Don’t call us, we’ll call you

September 10, 2009

“I will weep a while longer”

I’m weeping even now as I post this, though I wrote it days ago.  It’s some of the stuff I’m working through (or some days, not being able to work through). It’s quite lengthy, probably depressing, and I still don’t know if I even want to post it or not.  Neal and I have been debating how to work through my grief, more praying (probably never a bad idea), maybe another round of therapy (some people don’t know this about me, but that would be round #4 in my adult life), more talking about it, less talking about it.  I guess I’ll try this and see what happens and go from there.

***

I remember my first few phone calls with my mom after my roommates and I were in a big car accident in the summer of 2003.  Despite surviving what could easily have been a fatal crash, I felt no real fear.  I told her, probably too matter-of-factly, look at it this way, no one is in two crazy car accidents in their lifetime.  Now I’ve gotten it out of the way, you don’t have to worry about that anymore.  Statistically speaking, I still think I have some sort of ground to stand on because it is very unlikely that a person would be involved in two cataclysmic accidents (particularly if they are a passenger in both, as I was, meaning it has nothing to do with their driving ability).  But the older I’ve gotten the more I understand how unhelpful my “insights” were.  Probably first and foremost because this happened less than 3 years later:

(So much for a universe where you could accurately compute probability)

(So much for a universe where you could accurately compute probability)

But also because she understood better than I just how uncertain this life is, and how having children intensifies that feeling with these beings that are both part of you and separate from you.  You can’t control them, or what happens to them, and the illusion we create that we do have control over this uncertain world vanishes, sometimes over long periods of time and sometimes in these earth-shattering, life-changing moments.

This is actually a post about miscarriage; I just didn’t know how to get it rolling.  A couple of months ago, I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting and I felt this intense spiritual prompting that I needed to talk about my miscarriage during a Relief Society lesson I was teaching that day.  It was both a dramatic and traumatic experience because I had never spoken publicly about it, and really not very much privately either (at least in comparison to just how much I’ve thought about it).  I sobbed through the rest of Sacrament Meeting, and surprisingly (that’s a joke in case anyone doesn’t know that I cry pretty much every. single. day.) I still had tears left in Relief Society.  I’m honestly not sure what people heard me say because I felt like I was completely unintelligible through all the weeping.

Afterward a sister asked me about how recent the miscarriage was, thinking that it was in May (this was June).  And it struck me how out of proportion my grief must seem since it was quite a few months earlier.  I thought that some sisters who didn’t ask probably thought it happened yesterday with the way I could barely speak about it.  Since then I’ve been wondering about my grief, wondering if part of its length is just how little I’ve talked about it.  All I know for sure is that it is raw; some days I feel like it is still happening.  I’ve read a lot about other people’s experiences with miscarriage and I’ve talked to people I know, and I can’t help feeling some difference there.  I mean, most of them felt so eager to try to have another baby while for months I felt completely guilty to even consider it (of course, I also felt an opposite pull based on the fact that my body is sometimes not-so-slowly breaking down and the window for bearing children seems brief).  I’m ultimately unsure if I wanted to feel like my suffering was like theirs in order to make some sense out of it, or if I wanted it to be uniquely mine.

I remember reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl when I was 18 or 19 and beginning to wrap my mind around the fact that suffering is relative.   Thank goodness he understood this better than I do because can you imagine a therapist who survived the Holocaust not being willing to accept the truly subjective nature of the human experience—I have been in many therapy sessions in my life and thank heaven none of them included the phrase, “You think that’s bad, I remember the first day in the concentration camp . . . .”  Of course, the ultimately mind-bending part of this concept for me is that even our own suffering is relative.  It’s not just that we can’t understand other people’s subjective experience, but that from one minute to the next we can’t really accurately interpret our own.

