Misunderstood

It’s the little things—like wearing my black dress flats for work and noticing they are too big … outstretched from my pregnancy-induced edema.

I haven’t worn my flats for months. Who cares about shoes when your daily goal in life is to take care of chores at home then accompany your baby on her NICU journey?

I wore slippers during those days—for the most part. I got a little fancy on Christmas Day and wore boots. Whoa.

But the point is—I wanted my pregnancy. Duh. But I wanted the whole thing. I worked to achieve my pregnancy for a long time. I began missing it at week 18—thinking I still had at least 20 weeks left.

I’ve been misunderstood.

Well, maybe not. I understand my heart is hardened and full of poisonous things—save for my husband and baby girls.

What some people may not understand is that I feel no need to justify my emotions. Morally, I don’t quality them as “bad” or “wrong”. Regarding the death of my daughter, I do not evaluate my emotions on a moral compass and adjust them accordingly. I can feel however the hell I want to feel.

I mean, people tell me I’m bitter and miserable and sad and can only feel pain. No shit. Tell me something I don’t know. Tell me why my baby died.

But you have Rowan so your heart shouldn’t be filled with ugliness due to the loss of Emmanuelle.

I disagree. Watch your child die. Watch your dancing girl fade away … then feel the need to enlighten me of the ugliness I carry in my heart.

What I haven’t shared is that I have more respect for TTC sisters who admit to being jealous and bitter than those who pretend like they aren’t.

Because that shit is real. It may not be nice. It may not be Christian-like, but it’s real. There is something beautiful about vulnerability. When we allow our walls to fall down, we connect with people. When we present ourselves and all our imperfections, there is grace.

But—in all sincerity—if you struggle from infertility and literally do not feel an ounce of jealousy or bitterness toward fellow sisters, you are a saint. You have a heart of gold; good for you. I hope you use that gift of a heart in a powerful way to impact others’ lives. Because they need your touch. I need your touch.

I do not strive to win a gold medal in the “Pain Olympics”. I mean—I’m just in a shit ton of pain. Reprimand me.

Upon witnessing some of Rowan’s “downs” in the NICU, I pulled away emotionally. I could not lose her too. The thought of losing her … I would have crumbled. My heart would have been destroyed. I don’t take lightly thoughts of suicide; I have been clinically depressed for several years. If I would have lost Rowan …

I have life; I have joy because of my Rowie. And you know what? There are women far stronger than I.

Women who’ve lost both babies—even three babies during a single pregnancy. I couldn’t live.

A teenage girl who endures a cancer battle with her high school sweetheart, only to be rewarded 15 years later with five cycles of IVF; two miscarriages; a death-threatening first trimester carrying her rainbow baby; fucking pre-eclampsia; and a NICU journey starting at the ripe old gestational age of 26 weeks. How incredibly unfair.

A woman whose lost her best friend—her mother—to cancer and endures the loss of several pregnancies; a genetic connection with her children; and the opportunity to carry her babies—an experience that’s supposed to be the silver lining of donor egg treatment. Oh—AND—she has a heart of pure gold.

A woman who mothers her long-awaited baby for just a few days, resting on the promises of a birth mother who assures her for months that baby belongs in an adoptive home. All the joy and anticipation crumbling in a single moment. Where do you even begin to put the pieces back together?

If you are offended by my candid comments regarding TTC sisters who carry jealousy and rage, then—simply—you’ve not seen their Instagram memes and/or blog posts that suggest they—in fact—carry these emotions. And, you know what? I don’t think they’re ashamed of feeling that way, and they shouldn’t be ashamed. In fact, I’m proud of them. Again, I have far more respect for them than those who fail to admit they feel the same way because of societal expectations regarding manners … or whatever the fuck you want to call it.

It’s human nature. We struggle and fight to become the one thing we feel we are meant to be in this world—a mother. We envy those who’ve won their battles before we have without acknowledging the baggage they carry. All we see is the baby bump, and we are desperate for it. Good heavens, it’s just the way some of us are wired—myself included. How else do you think I’m able to identify these twisted emotions? Pardon my honesty.

It saddens me that a journal entry mentioning Emmanuelle turned into such a debate. My beautiful girl deserves more than that. And it’s not a guilt trip; I take full responsibility.

