Monday, September 17, 2007

BBBT-- Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

The latest book for the Barren Bitches Book Tour has been Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman. It follows a woman through the adventures of step parenting and infant loss. The relationship between Emilia and William was interesting to see unfold. Emilia's thoughts about William intrigued me. I know that it is hard to learn to love another's child and I thought this particular relationship was difficult because of William's personality. The book was thought provoking and worth a read if you don't mind emotional story lines.

On to the questions, There were many thought provoking questions to choose from which is great but I am limited on time so I only chose three:

Is the way Emilia quantifies loss similar or dissimilar to what we all tend to do? (i.e. her reactions to the miscarriages of a friend and the number of names on a heart of another participant at the walk) Why or why don't we do this?

I think that Emilia is reacting that way that many people do. In my opinion, Emilia's view of others pain was tainted by her belief that she smothered her child.
Everyone of us will most likely believe, in the height of our grief, that our loss is the worst in the world. It is... in our own personal world. Reality is that each loss that a person experiences is at that moment or that period of time, the worst thing that they have gone through. Does it mean that a person who experiences a miscarriage and the loss of the hope of life that goes with it is any less hurt than the woman who has lost her child to preterm birth or the woman that experiences a SIDS death? I don't think so because each of us only has our own rose colored glasses to look through.Yes, we can sympathize and empathize but until it has happened to us, we just don't know the degree of pain.

I do think that some people feel that their pain supersedes others but is it right? I don't think so. Pain is pain, and loss is loss. Yes, there are degrees of loss and some do impact our lives more than others but at one point in every event, we are all experiencing the same loss of hope and level of pain.

Emilia obviously deals with some self-destructive tendencies. Can you relate to her feelings? Have you dealt with self-destructive feelings on your journey to parenthood?

The feeling of failure can be overwhelming at times. Yes, I have acted out in a self destructive manner many times over the last four years. I have a variety of methods... binge eating, drinking in excess, being a awful wife in many ways, and withdrawal from others. The worst days I attempt to soothe myself with all of them. I have found that it doesn't help and makes things worse but it is in and of itself a vicious circle that leads to more self destructive behavior.

Emilia describes in great detail her feelings of guilt regarding Isabel's death. For those of you who have experienced loss, did you feel responsible in some way? How did you handle those feelings?

My situation is unique in that I did not know that I was pregnant when I miscarried. I did not even realize at the time that I was miscarrying. By the time things got sorted out it was long after the fact and the certainty is questionable. The symptoms were there, the timing was right, but I didn't test until after the "weird period with a passing of a large amount of tissue" had occurred. I believe that what I experienced was a miscarriage. More than one doctor has alluded to it but no one has ever come out and said yes... that is what happened. They can't, I get that but others believe that since doctors never said it, it wasn't true. Whatever I experienced, I do feel responsible. I do feel that I am the reason we are childless. On the day that the event occurred, I had overexerted myself for several hours. If I could go back in time, I never would have completed the activity that I did. The money that I received for that day of strenuous work is not worth the pain, hurt, and agony that I have gone through since that time. Yes... I believe that I am responsible for the fact that we don't have a three year old child right now and I don't handle those feelings well. I turn to my self soothing, yet, destructive behaviors and have had many moments of tears, agony, and self defeating thoughts. With time, it gets better but at the same time, this whole journey is tainted by the thoughts that I killed our chance of hope. I keep these feelings to myself... because I am the only one that believes this happened to me. When we are "trying", I am overcautious in the 2WW period of my cycle. I don't want to have to face the feelings of responsibility again if I can help it.

Now head on over to the book tour hub and check out the other blogs participating in this discussion.Want to come along for the next tour? Sign up begins today for tour #7 (Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston) and all are welcome to join along


Carrie said...

Sounds like quite a book.

As for the blaming yourself bit, I think we all do that a little. It is almost certainly not true. I'm with you in the very guarded 2WW and I hardly left the house during my last pregnancy, I thought it might make it safer.
It made no difference but at least I've nothing to beat myself up over.

Carlynn said...

I am so sorry about your miscarriage, your story was heartrending. Despite what they say about not overdoing it, there are also studies that show rest does not always stop miscarriages so I don't think you can blame yourself even though I know we all do. I lost a pregnancy at 19 weeks and it was probably due to an infection but I go over and over the day it happened and think, "I shouldn't have done this, I shouldn't have done that ..." And yes, I have done the overeating, overdrinking and bad wife bit too.

I hope you are doing ok, I hope you are starting to heal, I hope things go well this year and soon you do have a three year old running around.

Lori said...

You and I answered 2 of the same questions, Deb.

I like what you said about pain and loss. Even when we try to compare them, we often neglect to factor in the ability of the bearer to bear the pain at a certain point in time.

I am sorry for the loss of your child. Have you found ways of grieving outside of the self-destructive behaviors? I hope you are able to be good to and gentle with yourself.

Samantha said...

I think it is easy to blame one's self for losses in infertility. We don't really know what caused the miscarriage, so it is easy to become fixated on the "if only..." In Emilia's case, it was "if only I hadn't fallen asleep." In your case it sounds like it was "if only I had done such physical activity." I am so sorry you have to experience.

I also understand what you mean about self-destructive behaviors. I know that have done some of those same things after a BFN, and while I usually end up regretting it, the temptation is so great at the time, that I just do it anyway.

Finally, I was really struck by your statement, "our loss is the worst in the world." I think we all tend to feel that our situations are unique and terrible, which is unfortunate, because we can push away help from others who might be able to understand. It's something I struggle with.

The Town Criers said...

Sweetie, your answer to question three was heartbreaking and I hear you completely. That care during the 2ww, the feelings of blame. An outsider can appeal to the rational side that knows that m/c happen regardless of what we do. But I also hear your heart.

Ayelet said...

Thanks so much for reading! I think that in our worst, most selfish moments we all have that loss is the worst. And then we have to get over it. Or at least PRETEND we've gotten over it to function in the world. After I lost my baby -- second trimester, genetic abnormalities -- I felt like I wanted to wring the neck of anyone who had a baby. And I had TWO of my own!

Kristen said...

I did not realize I was pregnant with my first loss either. It wasn't until I was spotting and cramping that I went to the ER and they found out. I can totally empathize with your feelings about the loss. I often felt guilty like I should have known. I should have been paying attention to the signs (the breast tenderness, the fatigue, etc.). Its like I wish I could go back in time and change it all, even though deep in my heart I know it probably wouldn't have changed the outcome.

I am so very sorry for your loss and I want to thank you for shedding some light on the book. (((HUGS)))

Drowned Girl said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I liked your answers.

Be easy on yourself


Deb said...

Thank you for the kind words about my answers to the questions for the book tour. I know that many of you will never see this most likely. This book got a bit under my skin in both good and bad ways.

Lori said...

I saw it, Deb.

My pleasure.

Jenna said...

With my miscarriage I ran through the gamut of reasons... the sneezing I did on Tuesday, the soda I drank only to later discover it wasn't caffeine free, the frustration I spewed at my boss... ultimately, there will not necessarily be a reason that will help to focus the blame somewhere.

This book got under my skin too... in both good and bad ways.

Waiting Amy said...

"Everyone of us will most likely believe, in the height of our grief, that our loss is the worst in the world. It is... in our own personal world."

I think this is so true -- in the moment, we think our loss is the very worst. I don't think it was so much about Emilia creating a "hierarchy of pain" but more about her perspective at that time.

I'm so sorry you blame yourself for your loss. I hope in your mind you know this is not true ... and that someday your heart will believe it too.

Be kind to yourself.