I’ve had this internal monologue with myself at least once a day for many months now: you’ve suffered much worse than this.  This is nothing compared to, say, the whole of 1999 and 2000. And at face value, I agree; at that point I was completely lost mentally and emotionally, and physically I couldn’t really get out of bed most days.   But that’s where this whole relativity issue comes in because on many days I feel like the sorrow now is both so acute and so unending that I could never possibly have felt worse.  So am I really suffering more now than I ever have before, or do I just feel this now and so it feels worse even though it isn’t?  And here’s that uncertainty again because I’ll really never know.  It’s entirely possible that even though my life was demonstrably worse back then, my capacity for feeling has grown to such an extent that both joy and sorrow are deeper now.

I suspect that most mothers would agree that our capacity for feeling actually does grow, at least that seems to be what many are trying to articulate when they first have a child and feel internal changes taking place.  Of course, that comes back to part of the rub: to the world I am not a mother.  This doesn’t really bother me because it is the only rational way to view my current situation, but it does underscore why I think it’s so difficult to communicate what I’ve been feeling and experiencing for many months.  The way I’ve sometimes articulated it is that I feel like I’m walking around a totally different person than I was a year ago, but no one can see it.

It’s not as if I have a grand answer about how the world should act differently but I just know that I am often left feeling that there is no place for dealing with miscarriage, particularly early miscarriage.  The further along you are the more people acknowledge that you have, in fact, lost a baby.  I don’t begrudge people the things they say to try to be helpful because I know it is an impossible situation to be really helpful in, but it is hard to endure the implications that there was barely the seed of a baby, not really a baby at all, almost like a wish that never materialized.  Because, at the risk of being too graphic, you are physically passing real things out of your system, and at least for me, it was truly and deeply distressing.  And then came the real surprise that those days were the easy days compared to what came after: the trying in vain to figure out how to say goodbye to someone that you just absolutely were not ready to say goodbye to.  Someone that was real to you, but didn’t exist for anyone else.  Someone that you miss everyday, but no one else will ever remember, save God himself.

It’s been many months now and I’m moving on with life (I can’t adequately express how guilty I feel when I say that.  Even though I know that’s how life works—it moves, whether we move with it or not—it still feels like a betrayal to the ones that we have to let go of, even if temporarily, in order to move forward).  I’m trying not to lie in bed watching TV and movies or surfing the internet all day long everyday (maybe someday I will try to go a full day without escaping to one of these things, although truthfully that day seems a very long way off).  I’m trying not to stay awake all night thinking and grieving (tonight is clearly not a good example of that effort).  But I guess I wanted to capture something of how I’ve felt before time passes and I forget how intense and painful it all is/was.

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11 Comments »

  1. Love you.

    Comment by Emily T — September 10, 2009 @ 10:39 pm

  2. Lindsay, this is such an insightful post in so many ways. I especially find the idea about our capacity for feeling is something that grows with time a beautiful idea. I considered being a social worker at one point and asked my mentor if she became desensitized through in order to cope with all the horror around her. She looked at me, and shook her head and said that she cared more now than ever. I think that’s the way it should be.

    Comment by Rachel — September 11, 2009 @ 1:28 am

  3. What I like about you is that you do still feel. Not everyone’s capacity to feel grows I don’t think. Some people close themselves off from feeling. I remember reading something from Neal A. Maxwell. We are all going to have trials. We choose whether we learn from them or not. Feeling the pain I think helps us to process, and learn. I know I’m a different person now than I was. I don’t even believe anymore that you always change for the better. Sometimes I think you just change for the different. It’s not worse or better, it’s different and it leads you down a path you never dreamed you’d take. Then maybe one day, you realize that the path change makes what you do…well, I don’t know. I just know I’m on a different path because of some of the things I’ve endured. Thanks for sharing. I learn about you and it helps me to face my own trials. Love you.

    Comment by Audrey — September 11, 2009 @ 2:43 am

  4. I learned a lot from reading this. I had no idea how complex one’s emotions become after a miscarriage. I’m inspired to be more compassionate.

