When I first think about psychologist and psychology, the first thing to pop into my mind is Frasier and Niles Crane from the old sitcom Frasier (during our third miscarriage, we watched the entire series for the first time). I like to believe my psychologist is nothing like the quirky and pretentious Crane brothers.
But, on a more serious note, having a psychologist has been an incredibly important part of my journey. I initially asked my family doctor for a referral as I was not coping well enough with work stress – back before or at least around the time of the first miscarriage (I cannot remember exactly when). I have always been an over-achiever and a perfectionist, and I thought it was starting to catch up with me as I was working 60-70+ hours a week and feeling the angst that goes along with that lifestyle. So, I thought, talking to someone about learning techniques to deal with stress might be a good use of my time. Little did I know, my life was about to get a lot more stressful as we started down the path of repeat pregnancy loss.
I cannot even remember the conversation topic at our first meeting. All I remember was sitting down in her office and breaking into to tears. And when I say tears, I don’t mean 1 or 2 glistening tears rolling down my cheek. I mean, balling like a toddler who just had their lollipop stolen by their big brother. I should point out, that I don’t cry. Or at least I didn’t. Or maybe, the better way to say it is that I don’t cry in public and I don’t show strong personal emotions in 98% of circumstances (i.e. work, large social gatherings, etc.). I save the personal emotions for my husband and on the rare occasion with a few very close personal friends – for good or bad, he’s one of the few people who get to see that side of me.
So, why do I like having a psychologist? Or more specifically, why do I love having her as my psychologist (as opposed to someone else)? She has provided a safe place to talk about anything, a supportive response, a friendly hug (but she always asks first, which makes me laugh a little inside), and critical recommendations. Part of what makes her so great is that she has had a miscarriage, she has lost a child, and she also has a living child. This makes her perspective especially valuable. She gets it, or at least she gets most of it. Our stories are not the exact same, but there are enough similarities that I can take comfort in the fact that she is not just reading from a textbook, but she is also speaking from the heart.
We don’t always agree. There have been times when she provides recommendations that we don’t agree with. For example, she wanted us to tell our families and friends when we were going through miscarriage number 2. We were adamant that we couldn’t, that they wouldn’t be supportive enough. I think as she’s gotten to know us better, she’s has started to understand more about our families and now understands why we haven’t told everyone. In another circumstances, she has encouraged me to stop working full time for a high stress employer, to focus on my health and my recovery (both physical and emotional). She has been encouraging this for over a year now. She’s right on every level, but up until now I have refused (another topic for another post).
She has been a very important part of our journey, and I wish everyone could find someone as great as her when they are facing such a difficult situation.
We have an amazing rescue dog. She is the only giant dog that is truly afraid of her own tail and hides from big dogs and loud noises. She howls like a wolf at the doorbell, but then runs to door to greet the visitor with her tail wagging a full force.
You might be wondering, why does our dog matter when we are talking about our miscarriages? At first glance this is a bit of an odd topic. But she really is a critical element in a few ways.
First, she was one of the key steps in our family plan. For us, the plan was something like this: finish university with a couple of degrees, get good jobs, get a starter home, get a puppy, upgrade to the family house, get the kids, live happily ever after. She has been a critical stage in our plan, but at this time that I cannot help but think of the old quote:
the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry
– by Robert Burns
Anyways, you can probably guess where our plan has gone awry since we’re still working on the get the kid part. And we are learning to accept that it may or may not happen, which also means that our future may not be quite like we planned.
Second, she knows each time we are pregnant. I have known we were pregnant 3 of the 4 times before I’ve peed on the stick based solely on her behaviour towards me. As a very logical person who does not believe in astrology or any of those things, this does makes me feel slightly crazy – I seriously think my dog knows when we are pregnant? However, I take a bit of comfort in the fact that if you do a quick google search, it turns out I’m not the only crazy one out there – it seems to be a rather well documented phenomenon. Anyways, when she’s very excited she will jump and put a paw on your side or stomach. She stopped doing this to me, 3 of the 4 times. She also sticks to my side like my very own shadow, as if to protect me. Everywhere I go, she is right there with me to the point of having to make her wait outside the bathroom door so that I can have a few moments to myself. Interestingly, with the fourth pregnancy, she didn’t seem to even notice or care, her behaviour didn’t change like it did with the first 3. Her reaction was so important to me that I was convinced something was wrong. My husband was convinced I was crazy thinking our pregnancy outcome could be predicted by our dog, and even tried calming down by saying maybe this time is different and it means everything is okay. I’m sure this comment was clearly a loving attempt to get me to relax and calm down.
Third, she may be covered in fur, but she is a child to us. I grew up on a farm, where dogs did not live in the house and were not members of the family. My husband grew up with a family dog, who just like our dog now lived inside and become a member of the family. Our dog is in all aspects a member of our family and she is as spoiled as any first child. Simply put, my life would not be complete without my furball and I am so incredibly thankful that she’s been by my side throughout this journey.