I’m also disappointed that I won’t get to share Rowan’s beautiful face with you. I’ve been waiting to receive her newborn three month-old professional photos to show you all what she looks like. But—this space isn’t safe enough for her. And I acknowledge that—though this is my journal—it’s on the fucking internet. It’s free for anyone to make of it what he or she will, I suppose. How naïve of me, right?

Tangent: I noticed today that a new follower has taken some of my language from a recent post and “written” a blog post of his/her own. And this blog post’s very little re-arrangement of words and phrases barely disqualifies it from being straight up plagiarism. A loved one of mine tells me I ought to be flattered. Would you claim photos of my baby as your own too? A very scary thought indeed.

Lovely women, you amaze me! You are so gracious! I truly admire your hearts and understanding. I pray for nothing but the absolute best for you all. May all your dreams come true. You have blessed me more than you will ever know. If you have not received a personal thank you from me, please do forgive me and know that I am so lucky to have you in my life. God bless each and every one of you.

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36 thoughts on “Misunderstood

  1. Oh gosh. The internet. It’s the wild wild west sometimes. I understand you not wanting to show Rowie on here. I agree that she should be shown only where it feels safe and I’m bummed that this space of yours doesn’t feel safe anymore.

    I’ve appreciated your writing and honesty. It’s the realness of your words that make people come back. I honestly think you could write a memoir. No one wants fluffy. There’s a great quote from Seth Godin that says “If you’re remarkable it’s likely that some people won’t like you.” Your story, your strength, is remarkable. Don’t forget that.

    I realize that some may be jealous of my success, but I’ve strategically chosen not to share the back story out of respect for the hub’s and our daughter’s privacy. I wore myself out publishing all the nitty gritty online, so it likely appears from the outside that I’ve had an easy ride. I hate misleading but I also hate strangers misunderstanding and weighing in with opinions on my life, my husband, my baby. And I hate that my bump might hurt others. That really sucks.

    Take care of yourself, lady. You inspire many.

  2. Another quote I love. This one from Anne Lamott:

    “Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary action – truth is always subversive.”

    You owe no apologies for telling your truth.

    xoxo

  3. T – I know what you mean about not wanting to share your back story out of respect for your family. In the beginning of my journey, we weren’t sure and some tests were unclear … All good there though. I applaud you for your integrity and loyalty to your husband and daughter. You deserve to enjoy your bump and show off your beautiful daughter. You once had to watch others’ bumps grow without your own. The emotions are just shitty and messy. We can’t make everyone happy, but I bet it means the world your husband and daughter that you’ve put their privacy first.

    • Thanks mama. Yes, the emotions, life!, are messy.

      Yeah, the details felt too sensitive to share with just anyone. I constantly have to resist the urge to put it all out there – all the juicy, interesting, would make a good story, details – and remember why I’ve chosen not to. I admire people who share with grace (you!) but the internet is forever and infertility has haunted my family enough. I’m a natural sharer so learning to keep a few things close to my heart is a real discipline that I need to learn.

      xo

  4. Have you considered going private with your blog or maybe a password protection on it going forward? I had to make that decision for the protection of my girls.

  5. I don’t comment on your posts a lot, but I read them and love them because they are so vulnerable and candid. The raging debate about if you’re ‘allowed’ to feel shitty is shocking to me. I think you’re comments about our feelings are so spot on – sometimes I feel like there is a weird pressure to be all shiney rainbows shitting unicorns in the IF blog world, and to be unconditionally supportive. Well, that’s nice but it’s BS. There’s something really beautiful when we can all concede that there is nothing ‘fair’ about this business, and that we are all on our own path of pain and redemption and difficulty and it’s enough to witness it and feel all of our feelings – whether they’re the ‘right’ ones or not.
    Thanks for what you’ve shared. I’m sorry your safety has been compromised. You have done us all a favor through your candidness.

  6. I hate the qualifiers you feel you have to make now. How dare someone judge you and make you feel like you have to explain yourself. I think you should make your blog password protected. Keep those people off.

    • Hey there girlie. I’ve given it some thought – password protection. Maybe I could just use more discretion though …. I don’t know. I appreciate the support though. Xoxo

  7. Oh man, I am so guilty. I choose to mask my feelings of jealously-it was a weird happy kind of jealousy-almost worse than normal. I would find out someone “escaped” the trenches and it would sting and I would feel jealous-then tremendous guilt for feeling jealous and then angry that this was my life and that I couldn’t just be NORMAL and happy for people. It got worse after my first miscarriage and then unbearable to see bumps with the loss of the triplets.

