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.
I greatly struggled with both the decision to take a recommended medical leave from work and the decision to start writing for myself. As it turns out, having 4 consecutive miscarriages was just the excuse to I needed to start writing from myself, from my heart – hence this blog. I’ve always loved to write, and in fact I am paid to write technical things like policy, bylaws, reports which are all full of technical jargon. So, the writing I am accustomed to is fact based, to the point and completely absent of emotion. But, the decision to start writing for myself has allowed me to open up about a lot more of the stuff going on in my brain.
What it comes down-to, miscarriages or not, I have a deep-rooted need to do something more with my life. This is where the medical leave from work starts to come into play – taking this leave will help me recover emotionally and help me figure out what I want to do with my life. But I have no clue what that is – I’ve discussed this in my past post Taking the World By Storm. I always thought a big part of my desire to do more would be to dedicate myself to my children. But, after 4 miscarriages, what I know now, is that I can no longer just assume we will have a family, and therefore, I may never be in a position to dedicate myself to raising children. I don’t mean to be cavalier about this, but, it is very true. Like it or not, we have a very high likelihood of not having children.
After spending way too much time thinking about why we are trying to have a family now, I can honestly say, a large part of why we decided to start trying to have children, was that I was looking for more in my life. My husband has said on more than one occasion, he absolutely wants kids, but he doesn’t care if they come right now. This schedule is in my head, not his. In many respects he is right. I’ve used the excuse of our biological clocks as why we need to have kids now (which is true and waiting longer will result in additional fertility problems), but there is a lot more to why I want kids now. We both agree that kids seemed like the logical next step in our lives – we have the financial means to afford children, we have the family cars, we have the large family house, we have the trained dog, we’ve done some adventurous traveling without the responsibilities of kids, and kids would also provide me with a higher purpose to my life to.
But, I can honestly say that a large part of why I was ready to have kids was a direct result of my distaste for my profession, my frustration with my lives’ work and my desperate need for something more. Having kids gave me an out form a meaningless job and career, while letting me share in the happiness, joy, sadness, that comes all with all the major life milestones of being a parent. Really, it just made sense to have kids and take a break (rather, escape) from work for a few years. But I also now recognize that even if by some stroke of luck or near miracle we end up with a healthy child, raising children may not be enough for me in the long run. Having a child and returning to my soul sucking job and industry is not going to be a lifelong solution, as I once thought it would be.
So, all of this means that I recognize that I need to find the answer beyond the traditional family route. This may sound nice and easy, but honestly I’m frustrated and annoyed by this. I have no clue where to start. And the fact that I don’t know where to start, just makes me more frustrated because I adamantly know that I should be able to find the solution because:
First, I’m fairly well-educated, yet, now that I’m asking a question of myself, I cannot find the answer. Not having the answer, or at least being able to find the answer is foreign to me and I find it dreadfully uncomfortable. I’ve always been able to research and find answers or at least best practices to emulate within my specific circumstances. But, right now I cannot. There are no books written on me, or on how I am supposed to find my way out of this situation and find fulfillment in my life, or how to accept our potential life changing reality, or where I should turn for advice. Yes, there are books on many of these topics, but none relate directly to me. None provide the answer.
Second, I’m trained to find solutions to problems for other people, not myself. I have never looked inwards, I always look outwards at society. I have an Undergraduate degree with a major in Sociology and a minor in Political Science. I also have a Master degree in Planning.
- Sociology is the scientific study of human social behavior and its origins, development, organizations, and institutions (Wikipedia)
- Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, nation, government, and politics and policies of government (Wikipedia).
- Planning (urban, city, and town planning) is a technical and political process concerned with the use of land and design of the urban environment, including transportation networks, to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities (Wikipedia).
I am literally trained to look at other people and how they live. Analyze what makes a healthy society; analyze how development patters will consequently affect future residents; analyze how people live; analyze what factors contribute to a highly functional society; and, analyze trends and statistics on a very broad level. Basically, how people interact with each other and the spaces they are in on micro and macro scales. I am also trained to manage projects and teams to help ensure successful outcomes and results in a fast paced environment.
I am not trained to look at myself! As some who has spent the last 12 years looking at others and society, it is really quite daunting to start looking inwards. To start looking at myself is really freaking scary and might just cause a real breakdown!
Thirdly, in no part of my upbringing was I taught to take care of myself. I was taught to be a great person, to make a difference, to be positive, to be caring, to help those in need, to achieve top grades, to be fiscally responsible, etc. To be something! Although, this was amazing advice, at no point in time, at least not that I remember, was I taught to put myself first. My parents did not impart any great lessons about how to take care of myself. If anything, my subconscious has taken these lessons and interpreted them into causing great guilt about spending time on me. I guess my well-being was just supposed to develop somehow along the way?
So, now while trying to put myself first, I am struggling with massive guilt about my own perceived selfishness. Mostly, I am feeling incredibly guilt ridden for not pulling my weight financially in my marriage (which is kind of ridiculous because at least for now I’m being paid a reduced wage while I’m on my current medical leave). But, I feel as though I am not contributing. The idea of even buying a book to read makes me feel so guilty that it’s probably not healthy. I have never been a freeloader, but now I feel like one. And, while I know my husband and I made the decision that I would take a medical leave from work largely so that we can try one more time without any work stress during the pregnancy, I know there is only going to be so long that I’m going to be able to deal with my guilt. My guilty mind perceives the situation as my husband working so that I can spend my time blogging; buying and reading books; meeting with my psychologist; and, meeting with career councilors as I try to figure this out. Not the most noble of pursuits.
So, now, I continue to struggle with this idea of what to do with my life. This new-found desire to find myself is all great and dandy, and I know on some level that part of finding myself will be dedicating myself to others (does that even make sense?!). But, before I can do that, I have to find out more about me. What makes me happy? Who am I really? What can I do? How can I inspire? How can I transition from where I am today to wherever it is I am going to do in 5, 10 or 15 years?
I’m an average person, not an extraordinary person. So, how am I supposed to do this? And how am I actually supposed to make a positive contribution to the world? How am I actually going to take the world by storm? Or even, just make a small positive mark on the world?