‘You really should think about having a child'
I can still see her beautiful smile as an elder friend placed a slice of local salmon on my plate, "Oh Adria, it's so nice to see you with all of these kids, you're such a natural."
I told her how easy it is when they were your best friends children, and smiled the thin lipped smile. I hoped to get away with out another mention, but I wasn't quick enough.
"You really should have children. I've had three and they are absolutley the best thing Ive ever done in my life. I wouldn't leave it for too much longer dear."
I truly wanted to just hurl the plate of food at her. I imagined screaming at her, "Cant you see my pain?!" But instead, I just walked away with my well rehearsed, "Yes, if I were to be so lucky."
She smiled as if she had managed to convince me to put aside my career and start trying and I imagined running away on a safari in some exotic land where I would never have to explain my self to another soul.
I stumbled upon this fabulous article in Women's Weekly that speaks to 9 Do's and Don'ts of supporting a friend through miscarriage.The blog post ‘I’ve Had Multiple Miscarriages—Here’s What I Wish People Knew About Supporting a Friend Going Through One" an by Charlotte Anderson, Women's Weekly
Her blog post lists 9 points that every friend and family should read:
1. Just Talk about it
2. Don't seek to explain it
3. Do be mindful of anniversaries
4. Don't expect her to feel a certain way
5. Do be aware of her medical stuff
6. Don't make future predictions
7. Do include her
8. Don't forget her partner
9. Do give her a memento of the baby
Some of these points are powerful reminders to experiences I have waded through on my own journey these past six years:
Just Talk about it:
I feel like some of the best support that has ever come my way was in stumbling upon other women who could share their experiences, or who weren't afraid of mine. A "failed pregnancy" is a taboo subject at the best of times, in fact any loss or grief is awkward and difficult to navigate around. What are you supposed to say when you see another person hurting?
I remember after my first miscarriage, I walked around among my community of friends and family for over a month in silent grief. One night I offered an acquaintance a ride home and as we neared her house she turned to me and asked "How are you?" I looked at her and asked, "Do you really want to know?" and her open face and loving eyes told me she understood more then I could imagine. I sat in the car on the side of the road with the engine idling and she let me just talk. The flood of feelings that bubbled up felt like a damn bursting, and I felt safe in her presence. It was as if I was able to let myself hear how i was feeling, as if in a way I could speak from my own compassion and self love. Her presence was a life line I hadn't realized I needed, and at times, continue to need.
Don't seek to explain
Oh yes, my favorite explanation was after my first unborn child. A dear friend turned to me after learning that the man I had conceived with had run-off, stolen my savings and was wanted by the police for physical assault. "Well aren't you glad you didn't carry that monster's child?, What a gift of God!"
all I could reply was a simple "Maybe" The truth was that my logical mind wanted to agree with her, but my heart held the innocence of the unborn child, and I bit back against my hurt.
Do be mindful of anniversaries
Ah yes December... the month of two of my ultra sounds that resulted in the words, 'Your fetus is demised'. The last time I was asked to wait until the New Year to see if my body would pass it naturally. As I walked up to Christmas dinner the tree was proudly decorated by my cousins 3 month ultra sound picture. It still amazes me the feelings of shame and loneliness I felt in my loss. And, as December seems to be the month, my last partner announced to me two weeks before Christmas, "I have decided I don't want to have a child with you'.
I feel like "I" need to be mindful of my anniversaries and set a reminder in my calendar for the month of December: "NURTURE YOURSELF!"
Don't make future predictions.
This is one even I am guilty of. I met a woman the other day, and we spoke gently of her infertility. She is 44 years old and in her sharing, told me of a friend who is 45 and pregnant. I looked at her and said, "well we just never know do we?".
Oh the look i saw wash over her was all too familiar. The shielding of the eyes, the shallow breath, the biting of her lip. I saw the tired hope in her eyes, and I apologized. Sometimes hope is a bitter reminder of what is out of our control. "I'm sorry," I said as my hands held my heart in compassion, "you don't need to hear that, would you like to share more?"
She looked at me and her defensive edge softened, She paused, breathed deeply and whispered, "Thank you, It reminds me that sometimes I feel like this is only one dance within lifetimes." And she walked away.
Do include her
Dinner was served and my girlfriend handed me her 7 month old, teething, drooling child. "Im starving" she said, "Do you mind holding him?" What was I to say, "Uh Yah, he's your stinking kid, I don't have one - remember?! Don't make me hold him!"
She didn't wait for an answer as she turned to settle her two year old for dinner. I sat, looking at "him", and wondered how it would be if he were mine. Annoyed by the indignation of my friend, I took him outside for a little stroll under the stars and before long, I found myself talking to him, and I found my heart opening slowly to let the love out. Other friends started doing the same, pasing their child off to me when ever I was around, calling me "Aunty Dia", and leaving me with their offspring. Reluctantly, I found myself feeling grateful for being included in their lives, and I felt an inclusion I had otherwise resented.
A memento of the baby
How I wish I thought of this earlier. Instead I burnt my diaries, and ultra sounds pictures. I tossed the little things I had purchased, and i tried to erase the memory of my early conceptions.
Years later, I can reflect on how powerful it would have been for me to have had a Spirit Baby Statue to talk with daily, to light candles for, to make offerings too, to hold and to identify my precious pregnancy with. Now as i practice working with my Spirit Baby's in meditation I find peace with their beautiful souls and love the connection that is rightfully mine. I agree with Charlotte Anderson and feel memento's are truly an important gift we can offer a friend or loved one as a symbol of what we have created, rather then what we have 'lost'. It helps us attach the love that is often displaced in grief, and creates a space to share our uncensored feelings.