Things We’re Not Supposed to Say

I’ve already talked about all of the feelings of guilt and questions that arise during and after loss. There’s more to it though. There are all of the thoughts, feelings and questions that pop in your mind that you’re “not supposed to think, not supposed to say.” The ones that most people won’t talk about or admit to. These are not thoughts I’m necessarily proud of (not that there’s much control), but in the interest of using Will CarryOn as a truthful and honest forum and resource for others, I think it is important to share even “those” kind of thoughts.

There’s a certain amount (read: quite a bit) of shame involved in loss. Again, I know that I didn’t do anything, but the mere fact stands that 5 pregnancies and 7 babies later, we have no children in our home. Something my body is doing—or isn’t doing—is factoring in here, regardless of what the doctors say and the testing shows. And yet, we keep trying. Determination, or cruelty to ourselves and our babies?

I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve apologized to our babies for not being able to take them to term, for not being able to give them the life we had imagined…even though it is out of my control. I cradled baby #4, and then our twins last week, sobbing as I told them over, and over again, I’m sorry. I’m just so sorry. Truth is, I was trying to tell that to myself and Double A too.

There’s the unwarranted shame or embarrassment of people—even our closest family and friends—finding out that this happened to us…again. I’m not quite sure how to explain this one, as I know that everyone’s hearts are broken alongside ours. Yet at the same time, it is hard for me to not think that people either feel sorry for and pity us, and/or look at us and think, when are they going to stop trying? When are they going to learn? I remember after our fourth loss asking my mom to tell my grandma that it was nothing I did wrong. Not that I thought she’d think it was my fault, but because she was constantly telling me to be careful. I needed her to know that I was. I realize many of these thoughts are irrational, but they are there nonetheless.

There’s the bargaining that Double A and I did: If you save our baby, I promise I will… Or I won’t… Or I’ll give up… And the trade-offs: Take me. Take an old person who has had the opportunity to enjoy a full life. Take a sick person. Take a bad person. And then the worst, take someone else’s baby, not ours. No one deserves to lose their child, yet in the moment, it doesn’t matter who, just as long as it isn’t our baby, our babies. Not now. Not again.

There’s the anger. (And yes, I realize I’m going basically outlining the DABDA stages of grief here). Double A talked about his anger toward God or whatever higher power is supposedly out there, and it is one we both share. I remember going through each painful contraction and crying and yelling out, Oh God!, but then realizing that I couldn’t say that since I didn’t believe. That if there was a God, I wouldn’t be going through to this. How could this being, who is supposed to watch over us, allow this to happen to us time and time again? How could our relatives who have passed on, and are supposed to be watching over us, allow this to happen to us time and time again? How could my body fail me and do this to us? Why can’t the doctors do anything to stop the contractions? To save our babies? How come modern medicine doesn’t have the answers? The list goes on and on.

Some days I feel sorry for Double A, thinking if he had married someone else, perhaps he’d have his kids at home with him by now. That he wouldn’t have had to experience this much heartache. I shared this “shouldn’t be said out loud” thought with him, as he’s shared his own versions with me. He reassured me that he while he didn’t want the heartache, he wouldn’t trade me for anything. Of course I knew this, but sometimes my mind plays tricks on me, and I just want to protect the person that means the most to me.

I’m sure I’ve had other “unspeakable” thoughts. And I’m sure more are to come. And I pretty sure I’m not alone (please feel free to share). I’m grateful that all of these things I’m not supposed to think or say, I can share with Double A (and to this community). And I’m grateful that he can, and does, say his back to me. Going through this is hard enough, but it would be added pressure to feel like I needed to censor my thoughts from the person I’m closest to for the sake of being P.C.

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8 thoughts on “Things We’re Not Supposed to Say

  1. I remember feeling all this after each loss… The anger, the guilt, the shame… Feeling that I’m keeping P from the family he deserves. Saying it out loud and writing it helped, and still does. Reading it here and knowing I’m not alone helps, too. I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through!

  2. Having a child die in an accident… I tell her I’m sorry over and over and over. How can I make it up to her? I ultimately cannot and these feelings of guilt are my burden to carry the rest of my life. Talk about a complete and utter loss of self-esteem. I feel like a total failure. All I wanted to be is a good mom; how could I let this happen? I look at teenaged moms on the street and think to myself, “You moron. That adolescent can keep her child alive and you couldn’t.” And last but not least the thing I’ve felt that you are not supposed to say “This life is too hard. Can it just end already? It is unbearable.”

    I’m so sorry Erin. I admire your courage to put a voice to these things we often feel but are not supposed to say. You are not alone.

  3. I could have written this post after each of my losses. So much guilt and pain and shame. Thinking of you and your babies today.

  4. This is such an important post. I’ve had some of the unspeakable thoughts and have even said some of them outloud. I’ve asked my husband if he wished he’d married his previous girlfriend so he could have live babies. I’ve been incredibly tempted to write inappropriate things on facebook like under someone’s early ultrasound photo “Oh, my baby looked JUST like that!” but I refrain. My husband and I both had somewhat of a loss of faith (his loss more drastic than mine). Thank you for putting all this out there.

  5. Wow. I can really relate to this post. The shame is overwhelming sometimes. Shame that my body can’t seem to do something so basic and simple. Shame about previous life decisions that, when I’m in a funk, I convince myself have contributed to leading me down this path. I even have shame about the way I sometimes handle everything. Days where I’m cranky or short with my husband just because I can be – on those days I feel shame that I can’t handle the adversity of my situation more gracefully.

    My thoughts are with you and your husband and I think you are very brave for writing this blog. Thank you.

  6. The shame is the cruelest aspect of infertility and loss. It’s what keeps us from being able to share openly what’s going on, from the getting the help and support we need, from being able to let others know that they are not alone in this terrible struggle. I see ever more clearly how much of the past 4 years I’ve lived in quiet pain, just wanting to be invisible, just wanting to get through the day, the next party, the next pregnancy announcement – but only being able to share such a huge part of myself with a small intimate group. Because of the shame, as much as I try to reason myself out of it. That I’ve failed, that I’m to blame, that I’m less. That I deserve these problems because of my life decisions. That I’m weak for not handling it better. Each time I got braver about being more “out” with our struggles, some dumbass ignorant hurtful comment would send me right back to the closet.

    I think my other biggest bundle of unspeakable thoughts is the ones towards others who have what I want. The thoughts I (mostly) kept balled up inside – anger, bitterness, jealously, resentment. An inability to be happy for them, to let their life be THEIR LIFE and not anything to do with my problems. An ugliness I was not proud of, but could not be helped. Hey look at that – more shame!

    This space is exactly the place to get these thoughts out and take away their power, which you do so eloquently. Keep em coming – whatever helps you, helps all of us, too, by bringing a voice to what we can’t always articulate ourselves. {hug}

  7. This is an important topic that I wish more people would discuss and be open about. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences so honestly. I have lost ten babies over the past nine years and have no live children in the house. The shame of these losses is sometimes overwhelming. I started writing a book about the topic last year, but it is really hard to trudge through the material when you are still living the grief and TTC journey, so I keep stalling. It just erodes my mental and emotional capacity on a day to day level to be too much mired in all that misery.

    I’m so so sorry for all your losses. I wish there was more to say or do. That we can support each other through the blogosphere is something, at least.

    Sending love and healing your way.

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