have great hope for you and your family, and hoping for the very, very best. xoxo

  13. “I am open to the best possible outcome” seems more heartening to me than “Nothing bad has happened yet.” But whatever gets you through the night.

    Holding hope for you until the scan next week.

  14. I think that this goes a long way towards explaining why I feel so safe in this community. Around these parts, people truly understand.

    Just days after receiving a positive pregnancy test (only a few months after my first loss at 19 weeks) I walked by a car with the bumper sticker:
    “Encourage your hopes, not your fears”.
    It was a really powerful statement to me at the time. I appreciated that it wasn’t about burying or ignoring your fears, which, of course, is impossible but about spending a little energy cultivating the other side. As silly as it sounds, this became my mantra throughout my pregnancy.

  15. I never became pregnant. I never lost a child. I only know what it is to be bitterly disappointed and PRETENDING it was okay. It wasn’t. I was broken and though I patched the pieces back together, the cracks still showed. Optimism was lost on me. And was I surrounded by cheery Buddhists. Frankly no one ever truly got it but this ALI community. It occurred to me that in your shoes, I’d be utterly terrified and worried, but at a certain point you make the decision to just put that fear into a box and only occasionally take a peek into it. Look it in the face, shiver a bit. And then close the damn box til next time. I love you, M, J and your baby and will hold your bag of fear in the same damn box I’ve got in my closet. Nam myo ho renge kyo

    • it’s the same thing as people expecting you to set aside the negativity of infertility — i.e., the disappointment and despair, the fear it will never happen, etc. — and embrace hope and certainty that it will indeed happen some day.

      it’s true about the damn box. that’s where it belongs. it’s there — M faces it at night while trying to sleep; it pops its head out every once in a while, and I face it here in the computer too. we’d certainly be honored for you to help hold it for us. I’ll bet you’ve got a stunning walk-in closet… xoxox

  16. At my last appointment, the doc was trying to tell me that now there’s only a 2% chance of losing this pregnancy. I just gave her a look and said that 2% seems like an awfully big number when you know as many women as I do who have been one of the unlucky few.

    Which is just to say that I feel the fear too and it seems healthy to acknowledge it from time to time so that it stays a manageable enough size to stay in the damn box when I need it to. As for the people who don’t get it, try to protect yourself from the pain of their ignorance in whatever way that keeps you healthy. And if it gets too crazy, just come talk to us. We’re here for you.

  17. Praying for you and hoping for a healthy pregnancy.

  18. Luna! Oh my, I’m just catching up and couldn’t be happier to read about your pregnancy (and that NBHHY). What you’ve written about here is something I can relate to as well. When I was in counseling after our IVF cycle failed/heard the news about my POF/DOR he said something that really made sense on this topic. People do not like to feel powerless or hopeless … he emphasized that even vicariously, powerlessness is one of the most unpleasant emotions. In dealing with loss and grief, people just don’t want to feel it so they excuse it away. But I so totally prefer to look it in the eye and as you say breathe into it. Because no matter what happens we have to make peace within ourselves and denial isn’t a peacemaker. Anyway, friend, I am so very hopeful for you and sending a ton of positive energy your way. Just keep doing what you’re doing! And I promise I won’t wait so long to check in again 🙂

  19. Just wanted to wish you good luck tomorrow. ❤

  20. Wishing you good things tomorrow. ❤

  21. So happy for you that your check-up went well! Sending positive thoughts and joyful energy.

  22. […] It’s an exhausting exercise, but this is my reality. Flush away the fear. Breathe in the present. Embrace the potential for good. […]

  23. […] despite my risks and fears, I felt like I was in good hands. I’d been feeling more positive. Recently, I had been […]

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