When it isn’t helpful

I am relatively open about my infertility and miscarriage issues at work. In some ways I don’t have the choice, information has been passed on without my knowledge, so people are aware. With the most recent issue I suddenly took three days off work.

About two days after I got back a coworker asked me how it went. I was a bit off guard and I answered that I had had a d&c on Wednesday. She was rather shocked, she had thought it was an IVF related procedure. She has two small kids, and between her and the two guys with younger kids there is a lot of early childhood discussion in our office.  Very little I can do about this, but it is why my iPod is loaded with podcasts and I listen to a lot of them.

There is one other childless person in the office, that I now know has known she was unable to have kids since she was 15. 

Today it was just the three of us in the office at the end of the day and 1st co-worker thought that it was a good idea to tell a story about her GP who lost a baby, had seemed single and now is about 30 weeks and has a ring on her finger even though she is in her late 30s. I know she means well, and she thinks of it as an inspiring story, but it isn’t.  I hate stories where the subtext is that a woman can’t be happy unless she has a man (partner) and baby or two. I can see why people might see them as inspiring or showing hope, but what they say to me is that the person doesn’t appreciate that a life without children (or a partner) can be valuable.

I didn’t say anything on those lines, I was just very non-committal. Other co-worker (single as far as I know, childless and well into her 40s) was silent.

It has made me very wary of what I say when I try to offer support of comfort- sometimes the words of support are more about comforting the speaker than the person needing help.

The nature of grief

I can remember reading something years ago, which now has some resonance with me.  I can’t remember the book, although I think it might have from one of the Anne of green gables books. (Which is interesting all by itself considering the author struggled to have children).

Two characters are discussing the idea that historically people didn’t get attached to their children until they were 5 or 6, past the infant death zone. They didn’t agree with that, how could people not love their children, and that it would be hard to watch children die.  I think this is an imperfect summary, but the gist has stayed with me for years.  And now, I think I see it from both sides.  Yes, it is hard not to be attached, but for people who have experienced potentially years of losses, there is also the fear of attaching to something that will go away soon.  For someone that had children survive early on, I imagine the attachment would be more secure. But if your first five babies died, how could you get too invested in number six, at least initially?

My grief this time is not the same as it was that first time (or even the subsequent ones), it changes with experience.

I should note that due to familial circumstances I did not have much interaction with death as a child.  We lived on a different continent from my extended family. I have never been to a funeral (and now am a little freaked out about going). 

I am still sad, and I did start to let myself believe it would happen this time, but not the wholesale belief of the first couple.  On the flip side, I also know that this is survivable, that the pain is going to lessen.  I have felt a little fraudulent, taking time off work and feeling ok, and then I start crying or get angry with the world (definitely happening, I think my tolerance levels for stupid comments have dropped) and I realise that I do need the time.  

So, I can understand how parents would be reluctant to get too invested, or to draw the attention of gods and spirits (depending on the belief) to a treasured child. Because it is hard to be so attached and then to lose it.  

We don’t have a lot of modern rituals for grief, and we find the ones we know of from history (or religion) to be extreme, or seem obsessive.  I think they are there to provide structure and a means for channeling and expressing that grief.  We don’t have that anymore, and I think that can be detrimental for healthy grief and for people in expressing sympathy.

Little things

No cohesive post, just a selection of thoughts.

  • Winter has come to Brisbane. Those of you who live in colder places may laugh, but if feels so cold (temp somewhere between 11 and 18 degrees Celsius in the day so not that cold) and windy. The problem is, the buildings here are built for heat, and to collect breezes, not for the cold (when they still collect cold breezes). And the clothes are also designed more for heat than chilly days.  When you live somewhere colder, a lot of infrastructure is designed to protect people, and give access to warmth.  Here it definitely isn’t! So lots of complaints of how cold it is!
  • We tried to fix my $10 garage sale sewing machine this weekend. It was running, and then we tried to wind a bobbin, a wheel was turned and we broke a gear? So, off to the repair shop it will go.
  • I wore a dress today that I haven’t worn much- mostly because of the neckline. And I got several compliments on the colour and how I looked in it. Which is good, because I seem to buy a lot of clothes in variations of that shade!.  And the neckline spent most of the day covered by my (lightweight) scarf.
  • At work we are updating the text we use for a training course.  One other coworker and I have been reviewing alternate chapters.  She had a chapter with a grammar issue that really irritated her (and didn’t show up in mine), which was the use of “it’s” where “its” should be used. Then I had a chapter where one of my bugbears popped up! Lots of bullet point lists, with no punctuation at the end, and no use of “and” or “or” at the end.  And these are not simple lists, but extensive points.  Grrr.
  • I have a trivia night next week where my team is the Royal tenenbaums, and I have no idea of what to do as a costume. Help!
Happy Monday!
 
