Capture Your Grief

Day 22. Words.

Today things start to get a bit (more) personal. Below is an excerpt from journal entry from a 21 year old me – bursting with hope, faith, innocence, naivety and sickening youthful optimism.

journal

It reads:

12 June 2006

I would like this book to be my pregnancy journal. I’m actually not pregnant yet but I want to write down my feelings about having a baby. We have tried for 6 months to conceive and, although my baby doesn’t exist in the natural, I love him or her with all my being. Already I treasure my future children inside my soul and desperately long for their arrival. In fact thinking about them consumes me – I yearn to touch them, kiss them and watch them grow… I am satisfied yet impatient in the knowledge that the Lord is slowly, steadily crafting these perfect angels in his mind and I am eager and terrified of the fact that one day he will entrust them to me. I hope I do a good job.

Of course the rest of the journal remains unused and blank, but I’m determined that my life doesn’t.

‘Capture your grief’ is a great initiative by Carly Marie Project Heal. It is a daily photographic challenge for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month designed to explore grief and raise awareness around baby loss. The theme for October 22 is words, which is kind of perfect for me.

Except… I’m not sure if I really belong there. I’m not sure if my grief could ever compare to holding your stillborn child. In fact I know it can’t.

And while it’s never helpful comparing grief with grief, I have a constant feeling of exclusion from nearly everyone. I don’t fit in either box – I’ve never been a mother, but I’ve fought for my child for the longest time.

Yes, I know the feeling of longing desire for a child probably better than many, but I don’t know the feeling of absolute need for that particular child, the one who was gone too soon.

I have seen my perfect four-cell embryos created outside my body flickering on a screen filled with life and potential, but I don’t know the elation of a positive pregnancy test. I don’t know the slamming pain of miscarriage, but I know the drowning quicksand of constant failure and hopelessness.

And I think that’s the problem with infertility, you’re always in the middle somewhere, stuck in some vast, heavy no-mans land.

You are constantly grieving and constantly hoping, yet there is nothing solid to grieve or hope for. It’s a tug-of-war between two maybes – maybe you will be a mother one day, and maybe you won’t. You are pulled along, year after year, tirelessly chasing a dangling carrot that you just can’t catch. It’s exhausting and debilitating.

So how can you grieve for something that may not be lost? For me, it’s about acknowledging that some dreams are over and grieving that. The dream of being a mum in my early twenties, the dream of having babies alongside my best friends, the dream of natural conception.

But when, if ever, should you grieve the entire fruitless dream? ‘Never’ is too unrealistic and discounts the constant suffering, but ‘now’ is too pessimistic. My only answer at this stage is to somehow have other dreams as well, something else to cling to and strive for through the path strewn with landmines of failure.

Lady Breaks is what I’m clinging to at the moment, it’s helping me ‘Capture my Grief’ by being honest and vulnerable with it. It sucks and it’s nasty and uncomfortable but it’s also real and a very big part of me. ‘Capturing’ it means making it visible and accessible to others, hopefully giving a voice to other people’s pain.

x

4 thoughts on “Capture Your Grief

  1. Sharlie, you have captured the emotions of grief so honestly here.. I could relate to so much of this.. The brutality and hopelessness.. The unknown and the holding onto hope.. living with the longing and emptiness every moment of the day for years on end.. I haven’t experienced infertility but I have experienced absolute grief and heartache in relationships and debilitating loneliness..
    and still hope for a better day.. Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing something so personal.. You are definitely not alone in your struggles. xx

    • Michelle, thank you so much for such a candid response, I truly appreciate it. I have often thought of the similarities between the two – this insatiable yearning for something so natural yet so elusive. You can’t give up, but you can’t pin all your hopes on it either. It just feels so needlessly cruel sometimes! Please know that Lady Breaks is not just about infertility but about standing alongside women who are battling on through their brokenness. Thanks again for your kind words xoxoxo

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