It is the most absurd of luxuries to know exactly why I’ve been depressed lately. For those of you relatively unexposed to mental health issues, that probably sounds completely ridiculous. For those of you with mental health problems or dear ones who have them, that probably sounds familiar. Most depression bouts have triggers, but they’re rarely obvious. They’re things like an exciting upcoming event or a slight shift in sleep schedule or a missed medication two days ago or a weird food thing or you name it, it can mess with mental health. Trying to suss out what caused the mess is sometimes as stressful as the mess itself.
But that’s not what things look like right now. Right now, I know exactly what’s going on and that doesn’t make it a bit easier.
Content warning for the rest of this post: There will be a lot of medical talk and talk about hospital visits and body functions and blood and trauma and death and grief. It’s a raw deal I’ve had the past couple months and I am still raw, so I’m going to be very honest, very detailed, and very un-filtered here (language included). I understand this may not be for you, but I also won’t be talking very much about this again, so if you want to know what’s going on, this is the place. Please read thoroughly and carefully before commenting.
So. Here we go.
Let it be known, I really didn’t want to share this. This is private and awful and I have been avoiding this since it happened the first time. I have been going at this mostly alone (not completely, and thank you to those who have been there for me), but it is rotting me from the inside. I need to be able to talk about this as things occur and I feel and process. But know that it’s something I only want to talk about on my terms and I will let you know both here and in the future what those terms are. Please be prepared to respect that.
I miscarried recently. This is my second miscarriage. The first was very painful and relatively non-traumatic. This one was relatively non-painful and very traumatic. And in both cases, the bodily announcement of the pregnancy was also the bodily announcement of its ending. That is a serious brainwarp. You never knew what you had until the moment you lost it and it’s not like you were emotionally invested in this specific pregnancy but you still want to get pregnant and so you mourn the loss of the chance to be emotionally invested and WHY UNIVERSE WHY DOES IT HURT TO EVEN TRY TO PROCESS THIS?!
I miscarried in May. Well. In May. In June. In July. All the same miscarriage. I just could not stop bleeding. The entire fucking month of June was a nightmare of blood and tissue and cramps that would.not.end.
And then it did.
And then, on July 1, it started again, along with extremity swelling and high blood pressure and a reasonable panic from medical professionals that I might have post-partum eclampsia because miscarriage is a bitch like that and can still stick you with the potential for fatally high blood pressure and not even give you the benefit of a child.
Yeah. Fuck that shit.
So, to the hospital I had to trek (thankfully with a wonderful husband and mother by my side) and sat there for hours with only a bra and a gown and a literal fucking straw in my right arm just in case they needed more blood (they did – five vials at first, one later that night). Let me tell you, no matter how flexible that straw is, it is not flexible enough to make bending an elbow when providing a pee sample (or trying to read a book or transferring in and out of a wheelchair for your external and transvaginal ultrasounds) comfortable. It HURT.
And that’s when I found out I was still pregnant. Six fucking weeks and my body couldn’t get the message that this was over. I find it monstrously unfair that a decision that is already emotionally fraught is such a difficult physical and emotional process beyond the decision itself. No eclampsia, thankfully. But still pregnant. Oh, and I had a burst cyst to add into the party, because I needed that.
So I had two follow-up blood tests to determine when my body finally got the message. It took twice as long as I was told to expect for this pregnancy to give the fuck up (would that the fetus had been so tenacious in hanging on at the beginning). I also had to schedule a follow-up set of ultrasounds because the burst cyst might continue to be a problem and we need to make sure it isn’t. I am waiting for the trauma to end and trying to ignore it.
But I can’t. Because I’m TRYING TO GET PREGNANT. And my doctor told me that I needed to pin down my ovulation cycle and in order to do that I’ve been keeping a daily chart for three months trying to do just that and there, in the midst of vines and singing birds and twee flowers that seemed like fun at the beginning of this failed adventure, are the exact dimensions of my despair.
And to make it even better: the data is USELESS. A miscarriage and a burst cyst have thrown off my cycle so badly that I had to delay my fertility appointment for three months and I have to do it all over again. What new horrors await me in the midst of those vines and birds and twee flowers? I’m terrified. Those calendars feel like cages, and no amount of color or organization can make this seem like innocuous data.
I hope you can see why I didn’t want to share this already, but there’s more: I didn’t really want people to know that we were trying to get pregnant at ALL. Why? Partially because of a fear of this–I know miscarriage happens a lot. Partially because the weight of expectations is stressful enough when it’s just two people desperately hoping this will work.
Because I didn’t want the follow-up questions. The how’s it going? The so are you pregnant yet? The when are you having that baby?
