A Strange Kind of Grief

A Strange Kind of Grief

Some pieces are hard to write. I should know. I’ve been trying to get this post published for almost a week now. I know how it feels. I’m a mom, after all.

Joy

I’ve known the nine months of endurance, of the way I had to waddle around in four of those months, of checking my blood sugar levels every day since I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

There are things I remember with shocking clarity: being rushed to the hospital twice: once in the third month and again in the fifth month, because the baby appeared to be in distress. Both times, my anxious family hovered outside the waiting room, pacing up and down and then sighed in relief as the obstetrician came out to confirm that the baby and the mother were fine. It had probably just been some mild bruising in the uterus which had caused it.

I recall exhaling with relief as I heard that and tears welling up in my eyes as I saw the tiny sac move around on the ultrasound after both scares.

9.20 pm, Monday, July 17th

My shrieks rent the air and coupled almost miraculously with the first wail of the most incredibly beautiful thing I’ve ever held in my arms. Pink, wide-eyed and curious, I held Gy in my arms for the first time. Pain and pleasure have never been more alive than in that particular moment. As long as I live, it will be embedded in that corner of long-term memory, forever retrievable, eternally precious.

Somewhere I knew that this was meant to be. Me and her- bound inextricably, come what may.

I never believed that I’d yearn for something as much as I did before I conceived Gy. Many doctors had seen me prior to that. The diagnosis, although worded differently, was unanimously negative.

“You have PCOD. It’s very difficult.”

“You could try fertility treatments. But they’re not always effective.”

‘Try this procedure. I can tell you what’s wrong.” (It did nothing but cause agony)

“You may have to consider never having a child.”

“You’re overweight. Maybe that’s the reason.”

After giving up hope and accepting that this was what it would be, V and I were shocked to see the pregnancy test turn positive in November 2005.  Miracles do happen. There IS a God!

Almost as if in a daze and except for a couple of scares, the pregnancy went smoothly and we have this amazing bundle of joy and exasperation called Gy, 10 years later.

Grief

February 2010

I stared at the pregnancy test in a mixture of disbelief and joy. It was there. The positive! I rushed to tell V and we smiled, thinking of the sibling that Gy would pamper with all her love and ‘older sister’ attitude. I began to plan how to save up all of Gy’s baby clothes and wash them, put them away for the baby to use. Toys! Oh, she/he would love those tiny board books and the animal-song toy from Fisher Price that drove me nuts!

The doctor saw me, congratulated us and asked me to meet her 2 weeks later. I came home, beaming with a glow on my face at 12.30 pm.

By 4 pm, it began. The cramps hit me in waves and I couldn’t stand. I decided to lie down but that’s when the unthinkable happened. The pain got worse and so did the slow, determined loss of a baby I hadn’t even managed to hold in my arms or my womb for more than a few hours.

I lay down, hoping that by some miraculous last-ditch effort, I could stop this baby from leaving my side. But it wasn’t to be.

A chemical pregnancy.

The doctor’s voice sounded hollow as she tried to help me cope with the loss. Numb, I sat there and chided myself: This isn’t a miscarriage. It’s not a loss. People have gone through worse. Don’t you dare give in to this and make yourself a martyr. How can you lose something you never had? Stop feeling so sorry for yourself. Get over it.

But, there are days when the heart doesn’t listen to the head. A loss is a loss.

I love having a sister with whom I can talk about anything under the sun, gang up against my folks and celebrate the whole sisterhood thing. I just know that Gy would have enjoyed it, perhaps far more than I would have. She’s such a people person and thrives in sharing every minute detail of her existence with me. Imagine what she would have done with a sibling.

I wrote a note about it a while ago and while many people empathised, there were those who scorned my pain. Attention seeker! Holier-than-thou mom! Weakest person ever! These were some of the nicer epithets thrown my way.

I’m human. I don’t begrudge people their happiness and I try to feel compassion for their pain. Perhaps it’s too much to always expect the same in return.

A strange kind of grief hits you when it's a chemical pregnancy. You haven't even had the child long enough for you to feel anything akin to love. But the heart doesn't know this. At that moment, you are a mother who lost a child.

Coping

As the years pass between the incident and my memory of it, you’d think the pain would abate. You’d assume it would all evaporate in the humdrum existence that we inhabit.

But it doesn’t. In ever so tiny ways, it ruptures that suppressed membrane of feeling and thrusts itself to the surface. And just like that, every second of those 48 hours plays itself back in excruciating slow motion.

So, I try to distract myself with chores, work, blogging, writing, talking to friends, even laundry if that means I don’t have to relive that experience in my head all over again.

Most days, it works. Other days, it’s a mechanical way of going through the motions of life, without stopping or pausing to let the pain touch you for longer than necessary.

Then, I cry.

And in that moment, I am that woman who lost a baby. All over again.

