Easter bunny wailing under the gray scrim / The Scarf Technique

Nothing like the Easter bunny to make you cry out loud.

It has been one of those days.

I used to love Easter as a kid. It was my favorite holiday. I can’t tell you how much I want to share this holiday with my baby, my kiddo. To create Easter Egg and Easter Basket hunts. To enjoy the spring outdoors with my family. To buy cute little spring clothes for my cute little baby. It is hurting today. And I am wailing. Even though yesterday DH and I went to Montauk to the Parish Art Museum (gorgeous) and spent some time at the beach (also gorgeous), and by Saturday night, my eyes were clearer and my heart was lighter, I still woke up this morning deep under what I’ve begun to think of as the “gray scrim.” I can’t see much from under the scrim. Can’t breathe properly. Tears are at the ready. Not much gives me pleasure. I miss, miss, miss my five babies as if they had become flesh-and-blood babies in my arms. I feel sad about my breasts, which have not been used for what I thought I’d be using them for at this point, and which are drooping a little from age, unused. (I know, crazytalk.)

I tried to explain to DH that I am not only sad about losing those pregnancies; I am also sad about losing touch with dear friends who have gotten pregnant, had babies, and are now raising babies, toddlers. If I hadn’t gotten sucked down into hell, I would have been the first person to call them and celebrate them. I would have bent over backwards to see them. I would have sent gifts. I would have asked a thousand questions, trying to get to know the little person. This is who I used to be. I have lost all of that, and I can never have it back. I can’t go back in time. I can’t ever be there for their once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What a thing. What a painful thing.

I could only handle so much, and I lost touch on purpose. I couldn’t manage to see a friend’s baby, for example, when I’d just miscarried and my products of conception were in a jar in the freezer (for later testing). A mutual friend recently gently chided me for not seeing that mama-friend & her toddler back then, saying “life is short,” and I hope when I explained what I’d been through at that particular point, jar-in-the-freezer and all, she understood! (At least this friend would never say to me, as Elle did not too long ago, that my losing touch with women who are becoming mothers is my own “personal failing”—I’m not sure I can ever forgive those words.)

In an effort to reconnect to who and what I love, I tried to get back in touch with one of my dearest friends today, and sent love to her new little daughter. The friend, I’ll call her Shane, was lovely eight months ago, saying she wanted to give me the time and space I needed, and that she wasn’t going to let me slip away. Easter and springtime make me think of her. I fumbled my way through an email, letting her know that one of the hugest losses of this entire stupid situation has been missing out on her pregnancy and the first months of life of her first child. Even if it was my choice—I still do think the best one for my mental health—I felt entrapped by circumstance and now feel my personal loss compounded by the loss of that special time with her. I didn’t go into all of this. But I did express the gist. And I didn’t tell her the gruesome details of what I’ve been through most recently. I did tell her a little about our life on Long Island. I found it difficult to sound cheerful. I’ve always been so real with her, shared the most intimate things with her. So difficult to give her the edited-down version of my life. But after months of no contact, I wasn’t going to bombard her with details. I did tell her how much I missed and appreciated her. I signed off with the words “With full heart,” tears falling freely onto my keyboard.

I tried to explain to our therapist last week that part of not keeping in touch with new mothers is how disruptive it is to my daily life—I cry a lot in response to the photos, the stories, and then have a difficult time at work, and so on. There is a practical side to it. It’s not easy going to work with Rocky Balboa eyes, zombie-fied from crying. If I could snap my fingers and stop the emotional response, I would, but the emotion is raw, and the tears must flow.

If I hadn’t cried today, the sadness I feel would’ve come out tomorrow in weird behaviors that mystify myself and others. So it’s a good thing I allowed myself to cry today. To be sad. I spend most of my time being strong, and I get weary from holding it all together. Tomorrow at work I will hear a million and one stories about the fun things people did on Easter with their families, and I will have to say in response to their questions, a million and one times, “No, we didn’t do anything. My family’s in Ohio and, no, we don’t have kids, so…” And I will wear a scarf with my dress in case I have to use the technique I have developed during the past two years:

The Scarf Technique:

–Halt the tears at the brim of the bottom lid.

–Do not let tears fall.

–Duck behind a corner or, if nearby, duck into a bathroom stall and close the door.

–Take edge of scarf to corner of eye and absorb accumulating tears.

–Wait approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute for the redness of eyes to change back to almost-normal.

–Congratulate self on not smearing makeup.

–Reenter society/ workplace/ room or hallway of people who may do a slight double-take when they see you, their smiles slightly fading, but who will most likely not notice anything.

–If you receive a comment such as, “You okay?” always reply, with a sharp sniffle, “Dang allergies.”

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13 Comments

  1. I’m sorry. I had a bad day yesterday too. I skipped what should have been a fun party- a friend’s big Easter egg hunt. I just couldn’t go watch all the kiddos being all cute and all the parents beaming at them. I already have a no-baby-shower rule but I guess I need to add other events to that list too. It sucks. And the friend part is so hard too. Sometimes I feel that my weekends have become ever quieter, as all our friends are having babies, and then moving their social lives more towards others with small children. I do manage to stay friends with some people with kids, but only because they are wonderful friends and I have been honest with them about our struggles. It’s possible to maintain friendships, but I think they have to be pretty special people to begin with. Also, it’s easier once the kids become toddlers. I’ve found pregnant women and newborns are just on my “no way” list, for now.

