Today I volunteered at the MT’s playschool. It runs from 9 am to 3 pm which is a pretty long day for kids aged 19 months through 5 years. It gave me some perspective on a few things. A vantage point.
First, the MT has some truly remarkable qualities of which I am deeply proud. Among them is his empathy with others when they are suffering. A new kid who just started with the program last month is very young and “cry-ey” in playschool teacher/parent vernacular. She was having one sob-fest after another before 10:30 am.
My eldest (living) son tried several times to console her. I watched as he offered her among other things both compassion and affection. She rebuffed him every time.
The MT persisted. Not in an annoying or thoughtless “it’s all about me, you rescuer” way. Patiently. Softly. Using hushed and warm tones and gentle touch. Eventually I had to tell him that she only wanted to be held by an adult (and one particular teacher if not her mom, who wasn’t there) and that he would not be able to help even though he was doing the “right” things to comfort and acknowledge a friend’s suffering.
Other vantage point have presented themselves of late. For example? The MT adores his baby brother but in recent months has blurted out things like “Mommy can we have a baby girl?” or “Mom can me and [baby A] have a sister?” and “I want a baby girl Mommy.”
Yeah kid. Me too.
These moments are not helping with my ambivalence and deep longing for a third child (which began as an ache for a daughter but has morphed into a more general longing for a child). Yet they too offer a vantage point and challenge me to sort through my melee of feelings and thoughts on the subject.
In the past few weeks since first sharing my feelings about this topic I have swung like a pendulum between declaring the prospect absurd and out of the question to pining with an intensity that is hard to put into words. The LP and I have drafted pro and con lists and shared them with each other.
Mostly I’ve detached from my feelings and spent the majority of my time numb about it. Somehow that seems easier than engaging my feelings.
I was thinking about all of this today while volunteering (I was looking at family photos on the “Family Tree wall” which made me want to interview every parent with more than two living young children).
Unexpectedly, I got a text from the LP’s only nephew’s wife. She is expecting. My eyes burned and I had to bite my lip hard to stop from bursting into tears in the middle of the playschool Pirate Ship.
Almost immediately I wrote the perfunctory “Congratulations” and “Cute”tt about their pending announcement (which included a 12-week ultrasound photo. Because when we have not personally experienced loss those things make sense I guess?)
To be clear: I don’t begrudge women or couples who celebrate their babies or who make early (or any social media) announcements. But. Still. They send me down a rabbit hole. That hole is rife with pain and other feelings I don’t even know how to articulate and feel deeply ashamed even acknowledging now that I (finally) have two living children of my own. How dare I have these feelings?
I did cry when I told the LP when he called to ask how things were going at the playschool. I couldn’t help it. I felt ashamed and confused by my emotions then too.
After my “shift” at the playschool I finally gathered my wits if not my feelings and texted again to thank her for telling me before announcing on social media (she’s pure lovely and one of my few Face.Book connections on my real-name account). I also admitted that I still find unexpected announcements on social media traumatizing for reasons I cannot explain (given the two living kids thing).
The weirdest part? I had a dream the other night that she and her husband were having another baby (they had number one last year on the MT’s third birthday). They got married on the due date of the baby we had longed for and lost in my first pregnancy. I never forget their anniversary. Sometimes life’s timing serves ulterior purposes I guess.
Anyway, watching myself withhold my feelings in a space where it was not safe or responsible to acknowledge or feel them and reflecting upon it late compelled me to think about why I have so much shame in relation to something so “natural”. By way of example, it goes something like this:
Thought/feeling #1: Why can it be so easy for others and so hard for us? (Eyes burning.)
Thought/feeling #2: I will never make an announcement like this and I never have. (Chest aching, throat tightening.)
Thought/feeling #3: How heartbreaking is that? (Tears welling up.)
Thought/feeling #4: It’s your own fault for letting fear and recurrent loss run your life.
Thought/feeling #5: You have two healthy living children. Even if you fought tooth and nail for them, they are here and you are pining for the grass you perceive as greener on the other side of some imaginary fence. Shame on you! (Cold wind encasing my body. Feelings going numb.)
Though/feeling #6: I should reply so she doesn’t think I am traumatized or begrudging them for their good fortune and ease of successful conception. (Sending congratulatory text.)
And on it goes.
From the vantage point I now occupy I see that I’ve been stuffing down my feelings about my own longing for the last several months.
Last Friday I wanted to cancel the telephone consult we scheduled quite a while ago. It is scheduled to take place in a little over a week with a doctor at a Canadian facility where we might be able to cycle if he will work with Dr. Braverman and follow his protocol or if he will prescribe my past successful Braverman protocol even if he won’t support working in a consultative capacity with Dr. B. Friday was the deadline for cancelling and getting a refund on the charge for speaking with this doctor.
The LP didn’t want me to cancel. I don’t know why not but I didn’t cancel. Yet I’ve oscillated wildly – so wildly it’s kept me up at night on occasion and I’ve had to settle on numb rather than engage my feelings, whatever they might be, about it all – and had come to rest on the decision not to try again about a month ago.
For a variety of reasons I am not ready to share here I have been flip flopping since then. On the whole I get the sense that my heart simply is not in this. I think it is reluctant to face getting broken yet again.
I do not know how to explain it. I feel detached. Afraid. Ashamed. Uncertain. And exhausted by the indecision. A part of me just wants to shut this process down, grieve the sense of loss and move on. I want out of the limbo.
Which brings me back to shame. Damn that emotion. It is a destructive little devil. And immobilizing.
Is my ambivalence fueled in part by shame (and her evil cousin, guilt?)? I do not know but for the first time the question has presented itself to me and it feels hungry, in need of an answer.
I think I need to start journaling again. And therapy. I’ll add both to my to do list.