    I think so many people just don’t get it. I was one of them. When I first was ttc and had a few failed IUI’s under my belt, I read about a woman who had given birth to triplets and lost 2 and 1 lived. She was devastated. Naïve me judged her sadness “BUT YOU HAVE ONE! YOU HAVE WHAT I So desperately want! Be happy!” I yelled at the computer, rolling my eyes because she at least had one. Fast forward 3 years later when I lost the triplets 1 by 1. As desperately as I wanted Jude to live and had hope that he would, the fact that I had delivered his sister weeks before felt cruel, I was broken. I loved him, I hoped for him, while I had to deal with the tremendous grief of losing my sweet daughter. I know get it and try so hard to not jump to such conclusions. I think jealously and ache to have a baby can blind us sometimes.

    You are doing an amazing job mothering BOTH your daughters. Have you heard of the book “mother of all mothers?” If not, send me your addresss @ hollybenson10 at yahoo.com. It really helped me ❤

  8. “When we present ourselves and all our imperfections, there is grace.” Allison, this is beautiful. Really, one of your most eloquent and touching posts. And I agree with Holly, you are doing an amazing job of mothering both girls, of balancing the pain and the joy. There’s no parenting guide for what you’re living through every day. Offering you and all of us (including myself) a lot of grace… we’re all broken and jealousy is just a small part of that brokenness. Love and hugs to you, sweet girl.

  9. I have no idea who would expect you to not be mourning your Emmanuelle and just be happy that you have Rowan. I’m SO THANKFUL you have Rowan, but losing Emmanuelle was a freaking nightmare. And you lost her on your birthday. With another child not even close to out of the woods in the NICU. And you also lost the third trimester of pregnancy, which is hard in and of itself. Rowan is a precious gift, but that doesn’t change the fact that your life has been hell these last few months.

    So good god woman, complain all you want. And rejoice all you want in your beautiful red-headed baby. You have earned the right to do either.

  10. The internet its not good, either decided its all out there, consequences and all or don’t, but its a bit difficult to feel like there is justification for when others, strangers no less get hostile. As some one who has blogged since the young age of 16, anonymity was always key. My blog now at times is personal, and you know how that went.
    The hashtags, they tell their own story.

    As your family, it saddens me that we no longer get a glimpse of our niece and the cousin of our babies. Please don’t shut everyone out of your life, its not safe or healthy, you have been through too much and real ppl that know you care deeply for you and what your family is going through are here.

    You are absolutely right to not share pictures of your baby on a public form, such as your blog, read by far more than TCC sisters.

    We love you and both your girls, Ro and Emme.

    • You’re right. It’s best maintain anonymity for sure. Though I share my story, people will still have their negative thoughts regarding me and my character/attitude. Fair game on the internet I suppose.

      • Ppl have these thoughts and it’s kinda like, oh well, that person doesn’t like me, personally, I try not to give a shiv, unless they are my family, then, I wanna talk about it, so I don’t ruin a real relationship. It’s hard not to have your attitude with everything you have gone through. It’s not forever. You are in the very acute grieving phase of this…there are good days, bad, string of good, then some dark shitty ones. I hope the number of good is getting better for you…
        . I’m starting therapy again, like in two weeks, bc my anxiety is just crazy, still. My anxiety, as you know, is so limiting, and that’s what depresses me, I can’t control it! I want control damn it!
        If you haven’t yet, maybe you could make time for it, therapy, counseling, etc….mental health is so vital to everything, like everything. Babies pick up on how their mama feels and respond to it, not to comfort you, but match it…my psych recommended the Anxiety And Phobia Workbook, a book I can buy online from amazon…I like cognitive therapy myself. You could bring Rowan with you, so no lost time. It would probably really, really, help.
        But again, your rage is honest. Your feelings are honest. Don’t ever change bc some online a-hole doesn’t agree with your feelings, they can piss off, it’s no ones place to tell you how to feel about anything, sure they may disagree, but it’s totally not appropriate to comment and rage against you. It’s YOUR journal, you can and should be free to express anything you feel like!

  11. You apologize to no one. You are allowed to feel every emotion under the sun. There is so much joy that you have to share with Rowan over these next few months and years. I do not for a second allow that to take away from the grief of losing Emmanuelle. Do not allow anyone to tell you how or what you should feel, say or do.