Because I don’t want the hyper-feminization. Yes, I am hoping to be a carrying parent, but I do not aspire or plan to be a mother. I will co-parent with my husband and be a Mer (the title I will go by as a parent) and I will be exactly what my children need but I have Z.E.R.O intention of fulfilling what would normally be considered a “mother’s role” because while I honor those who take on the mantle of mother, as a non-binary person I will never be a mother myself and I am entirely okay with that (and so is my husband). Yet I know the world (and some well-meaning people in my immediate world) will be throwing every single bit of the hyper-feminization that comes with being a carrying parent because this is the glory of womanhood (except that non-binary and transmen absolutely have babies, too – frequently – so this experience, while mostly experienced by women, is not exclusive to womanhood). That, I look forward to the absolute least and it is the part of pregnancy I dread the most. I didn’t want to have to start fighting the battle any earlier than I had to.
Because I don’t want well-meaning invasive conversations about my body and what treatments am I pursing and what treatments other pursued. Believe me, I am well in contact with my doctors and we are doing everything we can and also we know what we can’t do. I need to be able to trust them. Part of that is not being inundated by suggestions from people who are not intimately aware of my medical condition.
Because I don’t want people asking, “Is it the lupus?” I don’t know. Maybe. I’ll probably never know and neither will my doctor and believe me I have wondered if this body made up of over-eager protective instincts has created a hostile environment for my heart’s longest and deepest desire and whythehellwouldyouaskmethatIdon’tneedhelpblamingmyself!
Because I don’t want people sharing their miscarriage stories. If you do, I will want to mourn with you, especially now as I know the pain more intimately than I had before, and I simply don’t have the emotional capacity to process anyone else’s pain right now. I don’t have the capacity to process mine alone! I have to go to therapy to process it and, while that is not at all bad, it IS indicative that I cannot. mourn. your. loss. right now because I cannot. mourn. mine.
Because I don’t want pinchy-eyed sympathy. I don’t want private messages of sympathy and concern. I don’t want any sympathy! I want silent solidarity because anything you say right now might set off a landmine and I don’t want that for me or you. You don’t deserve what might come out and I don’t need help tripping over the triggers in this rather full field.
Because I don’t want to hear platitudes and lessons on faith and eternal families. I don’t want to hear how I’ll learn from this. I don’t want to hear how I’ll get pregnant when I stop trying/start looking at adoption/least expect it. I don’t want to hear how I’ll get the chance to raise these lost babies in the next life. I’m so far away from there right now. I don’t want to hear how those spirits were too precious for Earth. I don’t want to hear everything happens for a reason one. more. fucking. time. I don’t want the all-will-be-well stories and the here-cuddle-my-baby-for-comfort offers. I don’t want to hear anything that might seem comforting in the eternal scheme of things because I am still screamingly raw (and also there’s not a whole lot of doctrine behind some of those statements and so I just want to yell and kick and a bash my head against the wall at the massively un-comforting false doctrines being paraded in front of me).
And before you think this is a list entirely made of my paranoid fantasies, I have experienced these to the letter. Already. I know how they were meant and I appreciate the intention, but this is my stand where I draw the line and say I CANNOT take any more. My heart simply will not allow another drop in this bucket.
Lastly, I have kept this silence because I worry about who I may hurt the longer I don’t share. I have close friends who I have entirely shut out of this process. This will be how they find out I am trying to get pregnant. These are friends who have been waiting to raise their children with mine. These are friends who have told me as another family member their own struggles and joys in this area. I am not ignorant of the hurt this may cause and that it couldn’t be avoided once I chose the path of silence. To you, my dear friends who I did hurt, I am sorry. I hope you can understand with the lupus and the gender expectations why even you, who try so hard to give me the space I need with the former and the respect I deserve with the latter, may have been too much at times. I was trying to protect myself and perhaps I chose the wrong way, but that choice was all about me and not about you. I trust you and love you. Sometimes, I fail to trust and love myself.
And so, we have come to the point that I share, despite all these reservations, because these are the *exact* dimensions of my despair and they are poisoning me.
So, with all the do not wants and the anger and the lack of desire, but desperate need to share, here are the terms I promised:
- You can stay silent if you simply don’t know what to say or how to say it. I fault you not at all.
- You can say, if you simply must say something (and I understand, oh, I understand that instinct), that you love me. That you wish you were here. That you hold me in your heart and in your thoughts and that I am not quite so alone as I might feel.
- You can offer help, for such a time as I am ready to take it. Do not state what that help might be (that can too easily deviate into miscarriage stories or health advice), just tell me you have help to give when I am ready. I will come when my heart has strength. And I will hear your heart’s desire for my own to find peace.
- You can pray for me. You can keep me in your thoughts. You can send positive vibes my way. Those are always most welcome and appreciated and it will not hurt one bit.
- You can trust me to process this with my doctors and the professionals and my husband and family.
- You can trust me to ask for what I need from you.
And so, my loves, my friends, my treasured persons, these are the exact dimensions of my despair.
But also, perhaps, here lie some of the dimensions of my hope.