Sunday, October 3, 2010

Other people's bellies, other people's babies.

I was toying with the idea of quitting the blog.  I have the feeling that nobody is reading it other than my husband, who has to spellcheck it.  On the other hand, even if nobody is reading it, I still feel like writing.  Therefore I will continue rambling by myself in the forest.  I might just convert it to a private diary if I am the only one around here.

Anyway, this is another post that was intended for other women struggling with infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.  How do we deal with other people's bellies and babies.  This post was inspired by the privilege and simultaneous hardship of holding a baby on my lap and rocking her to sleep tonight.  This happens to me on a daily basis (minus the rocking to sleep) since it is part of my job.  I work in large part with pregnant women and babies.  How do I do it?  sometimes I don't know myself, but I will try to put it into words.

I think what has helped me the most was exposure.  When I first went back to work 1-2 weeks after losing Adrian, I expected to have a hard time.  I took a moment to acknowledge my feelings when it was hard.  I cried a little in my office.  I phoned my husband for support sometimes.  I congratulated myself for getting through it one step at a time.  I allowed myself to feel proud of doing an incredibly difficult thing.  I told myself that if I cannot handle it, I will give up my job if need be, and become a shepherdess (ok, not quite).

And of course it was hard.  The first couple of pregnant bellies at 18-22 weeks gestation were like a punch it the gut.  Touching them, I could imagine the babies inside, alive and well, and thought of how mine wasn't.  I felt inferior in a primal way to every pregnant woman that had made it further than I had.  For the longest time, when people's ultrasound reports would come in, my eyes would dart straight to the cervical length and I felt awe and amazement at the huge accomplishment of maintaining a 4 cm cervix at 20 weeks.  I mean c'mon, it is something, isn't it, especially when my cervical length is 2 cm at the best of times (i.e. when nonpregnant).  These women were amazing goddesses.  I was a hobbit.

Then, slowly, I got bored of putting myself down and started thinking.  First of all, who is this person in my head criticizing me all the time? Why is she here to begin with?  And why am I letting her?  Is it because she sounds familiar?  Do I have the power to ignore her painful monologue?  Can I sometimes prove her wrong?

This voice in my head which was so old and familiar that I had never even begun to question had now a distinct identity.  I thought of her as the-critical-me (also known as my father - just kidding, dad).  I started saying hello whenever the voice would appear.  (Note to any psychiatrist friends that might be reading my blog, I am not talking about an ACTUAL voice, you know...).  In time, I have learned to work alongside this voice, to accept its monologue and even to smile at it.  Yes, it can be done!

And then, something wonderful happened:  I started enjoying babies and bellies again.  A baby's smile and sweet smell is something I did not want to deny myself.  Pregnant women's excitement and optimistic happiness, even not ever to be mine again (I plan to be a complete basket case with worry and anxiety during my next pregnancy, if it ever happens) can be enjoyed in moderate portions.  And the feeling of helping babies get on this side of the world safely gives my life purpose and meaning.

Yes, sometime it is hard.  It still is.  However, it gets infinitely easier if we learn to say hi and bye to that critical voice.  Then, all that is left is pain, and pain is manageable.  Feeling like a hobbit, on the other hand, is not a way to live.


  1. You shouldn't worry about readers. Write for you and people will find you, read and make connections. You found me didn't you? (Thanks for the follow by the way!) And now, I've found you and added your link. Sorry to hear about your son. But it makes me smile to hear the joy you have written about here in this post. Stay strong. (

  2. Hey, there is a voice in the forest! I am not alone! Thank you Mrs. McVicker for your kind words, and by the way, your blog made me break open the wrapper on my CD called Meditations for IVF, which in over 2 years I have never touched.

  3. People choose what they want to read and I have chosen to read your blog....more people should learn to write like yourself...from their heart and soul ...keep up your journey of self healing... and to the people who want to keep it locked inside...try to let it out...remember to live life....its part of living and living starts inside ourselves.:D

  4. Wow, one more voice! definitely not alone. Ok then, I guess I have to keep on writing :)

  5. I'm reading! I may not always comment, but I'm here!

  6. Your blogs are like a story, I read them every day. You have a definite gift for writing and it's helping you? Isn't it? I can't say I understand what you're going through, I was one who got pregnant 'walking through my husband's shadow' (his quote, not mine :) What I do know is how precious my kids are to me and thinking of my life without them is unimaginable. You will make a wonderful mother and I know you will be so thankful for the precious gift that it is. Hang in there, don't give up your dream yet :)

  7. Thank you guys! I am smiling big time. Browneyedgirl, that quote is beautiful. I can say for my pregnancy to happen, I have had to walk through the shadow of about 50 people so far only. Who knows how big the tribe will be by the time we're done.

  8. Please don't stop writing MrsH.

    You are a very beautiful writer. I am very sorry for your struggles in maintaining pregnancy, and it is I who should feel bad for not having any issues. I so neglected to understand exactly what it is like to have a struggle to maintain the life born inside us. MrsH, your soul and spirit are beautiful, it shines through in your writing.

  9. heeei, ma gandeam ca vrei sa auzi si o voce de acasa....:)
    sunt ani, am fost colege in clasa a noua, nu stiu daca ma mai tii minte...imi place f mult cum scrii, ce scrii...mai ales ca ma regasesc destul de pierdut 3 sarcini pana sa-l am pe radu (anul trecut), iar dupa ele am intrat in cea mai depresiva si ciudata perioada din viata mea....m-a tinut cam un an jumate...dar mi-am adunat cioburile iar acum e bine...

    mai povestim in alta zi ca acum ma cheama datoria din dormitor :)

    te pup, cu drag,

  10. ei na, cum m-ai gasit, prin facebook?

  11. I just found you tonight & you are like an anointment to my aching heart. I will set a profile when back on my own computer. L