Living well with fertility treatments - People's stories
#1. Going through a miscarriage
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Introduction - People's stories
All People's stories are written in the 1st person to reinforce their impact.
While anonymity is preserved, all stories are inspired by real facts.
People's stories are examples, to feed you with concrete cases of how the Puzzle has been used. They are not to tell you what to think, or absolute truth: they were created with the intent to illustrate how you can transform your life with the Puzzle.
Each People’s story is presented in the following way:
Part 1. The authentic life experience
Part 2. What that same moment could have been, leveraging the Puzzle
Part 3. Decoding the story through the lens of the Puzzle framework
Part 1 - I kept going without acknowledging I had a miscarriage
I had 2 miscarriages.
The first time, the baby was 2 months old, and I barely felt I was pregnant. I discovered it, and at the same time was told the embryo was no longer alive. I felt strange, like nothing had really happened. Plus it quickly turned into a medical topic, as I needed the baby removed. I had a little surgery, was out before lunch and life continued. I just moved on.
The second time I had a miscarriage, I also tried to avoid thinking about it. And in fairness, there again, I did not know I was pregnant, as I lost the baby very early. But this time, my body did not let go. I kept bleeding for months. But I had better things to do with my life, so I did not really care….
It was only after a few months that it finally hit me. Something was not normal. My gynecologist really wondered what was going on with me, for not coming earlier!!
I was very tired, and indeed my blood test showed some shortcomings. I was given pills to stop the bleeding, which worked out quickly.
All this time, I could not feel anything. It felt like it was all about the mechanics, and so I could keep the emotions away. Not feeling the pregnancy also helped with this self-deflection process. It was just easier for me to think nothing had happened. Also because each time I would start thinking about it, I could not help telling myself that, if I was good enough, then the baby would have stayed. So it felt much wiser not to think about all this at all!
These 2 episodes followed me for a long time. I could not help wondering if I was insensitive, and whether I was really meant to be a parent…. What kind of person feels no pain when losing a child? Was this a sign that I was not “equipped” to be a Mum?! Plus what if not grieving was unconsciously blocking me from being pregnant again!? What did I do to lose two children? And what if it happens again?!
All these questions without answers added a lot of guilt and pressure on myself. I judged myself a lot - being a cold person, and not being worth having a child.
I learned to live with these thoughts, and distracted myself each time they came. I never really addressed them, I just got used to living with my demons.
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Part 2 - I allowed myself to recover from miscarriage
I had 2 miscarriages.
The first time, the baby was 2 months old, and I barely felt I was pregnant. It was not easy to take as I had no time to be happy: I was told that the baby was no longer alive, and learnt at the same time I had been pregnant!
I took the time to sit down and reflect, as all this felt really strange. I felt like something was about to be given to me, and taken away from me. Like “here is a gift for you - oh no, sorry it is for someone else”! It felt like a non-event, and yet it had been a big thing happening to me! I did not want this to be a non-event!
It also meant I could be pregnant - which in itself was a small victory.
As the remains of the baby were removed through a small surgery, I found the courage to ask my doctor whether I had done something wrong? She shared that miscarriage is quite common, and science cannot explain why it happens. It helped me to hear it.
The second time I had a miscarriage, I didn't even know I was pregnant as I lost the baby very early. This time I found out as I kept bleeding. I knew something was wrong, and it cost me a lot to make another medical appointment. I was physically and mentally tired, and had enough of seeing doctors!
Still, it was worth taking good care of myself and my body. My gynecologist gave me a pill to stop the bleeding, which happened within a couple of days.
By that time, I could not feel anything. I knew I should not stay that way.
There would be no grave to go to, and still I had lost someone.
I could not just pretend nothing had happened. Plus it felt I was not doing justice to these children. I did not want their memories to turn into one of my Cold Case.
So after a few days, I made time and sat down in my living room.
How come I was not feeling anything? Because I did not deserve to feel anything.
Why would I not deserve to feel anything? Because Mums do not lose their child, they take care of them. I did not deserve to be a Mum, and therefore I did not deserve to feel like a Mum.
