10 Ways to Continue to be a Functional Human Being

(…after your baby dies)

1. Go on an insanely restrictive diet (billed as a “cleanse”) such as Whole 30, which makes straight paleo look like a carnival day of funnel cakes and saltwater taffy. Spend approximately 65% of all remaining intellectual capacity planning breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks down to the most annoying details (e.g. scouring labels until you locate the only mustard in the store that doesn’t contain sugar, the mortal enemy of all good things on earth) because the alternative of air sandwiches and black coffee seems unsustainable. Eat complicated things that require tons of mise en place because the rote hour spent chopping makes you feel productive and competent without having to invest much mental energy. Arranging your day around appointments to cook and eat food will also help give your existence its accustomed structure without the high-stress job you haven’t been to in a month meting out your life in 45-minute increments. Crave chocolate; make pretend that’s your biggest problem.

2. When you unpack your old clothes from bins after storing away all those maternity jeans, distract yourself with a proverbial shiny object: find the hottest little outfit from your pre-pregnancy days and display it in plain sight somewhere in your bedroom. Vow to look so ravishing in that by summertime that pregnant ladies and mothers will stare longingly at your sleek, tanned legs and feel envy. (It’s only fair.) Goals are important.

3. Secure yourself a proper blankie. Carry it around the house like Linus from Peanuts. Use it as a tissue when you watch The Fault in Our Stars again.

4. Blame the dog. She’s a super convenient scapegoat for all the erratic mood swings that accompany the plummeting hormones. Honestly, she probably did something idiotic or destructive anyway, so it’s easy. Feel remorse; attempt to snuggle with her in the bed; get punched in the chest by her Freddie Kruger paws because she’s happy. Repeat.

5. Buy things. Retail therapy feels so damn good! Leopard-print ballet flats? Yes, please. Order new lacy underwear on the Victoria’s Secret website so you can look forward to finding the box on the porch.

6. Ladle up a steaming mugful of denial. Completely refuse to acknowledge the possibility that your next cycle could result in anything short of a live, healthy child. Fantasize about the chubby baby you plan to be pregnant with by the end of the summer because, Jesus, sometimes you can only afford to be upset about one thing at a time.

7.Β Join a support group. Support groups are awesome because everybody gets it.

8. Run. Buy new sneakers at the outlet mall on one of those sunny days you managed to drag yourself out of the house by the scruff of your own neck. Sift through your Pinterest boards for that 7-week training schedule. Register for a June 10K in a breathtakingly beautiful place with a route that hugs the shore. Lace up at sunrise and feel the crisp air burn in your lungs. Let the rage propel you and watch it fritter away. Savor the way the lake sparkles in the morning light as you cut through the park. Peel off your sports bra with an air of accomplishment.

9. Lean on your people. You know who they are, or maybe you’re just finding out. Sometimes it’s surprising who really shows up and who doesn’t.

10. Write. Slather the page with thick, confused layers of your love, your fear, your sadness, your hope, its beauty and its murkiness muddled together in a melee like a Jackson Pollack painting. Hit “Publish” sometimes, when you think you’ve found some words to start articulating the magnitude of it all. Find solace in the sliver of clarity gained from endeavoring to untangle what it looks and feels like to love and lose and yearn with a compounded intensity you didn’t think possible. Simmer in your own awe and humility at the response when the notion that you’re just spouting off in your own quiet corner of the interwebs is shattered by the sheer volume of comments, reblogs, and emails. Realize that your story actually meant something to a few people; that what felt like your own private loss, in fact, reverberated through a whole community. Allow the overwhelming empathy from droves of incredible women to wash over your broken heart and soothe all the raw places with the knowledge that you are not alone.

April 19th-25th is National Infertility Awareness Week

niaw

39 thoughts on “10 Ways to Continue to be a Functional Human Being

  1. This just might be the best niaw post I’ve read all week. I did every single one of these things at one time or another in the process of our 5 losses. Except the whole 30, I’ve been saving that for May….
    Love to you sweetie. I wish you didn’t have the knowledge to be able to write this, but I know your words, and the sense of humor you wrote with, will help someone else through their own struggle.

    Like

    • I was stingy with myself at first about taking time and then i realized there was no way I could function without a leave. It’s been an important part of recuperation but it’s also time to get back to a routine.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What you write is so beautiful, funny and poignant, that I often end up both laughing and crying whilst reading through your posts.

    Thank you for sharing your journey. Even though I haven’t been through even half of what you have, it does resonate.

    Sending you many virtual hugs and much electronic empathy.xx

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  3. Oh, girl. I just came across your blog last week and now I check everyday for updates. I am so so sorry. I relate to you completely (well, except for the fact I’m not an exceptional writer like you are). I just a local support group yesterday and I am so excited to go to my first meeting. I wish you were local and I could meet you and give you hugs.

    Xoxo thank you so much for sharing your journey.

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    • I hope the group is a balm! I was in a primary IF group for a time until it disbanded as people’s situations changed. My first baby loss meeting is Friday. We’ll see!

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      • Hi I’ve been thinking about you πŸ™‚ I hope your baby loss meeting was good for you & I hope you made some solid connections.

        My meeting was good for me, I will go back. And so has the past two weeks of therapy. There is a lot to be said for talking to people who understand.

        I feel like I know you, and I’m sure a lot of woman tell you that. The other night my husband and I abandoned our plans to go to stand up comedy when we heard it was an adoption fundraiser. (I wanted to laugh–not think about needy kids or feed the constant DE/adoption debate in my head) so we ended up seeing “While We’re Young” with Ben Stiller who I love–and that made me think of you because you wrote about Walter Mitty. Anyhow, I had no idea this movie was about infertility. It did have some very funny scenes, but I left with wet eyes. Great movie. I think you would like it, too.

        Also, I am wondering how the Whole30 plan is working for you. Best if luck to you, sweet girl.
        M

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  4. You are not alone. With your amazing ability to put words on this hell you touch the hearts of so many.

    We all sometimes need to focus on that chubby baby that is bound to arrive soon (if I think of the actual odds of that happening, I think my heart might shatter and really what’s the point in that).

    Wishing you and your dog a great run ❀

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  5. Yep, I can say I did some of those through two losses and a failed DE cycle. Time helps, but love, support and distractions are essential!
    Thank you so much for this post.

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    • Yes, and forcing yourself to seek those things out when it’s so easy to curl into a ball and let yourself be sucked into a vicious cycle of isolation and grief. For a lot of this (e.g. talking to people, pursuing goals and distractions) I am dragging myself around by the ear.

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    • It’s like the term “walking wounded” (used to refer to people suffering with depression) because you can make yourself participate in a functional life while still sifting through a lot of turmoil on the inside.

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  6. Oh fuck yes, your story means something. Your words weren’t separate from you. A loss reverberates through a whole community. And while there is little we can do to make things better, we can abide with you as you untangle and untangle and untangle. And blame the dog.

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    • Omg, the fn dog! She turned Cujo at the neighbor’s fence today because their dogs were out, and I face-planted on the concrete sidewalk :/ So much for the jog

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  7. This is a wonderful post. I wish you weren’t in a position to write it, but it’s so honest and truthful.

    Running, while not a cure for grief, is definitely a helpful thing. I’m pretty sure I used 90% of the ibuprofen I was given for my d&c after an early loss on my aching hips from running miles and miles more than I was conditioned to run. Good luck with your 10K.

    Hope the support group is going well. Glad you are finding ways to care for yourself. Thinking of you.

    Like

  8. Pingback: Whole 30: In Review | The Empress and the Fool

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