Accepting a Messy Life
Someone recently made me stop and think. Literally forced me to stop and think.
Of course, this someone would be my psychologist. I tried to push past something and she simply wouldn’t let me. She caught me and forced me into the conversation and forced me to acknowledge and address my feelings.
Oh, my feelings, how do I loath you.
So, what was the conversation all about?
Simple, our children and me as a mother. And what that all means to me and how I feel about it. (Okay, that clearly isn’t a simple statement or conversation).
Specifically, what is my struggle with allowing our children who never made it to affect my life?
Yes, I acknowledge that I am a mother. I absolutely am. I know that we have had 5 failed pregnancies. 5 flickers of life. 3 of which had known and confirmed heart rates. With all but a few people, I am rather open about it, and honest about the facts of our family adventure.
But, no, I do not think that this means I should live a messy life like mothers with living children. There is a distinction to me – life can and should be messy when you have children. Children make life messy. Yes, I have had children, but none of them are here and therefore I have no reason to be messy. Not now, maybe one day, but definitely not now. Yes, I am trying to learn to live in shades of grey, but I think this is black and white with a clear distinction regarding the impacts that a living vs dead child.
So, I made this statement and tried to change the subject. I tried, I really did.
The distinction in my mind is that children who are alive literally make life messy. Examples of this are easy to find. All the sudden when kids come around, once prompt people are now often a late for everything. Or, the once adult friendly house is now literally messy with brightly coloured plastic toys. Oh, and let’s not forget about the messy diapers and the constant baby spit-up. Children are literally messy. However, children who are not here, and have never been (i.e. lost to miscarriage) are not here to literally make life messy. They are not accepted by society and therefore do not get to make life messy. I guess, part of what I wasn’t willing to accept is that children also make life figuratively messy. This means any child, living or dead prior to birth or even dead shortly after birth, make life messy. Life is no longer predictable. The best laid “life plans” mean nothing once children come along and make an impact, regardless of how long that impact lasts.
I think her point was that children of any sort make life messy. Living or dead. Children make life messy. And, I think my struggle with this is that I still want the order and logic that was part of my life before children. I seem to think that if I don’t have a living child, then I don’t get to be messy. I haven’t earned that badge, at least not in a way that society will acknowledge. And if society will not acknowledge it, then I should not be living messy. Rather, I should be living a childless life, like I did 5 years ago before I even considered kids.
Okay, I see the flaws in my logic and my willingness to accept living messy right now as part of our life. I get that with everything we’ve been through, I do not fit nicely into the category of non-parent, even if society won’t accept us in the alternate category of parent. But, once again, here I am trying to live a perfect life and have my perfect breakdown controlled and occurring in the way I deem acceptable – a reoccurring theme in my life.
So, where does this leave us? Yes, society isn’t about to recognize me as a mother or my husband as a father. That just isn’t going to happen at this point in time, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t recognize who we are; what we’ve been through; and the memories of our children however limited those memories are.
But, how do I accept this as part of me, when it’s a part of me that no-one ever wants to hear about and clearly no-one can see it? But, I guess that’s the curse of miscarriage – no-one ever wants to hear about it and when they do, no-one knows how to respond.
It’s one thing if you have one miscarriage, and then you go on to have healthy children. Society can seem to accept one miscarriage as bad luck and it also appears that most parents do as well (although this is just my speculation based on my observations). I have no doubt that parents never forget the experience of miscarriage, but I suspect it would be easier to move forward when you get a healthy child the next try.
But, what about those of us who have recurrent pregnancy loss. What about those of us who may truly never have a child. Then what? How are we supposed to identify with being a parent, when socially we are not accepted into the parent club? How do we balance this dichotomy? How do we function with this critical element of our identity that we are not allowed to socially acknowledge? How do we find a way to balance and yet shift between categories in a way that is respectful to ourselves and to society?