The people you miss

***

Featured image via Shutterstock & Shutterstock

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Comments

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30 thoughts on “A Strange Kind of Grief

  1. Just so sorry that you had to grow through this. No one can compensate for a loss like this. Just take care of yourself. It’s okay to grieve, remember and honor. And don’t let anyone tell you what to feel. And hugs. <3

  2. I know exactly what it feels like. I have had three abortions. Lost the very first pregnancy and was told that I’ll never be a mom again. To add to it was my furious Mother-in-law who anyway wanted me to get out of her son’s life. Those are moments that we have lived. Those are days that will never fade away from our memories. That pain no one else can ever understand. You empathise because you’ve been through it. I do the same. But there are those fortunate ones who find us as attention -seekers. I have stopped expecting much from people. You must start the same, Shailaja. Our grief is ours. No one will ever understand.

    1. Well said, Rekha. Our grief is ours. The thing that shocked me, though,was the way some women responded who had also miscarried. I am all about bouncing back but to not allow the person to grieve, to me seems heartless. Or is that the world we inhabit today?

      So very very sorry to hear about your abortions. I can only send hugs and love and hold you in my heart.

  3. Hugs Shailaja. Nothing I can say will compensate for your loss. I understand. Go ahead and grieve, vent and speak. As for those who are being nasty, there are millions more who love you and care for you and empathize with you. Look towards the love which is far more powerful than anything else. Love you. You are a wonderful human being, and that’s all I know.
    Vidya Sury recently posted 10 ways to express gratitudeMy Profile

  4. Hugs, Shy. I actually know exactly how you feel. This has happened to me too, this – “how can you grieve over something that never was” point. I, too, have PCOS and grieved over my losses. Yes, plural. (You call it PCOD, I think it is the same thing). It is thanks to my amazing doctor and a concoction of three drugs that I get to see the beautiful faces of my two kids today.

    Thanks for articulating the pain of so many with such candor.
    Suchitra (@ThePhDMama) recently posted No More Yelling – Another Honest AttemptMy Profile

    1. Hugs, Suchi. I am so sorry to hear that the losses were plural. I’ve heard this from a few other friends too. Then there is that other loss- the desperate waiting to see that test turn positive. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve waited for that one.

      So so grateful for GY and much love to your doctor for making it possible to look at the faces of your kids today.

    1. Hugs, Shantala. Isn’t it strange how we are all connected without even knowing it? I wonder what it is that draws people together. Perhaps the unspoken utterances are more powerful than we know.

  5. I did dream of having a baby girl, but things were not meant to be. It was easier to accept it, but I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for you, my dear, to feel a dream taking shape and then feel it shattering to pieces in no time at all.
    Hugs to you, my dear. Tight hugs! ♡♡♡

    1. Thank you, Shilpa. You’re one of the most compassionate souls I know. With everything you still manage to empathise with another human being. That doesn’t come easily to everyone.

  6. I had to read this one all over again before commenting. I can only imagine what a loss like this would do to a person, and having to even try to explain your grief must have been such a painful addition too. Hugs to you my dear, and much love.

  7. Writing is catharsis they say but it takes a lot of courage to relive memories that you’d rather hide away somewhere and never to face again. You are too brave to not only confront but also share this heartache that’s perhaps your past , present and shall always remain a reality . Can’t really say that I completely empathise with you . It’s not possible to feel the pain you mustve gone through while writing but perhaps your story can help some of us accept our own heartaches one post at a time . Take care Shailaja .

    1. ‘Past, present and always a reality.’ That’s probably the hardest part. I hope that with time, the pain will lessen and that maybe people will be kinder. But I have no high expectations anymore. Thanks Chandni.

  8. I can relate to this post so much coz I have gone through it too. It still hurts. This happened before AG came in our lives. I am so sorry that you had to go through this pain and grief. I have realized that your grief is your own and we cannot expect people to understand. A big tight hug to you, Shailaja!
    Shilpa Garg recently posted She Walks, She LeadsMy Profile

    1. I am so sorry that you can relate to this, Shilpa. I don’t think anyone needs to. But, we do and we come out of it sometimes stronger, sometimes broken. Big, tight hugs back at you, Shilpa.

  9. People react in weird ways to someone else’s loss. I mean, there’s no need for people to be caustic in their comments when someone is genuinely sharing their feelings of grief and sadness!
    It’s good that you have written about your experience, Shailaja. I wouldn’t know how I would react if this happens to me later in my life, but I’d probably be braver knowing that I have been online friends with someone who has braved this, and still maintains a positive attitude towards life. I’m sure your readers would agree 🙂
    Take care! Much love, hugs and prodding to keep working on the memoir!

    1. You have wonderful people in your life online, trust me on this 🙂 I’ve found a good deal of succour from the people I know through my writing and blogging. It means everything to me as it will to you. Yes, there are unkind people too but you take that as you go along. Working on the book 🙂

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