Alcoholism and Miscarriage?
I’m guessing I caught a few of you with that title, but trust me, it’s not what you think – I absolutely did not drink during any of our 4 pregnancies (although in the end it wouldn’t have made a difference).
Anyways, on to the point. I’ve mentioned before that we are not very close with either of our families. (I’m sure I will dedicate a few more posts to that topic!). Anyways, I was thinking of unsupportive things people have said to us, and thought of another one from my own Dad. Before I go into what he said, I need to provide a little bit of info on my family. We are a blended family. My Dad has 2 biological kids – my brother and I. Both in our 30s, married, working professionals, and doing rather well for ourselves. He has 2 healthy kids. I am on the path to some sort of family, but who knows what that will look like. My Step-mom has 2 biological kids – my step-brother and step-sister. Both in their early 20s. She’s in university. He’s on a path to nowhere as he has failed out of multiple universities and has addiction issues.
Anyways, my Dad, with extended family around (who have no idea about our situation) said we have 2 kids who are lost in life and need to sort things out while clearly identifying myself and my step-brother.
A few things about this comment that bothered me to my very core:
- First, I wasn’t aware that I was lost in life, I just thought I don’t love my chosen career and I am coping with the loss of 4 babies (and I thought I was doing a pretty decent job of it all things considered). I had chosen to talk to talk to you about my career and family planning because I thought I could trust you and turn to you for support. Ops, I guess I was wrong based on that rather insensitive comment.
- Second, thanks for hinting to the extended family that we are going through something – we are really excited about getting to deal with the repercussions of that (is it sad, that I think sometimes it might be easier for everyone to think I’m an alcoholic, rather than have to explain our situation time and time again?). That was just awesome of you. Really it was.
- Third, we’ve worked incredibly hard to be where we are at. To say the least, we are dedicated, energetic and motivated. We have both achieved multiple university degrees, work for very highly respected firms, and excel at our projects. I don’t think that compares to the university drop-out who cannot hold down a job.
- Fourth, recurrent pregnancy loss affects every element of our lives, just as alcoholism does for an alcoholic. But, I don’t believe that these situations can be compared in any way. I believe alcoholism is self-destructive partially by choice, RPL is most definitely not by choice. No-one desperate to be a parent would ever chose to lose their baby (or 4 babies) before they are even born (I’m shocked I have to explain this to you, but there it was spelt out in a very obvious easy to understand, English sentence). Alcoholics cope with stress in a socially unacceptable way, where as we are coping in the most socially acceptable way possible (possibly even to the detriment to ourselves).
Note that I am not trying to belittle the hardships that go along with being an alcoholic, and I completely acknowledge that alcoholism is not an easy life. I am not even trying to say one situation is worse than then the other. They both deeply and profoundly affect every element of the individual’s life. What I am trying to say is that I’m just not sure you can compare the two situations in a cut and dry manner. They are just so different.
I’m not sure what my Dad was thinking that day when he opened his mouth, but I was so shocked that I didn’t even know how to respond. I’m not one to be at a loss for words, but I sure was that day. So, rather than engaging in a very public family argument that would involve me having to tell everyone what is going on with my husband and I, I simply let it go.
But, the end result is that my dad is fading out of our support system. For the last few years, including prior to our miscarriages, I had been talking to him about some of the other stresses in our life, such as my job and career. He spent his career in the same industry, so I thought his perspective would be helpful. But it turns out by letting him into my emotional side, he has determined that I am lost in life. The leap he made was fascinating to me. This type of response is part of the reason I’ve been so afraid of taking a medical leave of absence from work – how will people perceive me? Am I somehow weak because I cannot do it all? When my own dad, who is supposed to be supportive of me no-matter what, determines I am lost and make me feel horrible about myself, maybe other professionals will view this situation the same? And maybe my professional career is over? Yes, I realize rationally this is quite the jump for me to make, but I’m told fears usually aren’t rational.
So, he’s no longer part of the decision-making conversations because, if asking him for advice on what to do about my job or talking to him about the loss of 4 babies means that we are somehow comparable to my step-brother’s problems, then he’s going to fade further out of our support system. So, now he does not get to see the emotional side of this journey, and he simply gets told final decisions and outcomes. I hate this, but right now, it’s about self protection and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.
This decision is a coping mechanism for my husband and I. We have made a very clear decision that only those who support us will get to be part of our journey. Now, I’m not going to cut my dad out of my life, but for now, I am going to cut him out of early notices when we make decisions, I am no longer going to be asking questions about his opinions, or really, any sort of emotional conversations both in respect to my career and to my future family.