    Reply
    • Easter egg hunts—I hear you. Like a sucker punch in the gut. I’m so cowardly I literally hid inside all day long. I have a no baby showers rule, too. Yes, the quiet weekends! And I find it much easier to stay in touch with my friend who has 8-year-olds…but I still have a hard time asking after them. And I used to be so interested in everything they did. Anyway, it is good to hear how similar your experience is.

      Reply
  2. I am sorry. These ays suck. But you should be proud of youself for allowing a sad day and the tears. Like you say, if you try to push it away, it will bubble up when you least want it too!

    Reply
  3. The scarf technique is something I practice a few times a week myself. It’s exhausting to always fight the emotions that inevitably come with the daily reminders that we’re babyless. The toll this takes on our friendships– which would have been different otherwise– is just another loss we have to endure to help heal ourselves. I think the friends worth keeping will accept our struggles, our love from afar, and let us back in when we’re ready. I hope your Easters to come will be happier ones for you.

    Reply
    • I hear you. It is what it is. And yes, I hope those friends hold on and let us back in. The friend I wrote about in this post hasn’t returned my email yet, and I’ve told myself that it doesn’t matter if she does or not—I did the right thing for me to contact her now, not sooner, not later, and I hope she can just accept that and let me back in. More than likely she just feels super-awkward writing back, not knowing what to edit out or whatever—I should have written something like “I don’t need you to edit yourself or your happiness.” If she writes back, I will say that to her. I’m ready to have her back in my life. As if to demonstrate this, my neighbor just this second interrupted me with their ridiculous adorable one-year-old (whom I’ve been avoiding like the plague) and, lo and behold, I didn’t die! I hope this is the beginning of a new era. But if not, I know I can only do/take/be so much, and that just has to be enough.

      Reply
  4. I was literally nodding my head and crying while reading this post. I feel exactly the same way, with the “mothers.” I used to get so excited to hear about pregnancies and wanted to hear every little detail. Now I don’t even talk to the Mothers anymore.
    I also have a “Shane.” A friend who got pregnant (not planned at all) who told me in the best possible way, that she’d give me space, that she woudn’t go away. Well, of course she did. I guess she couldn’t handle how difficult it was for me, maybe she became bitter. She now has her baby and I’m still babyless.

    Reply
    • Oh nooooo, she went away? She didn’t let you back in? What on earth could she be bitter about? If that happens with Shane, I hope I can find it within me to understand. Here it is, many days later, and she still hasn’t written to me. I’m disappointed. But maybe she needs more time…I hope this isn’t forever. That would be such a shame. I’m sorry, so sorry, your couldn’t handle it. I don’t understand—what is there for them to handle? They have babies! So bizarre. Makes you realize how strong we really are! It would be nothing for us to handle such a situation—we have handled situations far, far more complex and difficult and straining and have overcome those situations, again and again and again.

      Reply
  5. A.

     /  June 10, 2013

    My good friend at work is pregnant. I was better with her first; I had been through less then. She had gotten pregnant through IVF herself because of her husband’s bout with testicular cancer, and I still had hope for myself…that I would get to join her club, that I would eventually graduate.

    That baby just turned 2, and I am in the darkest place of all in this journey, trying to accept that it is very unlikely I’ll have my own genetic child, that I will have that information soon and the door will close on me for good. Her belly is growing. We share an office and a prep period (life of a teacher…functioning in 40-minute increments) and she spends it, often, talking to other moms about diapers and nesting and plans for her leave. I have to flee the room, roam the halls, homeless, duck into the the safe space of the corner bathroom stall; I have used the scarf technique many times. And you’re right: the mental health decision to separate from triggers compounds an already profound loss.

    Reply
    • I wish I could be there, in those halls where you are roaming homeless, or in the next bathroom stall, slipping you tissue (or a flask). “separate from triggers compounds an already profound loss”—yes! My heart breaks for you. For us. I know how impossible it is to stay in that room and listen to her nesting plans. I know how insane life seems, that it would decide you get to share a prep period with your good pregnant-mother friend, someone you love, someone you want to share those joys with so badly your teeth ache, but you absolutely cannot. I know how it feels when those you love hop onto a new shiny boat, leaving you in yours, which is leaking and reeking of fish and the captain is a drunken madman. You are in the darkest place now, and I’m not—I’m over here, where it is lighter (f’ing finally!!), remembering that darkness and hating that you’re in it, and I’m calling to you, letting you know that it really won’t be this dark forever. I wish you love and peace.

      Reply
  1. Not grasping for Baby/ Hearing from Shane/ The donor twins in my life/ My future practice | the unexpected trip
  2. (Much) more on couples counseling | the unexpected trip
  3. Changes | the unexpected trip

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