How would I deserve to feel? I deserved to feel like a person.
How does a person feel? In this case, a person would feel sad.
How sad would a person feel? Very sad. Too sad to handle.
And could I allow myself to feel sad? I could not allow myself to feel sad because I would never recover from that sadness. It would be too deep.
Why would I not recover? Because you cannot recover from the sadness of losing a child, so it is not a door I want to open.
Was I sure? Was I 100% sure that no one ever recovers from losing a child? No. Would I want to forgive myself for losing 2 babies? Yes, my heart shouted!
Would it be making justice to them to grieve, as a manner to honour their memories? Yes
How would I feel after recovering from losing a child? I would feel relieved. I would feel strong again. I would cherish the memory of that child, being at peace with myself.
And how would it feel to feel relieved, strong again, and cherish the memory of that child? It would be liberating. I would be grateful for having been pregnant, and be able to move on with my life.
I kept this feeling alive with me, and I took a deep breath.
I had to go through similar exchanges with myself a few times before I felt fully OK. I ended up being at peace with what had happened. Being honest with myself and acknowledging how I felt, really helped. And addressing my Cold Case too.
Part 3 - The Puzzle decoder
Let's decode this People's story with the lens of the Puzzle pieces.
When big unexpected events happen, it is a natural reaction to want to push them away and deny them. It feels less painful that way. Pretending everything is fine. That is quite a common way to protect myself. It feels like the pain would be too much, so better not open the pandora box!
In this example, my Ego wanted to protect me by preventing me from feeling too much pain. It felt as if the pain would be so huge, that it would invade me and never go away.
It is a legitimate concern, and yet it is not something I can be sure of. Feelings come and go. By blocking them, I certainly avoid any emotion in the moment - yet it does not mean I won’t feel anything later on. It could also be that I am building a Cold Case, or reinforcing an existing one.
Still, at times, I do not feel strong enough to deal with everything. It is OK to decide to differ. Just do not fool myself that by never addressing a difficult moment, it will simply make it disappear.
Fertility treatments are very demanding for my body. Bodies also turn into a mean to an end.
Yet, it is still my body: it is more than just these treatments. The fatigue and the physical side effects do not help relax. And, all together, that gives a bigger place to my Ego, as all the signals concur that this is a difficult period of my life.
Being able to physically relax does help coming down. Aside from the needles and other medical exams, it is also nice to take care of my body. It feels nice to remember there is more to it.
When a miscarriage happens, then immediately my Ego steps up to protect myself.
My Compass is also set on fear and sadness.
It takes strength to get out of these instinctive reactions. It looks like protection, but in the end I am polluting myself if I do not address what is going on. Wait until I am ready, and look into how I am living it.
Also, blaming myself for what happened does not help. Easier said than done, and yet so true! Acknowledge what I am doing to myself, and stop the mental process of feeling guilty, turning myself into a victim, or being mad at myself for what happened.
No matter how hard it is to digest, it did happen and I cannot change it. What I can change is how I deal with this life changing event. With the Puzzle, I have the tools. Trust that I have the resources to overcome this difficult moment in my life.
Last, do not forget I have been pregnant. Even if it was just for a few months, I have been a Mum.
When I go through fertility treatments, I tend to see families everywhere. So many women with strollers, so many babies in the street. Usually all happy, or with parents that seem to cope and be ready for everything when their child cries. Looks like the ideal world is all around but in my life…. which is both good because it is what I seek for, and heavy as it reminds me of all that I don’t have!
Think about what my dominant feeling is: is it the fear of not having this life, or the happiness I wish for?
Be very clear with myself what choice I want to make. Find a feeling that suits me, and that makes me well. Bring up that feeling each time I need it.
And act upon what I can. There are also good things in my life these days. It can be good friends, a job I like, some activities I enjoy doing, a funny TV show… These moments matter too, and also as they will feed me with the energy I need to keep going! Plus these are good moments I have, and that I can take the time to enjoy.