Not sure what #Microblog Mondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate
 

Superstitions

 Superstitions. Everyone has them. It is human nature to notice patterns and omens, and to make stories from them.  A lot of times when reading history or ethnography books, superstitions are implied to be only in more primitive societies, but the truth is all societies and civilisations have them.

They are a way to explain the world, to create order out of chaos. They influence so much of the world around us.

Some are much nicer and pleasanter than others.  

Is there a 13th floor in your office? Or a 4th floor? Do you know why they are unlucky numbers?

Do the houses in your area have blue window and door frames? Have you ever made a rain ghost? Would you walk under a ladder? What happens to spilled salt? Do you walk on the cracks in the sidewalk?

We all have little superstitions that we incorporate into our lives. I know that I have a couple that are in play at the moment. Many of them are so accepted and in place in society that we don’t think about them.

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate

Microblog Monday- little things

Another Monday!

I can’t think of anything to write about, so some brief updates.

  • Back to work today. Some significant events while I was away- resignations of key contacts within the larger business and some clients that will create additional work. More work in some areas, but recent political developments provide less work in other areas, for me at least.
  • Gah, an election campaign has started. That’s not a surprise, it was on the cards before the holiday, but officially started.  This does mean less work for me, as no new legislation pass, but I am not happy with any of my potential choices.
  • The car. We are currently carless as a result of J’s accident. Thankfully, the additional insurance arranged for by the job agency (a condition of us allowing him to use the car for his job) will pay for repairs (with a whopping excess) but the steering is not healthy and we may be without it for up to a month!  So, we had discussed buying J (or assisting) a cheap car for his work, it looks like that will also be one we use.  It is likely to be a manual car. Double gah and fiddlesticks. I have a manual license, due to some major flukes, but I have very little experience with them, and I don’t like driving them.
  • Mother’s Day. We did have plans to see my mum, but the car and her cold meant that didn’t happen (it will happen next week). I stayed away from FB for the day though.  Actually I kind of forgot what day it was, until we went to have breakfast before seeing a movie Sunday morning, and had some difficulty finding a table. 
  • On work again.  I know that there were questions raised while I was on leave, that have waited until I came back. It’s nice to know that I am considered to be the knowledge expert on those. That said, I think others could have answered the questions, but I had been involved in the issue prior to my leave.
 

Blue Monday

I don’t know what it is, although probably hormones, but I just feel miserable today. No energy, nearly cried for no apparent reason in my work team meeting this morning and generally not having a good day.

It’s not winter, so I can’t blame the season (although the current heat and humidity are not fun).

I just feel down.  And I have just remembered that I used to call February the PMS month of the year- I always feel,sad/bad things happen and I don’t cope well etc.  I could say that the sad was brought by me remembering this, but I have felt down all morning and I am just remembering it now, so no.

February just sucks.  

I wish I could say that there were things that would help, but that is the other thing about February, even the things that should help go wrong.

Unhappy habits

 I found this really interesting post about the habits of unhappy people on linked in.  Some of the bad habits really stood out for me, some for myself and some for the people in my house.

I am going to try and work my way through the habits and try to see how I can manage them.

The first one is:

Waiting for the future.

 Telling yourself, “I’ll be happy when …” is one of the easiest unhappy habits to fall into. How you end the statement doesn’t really matter (it might be a promotion, more pay, or a new relationship) because it puts too much emphasis on circumstances, and improved circumstances don’t lead to happiness. Don’t spend your time waiting for something that’s proven to have no effect on your mood. Instead focus on being happy right now, in the present moment, because there’s no guarantee of the future.

This is something that will be quite familiar to many in the infertility community. For perfectly understandable reasons. We are trying to achieve something, where we feel the lack strongly, which makes us unhappy.  So the idea that we will be happy  when that happens is understandable. And the resulting guilt when people are not happy all the time is also understandable. And the same for weight loss, and changing jobs, finding a partner and having a clean/clutter less house.

I think this is actually an area where I don’t fall into the habit.  I know I have in the past, but I have learned, and I know that obtaining some desired object will not make me magically happy. I find it helps me to rephrase my expectations, to think about why I think the change will help. But honestly, I don’t know what exactly helped me change, and accept my life as it is, with hope for change, but not pinning my happiness on that change.

The hard thing about this habit is that sometimes that change really does improve things.  When I changed jobs, the new job did make me happier. When I moved out from an awful apartment in Japan to a small house, my happiness did increase. But in neither of those cases did I expect to gain so much happiness.

Oh- an exception, that belief that things will be easier if we win the lotto. But that’s pretty hard when you don’t buy tickets very often!

To work through all of the habits will take a while.