Monday, 12 May 2008

The stories they tell.

When I was pregnant with Maya, I was very small. Because she was very small. I was so small that I had to go to the hospital every two weeks to have full ultrasounds to measure every bit of her body. I also had to see the baby cardiologist cause her heart didn't look right. They couldn't say what was wrong, only that it didn't look right. I got so good at reading the ultrasounds that I knew that her amnio fluid was low and that they would make the decision to deliver about 3 seconds after the sonographer put the US to my tummy that final time. (I was almost 35 weeks)

I got a lot of calls from people. They went like this.

"The Drs all thought my kids were small and they were at least a pound heavier when they were born." (Yeah but you didn't have to go in to the head of Obs at a major hospital every 2 weeks)

"Have you eaten enough?" (I thought I'd rather keep my figure and starve my baby)

"I was so small my mum had to use a face washer as a nappie"

"She was only 500gm when she was born and now she is doing OK"

When Maya was delivered - an uneventful c-section which I found unbearable, she was moved into high dependency and then into the NICU within 12 hours. These were the stories I was told

"You'll be laughing about this when she is 13"

"It's in the range of normal"

When Maya died, these were the stories I were told.

"I know a woman whose sister's first born died and now they have 7 kids"
"I know someone who had a child die and now they have three beautiful healthy children"

When the IVF started it was

"So and so is an IVF baby. She got pregnant first go." (Yeah but did she have a balanced translocation?)

"It's only a matter of time" (as if there was no cost to a failed IVF cycle - only time)

You can imagine how many IVF stories I have been told.

These days, the ones people tell me are like this

"... and then on their last possible attempt they concieved, and now they have a beautiful child."

I'm also starting to get adoption stories.

These stories have always given me the shits. It is the unwillingness of the listener to actually listen. They already know the outcome. It happened to a friend of a friend. They have raced ahead to the end of the story, which, they are sure, is a good ending. A few months after Maya died I started telling people how unhelpful their stories were. Which kind of throws people. They think they are giving hope, when in reality they are trying to make the moment more comfortable for themselves. Or else I say "that's nice for them".

How I have longed for someone to stand with me and look realistically at the present and the future and say "Fuck. That really sucks". I have wept when people have done that. It is a great gift to allow yourself to feel the horror and fear of your friends uncertain future. To stand with that person in the pain of the past and present, and confusion of the future, and resist the temptation to try to make it better. How come so few people know this?

Thank you to my friends who have the wisdom to do this with me.

Of course the irony is that while I hated my friends telling me these stories, I would go home and spend hours on the internet looking for a person with the same balanced translocation as me, and trying to find out how many children they had out of how many pregnancies. Which is a little different I know, but still, I too am guilty of trying to write the end before it is time. Of not having the courage to stand and look at the hideous uncertainty of a pretty equal chance of things going right and things going hideously wrong, again. Well in truth, the research tells me the odds are tipped in favour of hideously wrong, but there is still a good chance for things going right.

I wonder what stories I will be told in the future?

I wonder what stories I will dole out to others in the name of "giving hope".

All anyone wants to know is that they are not alone. That someone else knows.


niobe said...

Yes. That's it exactly.

Lori said...

Ultimately, the only story that really matters is one's own.

In the words of one very wise blogger, I am abiding with you.

luna said...

ugh, exactly.

and just for you: "Fuck. That really sucks." another one who knows, also abiding with you.

Kami said...

Absolutely true. And it does suck. I wish there was more I could say, but you have already expressed it so perfectly.

loribeth said...

You are not alone. (((hugs)))

Emily (Apron Strings) said...

F*ck, that really sucks.

Nicole said...

I'm sorry. I have a balanced translocation too. It sucks.

Katie said...

Well, I will say it, too.

This whole thing really sucks.

I am sorry.

Julia said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful Maya.

This does suck, a lot. I am sorry, and FUCK!

I call people who don't have the guts to say that chickenshits. Exactly because they are doing whatever it takes to comfort themselves, to assure themselves that the world is ok, instead of trying to be there for you. I am sorry you seem to have so many of them in your life.

Tash said...

Fuck this all sucks. I'm so sorry. I heard the same crap, the same stories. I hope you have someone who listens to you, who hears your sadness and disappointment and fear.

Abiding with you.

Amy said...

That was beautiful. It is exactly what I would love to say to people. Screw their platitudes. Screw their sympathy. This sucks...and that's all.

mrsmuelly said...

Wow! Thank you for writing this. It's so true...just stand with me and cry, or say that totally sucks. Because the truth is that loosing a baby sucks beyond all other thing!

Panamahat said...

I was just about to write about this very topic myself. In fact, reading yours has only served to further encouraged me to do so.

I have been 'introduced' to you by Kami, and have only just discovered your blog today, and have not had time to read much past the first page. I look forward to coming to know you better, and already I can say this: I will stand beside you with your grief, and take the discomfort that is the now, and not try to rush you through to an unknown future where all the birds sing gaily and no one has to feel the pain of death.

You are right. It IS fucked that you lost your daughter so soon, and that you face an uncertain outcome with regards to motherhood. What you are going through is hideous and I feel your pain acutely. And I understand that you don't need someone to sell you a sugar coated snippet of some other person's good fortune or to tell you that you should just keep thinking positively. What you need in this moment is someone to acknowledge where you are right now- that it hurts desperately - and that it would be nice if people stepped up to the plate to just sit with you in that pain for a while.

I'm here.

I don't know why so few people can offer this, but I do know most of the ones who can have been through some tough times themselves.

I have just started my own blog, and if you'd like to, you can find me at


msfitzita said...

Thank you. For this post, for the comment on my blog - thank you.

You are not alone, my friend.