Two Good Eggs

Two cracked eggs find the sunnyside (and funny side) of trying to conceive

My Scarlet Letter

on March 18, 2013

As you may have picked up, I’ve been all over the place lately, bouncing around like a ping-pong ball in a dryer.  Up, down.  Happy, sad.  Rational, irrational.  Gracious, jealousContent, Angry.  I’m the yin to my own yang these days.

So, I’ve spent the past few weeks re-evaluating things — the TTC process, my relationships (marital, family and friendships), my goals, my dreams, my emotions.  Just trying to get a grip on myself and find some semblance of the person I once knew.  Because this ticking time bomb of a blubbering mess ain’t it.  I used to be so strong, so optimistic, so determined.

Now, I’m just broken.

We’ve previously talked about the Silent Struggle, and questioned why it has to be such a secret; why it’s ok to publicly mourn the death of a loved one, but not the loss of an unborn baby.   So, I recently decided to stop being so silent about it.  I’m not screaming it from the rooftops, or writing, “Hi, My Name is Infertile” on my conference badges, but I’m opening uhello-my-name-is_infertilep to more friends and family about my struggle.

I thought it would help.  I was wrong.

The good news is, these people don’t look at me like I’m a total bitch anymore.  And they don’t look at me and wonder when I became so emotionally unhinged.   Now, they just give me that look.  You know the one.  The pity eyes.  The “I don’t know what to say” look.

And now, I’m a marked woman.  I walk the halls at work with a Scarlett M on my chest.  M for the miscarriages branded in scarlet red – how apropos.

Now, the pregnant women on my hall look at me apologetically, and ask a drawn out, soft spoken “How are you?”

Now, my mother doesn’t ask me how my week has been.  She asks me, “How are you?”

Now, my friends monitor my drink order at dinner and when I order wine or a cocktail, their faces drop. “So, how are you?”

I’m marked.

I’ve decided that being open about it isn’t the answer.  It’s being open about it to the right audience.  Talking to people who will say more than “I’m sorry” or “Just keep trying” or “It’ll get better in time.”  Talking to people who understand the complexity of this; the confusion; the burden.  That it’s more than just not being able to have another baby.  Or a matter of time til I can try again.  It’s so much bigger than that.

My heart has been wound too tightly, trying to suppress my emotions so as not to appear marked, to protect others from their discomfort in talking to me about this.  The pressure has built, and I’m about to explode.

In the words of the oh-so-insightful Britney Spears,  I need to scream and shout and let it all out.

Last week, I met with a counselor at work.

She assessed that my emotional fuse isn’t detonated because of just the inability to get pregnant, or the disappointment of getting my period; rather, it is the grief I never truly dealt with during my miscarriage(s).  She told me to stop differentiating between my “real” miscarriage and the two “chemical pregnancies.”  She told me to stop downplaying it, and to call them what they are – 3 miscarriages – because I downplay it only to make other people feel more comfortable at the risk of my own healing.  She assessed that I never truly grieved for them, and when I get my period every month it’s like revisiting the miscarriage every month.  She also told me that grief has the same symptoms as clinical depression, and if the grief remains untreated it’s like being clinically depressed without getting treatment, which is why I become unhinged.

The best part?  She reminded me that this is temporary.  It’s not Scrambled 2.0.

So, this week, I’m visiting a counselor who specializes in infertility and miscarriage.  And I’m going to talk to someone who won’t give me the look.  Someone who will give me an action plan other than “keep trying” – and maybe, just maybe, help me rip this letter off my shirt.scarlet-m

8 responses to “My Scarlet Letter

  1. eph525 says:

    Thanks for your post. It reminds me of why my wife and I decided to remain more incognito with our infertility when we moved to Spain.

  2. Kat says:

    I’ve dealt with this too, wondering why no one talks about infertility and then finding out the hard way when you “come out” and the support is less than helpful. I try to remember that for the most part people are trying to be supportive but they don’t know what to say, because no one talks about it! As a society we have no training in what to say to people struggling with infertility. Once I realized this (with the help of my sister <3), I just started telling people what is helpful and what is not. I have told my family that pity, "it will happen someday" and the like are not helpful, and that I need to hear that I will be ok if it doesn't happen. They were like "OH! I get it now" and everything is much better since. It really opened up the conversation. Maybe you need to hear something different but I encourage you to tell people what you need to hear and what you don't need to hear.

    I've been following your blog and cheering silently for you and SunnySide silently. Good luck and thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    • Scrambled says:

      Thank you for your sweet note and support, Kat! And, my therapist gave me homework this week – which mimics what you said: Practice telling people exactly what I need them to say, and why what they’re saying isn’t helpful. It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to try!

  3. Courtney says:

    Oh my gosh – the “how are yoooouuu’s?!” Oh how I hated those. I do think it’s rough when sharing turns into pity eyes, but I was always still glad that I shared because it brought an end to the “when are you having babies?” interrogations.

    I downplay our miscarriage as well – but for myself because I was raised in one of those families that poo-poo’d everything we went through because it didn’t compare to our mother’s MS. I can’t see anything being as bad as what others have, and I asked my therapist if that is OK and he said yes, because that’s just how I’m wired. But it still bothers me.

    I’m proud of you for getting a specialized counselor. That’s a really, REALLY great thing!

    • Scrambled says:

      Thank you! She’s helping me so much. Sometimes, it’s a tear-filled pressure release. Others, it’s a clarity-inducing perspective session. So far, I’m really getting more out of it than I expected and don’t feel quite so bat shit crazy 🙂

  4. chels819 says:

    Ahhh, the look. I so empathize! I found your blog through a train of followers and found myself nodding along with your post. It seems like people jump from ordering orange juice to wanting to jump into the vulnerable pain of infertility and miscarriage. Its awkward. The M mark. Great analogy. Looking forward to following along with you on your journey!

  5. […] come to terms with it.  As I mentioned before, it’s not about talking about it in general.  It’s about talking to the right people about it.  Opening up to people who don’t get it or to well-meaning people who say all the wrong […]

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