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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Even Stirrup Queens Don't Know the Right Words

Lest someone believe that all Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters (SQs and SPJs to you) know the right thing to say, we experience the same lack of words when confronted by someone else's fertility loss. Our book will have many ideas of what NOT to say/do, but since comfort is subjective, I'm not sure we can make the inverse list--the right thing to say, the right hug to give, the right phone call to make. I think if we keep the mantra: it's all about (fill in name here) and not about me, we do okay. Not great. Not wonderful. Okay. But, then again, I'm come from the mindset that the only thing that will completely assuage the pain is to not be experiencing it at all. Therefore, nothing said or done will completely take it away.

Last night, a friend revealed that she had recently had a miscarriage. And I, a Stirrup Queen through and through, could not come up with anything comforting to say. Beyond listening. And a hug. The magical me wanted to conjure a parade of elephants into the living room, marching over the gorgeously shiny hardwood floors to deposit her baby back into her tummy to cook for many more months.

It's hard when you realize that you are no more magical than anyone else you encountered during your IF experience.

I'm so sorry, sweetie. I wish there was something I could do for you. Something to help the healing move even faster. I can't--and I'm so sorry about that too. I'm here with information if you need it. I'm here with an open ear if you want to talk. I'm here with a car that can drive downtown and pick you up for some extremely mindless female bonding that includes alcohol. the very least...chocolate and coffee (wait, chocolate and coffee? I mean, we will sit down and eat an entire chocolate cake IN ONE SITTING). I can't put the baby back in your belly no matter how tightly I hug you. I'm sorry about that too. Hang in there. Know that the entire self-aware portion of womanhood has your back.


gtj said...

I just wanted to point out that even those who have suffered through infertility can also say very mean hurtful things...

I belonged on an online group of women and after about 4 years *most* of them became pregnant (through IVF etc)... and I had chosen adoption over IVF and had a beautiful baby boy... well they decided to move the "moms" over to another board so as not to upset others by talking about their babies... When I realized the had done this I asked why I wasn't invited to the new group and the response I got was "Oh, we forgot you were a mom." ... needless to say, I am no longer a part of that group.


Anonymous said...

I've learned that it is hard for anyone (even SQ:) ) to know what to say to other couples who are having trouble conceiving or have lost a child. My brother and sister-in-law began their IF journey about the same time that we did. Though we talked frequently about our treatment, our feelings, and our experiences, we never discussed how we should handle it when one of us finally became pg. Well, I was the first to get pg and I (stupidly) assumed that because we had shared so much that she would also share in my excitment. I don't remember exactly how I told my brother and SIL that I was pregnant, but I do remember that it was weeks before I spoke to them again. I know it was painful to them. That pg ended in a miscarriage right before Christmas. I remember sitting with my SIL and telling her how much more emotionally painful m/c was than IF. As soon as it came out of my mouth I realized how incredibly insensitive (and inaccurate) that statement was! I couldn't believe that after so many people had said stupid, insensitive things to me that I could sit there and minimize her emotions. I was so consumed in my own greiving that I momentarily forgot that, though I was mourning the loss of my baby, she was mourning that she never had one.

I have had two more opportunities to tell other IF couples that we were pg. Both times, I handled it differently. Both times, I handled it imperfectly. What I've learned is that there is no perfect way. Every woman is different. For that matter, each woman is different from day to day. The universal truth is that IF hurts and since we've felt that hurt, we can show compassion and empathy and humbly ask forgiveness when we screw up!


Murray said...

The hardest part about my miscarriage was hearing my very best friends, my mother and sister say things like 'you can try again'.. blah blah (all those things people say that feel like slaps in the face). I was angry with them. I felt like my grief was just pushed aside like it was nothing. Like I should just 'get over it'. I think that is the part that shocked me the most. They were only trying to be nice... They didn't know what to say... That experience really woke me up. When people are grieving there is really nothing to say. other than you're sorry and that you'll be there to listen. As long as they need to talk about it. Because you love them and you want them to be happy -Not sad. I feel like they let me down. I wish I didn't feel that way. In the end I felt like why bother telling anyone? Why bother sharing how you feel? If in the end, the words will just hurt you (even if unintentionally).

Anonymous said...

The worst thing to say is to say nothing at all. At least you said SOMETHING. At least you achnowledge their pain and loss. When I had my miscarriages I had people whom I thought were my best friends avoid me for 2-3 weeks until I "got ever it" I guess.