I am apparently a glutton for self punishment.
I didn’t used to think I was, but time is proving otherwise.
I found, and still find, that it can be all to easy to fall into unhealthy habbits when you’re at your lowest. Picking at the wound so that it doesn’t heal is one way of keeping the memory of your baby alive, but it can cost you you in the process , so beware the insidious creeping of denial and self punishment.
When I’m shopping alone still find myself drawn to the baby isles with a strong desire to pick out clothes, even though in my heart I know that there is not, and will not be a baby to buy things for in my life. I still stand and look at the tiny booties and bibs with born in 2017 embroidered onto them, and little boy’s coats with dinosaurs on, and the pink frilly socks and the hats. I hate it. I can’t pick them up, it’s like looking through the window of a club I won’t belong to and tapping on the glass but nobody hears. I’m just another woman looking at bibs, except my womb, unlike theirs, is traitorously empty.
Even my beloved Pinterest still abuses me with pictures of nurseries and baby clothes on my home feed, and I follow the trail of pictorial bread crumbs until I feel like I might break.
I look at the patterns I have saved for baby knits, not just for my baby but for the other babies in my life that I have knitted for and imagine my baby in them, while their face stays elusive even in my imagination.
And every morning I stand in front of the mirror and am confronted by a body that is not, and may never be pregnant.
Every thought in my head whirlpools around the idea of Emmet, of babies, of what should have been, what could have been, what I wished for, what I dreamed of.
Even my dreams are filled with babies.
Sometimes I’m still pregnant, sometimes I’m holding my baby, other times they’re a child and we’re playing as a family. Other times I have nightmares where I lose them all over again, or of telling people I had a miscarriage but everyone just looks away. Sometimes I’m running towards them but they never get any closer, or as is often the case in real life, my legs just give out and I can’t catch up with them. There hasn’t been a single night since for two months that I have been free to just dream normal dreams. I would genuinely prefer nightmares about being chased by giant man eating baked potatoes than this. (Those potatoes were a real problem, honestly!)
I know a lot of this behaviour is just the grief snaking it’s way into my life. Making me sad, and cranky, and argumentative and irrational; but, when looking at bibs with born in 2017 on, that knowledge does not make it better.
Identifying what you are doing and why, is just as important if not more important, than managing not to do it in the first palce. It gives you an insight into what you are feeling. I know my baby isle expeditions are just my trying to process the physical lack and loss of my baby, it’s painful but it has allowed me to identity a problem that I have been having. The lack of a physical presence of my baby, despite how much love I have for them. It is hard to feel so much love and have nowhere to channel it.
It is impossibly tempting I find, to just stand in the baby isle and effectively taunt and punish yourself with what could have been, please learn from my mistakes and don’t do this, it feels awful long term.
While confronting and dealing with your grief, rather than burying and avoiding it is important, pursueing this shouldn’t push you to heap further pain onto yourself.
Do things at your own pace, and just avoid the baby isle for a bit.
Other things to (try to) avoid are:
- Facebook, the home of other people’s children and baby announcements for a lot of us is just a no go for a bit.
Alternatively there are Facebook pages set up to cope with miscarriage, SIDS, stillbirth and infertility- but even they can be grief triggers in themselves.
- Other social media that could have the same effect as Facebook.
- (Possibly) That pregnancy tracker app/ site that you may have been using. Unsubscribe those emails, unless you genuinely feel comfort from knowing how far along you would have been, (and I know some women do), you don’t have to feel obliged to keep up with it, in the end it could just torture you more.
- Don’t look at that baby board on Pinterest. Just don’t, learn from me. It will end in tears and regret.
- Baby clothes in General. It can be comforting to hold clothes you had bought or made for you baby, but in terms of new ones just avoid it when possible.
My work often means that I have to deal with baby clothes of a weekly basis, I have to help parents pick out things from our stock and select items to show them. Or watch over kids in the toy section to ensure minimal destruction throughout the shop. I love to be around other peoples kids and babies, but it always comes with a certain amount of pain, as does being with my beloved Niece and Nephews.
- Other people’s children. This one is difficult, you may find yourself drawn to babies and children or utterly terrified by them. I find I get a weird mix of the two. It’s probably best to steer clear for a little while.
- Baby showers Personally I don’t find this too hard, I think it’s more an American thing, I don’t think it’s that big in England, or at least not in the wilds of Norfolk… But for people of an age when everyone seems to be having babies it can seem like an unavoidable obstacle. You are invited, but you genuinely do not have to go. If you don’t feel like it, take a rain check. Say you can’t, explain if you want to, or call ill with a cold if you don’t feel up to explaining or don’t want to seem rude.
You are allowed to be jealous, or sad or angry at other people and their pregnancies. But if you find you are overwhelmed by these feelings you should talk to someone about it , such as a councillor or therapist, even a friend.
Love and support always,
Zoe, Surviving Miscarriage Together x