    I’m also sorry that someone would take anything away from your personal writing space. Ridiculous. Rude. Asshole.

    Sending you love today and always, my friend. xoxo

  12. I will be the first to admit that during my IF struggles, I was constantly jealous and bitter. Regardless of what the other woman had went through, once I saw that bump or that new baby, I wanted it. Bad. It may not be right, but it’s also part of human nature and very hard to overcome.

    I really don’t see how it is anyone’s right to tell you how you should feel. No one can truly empathize with your loss unless they have also experienced loss of such magnitude. And even if they have they still can’t “know how you feel” because everyone processes things differently. You are not grieving “wrong”. You are grieving. Period. That’s ok! It’s nobody’s business!

    I’m sorry that your blog is not a safe place for sharing pictures of Rowan with us. I would have loved to have seen her. It’s too bad how a few negative people can ruin things for everyone. I totally understand your reasons for protecting her though and I think you should do exactly that.

  13. Just another person from the internet writing to say how sorry I am that your safe space has been violated by a thoughtless & ugly commenter. When people act viciously in this way, we all lose: you, for the obvious reasons; but also all your current & future readers, because another enlightening voice in the world has been…well, if not silenced, then subdued. I am saddened (but surely understand) that you will now hesitate to write as clearly and honestly about your feelings as you have before.

    And for what it’s worth–I’m glad you’re feeling a bit feisty these days.

  14. Amen! Thank you for having the courage to share the truth! I have my family now through adoption and surrogacy, and I absolutely adore them. But I still experience on a daily basis the sense of loss and anger over the experiences that I missed out on that others get to have. It is only when I read stories like yours that I realize I’m not alone, that my anger is a natural biproduct of the nightmare of infertility. No one can tell you how you should feel after what you’ve been through. No amount of blessing can erase what’s happened to you. Things do get easier with time, but I don’t know if the grief ever goes away entirely. We learn to cope, and courageous people like you make it easier.

  15. I agree with Suzanne. You apologize to no one. We’ve all had shitty parts with infertility and no mater the magnitude of our lows there is no one who is allowed to tell us how to feel. Honesty is treasured here. Thats what you are writing. Don’t you dare stop writing what you feel. Xoxo you feel for you girls. That’s what Mommys do.

  16. It angers me that people think you shouldn’t mourn emmanuelle because “at least you have rowan”. I mean, it really infuriates me! If they had two children, and one died, would they say that then?? Is it just because emmanuelle was brand new? I don’t get it. But it’s extremely ignorant to say that. OF COURSE you are going to grieve Emmanuelle, in fact, it is important for you to. And there is not a person in this world that wouldn’t in the same situation. It doesn’t mean you love rowan any less. It doesn’t mean anything like that. It just means your human! Geez.

    I admire your honesty. I write about infertility a lot, even on FB, because i want people to know it’s no joke. i want them to know how much it hurts. I want them to not for one second take their babies for granted! I am sure some of them think it’s not the worst thing that could happen to a person. And it’s not. But it doesn’t make my pain any less valid. And i agree with you – ALL women deal with jealousy & rage during infertility. One friend of mine (who is now 7 months pregnant after 7 years of infertility & several miscarriages) is someone i truly did consider a saint – she had such a positive attitude about it all – even she says she went through a period of jealousy & anger. It’s completely normal.

    Hang in there, girl. So sorry you’ve had to deal with mean comments in the midst of your grief. xoxo

  17. I just went to check in on you on IG and saw that you deleted your profile. So I decided to check your blog and see that I seriously missed something. I’m sorry this space doesn’t feel safe to share. You have every right to feel how you feel and write what you want. Sorry you’ve been made to feel like you need to apologize for that. Hugs!

  18. Oh Allison, I won’t even pretend for a second to truly understend your gut wrenching pain. I will however stand with you in solidarity. You have every damn right to feel as you do. As a TTC sister, who has experience a loss, I can admit to being jealous of others’ pregnancies and babies. No shame there! I had to accept that it was ok for me to feel selfish. I wanted so much out of life, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. I hurt, I yearned for something that was beyond my reach. I had to watch “it” happen to everyone else for all the right and wrong reasons.

    Thank you for sharing your story and for opening your heart to my dream. I understand your need to protect your privacy. I wish you and Rowan the best. May your family continue to grow and revel in all of the wonderful memories your Rowie will bring to you!

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