NB: I wrote most of this about a month ago & am in a very different place today. Still, I want to share this post because it’s the truth of my journey in dealing with recurrent miscarriages & secondary infertility. … Also, I promise I have other posts in the works on parenting & mothering & the other things I used to write about!
When I was pregnant just before the second miscarriage, I found a maternity t-shirt on clearance at Target. I had already seen & heard my fetus’s glorious heartbeat. I was approaching the end of the first trimester. My clothes were fighting to hide my slowly expanding waistline.
So I bought it.
I picked it up & put it back on the rack several times. It was still too early to buy up a maternity wardrobe. I knew that. I wasn’t naïve, having already lost one pregnancy at 11 weeks, so tantalizing close to that first milestone (a milestone marking the end of the early, highly-uncertain weeks of pregnancy).
But it was just one little t-shirt. And only a few bucks.
Just a few days later, we painfully learned there was no more heartbeat. Another pregnancy lost.
Since the time I bought & washed it, that t-shirt has sat unused in a drawer, along with some other miscellaneous clothing, between socks & cloth pads.
Every time I opened that drawer (which is a lot) I would think of that damned t-shirt. It came to represent what I had so wanted but lost. I would bury it a little deeper into the drawer, under more clothing until I had pushed it to the back. I couldn’t see it, yet I felt it’s presence. Hanging onto it was both an act of hope & a form of self-torture.
Recently, after yet another failed cycle (following close on the heels of what I suspect but cannot confirm was another chemical pregnancy followed by swift miscarriage) I snapped. And I took it out on the t-shirt.
I dug it out of the drawer & I tore it to shreds. With my bare hands. Not literally shreds, but I destroyed it in a fit of primal rage.
I didn’t know what else to do.
I am not proud of that moment, but I am coming to accept that I am (or have been & might be again) angry. I had not yet admitted to my anger because I frankly don’t feel I should be angry or have a right to my anger—life isn’t fair & I know I can lay no more claim to wish fulfillment than any other poor soul alive.
Plus, I don’t want to be angry. I am afraid of anger. Sadness, disappointment, grief, fear—these emotions feel acceptable, even familiar. But not anger. Anger is scary.
Plus, what to do about it?! I can’t punch walls (for a number of reasons, not least of which is “ouch!”) & I don’t have any more maternity clothes to destroy.
But there is no denying it. When I realized that I was not pregnant after yet another month of doing everything “right,” I fell into a tailspin of anger.
It doesn’t matter that I recognize all the good & beauty & happiness in my life. It doesn’t matter that I know how lucky I am in so many ways. Heck, it doesn’t matter that I have come so far in reconciling with my lot (& I think I have come a far way!) or that I now have numerous tools to help me.
Sometimes, none of that matters. Because I’m still angry. Angry over the losses. At the missed years of fertility taken for granted. Angry over the fact that my life has been a blur for over 1 1/2 years, most of it clouded by thoughts & emotions related to trying & failing to have another child.
I don’t know how to handle my anger when it rises. I’m working on that (though I can thankfully report that hugs from MFA Dad + sleep seem to help!) but I’m still freaked out by it all.
What did I do in the moment? I did everything one is not supposed to do to try to push those feeling of anger down: I went shopping & bought things I really don’t need (including a 5-pack of scissors!), I (quickly) drank a pint of beer, & I almost ate a pint of ice cream (thankfully MFA Dad saved me from myself before I finished). Plus, the aforementioned t-shirt raging.
I can thankfully (& honestly) say that I have never done those things before, at least not as a purely emotional coping mechanism.
Ironically, I’m supposedly in the middle of a Whole30, that obnoxious, self-righteous (but popular) paleo-reset diet where you eat no dairy, sugar, grains, legumes, or artificial additives & consume no alcohol for 30 days. I was doing so well on it, too, just getting to a point where I wasn’t missing the sugar (with my normal brain, at least) & feeling that it was going to help me “prepare my body for pregnancy” (yep, been “preparing” my apparently very unprepared body for over 2 years now… but I’m continually convinced that I
can need to do more…).
So much for that Whole30! (Though after giving myself some time & grace, I actually found my way back on the wagon & completed it. I’m too darn stubborn to not finish what I start.)
So aside from binge consumption of all the things, I am quietly contemplating what anger is & means to me & for me. With some distance & objectivity, I am no longer recoiling from the fact that I’m angry. I may not like it, but I am entitled (doomed?) to experience the whole range of human emotions, especially when it comes to recurrent miscarriage & failed fertility.
It helps that my core tribe did not look at me like I had three heads when I told them about the episode. They didn’t even turn away from me.
I honestly don’t know what I will do the next time I feel that surge of anger rising within me. I wish I could say with confidence that I’ll breathe & return to a calmer state. I’m not there yet.
Maybe I’ll punch my pillow. Maybe I’ll rip up the weeds & dead plants in the garden. For me, for now, it’s all so physical & I have to make peace with that. I don’t think it will always be that way—it’s not easy but I’m on the right path.