Aug 6, 2012

searching for a new lightness

I used to smile A LOT. I was always a very smiley person. I also used to be kind of famous for my laughter, which was totally contagious. I can sort of boast about these things because it is so removed from who I am now. My fourth grade teacher overhead me laughing in a restaurant from another table without seeing my face and she instantaneously knew it was me. I was 22 years old. I hadn't seen her in 12 years.

People from all corners of my life always used to comment on my smile and laugh. It was something that stuck with them. My physical chemistry lab instructor approached me one day in the middle of lab, three weeks into the semester, and quipped disappointedly "A., I hear you are so much FUN! You haven't said one fun thing yet!"

In my new life, I never say anything funny, either on purpose or unintentionally, and I don't smile or laugh very much, either. I think I am actually a total downer to be around. I have been thinking lately that I wouldn't want to spend too much time around me. Poor Y.

I have slowly, over a long period of time, turned more and more inward. Most people who have met me in the past few years would probably describe me as awkward, serious, introverted, and well, whiny.

Infertility and loss has made me more empathetic and given me depth and maturity, but those things are much harder to see and appreciate, at least on the surface. Infertility and loss has also made me less vital, less zany, quirky and fun -- a muted, subdued version of myself. And I think I might also be less good-natured and more inclined to hold a grudge, especially if you were a jerk to me when I lost the twins.

More and more turned inward. I think that really accurately describes it. Not self-involved in a narcissistic or conceited sense, but in a darker self-obsessed way. Self-obsessed with my misery, my bad fortune, my inability to understand or answer all of the whys of how this came to be our lot.

I realized recently that I have been complaining a lot about stupid things. Mostly things that are within my control. And I realized this all serves as a cover. I think I have a compulsion to complain because of what really bothers me and how freaking unfair it is, but because it is not socially acceptable to talk about my infertility or my dead babies, I just complain about completely stupid inane stuff instead:

Y hasn't yet taken me to a baseball game this summer, we will probably never go, pity me, etc. etc. Read: My babies died and I am still incredibly pissed and sad and confused about it pity me, etc. etc. It must be so annoying to listen to.

Self-pity. Well, there is not much more to say than that self-pity really blows. No one wants to be proficient in the art of self-pity, but thank goodness, those of us who have gotten really adept at it are usually too self-involved to notice, save for the brief glimpse of self-awareness.

I wonder if I actually talked about the heart of it and acknowledged it outside of this blog like it is a normal topic of conversation: That I have had a really shitty, disastrous go of it conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy. That I had babies but they died and I don't know why things happened the way they did, but that it is really unfair and sucky. That I wish and pray for a living child every day -- whether maybe some of the burden would be relieved and I could find some lightness again and stop acting like a crochety old hag who is so hard done by.

I wish I could act like someone I would actually like to spend time with, but I am not there yet and instead I am too involved in self-pity and self-loathing to have an open heart. How can I find the beauty and the fun in simple things and in my friends and family again? Can I reclaim my smile and my laugh, even if I never feel my old, unhinged lightness again? And can I learn to find a new kind of lightness among the heavy things?


  1. This is such an important question and issue to face. One of my biggest fears (right up there with remaining childless forever) is dealing with the loss of self- this journey can definately take you there. I hope, truly, that time will let you rediscover your inner joy for life.

    On the sciencey front, I just had my 3rd loss and they Finally ran a RPL panel, some interesting stuff (that I had never contemplated) came up. Apparently, I have an increased risk of blood clotting due to genetic deficiencies in genes that inhibit coagulation.

    I looked up whether these increase the risk for placental abruptions and apparently they do. Have you had this part investigated? A full RPL panel run for early losses might be useful for you.

  2. I know this reality. I have come a long way from last October, but I am still not who I used to be before the infertility and loss. I have many blog posts about feeling the loss of 'me' and being on a mission to find out how to get back to a happy place.
    I don't have all the answers for you because I haven't been the same since. But I can tell you that you have to want it badly. You have to find that woman you are down deep not just for you and your husband, but for your family, friends and future children. I knew that I could never be a good mother to a future child without fully grieving my twins and finding some happiness again. It's hard. I won't lie. You'll have to push yourself to do the things you love and feel that it's okay to laugh and smile again. Part of the problem is that you have guilt and don't think you SHOULD feel happy. At least, that's what it was for me. I had to give myself permission to laugh again.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I, too, have always been told about my pretty smile and great laugh, but laughs are now few and far between, sadly. I hope you can find that person again, even just a new version, who knows the darkness, but is still able to live in the light.

  4. Jay - I am so so sorry for your 3rd loss. Big hugs to you. It is just devastating. Despite an SCH early in the pregnancy, the partial abruption, and then clots found in the placenta of the unaffected baby (Naava) when they did the placenta pathology, my thrombophilia panel was negative. I am really glad I had it done, though.

  5. Alissa - I knew you'd understand. I don't feel guilt so much when I do feel happy, but I am just so sad most of the time. I think I really need to push myself and make an effort - hopefully, even if I feel like a phony at first it will rub off and the smile will eventually be genuine.

  6. I have wondered if I should comment on this post. Mostly because you would perhaps look at me as someone who now 'has' what we have been pursuing for so long.

    All I want to know is that I have hit an emotional bleakness to the extent of sheer numbness myself. And I am fighting still. I keep wondering if my current anxiety also stems from my history.

    And doing things with one baby, I keep imagining two.