So I don’t know whether many of the thoughts I’m sharing are socially acceptable or logical (pretty sure they aren’t) or whether they’ll portray me in the most positive light (pretty sure they won’t), but I’ve not let any of these things stop me before, soooooo… I kind of figure, why start now? And these thoughts are kind of pervasive in my mind, so I feel like sharing them might actually be my first step in setting myself free from them. Or not. Only time will tell.
But here is my confession that, until now, I’ve only alluded to here… When I think about the friends and acquaintances who were “pregnant alongside me” when I was pregnant with Matthew, all of whom welcomed their babies into the world alive, not only am I sad, but I’m also angry. And not only am I angry at the situation, sometimes I’m even angry at them. Yes, angry AT them. Even though what happened isn’t their fault.
Of course I’m glad that their babies didn’t die. But, at the same time, I’m also devastated and furious and resentful that mine did. And these strong feelings related to my own baby dying, I think understandably, supersede any relief I have re: their good fortunes. Because the truth is, while I don’t wish this tragedy upon anyone, assuming it has to happen to some small percentage of people, I would have, of course, preferred that it didn’t happen to me. And while this admission might sound terrible, I don’t think that it’s incredibly outlandish either – for me to wish for Matthew to be here and that I didn’t have to go through this brand of immense pain and suffering.
Again, of course it’s preferable for these tragedies to happen to no one in the world, ever. But I almost consider it too logical to wish for this – like this seems too impossible and idealistic for my realist mind. So instead I just wish that this wouldn’t have happened to me, which in turn, in my mind, would have required it to happen to someone else. And of course, the next preferable circumstance is that it would have happened to some extremely terrible person (referencing adults here – of course babies can never be terrible people, so from this perspective, this tragedy would never, ever be anything less than awful), which none of my friends and acquaintances are, but this seems too illogical as well, because I’ve always acknowledged that this life can be so brutally unfair.
So instead, I look at the 150ish people in my network at the time I was pregnant with Matthew (just go with it, because approximately one in 150 babies die), and I reason that, out of these specific 150 babies, there were only ever 149 of them who could live, and I’m so mad that Matthew was the one who died – that I (and he) seem to have taken the “statistical hit” as I like to refer to it, for everyone we knew at the time. And I’m so freaking angry and about being “the one.” And due to this logic, sometimes it feels as though these other babies lived INSTEAD OF Matthew, even though the events, their live births and his death, aren’t connected in any way whatsoever – sometimes I wrongly connect the events anyway.
Because I’ve always been a statistics person and a worrier, I can remember a time, long before Matthew died, when I’d use this type of reasoning to comfort myself. If I heard of a tragedy, I’d feel heartbroken for the sufferer, but then, if I ever experienced fear about something similar happening to me, (I know this seems selfish – but humans will do this, think, “I worry this will happen to me too, and I hope it doesn’t.”) as a coping mechanism of sorts, I’d sometimes reassure myself with, “Well – that’s statistically very unlikely, so if you know someone going through it, it’s unlikely to happen to you also…”
I even remember doing this in my pregnancy with Matthew – I concluded that because was loosely connected to a couple of women who’d lost babies, I was less likely to lose mine. This didn’t influence my thoughts or actions much – it didn’t make me act recklessly or even allow me to let go of any of my hypochondriac tendencies even a little bit, but I did use the argument to provide myself with the smallest sliver of reassurance in my tensest, most paranoid moments. At my core, I believed that my baby would live, and this way of thinking accounted for some micro-percentage of why.
Now, of course, I know, and have always known, intellectually that the world doesn’t work this way. (If only things were so simple.) We’ve all heard stories about the same person losing two, or more, children or families suffering repeated tragedy, etc. But I think at the heart of this statistical way of looking at things is that every single one of us possesses a desire to assign some type of order to a world that is mostly disorderly. Those with a strong desire declare, “It was God’s plan – everything happens for a reason.” Those with a weaker desire, like me, vehemently reject statements like this but instead look for other ways to find logic or reason in the randomness, sometimes even subconsciously. In my case, I denounce, “Everything happens for a reason.” But, again, I conclude that a certain tragedy is less likely to happen to me because I know of someone who’s had it happen to him/her, or that, if out of ~150 people I know, I was the one who experienced the tragedy, then it happened to me instead of to them, hence my aforementioned resentment.
And said resentment is strong – so strong that for nearly two years I haven’t been able to communicate with these parents or see these babies, and I don’t want to know their names or even acknowledge them as real.
So strong that one of these families with one of these babies lives around the corner from us. I spoke to them when I was pregnant with Matthew, and I have barely been able to look at them since theirs lived and mine died. Not only is it painful for me to see their child when I’m out walking, because he (or she?) only reminds me of everything I’ve lost, but I also feel angry and annoyed every time I pass their house.
My dad often reminds me that I’m being illogical (again, I know), and he tells me it would serve me well to let go of some of my anger (or jealousy manifested as anger, because it gets boring to just be sad or jealous – one must change it up). I argue that it is helpful for me to feel all of my feelings, and if this includes anger at certain people, whether logical or not, it does me (and them) no harm to acknowledge it rather than to suppress it. After all, in the grand scheme of things, it is of no consequence (to me and them or anyone, really) whether I speak to these few people ever again, as none of them are close relatives.
Strangely (or not), I find I’m able to better cope with strangers in public with almost-two-year-olds, as I didn’t know them at the time I was pregnant with Matthew. I don’t look at them and feel like, out of my circle, I was “the one.” I don’t feel as though I took the statistical hit or that their children lived instead of Matthew. Instead, I kind of just experience the pain, and I look away from them. My anger, more often than not, doesn’t seem as intense. (Unless I witness someone being a crappy parent. In these cases, all bets are off…)
So really I don’t think any of these feelings are causing me to make major avoidances on a daily basis that will significantly alter my life. However, I do make smaller avoidances (like Facebook – forever!). I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stop feeling this particular type of anger and making my resulting avoidances of those I knew when I was pregnant with Matthew. (It might be nice if someday I could, as there is one friend whose daughter lived around the time Matthew died who has been exceedingly nice to me – I’d like to be able to see her again someday. I’m actually not very angry at her… Maybe my anger relates more to what certain people have said/not said to me, which renders my entire post off-base… Though I still cringe at the thought of seeing her daughter, and I still think the “instead of” thoughts when I think of her, so maybe my post is valid…)
One more significant way my thoughts affect me in the present is that I often wonder whether people I know ever look at me and think, “Because I know her, and it happened to her, it’s less likely to happen to me.” Thoughts that I might have thought before. Thoughts, based on my discussions with other baby loss moms, don’t seem totally unique to me.
I hate, hate, hate that my story could maybe provide false reassurance for anyone. I hate feeling that I, and Matthew, are still taking the statistical hit for people around us, because, honestly, I wasn’t really connected to 150 pregnant women when he was alive. It was far fewer. So sometimes, it feels like his loss is ensuring others’ future safety. And I’m not okay with it. (NOTE: It isn’t that I don’t want others to be safe, it’s just I resent the grossly illogical notion held by me or others that my dead child is ensuring it.)
Because I’m not okay with ANY of it. I just want him here.
And maybe I’m not angry at these people, really. Rather maybe I’m jealous that, in addition to losing my baby, I’ve also lost my ability to go into self-preservation mode, even by way of faulty logic, all the while others get to keep their babies and their defense strategies and healthy psyches.
Eventually anger and jealously, and the like… It all starts to feel the same, and I can’t always tell what it is anymore.