Thursday, October 9, 2014

Numb

A few months ago, my friend Jasmine posed on a question on her Facebook wall:  What makes you Howl?  Right now, the last thing I want to do is howl. Right now, all I want to numbness. Numbness and an empty head.  This, of course, is asking a lot from me...


At the end of a long summer of unemployment and dating, I found myself still single, still unemployed, and newly pregnant.  After a moment of hesitation, a scan on one internet site on the abortion pill that after ten seconds left me in tears, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was having baby number three.  Unlike my other two children, this child would be mine and mine alone.  While the complications of my current life would make this a challenge, my parents, sister, and close group of supportive female friends allowed me to see that this task would not be impossible.  Secretly,I was delighted.
 Secretly, because for the first time in my life, I was completely taken over by an unfamiliar emotion: fear of what other people would think.  More specifically, fear of how my tight knit Jewish community would react. While many find me quirky and endlessly entertaining, my lack of social currency and refusal to fit in can be a hard pill to swallow. I've mostly accepted this reality. 

As the weeks went on, the nausea enveloped me and the muscle memories of my other pregnancies made it hard to hide my newly pregnant belly. However, every ounce of me felt the need to hide. I stopped going to my coffee shop filled with Jews, avoided my married friend’s morning walk around the new walking loop at the JCC, and stayed away from any place I might run into people from my community. My secret happiness was overshadowed by this constant worry of their judgment. When Rosh Hashanah rolled around,  I stood over the Torah to chant. All I could think, “They know I’m pregnant. They can see my belly.” So, of course, I lost my place.  After attending a Jewish funeral filled with much of the community and Yom Kippur,  I was convinced it must be obvious.  Scenarios of shame ran through my head. Gossip. Quiet whispers. Disapproval. All things I've never cared about before filled my head and overtook my joy. 
And yet, in reality, no one I actually told ever tried to take my joy. My friends and family were completely supportive and kind. They allowed me to feel happy. But the shame filled me. 

Then on Monday morning, after noticing light spotting, I called the doctor. They sent me in for an ultrasound.  I was sure that it was nothing. It felt like nothing. I still looked pregnant. I still wanted to throw up. I was just being overly cautious.

When the nurse rolled over my belly, she said she was having a hard time getting a good picture.  She changed to a transvaginal ultrasound, kept looking, and then said, “There’s no sign of movement. No heartbeat.”  

I tried to get her to try again. I asked her to get someone else to look. She measured the baby and said it must have stopped growing at 8 weeks  5 days.  It had been a while. 

A physician’s assistant came in and gave me the sad speech. The one that makes you want to punch people in the face. The speech that tells you that it’s not your fault and that it happens all the time. And I can try again very soon.

Try again very soon. That’s the big fat cosmic joke of it all. I’m an unemployed single mother. I have no partner or independent wealth. This was a happy accident. But, trying again soon is  an impossibility. My third child will have to wait until undetermined time in the future that I cannot even fathom: a time where I either have a partner or am in a position to realistically and smartly do this alone.
And I wasted all that happiness on shame.

On Tuesday, my best friend drove me to the surgery center where I had a D and E to remove the fetus. She drove me home. Then brought me dinner. Two other friends stopped over that night to bring me movies and pumpkin pie. Then three more friends visited me the next day while I had to stay home resting.  All anyone brought me was love and kindness and good words, and sympathy. No one made me feel that this wasn't a loss or it’s better this way because of the complications of my life.

And I realize now that my shame was misplaced. My fear unnecessary. I hid for nothing.

Because miscarriage is so common, we are all told to keep this secret until everything is safe. But the thing is, nothing is actually ever really safe,  When you are walking through life without a partner, doing something that usually requires a partner, it’s very lonely.


So now, for the moment, while I understand that my usual self would howl and scream and cry uncontrollably, I sit on a plane on the way home to the safely of my parents and my childhood friends. I
cannot howl. I am numb and I pray that I can sit inside this numbness until I am ready. 

7 comments:

  1. I am so very sorry; I know this loss and it tears you apart. I am so glad that you have loving friends and family to sit beside you while you are numb and when you're ready to howl. You expressed this so gorgeously.

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    1. Thank you. While I can't feel much right now, I thought it was important to share.

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  2. I'm so sorry Shosh. You were not alone when you were ashamed, you are not alone in your sorrow, and you will not be alone when you're ready to howl. I hope your visit home gives you the strength you need.

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  3. I'm sorry, my friend. No shame whatever would have happened.

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  4. Oh Shosh - I'm so sorry! I think we all waste a lot of happiness worrying about whether we're allowed to be happy... I so wish that you didn't have to go through this. Sending so much love!

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    1. It's really time for a trip south....

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