    Comment by Nikki — September 11, 2009 @ 2:48 am

    • send me an email at tkcaudle (at) yahoo.com – there are some things about a miscarriage I had that I feel prompted to share with you, but not in a public forum.

      Comment by treen — September 11, 2009 @ 3:07 pm

  5. Well I don’t have anything helpful to say. But my heart does go out to you. And I kind of teared up reading this, which is a lot for me. 🙂

    Comment by Elizabeth Harris — September 11, 2009 @ 11:08 pm

  6. How poignant and tragically beautiful is your vulnerability. I commend you for your strength and courage to share this and trust us with your deepest hurt. You are a precious gem and I am honored to know you.

    Comment by Cari — September 13, 2009 @ 5:02 am

  7. I really appreciate this post. Despite the pain and sadness it references, I find it inspiring. A few thoughts that came to my mind: 1) I have learned that one of the reasons God lets us sorrow is in the hope of us being more compassionate; it appears you are doing that well. 2) In the Ensign article “My journey to forgiveness” it talks about the Lord not being judgmental about when we forgive and to just wait for forgiveness and welcome it when it comes. I think the same can be said for healing from grief. Don’t worry about when you are ‘supposed’ to get over your intense grieving, but when time passes and various experiences allow the pain to be eased (but probably not ever erased), simply embrace that relief to the extent possible. 3) I have a blogging friend who experienced a miscarriage before the birth of her daughter. She writes about it in the May of 2008 (Happy Anniversary?) and 2009 (Why is it still so hard?) at http://gerka.blogspot.com. Maybe reading about her experience will help a little. 4) You are amazing. I love you, and I wish I was more like you in many, many ways. Miss you!

    Comment by Vickie Blanchard — September 15, 2009 @ 6:53 pm

  8. I’m a former ward member of yours and I distinctly remember the lesson you gave in Relief Society that day. I can’t begin to tell you all that I was thinking as you shared your story with us, but I was grateful that you found the courage and the faith to follow the promptings of the Spirit. The things you shared helped me a lot, and I can say with certainty that I wasn’t even the one (or among the many, perhaps) that the Lord was thinking of when He asked you to share that information, so I’m positive that there were others in Relief Society who benefited and learned.

    I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say with all of that. In any case, I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you and that I wish you the best in figuring out what will work for you, what steps will get you to a peaceful place with all of this. I’ve experienced miscarriage secondhand (my mom had several during my adolescent years), and I think it’s one of those often-overlooked tragedies that can sometimes leave women scrambling and reeling. I see you as an incredibly strong and wise person; I can’t imagine I’m too far off the mark (I’m hardly ever wrong, you see. Just ask my husband =). Whatever God has in store for you in this journey, I believe that it will help you to become more and more like the woman He needs you to be. God bless you.

    Comment by Sara Hanks — September 16, 2009 @ 8:05 am

  9. As painful as i’m sure this post was for you to.. well.. post… i’m grateful that you did so. I had no idea that it affected you so deeply and i think you explained it very VERY well.. perhaps too well.. i see the way you feel now and it makes my heart ache and it makes me want to hug you and it makes me wish we lived closer again so we could plan lunch and not keep it. 🙂 I can understand the pain you must feel of being alone in the feeling of this person… i know that when i was pregnant i felt lonely too because enos couldn’t understand the significance of having a teeny tiny person he couldn’t feel inside of him… and i wanted to feel that with someone but it was very personal… only between lucas and i. I know that when you meet him/her in heaven again that they will say to you.. “i remember that time mom and i charish it.” Just keep that in mind and look forward to that time. i love you linds. 🙂

    Comment by Lindsay — September 20, 2009 @ 5:44 am

    • Lindsay – Thank you for so succinctly explaining what I could not and for helping me realize that I am not alone.

      Comment by Samantha Gaulden — March 20, 2013 @ 8:23 pm


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